The seven new NATO full member candidates

Posted in NATO | 03-Jun-03 | Source: NATO´S Nations

Bulgaria · Estonia · Latvia · Lithuania · Romania · Slovak Republic · Slovenia

Accession Protocols signed
Representatives of the 19 NATO member countries signed on March 26th Protocols of Accession, which once ratified by the Allies, will allow seven new states to join NATO.
The accession protocols are amendments to the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO`s founding document, that will permit the seven invited countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia- to become parties to the Treaty and members of NATO.
Foreign ministers of the invited countries attended a special session of the North Atlantic Council, NATO`s top decision-making body, at NATO Headquarters for the signing ceremony.
“In a time when we are constantly reminded not to take our security for granted, today’s ceremony is a significant and inspiring example that if we stand firm in defence of our values, we can genuinely change history- for our countries, and for the Euro-Atlantic.
  1. How was the decision by NATO in Prague perceived in the public of your country and in the Parliament?
  2. Do you believe there is still a majority in your country to confirm the membership of the Slovak Republic during the next two years?
  3. Furthermore: which actions have to be done from your side economically regarding the military structure, the modernisation of the armed forces in order to meet the membership standards?
  4. At the end: give us some words about your economy and the process of transformation of your defence industry to the new NATO guidelines. Is your industry prepared and capable to join “industrial club of NATO”?


Nikolai Svinarov

Minister of Defence

  1. For Bulgaria the invitation on November 21st 2002 in Prague is a sign for recognition and confidence on behalf of our European and American partners. I believe that the Bulgarian society considers the invitation as an assessment for the role of our country of a generator of peace, stability and security in South Eastern Europe.
    In political terms this invitation is a chance for Bulgaria to continue on the path of reforms aimed at establishing a modern society, based on the rule of law, recognition of human rights as well as ethnic tolerance.
    The Bulgarian Parliament and the Bulgarian Government focus on the importance of the future NATO membership and the stemming from it reforms not only in the political field but on the economic arena as well. The economic reforms will provide for the successful functioning of the market economy, continuation of the process of privatization and stimulating foreign investments. In the spirit of the membership criteria we apply adequate measures against corruption part of which is establishing a solid normative basis.

  2. The Bulgarian society is united by the idea for the Euro-Atlantic community – and while at the beginning of the 90s it was only 15% that supported the Bulgarian membership in NATO, today more than 60% of the Bulgarians are confident that the membership in the Alliance is the best way to guarantee the national interests. I am believe that the afore-mentioned tendency will continue in the upcoming two years.
    I am sure that the political wisdom accompanied by the commensurate and timely actions will transform Bulgaria from a memberhsip candidate into a good NATO Ally both in good as well as in bad times.
    I am further convined that the new tasks related to fighting asymmetrical risks and threats and particularly the war against terrorism will further enhance the importance of NATO as a multinational military Alliance and a unique institution able to translate the political decisions into military actions.

  3. The adopted Plan for the Build Up, Organization and Structure of the armed forces by 2004 outlines the parameters of the armed forces, namely armed forces adequate to the strategic environment, providing the best
    possible defence within the resource limits the country can afford and result-oriented support for the policy of the Government aimed at joining NATO and the EU as well as sharing the efforts of the international community for supporting the peace and stability.
    The peacetime personnel of the armed forces is defined to be 45,000, while the wartime strength is defined to be 100,000. These final figures would be reached via accelerated downzising, while at the same time a transformation to fully professional armed forces is planned.
    We are in the process of improving the Planning, Programming and Budgeting system of the Ministry of Defence. Of great economic importance and interest are: releasing the excess infrastructure and armament, improving the operational readiness and combat readiness of the units necessary to achieve interoperability with the Alliance.
    We are currently implementing the plan for the modernization of the armed forces. The modernization for the Land Forces include equipment, armament and medical provision for the troops and HQs. The modernization of the Air Force and air defence is concentrating upon improving the capacities and achieving interoperability with NATO, while the modernization of the Navy comprises of a Frigate Control and Command system, coastal radio-location system for floatation control and sea frontier protection as well as additional equipment for their communications and information systems.

