|Last updated: 09-May-2006 11:22||NATO Topics|
Fr. / Eng.
NATO has an open door policy on enlargement. Any European country in a position to further the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area can become a member of the Alliance, when invited to do so by the existing member countries.
On 29 March 2004, seven new countries formally joined the Alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. This was the fifth, and the largest, round of enlargement in the Alliance’s history.
The fifth round of NATO enlargement may not be the last. At present, three countries - Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 - are members of NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP), designed to assist aspiring partner countries meet NATO standards and prepare for possible future membership.
Aspirant countries are expected to participate in the Membership Action Plan to prepare for potential membership and demonstrate their ability to meet the obligations and commitments of possible future membership. They must then be officially invited by NATO to begin accession talks with the Alliance.
How did this policy evolve?
Since the Alliance was created in 1949, its membership has grown from the 12 founders to today’s 26 members. Enlargement is in fact an on-going and dynamic process, based upon Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, which states that membership is open to any “European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.
Invitations to join the Alliance are issued by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal decision-making body. Relations with partner and aspirant countries are maintained by NATO’s international staff as well as specialized committees, subordinate to the Council.
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