At the Prague Summit, 21-22 November 2002, NATO
Heads of State and Government invited seven countries - Bulgaria,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - to
begin accession talks to join the Alliance.
This is the beginning of the accession process,
at the end of which the seven invited countries should formally
become members of the Alliance. The whole process is expected to
be completed by May 2004, and is described below, step-by-step.
The accession talks are a series of meetings
between a team of NATO experts and individual invitees to discuss
and formally confirm their interest, willingness and ability to
meet the political, legal and military obligations and commitments
of NATO membership. This will include also their contribution to
The accession talks cover the formal obligations
of NATO membership. Apart from this, NATO experts will discuss
with the invitees specific issues and reforms upon which further
progress will be expected before and after accession in order
to enhance their contribution to the Alliance.
The end product of these discussions will be
a timetable to be submitted by each invitee for the completion
of these reforms, many of which may continue even after these
countries have become NATO members.
The meetings will take place at NATO Headquarters
||Invitees send letters
of intent to NATO
Foreign ministers of the invited countries send to NATO
letters of intent confirming their interest, willingness
and ability to join the Alliance. Together with the letters
they will submit their timetables for completion of reforms.
||Accession protocols are
NATO will prepare accession protocols to the North Atlantic
Treaty for each one of the invited countries. They are expected
to be signed by NATO member countries in March 2003. These
accession protocols are amendments to the North Atlantic
Treaty, which once signed and ratified by Allies, will permit
the invited countries to become parties to the Treaty.
||Accession protocols are
ratified by NATO countries
After having signed the accession protocols, NATO member
countries will ratify, accept or approve the protocols,
according to their national requirements and procedures.
Once the ratification process is complete, the NATO Secretary
General will invite the prospective new members to become
parties to the North Atlantic Treaty.
||Invitees become NATO
at the latest
by May 2004
After having followed applicable national procedures (discussion
in parliament, vote in parliament, etc.), the invited countries
will deposit their instruments of accession with the United
States (the United States Department of State is the depository),
and formally become parties to the North Atlantic Treaty
and thus members of NATO.
The whole process is to be completed in time for these
countries to join the Alliance at the latest at the next
NATO Summit in May 2004.