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NATO: Applicants Must Finance Armed Forces Upgrade

Maastricht, Netherlands; 2 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary General Javier Solana today told defense officials from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic that they would have to bear most of the cost of joining the alliance.

NATO officials have, so far, not released estimates of how much it will cost for the candidate countries to bring their military forces and infrastructure up to the alliance's standards. But Solana today said it would be significantly less than the cost of achieving security outside of the NATO alliance.

Polish Deputy Defense Minister Andrzej Karkoszka said Warsaw is willing and able to pay the costs. Czech officials also outlined their plan to increase military spending from 1.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product to 2 percent of GDP.

The comments follow a meeting in Maastricht between defense ministers from the 16 NATO countries and the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. France and Germany have insisted that NATO expansion shouldn't be allowed to increase the budget. The U.S., on the other hand, says the expansion will raise costs.