|Updated: 05-Dec-2002||NATO Speeches|
21 Nov. 2002
by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
I would like first of all to thank our Czech hosts and you in particular, Mr President, for the excellent organization of the Summit and the warm hospitality we are enjoying here in Prague.
Today's meeting takes place against the backdrop of NATO's enlargement and transformation.
Germany welcomes the fact that Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia have been invited to become new members of the Alliance. In recent years they have all carried out major reforms and made considerable progress. Joining NATO will be for these countries a historic step. But also for the Alliance this is a notable achievement.
The forthcoming enlargement will make a crucial contribution to strengthening the Euro-Atlantic community of stability and shared values, a community founded on democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
We very much look forward to working together with these seven future new members and will continue to support them as they prepare for accession.
Tribute should also be paid to the progress Albania, Macedonia and Croatia have made in their preparations for NATO membership. We would encourage them to keep up the momentum of reform. Over the years ahead Germany will give them the same wholehearted support as it gave the seven new members. Looking to the future beyond Prague, NATO remains ready to admit new members, its doors will stay open.
The Alliance itself, too, needs to keep on adapting, not only in order to integrate the new members but also so that it can respond to the new challenges and threats that have emerged more effectively. There as well, we have important decisions to take today.
Thank you very much.