BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has praised Montenegro, saying on April 15 it has made "real progress towards membership of NATO."
Speaking after talks in Brussels with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Stoltenberg said Podgorica had "introduced substantial reforms" to the rule of law and the defense and intelligence sectors.
He called Montenegro "a champion of regional cooperation" and said it has repeatedly shown that it shares "our values."
In 2009, Montenegro granted a Membership Action Plan, the final step in an application for NATO membership.
NATO foreign ministers are expected to assess Montenegro’s progress toward NATO membership by the end of 2015.
Earlier on April 15, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn urged Montenegro to start implementing legislation it has passed.
He said Podgorica must show “concrete and sustainable” progress on implementing the reform legislation it has passed in order to move closer to both EU and NATO membership.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said there won't be any EU membership invitations during his mandate, which ends in 2019.