Europe

The Latest: Montenegro premier gives speech before NATO vote

The Latest on Montenegro and NATO membership (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

Montenegro's prime minister has urged lawmakers in to support NATO membership, saying that it will present a guarantee for Montenegro's future security, economic progress and regional stability.

Dusko Markovic has told lawmakers during a speech in parliament that "this assembly and its members have a historic privilege to make a decision that will be remembered as long as there is Montenegro and Montenegrins.

He says that "this day will be marked among the brightest in our history."

Pro-Russia opposition parties are boycotting the session and have held a demonstration instead.

Anti-NATO demonstrators chanted "Treason!" and "Thieves!" and burned a NATO flag during a protest before peacefully dispersing. A banner read: "NATO murderers, your hands are bloody!"

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11:25 a.m.

Montenegrin lawmakers are set to ratify the Balkan country's membership in NATO and make a historic turn toward the West despite protests from traditional ally Russia and pro-Russian opposition.

The Montenegrin parliament will convene later on Friday to ratify the accession treaty with the Western military alliance. Opposition parties say they will boycott the session and hold a demonstration instead.

Montenegro's pro-NATO government has urged lawmakers to approve the entry protocol. Officials have said that joining NATO will bring stability and economic benefits after centuries of turmoil.

The government says: "In the current geo-political environment, Montenegro must rationally look at all options and make a decision that will best protect its national, security and economic interests."

Russia has been angered by NATO expansion in Montenegro, Moscow's traditional zone of interest.