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NATO doors open to new members, says Rasmussen

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NATO Secretary-General Anders Foch Rasmussen has reaffirmed his organisation's policy of open doors to new members during a visit to Montenegro, the Balkan state said in a statement.


AFP - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met Thursday with senior Montenegrin officials, telling them the Alliance would keep its doors open for membership aspirants, the government said in a statement.

"Rasmussen said the Alliance would remain consistent to its policy of open doors" for new candidates, said the statement released after the NATO official met Montenegro's Foreign and Defense Minister, Milan Rocen and Boro Vucinic respectively.

He "in particularly very much appreciates" Montenegro's decision to send 31 soldiers to Afghanistan, the statement added.

Rasmussen was due to continue the visit on Friday before heading to Bosnia, another Balkans country hoping to join NATO.

The two Balkans states hope soon to be granted so-called membership action plan (MAP) status, the ante-chamber to joining the world's biggest military alliance, the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

NATO foreign ministers are set to meet in Brussels next week to decide whether to provide Montenegro and Bosnia with a membership action plan.

The prospect of membership of NATO and the European Union has been a powerful force for reform in the volatile Balkans, where conflict raged for much of the 1990s.

To join NATO, aspirants must complete political, democratic and military reforms, as well as have good relations with their neighbours. Their citizens must also be in favour of their candidacies.

Their membership must be endorsed unanimously.

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