During the ceremony, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said: “This is an historical achievement for these two countries and for the entire Atlantic community of nations. Both our new Allies come from a region that, not long ago saw the first operational deployment of the Alliance and a region that has witnessed the first major conflict on European soil since the end of World War Two. ”
Following the signature, each of the NATO countries’ Parliaments will begin the ratification of the Accession Protocols. As soon as the process is completed within the countries that are already members of the Alliance, Albania and Croatia will be invited to ratify the accession in their own Parliaments.
Thereafter, the instruments of ratification will be deposited at the State Department in Washington - the depository of Washington Treaty – and Albania and Croatia become full members of the Alliance.
As of today, and throughout the period leading up to full accession, NATO will involve the invited countries in Alliance activities to the greatest possible extent and will continue to provide support and assistance to their reform efforts, including through the Membership Action Plan (MAP).