The U.S. Senate approved S.494, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar’s bill that endorses further enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by voice vote last night. The “NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007” would facilitate the timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine to NATO.
The House passed a similar version of the bill on March 6; a technical difference must be resolved between the bills before it can become law.
“The goal of this bill is to reaffirm United States support for continued enlargement of NATO to democracies that are able and willing to meet the responsibilities of membership. In particular, the legislation calls for the timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine to NATO and authorizes security assistance for these countries in Fiscal Year 2008. Each of these countries has clearly stated its desire to join NATO and is working hard to meet the specified requirements for membership,” Lugar said.
“I believe that eventual NATO membership for these five countries would be a success for Europe, NATO, and the United States by continuing to extend the zone of peace and security. Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia have been making progress on reforms through their participation in the NATO Membership Action Plan since 2002. Unfortunately, Georgia and Ukraine have not yet been granted a Membership Action Plan but nevertheless have made remarkable progress. This legislation will provide important incentives and assistance to the countries to continue the implementation of democratic, defense, and economic reforms.
“Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been evolving to meet the new security needs of the 21st century. In this era, the threats to NATO members are transnational and far from its geographic borders. There is strong support among members for NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, and for its training mission in Iraq. NATO’s viability as an effective defense and security alliance depends on flexible, creative leadership, as well as the willingness of members to improve capabilities and address common threats,” Lugar said.