of Allied
and Partner
Heads of
State and
under the
aegis of
the EAPC,

9 July 1997


of H.E. Mr. Guntis ULMANIS,
President of the Republic of Latvia

Mr. Chairman,

Let me, on behalf of Latvia, welcome yesterday's historic decisions on the internal and external adaptation and renewal of the Alliance.

NATO is enlarging and thus - maintaining its role as the most important element of the security structure of Euro-Atlantic area. Therefore the decisions which were taken yesterday are in the interests of all of us. The confirmed strategy of NATO is open and inclusive and thus it creates stability and secure future.

We welcome the decision to continue enlargement with three countries. We applaud the invitation to our Polish, Czech and Hungarian friends to join NATO. We are happy about their success and believe that their accession will proceed smoothly.

We know that the leaders of the invited countries realise their special responsibility: first, to integrate their own countries in the Alliance, second, to make sure that the start of the enlargement process is smooth, confident and successful, and thirdly, to further the enlargement and renewal of the Alliance.

My nation will ask me whether it can feel more secure now after the Madrid decisions. I can be an optimist - I gained confidence that NATO member states wish to create a united, secure Europe and are ready to implement this strategy and avoid tactic mistakes. However, we shall have to work hard - both in politics and in the practical everyday life.

The Atlantic Alliance is approaching us geographically, and by the same process the Baltic states are also drawing closer to the Alliance both geographically and psychologically.

It is very important for Latvia that the policy of open doors was clearly defined yesterday. NATO is determined to invite new countries in the coming years and concrete mechanisms have been established to support this determination. We wish to fully use these mechanisms to facilitate full integration of the Baltic states into NATO.

The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council as one of the instruments that will help us to implement this shared vision, and promote Latvia's preparations for full integration. The political and practical cooperation for peace that we have had so far has already significantly contributed to our security.

It is important that the Allies have wider opened the doors enabling the interested partners to become further involved in the everyday activities of the Organisation. The involvement of Partners will be one of the most significant features of the new NATO, and we truly hope that in the process of further transformation and renewal of the Alliance the difference between an Ally and an active Partner will indeed be negligible.

What has Latvia gained from the policy of openness of NATO over the recent years? We have gained trustworthy allies the political and practical support of which we can rely on. We have gained Nordic support for the Baltics as a part of the Euro-Atlantic community. The increasing participation of Russia in the PfP activities in the Baltic region is also among our gains. NATO supports peace in Bosnia - and Latvia has gained an opportunity to be a part of this policy.

The policy of openness is not an end in itself. It is an instrument to create an institutionally united Euro-Atlantic area. It is important that the geographic location of a country does not restrict the choice of its security arrangements. We share common values and common vision of stability and prosperity. Yesterday's decisions of the Alliance give new impetus to our state and society in pursuit of our common goal of a free and undivided Europe based on shared values.

There were few 10 years ago who believed that in 5 years the Baltic states would have fully returned to the global community of nations. 5 years ago few believed that today the decision will be taken to issue first invitations to join NATO. Today, when our men are keeping peace in Bosnia side by side with American and Russian solders, there may still be many who have their doubts about how long it will take for the Baltic States to fully return to the Euro-Atlantic community. We are realistic optimists. Looking at Europe's history over the past decade, we have reason to believe that this return will take place sooner than most of today's experts anticipate.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]