|Updated: 24-Jan-2003||NATO Speeches|
by Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Republic of Turkey
Mr Secretary General,
Today we live through a remarkable day in the 53 years of the history of our Alliance and on this momentous occasion I take great pride in representing Turkey which has strongly supported NATO's enlargement.
With this historic decision on enlargement, we irreversibly leave the Cold War and what it stood for behind and also undeniably ascertain the indivisibility of Euro-Atlantic security.
In view of the profound security challenges of the 21st century, which transcend values and borders, the accession of seven new members to our Alliance represents a giant leap forward in terms of consolidating the security of our countries and peoples.
Taking this opportunity, I should also like to stress that we consider enlargement not as an end in itself, but as a means of a constant integration and development process towards the achievement of our common objectives.
Therefore, we expect the newly invited countries to continue to advance in this direction not only up to accession but also in the years ahead.
Likewise, for those aspirants who were not able to receive an invitation today, I would like to underscore the fact that they have already taken impressive strides despite the difficulties of the transition they are undergoing, and that we are committed to render every support to them to continue to press forward along this path and achieve the objective of NATO membership as soon as possible.
This is not only an inescapable prerequisite of the ''open door'' policy, which we firmly support, but also the sole means to achieve our common goal of Europe whole and free, united in peace and by common values.
As of today, which is a historic day for us with the accession of these new members, we will not only strengthen our Alliance, but also look to the future with greater hope and confidence as a result of this great achievement, accomplished through mutual efforts, dedication and solidarity.
With these feelings, I welcome and salute once again the invitees and express our sincere expectation to see them soon sitting around this table of the North Atlantic Council in their full capacity.