Updated: 21-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


21 November

Opening Statement

by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with invitees

Good afternoon. There has never, ever, been a meeting like this before. In Madrid, five years ago, the North Atlantic Council invited three countries to start the process of joining NATO. Today, NATO’s Heads of State and Government have issued invitations to seven countries to begin accession talks. As a consequence, we will increase the NATO population by 46 million, the land mass to 593,000 sq. km.

I would like on behalf of my colleagues of the North Atlantic Council to welcome the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to this special meeting of the North Atlantic Council - the first, I am sure, of many meetings of this kindl.

The tremendous efforts made by all seven countries to meet NATO’s extremely demanding criteria for membership is a matter for celebration, around this table, throughout the North Atlantic Alliance and right across the continent of Europe.

Your accession will enhance your security, strengthen NATO and help build a Europe democratically united, free and at peace. But as everyone here knows, your work is far from over. Membership of the world’s most effective security and defence organisation carries heavy responsibilities.

There is no room for passengers. Every NATO member has to add value, to be a net producer of security in an uncertain world. And the highest standards of democratic values will be expected of you, now and indeed into the future.

The good news is that NATO will help. through the Membership Action Plan and by involving you in the Alliance’s work. But your continuing total commitment is absolutely crucial, together with your willingness to take part in NATO’s continuing process of transformation.

All of us are confident that all seven countries here today are up to this enormous task. We know that you will be able to shoulder the responsibilities of NATO membership. We know you will add value, and weight, to NATO.

We are very glad to have you with us.

I would now like to invite the Dean of the North Atlantic Council and Host of the Prague Summit, President Havel, to address the meeting.

Thank you.

I would now like to ask the Heads of State and Government of those countries that have been invited to begin accession talks with the Alliance, to address the meeting.

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