by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Montenegro accession ceremony
President Filip Vujanović,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have gathered here today to mark a historic occasion. To welcome Montenegro as NATO’s newest member. In just a few minutes, we will raise Montenegro’s flag here at NATO headquarters. At the same time, the flag will be raised at our new headquarters across the road and at our two strategic commands in Mons, and in Norfolk, Virginia. From today, across the Alliance, 29 flags will fly together, symbolising our unity and our solidarity. NATO began as an Alliance of 12 and in almost seventy years, it has grown steadily. When our founders drafted the Washington Treaty back in 1949, they made sure to leave the door to NATO open. They knew that their goal – ‘the preservation of peace and security’ – would have a powerful appeal. We are a community of values and in joining NATO, Montenegro becomes an integral part of that community.
Montenegro has travelled a long road of reform to be here. It is just 11 years since your country regained independence and your accession to NATO will strengthen that independence.
I want to congratulate the government and the people of Montenegro for everything you have achieved and I commend your commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. You have a seat at our table – with an equal voice. You will be able to shape the decisions we take together, and from now on, you have 28 Allies – 28 friends – who will always come to your aid.
NATO will benefit from your membership of the Alliance, just as much as you do. Every new member makes NATO stronger and more effective. Politically and militarily, helping us to adapt to evolving challenges, such as terrorism and contributing to international security as a whole.
We value Montenegro, and recognise the unique contribution you make to the Alliance. The expertise and insight you bring and your robust and professional armed forces, who have performed with such distinction in Afghanistan.
Over the past 25 years, NATO has sought to bring peace and stability to the Western Balkans. Your joining NATO today has a stabilising effect on the whole region. Your accession also sends a message: that our door remains open to those who share the vision of the Washington treaty, who meet the Alliance’s high standards and wish to contribute to the collective security of all Allies. It also demonstrates that NATO will continue to support the right of every country to decide their own path.
So, let me say how proud I am to stand here as Secretary General of NATO with Montenegro as a full member.
So welcome to the Alliance.