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29-mar-04 10:19 PM
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The Road to NATO membership

From invitee
to member:

Dec. 2002 - Mar 2003
Accession talks
Step 2

Jan. 2003 Mar. 2003
Invitees send letters of intent to NATO
Step 3
March 2003
Accession protocols are signed
Step 4
Accession protocols are ratified by NATO countries
Step 5
planned at the latest
by May 2004

Invitees become NATO members
More information:

Background Briefing
on Accession Talks

Ambassador Günther Altenberg, Assistant-Secretary General for Political Affairs,
17 December 2000
Audio file (.MP3/15112Kb)

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.

Step 1 Accession talks Dec. 2002 -
Mar. 2003
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 NATO’s budgets.

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 in Brussels.

Step 2 Invitees send letters of intent to NATO Jan. 2003 -
Mar. 2003

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.

Step 3 Accession protocols are signed March 2003

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.

Step 4 Accession protocols are ratified by NATO countries 2003-2004

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.

Step 5 Invitees become NATO members planned
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.

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