Opening statement

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the press conference following the signature of the Protocols of Accession of Albania and Croatia

  • 09 Jul. 2008 - 09 Jul. 2008
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  • Mis à jour le: 18 Nov. 2008 20:05

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is a good day for NATO; a good day for Albania and Croatia; and a good day for Euro-Atlantic security. With the signature of the accession protocols, just a few minutes ago, we have taken a major step towards enlarging the Euro-Atlantic family of democratic nations that is NATO.

On behalf of the 26 current NATO Allies, let me say to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Luzlim Basha and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, Gordan Jandroković , one simple word:  congratulations. And through you, congratulations to the people of Albania and the people of Croatia. 

This success is due to hard work.  The difficult reforms that you have made, and continue to make, to meet NATO standards benefit your countries in and of themselves.  They will also help to make this Alliance stronger.

As of today, the ratification process can begin in the 26 NATO Parliaments.  I am very confident that they will agree that these countries have proven their democratic credentials, and that they are in a position to further the goals of this Alliance.  I am sure they will also confirm that there is no enlargement fatigue in NATO:  our Door is Open, and it will stay open.

That is a message which I hope is heard loud and clear in Skopje.  There is a seat at the NATO table reserved for you, once the bilateral issue is resolved.  I hope – and every NATO nation hopes – that this will happen as soon as possible.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have always said that the road to NATO membership is a long and winding one.  Today, Albania and Croatia have begun the final stage.  And I hope that, if alll goes right, they will be able to cross the finish line together at our Summit next April in Strasbourg and Kehl.