Views on BG | October 6, 2001, Saturday // 00:00

Financial Times

Lord Robertson, the Nato secretary-general, said yesterday the US terrorist attacks would not stop the alliance`s planned eastward enlargement. `My message is simple: the terrorist attacks have neither derailed the enlargement process nor slammed Nato`s door shut. The logic of enlargement remains as compelling today as it was on September 10 2001,` said Lord Robertson at a meeting in Sofia with leaders of 10 former communist countries seeking to join the alliance. He also promised that Nato would remain engaged in the troubled Balkans. Afghanistan was a `black hole` with no viable state structure, which made it a safe haven for terrorists, he said. `That is why Nato is engaged in south-east Europe to prevent such black holes from emerging on our doorstep.` His words were echoed in a letter from US President George W. Bush, who said he supported Nato membership `for all of Europe`s new democracies from the Baltics to the Black Sea who share our values`. Mr Bush and Lord Robertson`s messages will help dispel fears in eastern Europe that the attacks might delay the planned enlargement. A Nato summit in Prague in November 2002 is expected to clear the way for several new countries` membership. The applicants are Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Croatia, which also attended the Sofia conference, has yet to submit an application. These countries would join the three ex-communist states which entered Nato in 1999 - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

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