Last updated: 09-May-2006 11:22 NATO Topics

Fr. / Eng.


Discussions begin on NATO enlargement
NATO welcomes seven new members
Air policing extended to the new NATO Allies
Seven new members join NATO
One step closer to an enlarged NATO
Accession protocols signed

Focus series on 7 invitees

Official texts
Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty
"Towards a Wider Europe: The New Agenda" - Speech by NATO Secretary General, at Prime Ministerial Conference, Bratislava
Inauguration of the new NG building at NATO Headquarters - Speech by NATO Secretary General
Background briefing on the accession talks with NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs
Audio file (.MP3/15112Kb)
PDF Library
02/02/04 - NATO
Enhancing security and extending stability through NATO enlargement

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.

What does this mean in practice?

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”.

Which NATO bodies have a central role?

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.

Further details on this topic

1Turkey recognise the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.