  4. In macro-economic terms in 2002 Bulgaria marked one of the highest GDPs among the Central and East European states. For 2003 the defence budget is 2.65% of the GDP and is a little higher than the recommended by the Alliance minimum.
    We are finalizing the privatization process in the field of defence industry and are adapting to the market economy conditions. It is characterized by producing new items, optimization of the links between production and technology; internal regulation of the production items and services balance as well as reduction of the expenditures for maintenance of spar materials that are with limited technological and exploitation resources; harmonization of the management systems for quality of mass and special production in compliance with NATO and EU standards.
    This all will contribute to the successful membership in the “industrial club of NATO”.


Sven Mikser

Minister of Defence

  1. There is no secret that Estonia is a relatively small country with a small population. And it is also plain that even if we allocate quite a big portion of our GDP for defence it would be not enough to create an independent defence system. Thus it is especially important for Estonia to become part of a larger collective security community. And the cornerstone of that community is unquestionably NATO.

  2. Therefore it is absolutely logical why Estonia has never had any problem with public support for joining NATO. Surely, the public support would not be high without the almost unanimous approval of all major political parties throughout eleven years when Estonia has build up its defence. The support of Estonians for joining NATO continues to be over 60 per cent. The last polls show that NATO membership is seen as the most important security guarantee by 61 per cent of Estonians and 27 per cent of non-Estonians.
    It is my firm belief that the public support for Estonia’s aspirations to join NATO will remain high throughout the accession process.

  3. According to the Estonian Security Concept approved by Parliament and relevant Government decisions the defence expenditures are kept on the level of 2% of GDP. By the time of accession, Estonia will re-evaluate its national force structure. One of the aims of the Force Structure Review is to identify a force structure that is balanced against available funding to meet NATO Force Goals and to permit an adequate level of capital investment of 25% or more to meet planned equipment and infrastructure modernisation. The future force structure will also be balanced against the overall need to enhance interoperability, deployability, combat effectiveness, sustainability and survivability in order to meet NATO requirements. An additional aim is to rationalise structures and procedures and reduce the territorial forces to make more efficient use of the defence budget.
    The decision to maintain the defence expenditures on the 2% of GDP level is backed by the estimated favourable overall growth of the Estonian economy.

  4. Privatisation has virtually ended in Estonia and on November 1, 2001, the Estonian Privatisation Agency concluded its activities. Estonia has climbed three places to rank 26th in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) country competitiveness list.
    As for the Estonian defence industry it is of very limited size and has specialised in a few key areas such as development and production of simulators and training systems as well as maintenance of equipment of the Estonian Defence Forces.


Girts Kristovskis

Minister of Defence

  1. There was a sigh of relief and joy in the country, not only among the many people who had invested their time and effort to achieve that goal, but also the general public. Our president’s speech in Prague reflected the feelings of all Latvians, for the first time in our history we were asked to be part of a major mutual defense system that offered us security and protection from aggression. Now there is a future for us, now we can plan because our security will be guaranteed. We know there is a price, but we are willing to pay for our security.
    The members of parliament who supported NATO, as well as some of those who were skeptical, were elated at the invitation. For a country whose peoples self confidence had been shattered and almost eradicated, the NATO invitation did much to restore our self-confidence and self-respect.

  2. The latest polls (December 2002, The State Chancellery ) show that 68,5% of Latvian inhabitants support NATO membership. Among those who do not outright support NATO membership there is a significant percentage 5,5% that is not opposed, but remains undecided and is waiting to see what that membership will bring. Public polls have shown significant increase of the public support towards Latvia’s integration into NATO. This tendency has been regular since 1998.

  3. NATO membership requires that we concentrate our force development along slightly different lines than we had planned. Our original plans took into account he possibility that the NATO invitation may not come. Now we will have concentrate on establishing units that are capable of deploying outside of Latvia with adequate support elements. That requires that we restructure our priorities and concentrate on these most immediate requirements. We will have to procure weapons and communications systems that are compatible with those of other NATO countries. Same is true for support equipment such as trucks and ambulances, as well as light armored vehicles. We have received significant amounts of equipment from our friends, nevertheless we will have to spend a lot of our own resources to acquire this equipment. Peace is costly!

