NATO Brings Albania, Croatia Into Security Alliance Fold
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2009 NATO has added Albania and Croatia as its newest members.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed the alliance’s newest members in a statement from the NATO headquarters in Brussels yesterday.
“In becoming NATO members, Albania and Croatia share the benefits and responsibilities of collective security,” he said.
The enlargement marks only the sixth time the organization has expanded its borders, and brings to 28 the number of allies that will celebrate six decades since a dozen nations endorsed the North Atlantic Treaty at an April 4, 1949, ceremony here.
Further enlargement is expected to be one of the topics covered at the NATO summit to take place tomorrow and April 4 in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, where the two Balkan nations will be ceremonially inducted into the alliance.
A flag-raising ceremony marking the inclusion of Albania and Croatia is scheduled at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on April 7.
Accession by the two Balkan nations follows the addition of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania in 2004; Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999; Spain in 1982; West Germany in 1955; and Greece and Turkey in 1952.
The founding NATO members were the United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom.