Madrid, 9 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - General George Joulwan, NATO's supreme military commander, said today that the decision to admit Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as new members was primarily a political decision and not a military one. However, he said he is confident NATO can work with those Central European armies.
Speaking at a news conference in Madrid, Joulwan stressed several times that the decision to expand to take in these former Warsaw Pact countries was made on political grounds. But he added that he feels "very comfortable with the decision made."
He said a great deal of work needs to be done to bring the military of the three expansion countries up to NATO standards, and this will be a priority for the next two years before the countries reach membership.
The general said it will be possible to adapt the three countries to NATO structures. He said NATO had already proved it could work with Central and East European countries, including Russia, in peace operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.