Source: Senator Lugar’s website
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar announced unanimous Senate passage last night of S. 4014, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2006.
The goal of this bill is to reaffirm U.S. support for continued enlargement of NATO to democracies that are able and willing to meet the responsibilities of membership. Specifically, the legislation calls for the timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, and Macedonia to NATO and authorizes security assistance for these countries in Fiscal Year 2007. Each of these countries has clearly stated its desire to join NATO and is working hard to meet the specified requirements for membership. The bill also affirms that the U.S. stands ready to consider, and if all applicable criteria are satisfied, to support efforts by Ukraine to join NATO, should Ukraine decide that it wishes to meet the responsibilities of membership in the Alliance.
“I believe that eventual NATO membership for Albania, Croatia, Georgia, and Macedonia would be a success for Europe, NATO, and the United States by continuing to extend the zone of peace and security,” said Lugar.
“Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia have been making progress on reforms through their participation in the NATO Membership Action Plan since 2002. Unfortunately, Georgia has not yet been granted a Membership Action Plan but nevertheless has made remarkable progress. This legislation will provide important incentives and assistance to the countries to continue the implementation of democratic, defense, and economic reforms.
“Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been evolving to meet the new security needs of the 21st century. In this era, the threats to NATO members are transnational and far from its geographic borders. There is strong support among members for NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, and for its training mission in Iraq. NATO’s viability as an effective defense and security alliance depends on flexible, creative leadership, as well as the willingness of members to improve capabilities and address common threats.
“If NATO is to continue to be the preeminent security Alliance and serve the defense interests of its membership, it must continue to evolve and that evolution must include enlargement. Potential NATO membership motivates emerging democracies to make important advances in areas such as the rule of law and civil society. A closer relationship with NATO will promote these values and contribute to our mutual security.
“Three years ago, the United States Senate unanimously voted to invite seven countries to join NATO. Today, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia are making significant contributions to NATO and are among our closest allies in the global war on terrorism. It is time again for the United States to take the lead in urging its allies to bring in new members, and to offer timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, and Macedonia to NATO,” said Lugar.
Lugar will give a keynote speech on Monday, November 27 to the NATO Conference in Riga, Latvia.
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