Updated: 26-Mar-2003 NATO Speeches


26 March 2003


by the Dean of the North Atlantic Council
Ambassador David Wright
NAC Meeting for the Signature of the Accession Protocols

I am pleased, on behalf of colleagues on the Council, to welcome the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to this meeting of the North Atlantic Council.

Today we are taking a crucial step towards welcoming your seven democracies to NATO, this essential transatlantic organization.

This Alliance is based on values. Our North Atlantic Treaty says that the members of the Alliance “are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

Lors du Sommet de l’OTAN qui s’est tenu en janvier 1994, le Premier ministre canadien Jean Chrétien a dit: “il faut tenir compte que les pays qui voudraient joindre notre Organisation ont cru fermement qu’en devenant des démocraties, qu’en respectant les droits de l’homme, qu’en devenant des pays qui épousaient les valeurs que nous défendons tous, ils pourraient joindre notre Organisation.”

Je suis heureux que cette promesse a été tenue.

Last November in Prague when our Heads of State and Government took the historic decision to enlarge the Alliance, our host, President Havel, said it represented “... a great act of confidence in the right of nations freely to decide which part of the world they want to belong to and what alliances they want to establish and nurture.”

NATO was an innovation when it was created. It has adapted and transformed as the world has changed, especially in the past ten years. It continues to change and you will help us with that change.

The accession of new members testifies to your faith, and ours, that the values that bind us -- freedom, democracy and the rule of law -- are greater than any differences we may have.

The decision in Prague was a positive affirmation of confidence in your seven countries and the choices you have made about the future you want for your countries and your citizens.

The reforms you have carried out and the political courage you have shown are recognized today. The applause that will follow the signing will be for you and for the citizens of your countries.

We count on each of you to continue to pursue your reform programmes vigorously and enthusiastically in the coming months and years.

We will work alongside you in this task.

NATO is the cornerstone of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Past enlargements have widened that zone of security and stability to the advantage of all Euro-Atlantic states. Your inclusion in the Alliance will have an equally positive impact.

In the coming months, each member of the Alliance will pursue the ratification of the Accession Protocols. Parliaments will scrutinize the efforts you and we have made to prepare for your membership.

We urge you to use this time to continue to prepare yourselves. The Membership Action Plans that have been agreed, the contributions you are already making to our common endeavours and the experience you will bring to our future deliberations, will all help in the ratification process.

I am confident that together we will be able to achieve the objective set for us in Prague to have all of you as Allies when our leaders meet again in the spring of 2004.



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