  4. Our economy has been surprisingly robust and has shown a continuous growth for the past several years from 5-7% annually. If this trend continues, we should be able to support the planned 2% outlay for the defense budget.
    As to our “military industry”, Latvia currently does not have a such and industry per se. What we have are a number of small companies that can provide basic military supplies, i.e. uniforms, technical assistance etc. We also have a number of our scientists working under contract or as part of commercial companies that are developing various military and civilian capabilities. It will be some time before we can speak of Latvian companies able to join the NATO “industrial club”. Nevertheless, we are doing everything possible to encourage our scientists to apply their knowledge that can eventually benefit the Latvian National Armed Forces. We have some very capable scientists, what we lack are the resources to support their research and eventually bring their knowledge to the market place.


Linas Antanas Linkevicius

Minister of Defence

  1. The Prague invitation of seven Central and Eastern European countries earmarked a historic decision. The US President G. W. Bush addressing the Lithuanian public during his visit in Vilnius after the Prague Summit assured that there can be “No more Munichs. No more Yaltas”. Significantly, an enlarged NATO would broaden the Euro-Atlantic security community with Central and Eastern European states becoming an integral and indispensable part of it. A part which makes decisions but also takes responsibilities.

  2. Public opinion polls show that three of four Lithuanian citizens support NATO membership (75.6 per cent, Dec 2002). There is also a full consensus among Lithuanian politicians on Lithuania’s accession to the Alliance. In May 2001, all parliamentary parties signed an agreement on defence policy, reiterating their support for NATO integration, setting guidelines for military reforms and confirming the commitment to allocate 2 percent of GDP for defence. Reassuring continuity of Lithuanian defence policy and stable defence financing, the extension of the accord is considered for 2004-2008.

  3. Having started to build its military from scratch, Lithuania has well advanced in creating credible, modern and NATO-interoperable Armed Forces. At present the development of Lithuanian Armed Forces is aimed at boosting defence capabilities to be able to contribute to NATO and fulfil other international commitments and together with the Allies ensure the defence of the Homeland. Upon the completion of the reform, Lithuania will have small, but capable, deployable and sustainable Armed Forces. The highest priority is given to the establishment and development of a Reaction Brigade with all supporting elements which when developed will be able to generate one deployable and sustainable battalion for the full spectrum of NATO led operations. To this end, the training and equipment of one battalion have already been completed to carry out operations with NATO forces. In addition, more than 50 per cent of the procurement budget will be allocated to the armament and equipment of the Reaction Brigade.
    Another top priority of the defence reform is the restructuring of the territorial defence forces to provide host nation support, protection of key strategic facilities and assistance to the civil authorities. Air Force and Naval Force of Lithuania will be maintained small but operational and capable of providing a credible contribution to the Alliance’s missions. In this regard, great emphasis has been placed on the development of the logistic system to correspond the new force structure and commitments. Having devoted 20-25 per cent of defence budget for procurement, Lithuania continues to purchase effective, state-of-the-art and NATO interoperable armament: radars, Javelin, Stinger systems, Harris tactical communications systems, mine-hunters.

  4. More than 20 companies in Lithuania produce defence-related equipment meeting NATO standards. These include garments, personal load carrying equipment, dry food ratios, as well as portable handled radio stations, power supplies and battery chargers, security systems, butts for sharp shooting, sight supports and support holders, etc. Co-operation with foreign partners proves Lithuanian defence-related industry capable to offer high quality products for reasonable price. In addition, several Lithuanian scientific centres have a great research and development potential especially in the areas of lasers, biotechnology and optical electronics and actively participate in various R&D programs of both EU and NATO.
    Extensive economic and social reforms were launched since the re-establishment of Lithuanian independence. The economic growth for the past 3 years has exceeded 5 per cent of GDP and according to the Wall Street Journal’s “Index for Economic Freedom” Lithuania was heralded for having “the most improved economy in the history of the index”. Conclusion of accession negotiations with the EU last year, highlighted the success of economic and social transformation of Lithuania. By 2004 the country will become a full-fledged member of the EU and make these achievements irreversible.
    Lithuanian industry is the most prominent in electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, wood products, machine tools, metal processing, construction materials, textiles, clothing. Excellent infrastructure, proximity to big markets, low operating costs, educated and efficient labour force make Lithuania an attractive target for long-term investments. Growing foreign direct investment demonstrates the confidence of foreign investors in Lithuania’s favourable political, economic and business environment.


