Bulgaria Joins NATO before Istanbul Summit

Politics | December 4, 2003, Thursday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria Joins NATO before Istanbul Summit Bulgaria’s official NATO accession will surely be before the Istanbul summit in June 2004, Foreign Minister Passy announced. He attended the North Atlantic Council meeting at the level of FMs in Brussels. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (novinite.com)

Bulgaria and six other NATO invitees will join the Alliance before Istanbul summit in June 2004, North Atlantic Council (NAC), chaired by outgoing NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, decided in Brussels. The news was broken by Foreign Minister Passy in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.

Bulgaria and the other six NATO invitees will be asked to join NATO right after the completion of ratification of the accession protocols, reads the final communique of the 19 Foreign Ministers of NATO members and the seven membership invitees adopted Thursday.

There is no turning back. If somebody has such illusions, these illusions should be better shed off, Minister Passy said.

Speaking to Bulgarian reporters covering the Brussels forum, Passy said it is early to pinpoint a date of the official accession but it will surely be before the Istanbul Summit in June 2004.

Minister Passy added that the decision comes as no surprise as the move has been expected. Bulgaria will acquire the status of NATO full-member in April or at the beginning of the summer, he said.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister stressed on the eagerness of NATO member states to accede sooner the new allies and the contribution of the Bulgarian diplomats and ambassadors to boost their motivation.

The NAC meeting was the last to be chaired by outgoing NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and the first to be attended by the foreign ministers of Bulgaria and the other six invitee nations.

Bulgaria had already received assurances of such an optimistic scenario during the 11th Annual Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Netherlands' Foreign Minister and future NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said back then that NATO will consider the option of Bulgaria becoming full NATO member prior to the Alliance summit in Istanbul in June 2004. NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Issues Gunter Altenburg, who voiced the expectation that NATO member states will ratify Bulgaria's accession protocol before the Istanbul summit.

Bulgaria was invited to accession talks with NATO at the summit in Prague last year. Membership invitations were also extended to Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
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