WARSAW — Macedonia and Montenegro are aiming to secure an invitation this year to join NATO, according to the countries' senior government officials.

Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said that the current unconventional military threats in Europe and the Middle East indicate that Montenegro is on the right path in its bid to join NATO.

"Our region and our country could be threatened by such modern challenges, which are unpredictable," Markovic said, as quoted by local daily Vijesti.

In a statement released July 20, the country's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists stressed the "importance of Montenegro's membership in NATO, and concluded that [the country] is facing a decisive phase before obtaining an invitation," which is why "it is important to put more effort into complying with the necessary standards for full membership."

On July 7, Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Igor Luksic attended a meeting of the North Atlantic Council as "part of the intensified and focused talks that NATO is conducting with Montenegro in order to assess, by the end of the year, whether the country is ready to join the Alliance," NATO said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Macedonia’s Defense Minister Zoran Jolevski said his government is prepared to apply to join NATO as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, (FYROM), a name that has been adopted by Macedonia as a result of its dispute with neighboring Greece.

"All NATO member countries recognized that Macedonia had by that point met the NATO membership criteria," Jolevski told news site Politico.eu. "Unfortunately, our southern neighbor added one more criterion ... the name."

Athens claims that the name Macedonia refers to the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon, and opposes the use of the name Macedonia by the government in Skopje due to historical and territorial concerns.

Should a decision on the admission of the two countries be reached this year, Montenegro and Macedonia would be invited to join the ranks of NATO member states almost six years after neighboring Croatia and Albania were admitted.

Email: jadamowski@defensenews.com

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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