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NATO: Solana Says Expansion Cost Is Manageable

Washington, 24 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary General Javier Solana says the cost of NATO enlargement will be manageable, both for the Europeans and the Americans as well as for the new members themselves.

In remarks prepared for delivery at American University in Washington today, Solana said there is no need for new members to "arm themselves to the teeth with sophisticated weaponry." He said NATO faces no current threat, and that all the alliance expects is for new members over time to make a credible effort to achieve an essential level of compatibility with current NATO forces.

He also said that the new NATO-Russia council is no guarantee of perfect harmony. Solana said Russia cannot expect to block NATO decisions, but he said it can expect NATO to listen to Russia's views and to take seriously legitimate points.

Solana said the decision to invite the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to join NATO is the most visible sign that the new post-Cold War Atlantic community is growing. He said that for him, enlargement is inevitable and a settled issue.

Solana said the simple answer to those who have not been invited on the first round is that there wil be further rounds. He said the nine remaining applicants should continue to advance their cases and continue reforms. No democratic country will be excluded from consideration, he said.