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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 23, 1999

NATO Summit: NATO's Newest Members

Fact Sheet

NATO welcomes as its newest members the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. This historic step culminates a process first begun in 1994, when President Clinton and other NATO leaders signaled their determination to erase the Cold War division of Europe and strengthen the Alliance by accepting new members.

The Process of Accession

Invitations to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to begin accession negotiations were issued by NATO leaders at the July 1997 NATO Summit in Madrid. In December 1997, Allies and the three invitees signed protocols to the NATO treaty. These protocols were subsequently ratified by all 16 NATO allies, allowing Secretary General Solana, in January 1999, to invite the three to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty. Their instruments of accession were deposited in a ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri on March 12, 1999.

The accession of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic marked the fourth time NATO has added new members since it was founded in 1949:

The addition of new members has strengthened NATO and widened the zone of stability and security in Europe.

NATO's Door Remains Open

NATO's 19 leaders have reaffirmed in Washington their enduring commitment to NATO's Open Door policy, pledging that this round of NATO enlargement will not be the last.

Nine of NATO's current partners have declared their candidacy for future membership, including Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Initiation of NATO's Membership Action Plan will help these states build the strongest possible candidacy for future membership.