PRESIDENT George Bush yesterday signed papers to declare formal US support for Nato membership for Albania and Croatia, countries he once said were in the “shackles of communism”.
At a White House ceremony, the President signed accession protocols to move the two countries a step closer to membership in the expanding military alliance. Nato currently has 26 member countries.
“The citizens of Albania and Croatia have overcom
e war and hardship, built peaceful relations with their neighbours and helped other young democracies build and strengthen free societies,” he said.
“Once Albania and Croatia formally join Nato, their people can know if any nation threatens their security, every member of our alliance will be at their side.” albanian news
President Bush said the United States looked forward to the day when Nato embraced all the nations of the Balkans, including Macedonia, whose membership is being held up by Nato member Greece because of a bilateral dispute over the use of the name Macedonia.
The President also reiterated US support for prospective Nato members Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying: “The door to Nato membership also remains open to the people of Serbia, should they choose that path.”
The ceremony followed President Bush’s meeting in the Oval Office with Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who noted that Albania and Croatia will be the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.
“Their accession will be a boon for Nato, as it will strengthen our common effort to safeguard and promote security and stability,” he told a room filled with about 160 politicians, members of the diplomatic corps, the US ambassadors to Albania and Croatia, and members of Albanian-American and Croatian-American groups.