Montenegro’s parliament on Friday supported the Balkan country’s membership in NATO in a historic turn toward the West amid protests by Russia and the pro-Russia opposition.

Lawmakers voted 46-0 in the capital of Cetinje to ratify the accession treaty with the Western military alliance. They then stood up and applauded the decision.

The parliament has 81 members, but pro-Russia opposition lawmakers boycotted the session. Several hundred opposition supporters gathered outside the hall before the vote.

Montenegro has a small military of around 2,000 troops, but it is strategically positioned to give NATO full control over the Adriatic Sea. The other Adriatic nations — Albania, Croatia and Italy — already are in the alliance.

Russia has been angered by NATO’s expansion to Montenegro, which is in Moscow’s traditional area of interest. Montenegro has accused Russia of being behind a foiled Election Day coup in October allegedly designed to throw the country off its path toward NATO. Russia has denied the accusation.

Prime Minister Dusko Markovic told lawmakers that NATO membership was a guarantee for Montenegro’s future security, economic progress and regional stability.


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Featured image courtesy of Reuters