CETINJE, Montenegro – The Latest on Montenegro and NATO membership (all times local):
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!"
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.