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NATO invites Albania, Croatia to join

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Latest update : 2008-04-03

While NATO allies said they approved Croatian and Albanian memberships, the divide over whether to let Ukraine and Georgia join the alliance shows no sign of diminishing. (Report: A. Yeoh)

 

Also watch the interview with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, our guest on The Talk of Paris.

 

The NATO summit opening Wednesday in Bucharest promises to be heated, in a Romanian capital on veritable war footing for the occasion: the biggest gathering in history of the Atlantic alliance.

 

The Atlantic Alliance’s heads of state will have to overcome their differences regarding to the addition of Ukraine and Georgia at the summit, which continues through April 4th.

 

The United States has openly pushed for the membership of the two former Soviet republics. Though welcomed by many Eastern European countries that are now NATO members, the plan is expected to face opposition by a dozen other countries, particularly Germany and France.

 

Watch a FRANCE 24 report on the American military presence in Romania.

 

German chancellor Angela Merkel was the first to express her reticence on March 10. French prime minister François Fillon confirmed on April 1st that France will not support the American position. “We think that it’s the right response to the balance of power in the relationships in Europe between Europe and Russia, Mr. Fillon declared on France Inter radio.

 

 NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer gave some nuance to the scope of the disagreement. “It’s nothing new to see the 26 democracies of NATO disagree from time to time. These are important decisions. At the present time, we are in the process of evaluating the requests on the part of Ukraine and Georgia to enter into NATO’s “Membership Action Plan. We haven’t yet reached a conclusion. I hope at least that in Bucharest, we are going to come together on it,” he said in a FRANCE 24 interview.

 

An Irate Russia

 

Russia, which is not a member of NATO, looks unfavorably at a possible enlargement. The military alliance would be brought right up to its own borders, considering that Ukraine and Georgia are part of its zones of influence. A special meeting between the heads of NATO and Russia is scheduled for Friday.

 

NATO expansion is not the only reason for discontent in Moscow. The Russian president is expected to bring up with US president George Bush the subject of the anti-missile shield in Europe. In the eleven years of existence of the NATO-Russia Council, this is the first time that a heads-of-state meeting of this kind has been organized.

 

 Whatever the result of the debates, considered “unpredictable” by Secretary-General Scheffer,  NATO is expected to grow by at least two countries in the Balkans, namely Croatia and Albania.

 

 Nearly sixty heads of state and government are expected in Bucharest, as well as the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the European Commission president José Manuel Barroso.

 

To get more in-depth, watch Top Story with Robert Parson: NATO split over Ukraine, Georgia.

Date created : 2008-04-02

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