NATO’s relations with Montenegro

  • Last updated: 19 Nov. 2014 18:24

Democratic, institutional, security sector and defence reforms are a key focus of NATO’s cooperation with Montenegro. Shortly after regaining its independence in June 2006, the country joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) in December 2006. Montenegro is working to draw closer to Euro-Atlantic standards and institutions, with the aim of joining the Alliance. It was invited to join the Membership Action Plan in December 2009. Following the September 2014 Summit in Wales, NATO leaders announced that NATO will open intensified and focused talks with Montenegro and will assess at the latest by the end of 2015 whether to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic in the North Atlantic Council meeting room

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro, Mr. Duško Marković (November 2014)

The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is a NATO programme of advice, assistance and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join the Alliance. Participation in the MAP does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership. Montenegro began its first MAP cycle in the autumn of 2010 with the submission of its first Annual National Programme. It has identified key challenges that will need to be addressed, including reinforcing the rule of law, meeting NATO standards in security sector reforms and fighting corruption and organised crime.

“NATO is committed to the future of the Western Balkans as a natural part of the Euro-Atlantic family. So I look forward to seeing Montenegro join the Euro-Atlantic family as soon as you are ready,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during his visit to the country in May 2014. The Allies are committed to keeping NATO’s door open to Western Balkan partners that wish to join the Alliance, share its values and are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. Euro-Atlantic integration is seen as the best way to ensure long-term, self-sustaining security and stability in the region.

Beyond supporting reform, another key objective of NATO’s cooperation with Montenegro is to develop the ability of the country’s forces to work together with forces from NATO countries and other partners, especially in peacekeeping and crisis-management operations. Since 2010, the country has contributed to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. It has also indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 follow-on mission to train and assist Afghan security forces, after ISAF’s mission has ended.

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    In support of NATO's efforts to equip and train the Afghan National Army, Montenegro offered a donation which included 1,600 weapons and 250,000 rounds of ammunition. In February 2010, Montenegro decided to contribute troops to ISAF in Afghanistan, which were deployed there together with a Croatian unit.

    Montenegro has indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces, which will be deployed once the transition to Afghan security lead has been completed and ISAF’s operation is terminated. The government has also pledged financial support for the future development of the Afghan National Security Forces.

    Participation in joint planning, training and military exercises is a significant element of cooperation within the PfP.

    Defence and security sector reform

    Defence and security sector reforms continue to be key elements of cooperation. The Alliance as a whole and individual Allies have considerable expertise that the country can draw upon in this area. The Allies also support the wider democratic, institutional and judicial reform process underway in Montenegro.

    In 2013, Montenegro conducted a new Strategic Defence Review and produced a long-term development plan for its army. These documents have provided a basis for a comprehensive reform of the country’s defence system.

    The country’s participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) helps to develop forces that will be fully capable of conducting peacekeeping and relief operations with NATO and partner forces.

    Montenegro is also working with NATO to promote the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which recognises the disproportionate impact that war and conflicts have on women and children. UNSCR 1325 calls for full and equal participation of women at all levels in issues ranging from early conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security. In September 2013 for instance, Montenegro hosted a high-level seminar on the role of women in building integrity and promoting good practices in the defence and security sector.

    Montenegro is interested in participating in cyber defence initiatives. It is also contributing to NATO’s Building Integrity Programme to strengthen good governance in the defence and security sector. This Programme seeks to raise awareness, promote good practice and provide practical tools to help countries enhance integrity and reduce risks of corruption in the security sector by strengthening transparency and accountability.

    Surplus and obsolete armaments and ammunition remain a significant issue for Montenegro in terms of both security and environmental concerns. NATO Allies have previously supported NATO/PfP Trust Fund work in this area, including a project in both Serbia and Montenegro to remove anti-personnel landmines.  Further Trust Fund activities with Montenegro are now being developed.

    Civil emergency planning

    In cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), Montenegro intends to take the necessary steps to establish a national early warning system, build a national crisis situation centre and develop its emergency response capabilities.

