|Updated: 22-Nov-2002||November 2002|
NATO invites seven countries to Accession Talks
NATO Heads of State and Government have formally invited the following countries, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, to Accession Talks with NATO.
The decision was announced today at the opening session of a two-day Summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in the Czech capital Prague, 21 and 22 November.
"This has been a hugely significant decision, for NATO, for these seven countries that we have just invited to start accession talks, and for the Euro-Atlantic Community," said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson when announcing the decision.
The invited countries are expected to join NATO in 2004.
This will be the fifth enlargement in the Alliance's history: Greece and Turkey joined in 1952; Germany in 1955; Spain in 1982; and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999.
"Today's the invitees will not be the last. Through the MAP [Membership Action Plan] process, we will continue to help you pursue your reform process, and we remain committed to your full integration into the Euro-Atlantic family of nations," said the Secretary General in a message to those aspirant countries who were not invited to begin accession talks.
A meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government with the Heads of State and Government from the invited countries will be held today at 15:30 (GMT +1). The session will be webcast live at NATO Prague Summit website: www.nato.int/prague
In the course of the Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government are expected to take a number of far-reaching decisions on NATO’s future roles and tasks.