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Romania: German Minister Holds Out Hope For NATO Membership

Prague, 30 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, in a speech to the Romanian parliament today, said Romanian concerns of missing the chance of joining NATO and the European Union in the foreseeable future are unjustified.

Kinkel says the results of NATO's Madrid summit in July are still unforeseeable. He says Romania's desire to join is being examined with the greatest attention

Kinkel says NATO remains open for partners who will not join immediately". He pledged that the new Europe must be without "lines of separation or marginalization."

Kinkel says the EU will begin negotiations with Central and Eastern European countries regarding closer association late this year or early next year. In his words, "there will be transparent criteria and equality for all candidates."

Kinkel says Germany's position is clear.

"We must differentiate, but we do not wish to discriminate. Nobody should have the feeling that a door is being closed in his face," he said.

Kinkel is expected in Bratislava tomorrow for a two-day visit to discuss bilateral relations and Slovakia's prospects for joining NATO and the EU.