Updated: 21-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


21 Nov. 2002


by H.E. Mr. Georgi Parvanov, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

Mr. Secretary General,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we have made a decisive step towards the unification of Europe. It will be no exaggeration to compare today's decision for the enlargement of NATO with the fall of the Berlin Wall! Because, here, in Prague, as years ago in Berlin, we closed one of the last pages of a history of injustice and lack of strategic vision! From this day on, we Bulgarians will associate Golden Prague not only with the beautiful architecture and the Czech people's hospitality, with the names of Konstantin Irecek and lan Mrkvicka, with the "velvet revolution" and the dismantling of the Warsaw Treaty. From this day on, for us Bulgarians Prague will be a cornerstone in the new European history, a turning point in Bulgaria's rejoining the family of democratic nations!

By virtue of today's decision Bulgaria will join the Euroatlantic space of security and integration. We welcome this decision with profound gratification because our efforts in the past 12 years, the results of the difficult reforms and our contribution to the regional stability and world security have been recognized for what they are worth.

Allow me to congratulate the leaders of the nineteen for their wisdom, political courage and foresight. I would like to express my hope that the process of accession leading to full membership will take place in the shortest possible term. Until then, Bulgaria will continue to work energetically to fulfill the tasks and obligations under the Membership Action Plan and participate in an appropriate form in the activities of the Alliance.

We firmly support a continued "open door" policy beyond Prague. The prospect of a subsequent enlargement of NATO is the best guarantee of a lasting stabilization of the European Southeast.

NATO's Prague Summit is not just an "enlargement summit". It can be defined as a "transformation summit". By its decisions at this forum the Alliance has proved yet again that it is capable of evolving and responding to the new risks and challenges. Fighting international terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons for mass destruction remain priority tasks for the free and democratic world. The need for greater efficiency lies at the basis of the decisions for restructuring the Alliance and the creation of rapid reaction forces. I feel confident that the decisions from Prague for increasing NATO's capabilities to react in the new security environment will lay the foundation for a new Alliance capable of effectively withstanding the risks and challenges of the 21st century.

The Republic of Bulgaria supports these decisions and will make further efforts to fulfill the tasks of modernizing its armed forces, defining its own contribution and identifying our niche capabilities.

Mr. Secretary General,

I know that the champagne on this occasion will soon bubble off and tomorrow we will be back to our daily grind. I wish to assure you, however, that Bulgaria accepts the invitation for membership not only as a matter of great honor and recognition. We are aware that for Bulgaria this invitation ushers in a new, even more difficult and responsible stage of a full adaptation, political, economic and military; of a further development and consolidation of democracy and the market economy; of greater responsibility for the stability and security of Southeastern Europe and the entire Euroatlantic area.

Thank you for your attention!

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