Updated: 12-Mar-2003 March 2003

10 Mar. 2003


Lord Robertson continues visits to invitee countries

Lord Robertson travelled to Slovenia and Slovakia on 10 March as part of his round of visits to the seven invitee countries.

He first stop was in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, just under two weeks before a referendum is due, on 23 March, on NATO and EU accession. During his meetings with President Janez Drnovšek, Prime Minister Anton Rop and top government officials, he underlined the benefits of collective security, stressing that defence spending is necessary regardless of whether a country wishes to become a NATO member or not, and that becoming a member means that resources can be spent more efficiently. He also underlined the challenges of membership and commended those in Slovenia who had helped, so far, in promoting NATO membership and the reforms needed to achieve it, as well as those who had actually implemented policy changes and the modernisation of military structures.

Lord Robertson also met the President of the National Assembly and addressed the Parliament. In his speech, he stated that NATO is: "…a community of democracies that share values, and both the determination and the capabilities to uphold them. It is a community that has defended peace for over fifty years. It is a community that will grow next year, to become even stronger and even more effective - and which would welcome Slovenia as a new member".

During his visit to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, Lord Robertson met President Rudolf Schuster, Prime Minister Mikulás Dzurinda, high-level government officials, and the President of the National Council. The Foreign Minister, Eduard Kukan, officially confirmed Slovakia's desire to fulfil the conditions for NATO membership by handing over a letter of intent. The next step will be the preparation of accession protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty for each one of the invited countries. These are expected to be signed by NATO member countries on 26 March 2003.

While addressing a conference hosted by the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Lord Robertson also underlined the benefits and challenges of NATO membership. He stated that NATO membership would mean joining the most powerful Alliance that ever existed, having a seat at the top table when crucial decisions are being made and having Slovakia's voice amplified in international relations. He said that Slovakia had made "solid efforts" in the military sphere, but that defence reform was never-ending. More progress was therefore needed in this area, as well as in other areas such as the administrative and judicial systems and in the parliamentary control of the Slovak security services. Lord Robertson congratulated the efforts made so far in achieving the goals set in the Membership Action Plan, and reiterated his confidence in Slovakia's ability to reach NATO standards.

So far, the Secretary General has visited six of the seven invitee countries. His visit to Estonia is scheduled for 24 March.

Additional information:

  • Speech by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson at the Slovenian Parliament, Ljubljana - 10 March 2003
  • Speech by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson in Slovakia - 10 March 2003
  • Background: The Road to NATO Membership