K. Albright, US Secretary of State
at the 9+3 Meeting
Good morning. I am pleased to be here. Although brief, this is an important
opportunity to get together with NATO's newest members, and those who
aspire to become members when the next round of NATO enlargement occurs.
Since 1994, when President Clinton first outlined his vision of a new
NATO for the 21st Century, America has welcomed and encouraged those European
democracies who have expressed an interest in adding their strength to
ours in the NATO Alliance.
As I will affirm later today at the EAPC Ministerial, America's commitment
to NATO's open door has not changed. Nor has our commitment to help countries
that want to become allies develop the capabilities that would enable
them to walk through that door.
I am encouraged by the progress many of the countries represented here
are making to improve your candidacies and implement your Membership Action
Plans. And I am very impressed by the spirit of teamwork and cooperation
the nine aspiring partners have shown toward each other and their openness
to cooperation with others.
As you know, the exact timing and scope of the next round of NATO enlargement
is not yet certain. What is certain is that the first round has led to
a stronger, more capable and more dynamic Alliance. There is every reason
to believe that further enlargement, if carefully planned and prepared,
will yield the same result.
So I encourage your continued efforts, and look forward to a positive