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Montenegro prime minister says NATO membership invitation historic day for tiny Balkan state

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic at the NATO ministerial meetings at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2015. Montenegro was welcomed during the meetings as a new NATO member. (Jonathan Ernst / Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic at the NATO ministerial meetings at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2015. Montenegro was welcomed during the meetings as a new NATO member. (Jonathan Ernst / Pool via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic says NATO's membership invitation represents a historic day for the tiny Adriatic state, the most important since the 2006 independence referendum.

Djukanovic said Wednesday "Montenegro is entering the exclusive circle of states which are synonymous with the highest values of modern civilization."

NATO member states on Wednesday formally invited Montenegro to join the alliance in the face of Russian opposition.

Djukanovic says "this is a crown jewel of the long-standing national efforts and comprehensive reform processes launched in 2006."