Milo Djukanovic speaking to journalists on May 22 in Podgorica (epa)
May 23, 2006 -- Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic says Montenegro is ready to move toward membership in the European Union and NATO after citizens of the tiny territory voted to secede from Serbia and form a separate country.
"I am convinced Montenegro could be the next country from this region to join the European Union, after Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, which are further along the process," Djukanovic said.
The complete final vote count of the May 21 independence referendum is due to be released today.
Preliminary official results say that 55.4 percent of voters said "yes" to independence for the Adriatic republic of some 620,000 people -- just more than the 55 percent needed to approve the referendum under rules set by the European Union.
Parties that want to continue the union with Serbia have demanded a recount of the ballots.
International observers said the vote appeared to be transparent and without fraud or irregularities, and the EU has pledged to respect the result.
(compiled from agency reports)
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