by H.E. Mr. Gordan Jandroković, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia at the signature of the Protocols of Accession of Albania and Croatia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honor and pleasure to address the North Atlantic Council and to witness the signing of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of the Republic of Croatia, and the equivalent Protocol for the Republic of Albania.
First and foremost, allow me to once again express our deepest gratitude to you, distinguish representatives of our new allies, for all your support and welcoming Croatia into the Alliance. At the same time I convey our sincere hope that the ratification process in your respective national parliaments will be done on time for Croatia to participate as full-fledged member in the Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl.
I particularly thank you Mr. Secretary-General, for all the support that the NATO International Staff and you personally, have been providing us on our path towards NATO membership.
This is a historical moment for Croatia and I feel proud and privileged to be here. By signing the Protocol, ladies and gentlemen, you are confirming the acceptance of my country to the great Euro-Atlantic family of nations, interconnected with strong ties, both old and new.
NATO continues to demonstrate that values have meaning. Therefore, joining this Alliance, based on solidarity and determination to defend the principles of democracy, free market economy, rule of law and individual liberties, represent one of the most important moments in Croatia's history.
The enlargement of NATO contributes to its continuous efficiency and importance. At the same time, permanent stability and security in South-East Europe calls for military, economic and political integration of the new democracies into the existing trans-Atlantic structures. The perspective of integration is the best news for security and stability of the region.
This is a very important and joyful day for Croatia and Albania. Our accession to NATO will enhance the national security of our two countries as well as the stability of South-East Europe to a great extent.
In Croatia's case, the NATO accession process has permeated our entire nation, primarily through our efforts to involve all segments of society in the process.
Given everything that has been accomplished in Croatia over the past few years, and with the firm conviction that Euro-Atlantic reforms constitute the best investment in our own future, we stand ready to share our experience and the knowledge gained throughout our accession process with all the countries in the region who wish to walk the same path.
One of the most important strategic goals of Croatia has been achieved. We are joining the community of states with whom we share core common principles and interests. I would, hereby, like to reiterate Croatia's determination to fulfill the Timetable for Completion of Reforms, covering specific reform issues upon which further progress is expected before and after accession in order to enhance Croatia’s contribution to the Alliance and develop capabilities, structures and mechanisms to act as a reliable NATO Ally.
Bearing in mind that NATO membership comes with a great responsibility, let me confirm once again Croatia’s strongest commitment to the Alliance.
In that regard, contributing to ISAF demonstrates our readiness to assume our share of responsibility for international security and determination to share the challenges of NATO’s operations as a mature and capable ally.
Ladies and gentlemen
This is the final chapter of a long way for Croatia and Albania, who have passed through the comprehensive reforms of their states and societies.
Our nations are ready for a new beginning, ready to join the Alliance as reliable and credible Allies, to defend our mutual values and interests, and actively contribute to the security of all the Allies.
It is a unique privilege for our generation to have an opportunity to ensure a more secure future for our children and for generations to come.