- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) - Montenegro’s defense minister says the small Balkan country will decide whether to join NATO in a parliamentary vote and not a popular referendum as sought by the opposition and Russia.

Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic said Wednesday that pro-NATO lawmakers make up a majority in the country’s new Parliament. The election in October was marked by an alleged foiled coup attempt orchestrated by anti-NATO nationalists, including two Russians.

Prosecutors have alleged the plotters planned to take over power and stop Montenegro from joining NATO. The Kremlin has denied involvement, but has openly supported forces opposed to the membership of Russia’s traditional Slavic ally.

NATO has said that Montenegro is expected to join the Western military alliance by early 2017 after an agreement is ratified by the current 28 member states.

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