European Union leaders have endorsed calls for Montenegro to formally start accession talks with the bloc.
The decision by the European Council comes after EU foreign ministers on June 26 agreed that Montenegro had carried out reforms and was ready to start talks on becoming an EU member.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy said the decision also allows negotiations to begin on on June 29.
But the opening of 35 technical dossiers on necessary reforms is not to take place until Europe's agency for police corruption, Europol, delivers a special report about organized crime in Montenegro.
Montenegro hopes the EU accession process will help it overcome a serious economic crisis.
It is expected to take years for Montenegro to become a member of the EU once the accession process formally begins.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa