|Last update: 02-Apr-2004 14:56
NATO welcomes seven new members
On 2 April a flag-raising ceremony and a special meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers was held at NATO to celebrate the accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
At 9:30 am the flags of the seven new Allies were raised at the entrance to the Alliance’s Headquarters in Brussels as each country’s national anthem was played.
The Foreign Ministers of the current 19 members, the seven new Allies, as well as NATO staff witnessed the historic and emotional moment.
“The accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia demonstrates the principle that freedom is irrepressible,” said Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, opening a special meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, which followed the raising of the flags.
“From now on, 26 Allies will be joined in a commitment to defend each others’ security and territorial integrity. This is the strongest, most solemn commitment nations can undertake,” he added.
The historic first meeting of the 26 NATO Foreign Ministers was followed by an informal working luncheon, which focused on the preparations for the upcoming Summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Istanbul, 28 and 29 June.