|Last update: 25-Aug-2006 15:31||NATO Update|
Discussions begin on NATO enlargement
In preparation for the November Summit in Riga, NATO Foreign Ministers, meeting informally in Sofia, Bulgaria, 27-28 April, began discussions on the next round of NATO enlargement.
At a press conference on the first day of the meeting, the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that this was the beginning of discussions and that no decision on enlargement would be made at the Riga Summit.
A “signal” at Riga
But Riga will send a signal on enlargement, the Secretary General told reporters.
The nature of this signal will depend on the performance of the aspirant countries, Mr. De Hoop Scheffer stressed.
“When they are ready, NATO has to be ready,” the Secretary General told reporters.
At present, three countries – Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1) - are part of NATO’s Membership Action Plan, a programme of advice and support for countries wishing to join the Alliance.
Two other countries – Ukraine and Georgia – have stated their ambition to join the Alliance, but are not part of the Membership Action Plan.
The last round of NATO enlargement, in 2004, saw Bulgaria, the host of the meeting, and six other countries - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – joining NATO.