BELGRADE – NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has dismissed concerns that the U.S. Senate may not ratify the NATO-accession agreement for Montenegro.

Speaking on January 26 alongside Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Stoltenberg said, “I am confident that the accession protocol will be ratified by the [U.S.] Senate.”

Stoltenberg noted that the protocol has already been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He said “It has strong bipartisan support” so he expects Senate ratification.

However, the US Congress has delayed a vote to ratify Montenegro’s accession to the NATO alliance for a fourth time, raising fears among supporters of Podgorica’s membership that the process will be delayed indefinitely.

While the previous US administration and the Pentagon were keen to include Montenegro in the alliance, new US President Donald Trump has called NATO “obsolete,” and criticized the US commitment to the defense of Europe.

Political analyst Milan Krstic of Belgrade University’s Faculty of Political Science told Sputnik Srbija that the US Senate probably delayed the ratification because it was too occupied with other issues, including the formation of Trump’s cabinet.

“In relation to that, I think there is a certain kind of political caution. Everybody is waiting for the complete formation of the new administration, and then the Senators, above all Republicans who have doubts about it, are supposed to agree a final decision on Montenegro with the (Trump) administration,” Krstic said.

Krstic told Sputnik that the Senate will eventually ratify the accession protocol.

“America will ratify the accession of Montenegro because it’s a country which, without any disrespect taking into account its glorious history, is a small player in international relations. If compromises are to be made between the US and Russia, they won’t be made in this area.”