From Reuters: Bosnia took a first step on Friday towards joining NATO, but membership of the Western military alliance could take years while the Balkan country carries out required reforms.

Bosnian officials submitted a request for a membership action plan to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He welcomed the application but said the country had to meet NATO standards in areas such as democracy and military effectiveness.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to continue and even step up its reforms including when it comes to the democratic institutions of the country,” Rasmussen told a news conference. (photo: NATO)