    Science and environment

    Montenegro has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 2006. The SPS Programme enables close collaboration on issues of common interest to enhance the security of NATO and partner countries. By facilitating international efforts, in particular with a regional focus, the Programme seeks to address emerging security challenges, support NATO-led operations and advance early warning and forecast for the prevention of disasters and crises.

    Today, scientists and experts from Montenegro are working to address a range of security issues, notably in the fields of environmental security and disaster forecast and prevention of natural catastrophes.

    Public information

    Montenegro’s participation in the Membership Action Plan (MAP) requires good public access to information on the benefits of cooperation and membership with NATO. NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division cooperates actively with the Montenegrin authorities as well as with a wide range of civil society partners, media representatives, members of parliament, local municipalities, etc. Public diplomacy programmes, such as visits to NATO Headquarters, seminars, speaking tours and educational youth programmes, aim to raise public awareness about NATO and the membership process.

    In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Montenegro is the embassy of Hungary.

  • Framework for cooperation

    Since regaining its independence in 2006, Montenegro has been undertaking a wide-ranging programme of structural and institutional reforms. The instruments available within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) can greatly assist in this process. Initially the country chose to strengthen the reform focus of cooperation by developing an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO in 2008. It moved through a successful IPAP cycle from 2008 to 2010, before shifting in the autumn of 2010 to an Annual National Programme within the Membership Action Plan framework. 

    Montenegro has also been participating in the PARP since 2006. The role of the PARP is to provide a structured basis for identifying forces and capabilities that could be available to the Alliance for multinational training, exercises and operations. It also serves as the principal mechanism used to guide and measure defence and military reform progress. A biennial process, the PARP is open to all partners on a voluntary basis.

    To facilitate cooperation, Montenegro has established a mission to NATO as well as a liaison office at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

  • Milestones in the evolution of relations

    The NATO Allies recognised Montenegro's independence very shortly after it was declared in June 2006 and invited the country to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) at the November 2006 Riga Summit. The country formally joined the Partnership in December of that same year and increased the focus on reform by developing an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) in 2008. This IPAP focused on the full range of political, military, financial, and security issues relating to its aspirations to membership. Montenegro received an invitation from the Allies to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) in December 2009. NATO Allies are committed to supporting the country on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. However, the key reforms and political decisions needed to achieve the standards of NATO membership must be taken by the leaders of Montenegro themselves.

    Key milestones


    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is replaced by a looser state union named Serbia and Montenegro.


    Montenegro votes for independence on 21 May and the parliament formally declares independence on 3 June.

    The country joins the Partnership for Peace in December.


    In support of NATO's efforts to equip and train the Afghan National Army, Montenegro donates weapons and ammunition.


    NATO Heads of State and Government agree to start an Intensified Dialogue with Montenegro on its membership aspirations and related reforms. Montenegro starts working with NATO on its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) agreed with NATO in July 2008.


    First IPAP assessment.

    In December, NATO Foreign Ministers invite Montenegro to join the Membership Action Plan.


    In February, Montenegro decides to contribute to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

    Summer 2010, Montenegro leaves the IPAP process and, in the autumn, submits its first Annual National Programme, under the Membership Action Plan.


    In June, the NATO Secretary General attends an Adriatic Charter meeting and delivers a major speech "NATO and the Western Balkans" in Montenegro.


    Prime Minister Luksić addresses the North Atlantic Council on 21 March.


    On 16 October, President Filip Vujanović comes to NATO Headquarters, Brussels.


    Prime Minister Milo Djukanović holds talks with the NATO Secretary General and addresses the North Atlantic Council at NATO Headquarters.

      NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds talks with top officials in Podgorica.
      Following the June 2014 NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, the Secretary General announces that NATO will open intensified and focused talks with Montenegro and will assess at the latest by the end of 2015 whether to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance. NATO leaders endorse these decisions at the Wales Summit in September, inviting Montenegro in the meantime to continue its efforts to address the remaining challenges for NATO membership.