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Montenegro parliament approves NATO accession
by Staff Writers
Cetinje, Montenegro (AFP) April 28, 2017


Russia condemns Montenegro's approval of NATO accession
Moscow (AFP) April 28, 2017 - Russia on Friday condemned Montenegro's approval of its accession to NATO in a parliamentary vote boycotted by pro-Russian opposition parties.

"We must acknowledge with deep regret that the current leadership of the country and its Western patrons did not listen to the voice of reason and conscience," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Forty-six of 81 Montenegrin deputies voted in favour of joining the alliance, after a small group of protesters burned a NATO flag outside the session held in the historic capital of Cetinje.

The Russian foreign ministry said the move represented a "demonstrative crackdown on all democratic norms and principles."

"The will of nearly half of the country's population, speaking out against the 'NATO priority' in foreign policy, has been ignored," the ministry said.

"Moscow cannot but consider the strategic consequences of this step and thus we reserve the right to take decisions aimed at protecting our interests and national security."

The Balkan country, home to around 620,000 people, is expected to become an official member by late May, when a NATO summit will be held in Brussels.

The accession of Montenegro will complete the bloc's presence along the Adriatic coast as Greece, Albania and Croatia are already members.

Moscow has long considered Montenegro, whose population is mostly Slavic Orthodox, to be within its sphere of influence.

Montenegro's parliament formally approved the country's accession to NATO on Friday, despite a boycott by pro-Russian opposition parties who are firmly against joining the Western military bloc.

After a small group of protesters burned a NATO flag outside the session in the historic capital of Cetinje, 46 out of 81 deputies voted in favour of joining the alliance.

The Balkan country, home to around 620,000 people, is expected to become an official member by late May, when a NATO summit will be held in Brussels.

The accession of Montenegro -- which is strongly opposed by Russia -- will complete the bloc's presence along the Adriatic coast as Greece, Albania and Croatia are already members.

Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said the accession would "have a positive effect on the stabilisation of the regional situation".

Accession must be approved by all 28 current member-states, and just two are still to give the official nod to the former Yugoslav republic.

US President Donald Trump signed off on the process earlier this month.

Around 200 supporters of the opposition Democratic Front gathered in protest outside the building on Friday, shouting "thieves" and "traitors" as the deputies entered.

"We will not recognise the decision of the parliament -- your hands are tainted with blood," said Democratic Front leader Milan Knezevic, referring to NATO's bombing of Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 during the Kosovo war.

Moscow has long considered Montenegro, whose population is mostly Slavic Orthodox, to be within its sphere of influence.

After Washington gave its approval, Russia's foreign ministry said the move to include Montenegro in NATO was "deeply erroneous".

SUPERPOWERS
Pentagon probes Trump's former national security advisor Flynn
Washington (AFP) April 27, 2017
The Pentagon said Thursday it is investigating President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn over payments he received from Russian government-linked firms. The Department of Defense said it was probing whether the retired lieutenant general failed to obtain required prior approval before accepting money from foreign governments. Flynn was specifically warned wh ... read more

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