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Bulgaria: Foreign Minister Appeals To NATO To Accept New Members

Munich, 5 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihaylova has appealed to NATO to admit new members from southeast Europe and the Baltics to complete the democratization of Europe.

She told an international meeting on European security in Munich that without these countries in NATO there was a danger of a new division in Europe.

She said it would amount to replacing the old partition of Europe with a new and unstable system of unequal security between nations. She said this would not only be a tragedy but a failure of moral and strategic vision.

The Bulgarian foreign minister said that many of the aspirant countries had assisted NATO's intervention in the Kosovo war.

She said Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia had provided valuable assistance, while Albania and Macedonia had hosted NATO forces on the ground. The Baltic countries had contributed peacekeepers to the Balkans.

The Bulgarian appeal was supported by Romanian Defense Minister Ian Pasco and Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel. They argued separately that the NATO summit meeting in Prague in 2003 should extend invitations to all nine aspirant countries, even if not all of them were ready to join at that time. They said issuing the invitation would encourage the others to meet the conditions.

In a reference to Russia, Rupel said no non-NATO country should be allowed to have a veto on the applicants. Nor, he said, should there be any behind-the-scenes deals on which countries should be invited to join the Alliance.