NATO welcomes Albania and Croatia at the Summit
At the beginning of the North Atlantic Council Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed the Heads of State and Government of Albania and Croatia at their first NATO Summit as members of the Alliance.
"I would like to extend a special word of welcome to President Topi and Prime Minister Berisha of Albania, as well as President Mesic and Prime Minister Sanader of Croatia", the Secretary General said. "Today we celebrate the 6oth anniversary of the Washington Treaty. From twelve initial members in 1949, the transatlantic family has grown to 28. The presence of Albania and Croatia here today confirms that NATO’s door remains open, and is testimony of our commitment to a Europe whole and free".
The Secretary General noted that Albania and Croatia’s membership in the Alliance is the result of long years of hard work, during which both countries have shown a relentless drive to complete the necessary reforms. "Albania and Croatia have well-earned their place at our table", he said.
As the leader of the depositary country of the Washington Treaty, the President of the United States Barack Obama greeted the two new members of NATO: "We are very excited about your participation", President Obama said. "We are proud to have you as Allies". In a short ceremony, President Obama handed over copies of the Washington Treaty to the Presidents of Albania and Croatia.