From Reuters: NATO offered a formal membership plan to Montenegro on Friday but withheld an invitation to its Balkan neighbour Bosnia, saying it needed further democratic reforms and a more effective military first.

Membership for Montenegro, an independent state since 2006, could still take years as the former Yugoslav republic of 650,000 people has to first meet the conditions of NATO’s Membership Action Plan, a roadmap for accession.

Both Montenegro and Bosnia are already part of the Partnership for Peace programme, a platform for countries hoping to join NATO, a military alliance of 28 members. They hope to join the European Union at some point, as well.

“Montenegro has been granted its request to join the Membership Action Plan and a clear message has been given to Bosnia-Herzegovina,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. (photo: NATO)