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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 35, March 1999

NATO Admits Three New Members

In Washington on 12 March, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became members of NATO when they submitted their instruments of accession to the Alliance's depositary power, the United States. Russia views NATO expansion with great unease - an unease likely to have been dramatically intensified by the Kosovo crisis. In a statement issued from Arkansas on 12 March, President Clinton stressed that he hoped the expansion process was far from complete: "For three days beginning on 23 April, NATO's 19 members will meet in Washington for the 50th anniversary of our alliance... We will honour NATO's achievements... We will also prepare our alliance to meet the challenges ahead, strengthen our partnership with Europe's newly democratic nations, and reaffirm our commitment that NATO's newest members will not be the last." Other statements and reaction follow:

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 12 March: "Never again will your fates be tossed around like poker chips on a bargaining table. Whether you are helping to revise the Alliance's Strategic Concept or engaging in NATO's partnership with Russia, the promise of 'nothing about you without you,' is now formalised; you are truly allies; you are truly home."

NATO's North Atlantic Council, 12 March: "The Alliance will continue to welcome new members in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO's door will remain open to all those willing and able to contribute to our common vision of a lasting order of peace based on human rights, freedom and democracy."

Jan Kavan, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, 12 March: "The process of European integration of today would not be possible without the active and strong involvement of the United States since World War II. ... NATO is not only the bedrock of our common defense but also an instrument for projecting cooperation, peace and stability beyond the treaty territory. The Partnership for Peace has become the most successful cooperative security project in the post-Cold war world. We very much appreciate the Alliance's cooperation with both Russia and Ukraine. This is very important for the European security of the 21st century."

Dr. Janos Martonyi, Foreign Minister of Hungary, 12 March: "In the past, Hungarians often complained of abandonment, of standing up alone. At long last, that is over. Hungary has come home, we are back in the family. Together with all of you, we have just started a new chapter of history. From this day on, we are the closest of allies in our great endeavour, the quest for peace and prosperity."

Bronislaw Geremek, Foreign Minister of Poland, 12 March: "For the people of Poland, the Cold War, which forcibly excluded our country from the West, ends with our entry to NATO. Poland, as a member of the most powerful alliance, joins the vital process of bridging old divisions and contributes to the security and stability in Europe. ...We should keep the door to the alliance open for those who have fought for freedom. Another curtain must never again descend on Europe. Although it would lack the rigidity of the old, iron one, it would almost certainly become as cruel. It would keep us divided economically, if not politically. Based on common values and principles, NATO must promote [a] value-oriented approach to democracy, stability and peace."

Russia is concerned that reform of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty should accompany NATO expansion. On 16 February, Senator Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to President Clinton urging him to resist Moscow's "ludicrous" demands. According to Helms: "Undue haste in concluding a new CFE Treaty will be a missed opportunity to use arms control to rectify the dramatic military imbalances used by Russia to bully and undermine its neighbours."

Reports: Helms - resist Russia weapons treaty, Associated Press, 16 February; Text - North Atlantic Council welcomes three new allies March 12, United States Information Service, 12 March; Text - Albright on NATO entry of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, United States Information Service, 12 March; Text - Hungary's Foreign Minister on NATO entry, March 12, United States Information Service, 12 March; Text - Czech Foreign Minister on NATO entry, March 12, United States Information Service, 12 March; Text - NATO accession of Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, 12 March; United States Information Service Text - Clinton statement on accession to NATO of three new members, United States Information Service, 15 March.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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