Joan Mircea Pascu

Minister of National Defence

  1. Public support for NATO integration is very high in Romania and it could be explained at the quantitative level by the figures revealed in the opinion polls. The last opinion poll, conducted in 2002 by an independent agency, revealed that there is 83% public support for NATO membership. The substantial support of the public, NGOs and media was particularly important for Romania’s candidature and it was embedded in the belief in our nation’s capacity to join and enrich the Euro-Atlantic family. This is to say that the strategic objective of integration gained a collective individuality, becoming not only a governmental objective, but also an objective of the Romanian society. To further demonstrate this support I would like to mention President George W. Bush’s visit in Romania just after the Prague Summit. He was welcomed by thousands of people having the strongbelief that NATO and the U.S. are genuine allies of Romania and that entering the like-minded Euro-Atlantic community represents a certification of our longstanding policies to promote its values and objectives. Needless to say, Prague 2002 represented, historically and politically, a fundamental event for Romania, which definitely influenced our contemporary history, a celebratory occasion both at the public opinion level and at the parliamentarian and governmental level.

  2. Unquestionably, we can speak about a majority to confirm the membership in Romania. Why does Romania want to join NATO? The answer is clear. As well as the geo-strategic objective of ensuring national security and enhancing regional stability, we wish to be part in the most important transatlantic partnership: NATO – an alliance that has to demonstrate today more than ever its strategic relevance and functionality.
    Preparation for NATO membership enjoyed high political support. All parties in the Romanian Parliament supported the objective of joining NATO, and the Government worked closely with the Parliament on issues related to NATO integration. The consensus regarding Romania’s integration into NATO was vividly demonstrated by a series of declarations signed by all political parties and by the representatives of the civil society. Moreover, the political support for the reforms is now stronger than ever.
    The task ahead is to provide basic popular understanding on the responsibilities and tasks of NATO membership, about Romania’s future strategic and military role within the Alliance. Moreover, this is an objective encompassed in the current MAP cycle – MAP IV – regarding public information strategy aimed at maintaining the support of the Romanian public opinion for NATO integration.

  3. Romania has already assumed the NATO full membership posture, both from the political and military point of view. In this context, we will remain committed to maintain a defence expenditure level sufficient for supporting the reform, restructuring and modernization process of the military, envisaged by the Objective Force 2007 concept, which was designed in close cooperation with NATO experts. The current defence expenditure level of 2.38% of the GDP will be maintained through 2006 and beyond, representing a constant growth in real terms of the defence budget. Over the last three years, Romania has succeeded to reverse the negative economic trend and generate a healthy GDP increase of 4.5-5% per year. On the medium and long term we remain optimistic with regard to the economic development prospects of the country.

  4. In order to improve the framework of defence resources management, in an integrated approach, Romania will continue to refine its national defence planning system, which is to a large extent compatible with the NATO defence planning system. The Romanian defence planning system includes a corporate planning process, a six-year planning period, an annual review process (Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Evaluation System). We focus on improving our defense planning mechanisms and methodology, in order to be more effective and responsive to NATO’s defence planning particularities. Against this background, it is clear that, at the Parliament level, the invitation to join NATO was perceived as a crucial success on a long-way to full-fledged membership.


Ivan Simko

Minister of Defence

  1. According to telephonic inquiry by the agency POLIS Slovakia the invitation for Slovakia to join NATO was perceived in that time positively by more than 60% of the Slovaks. It was evaluated negatively by less than 25% of the Slovak people. More than one half of inhabitants believes the membership in NATO will bring about higher level of security.
    The Invitation of Slovakia to join North Atlantic Alliance has been welcomed by all parliamentarian parties apart from the opposing Communist Party. The Prague Summit results caused an uncommon and scarce agreement between coalition and opposing parties, all of them concurred it is an important milestone in the history of our country.

  2. I assume the inhabitants of the Slovak Republic gave the mandate to the parliamentarian politic parties to finish up the integration of the Slovak Republic to NATO.

  3. We continue to improve the system of defence planning. It was approved to allocate financial resources in the amount of 2% of GDP (gross domestic product) for the defence needs of the Slovak Republic. Thanks to this fact it is possible to put a great emphasis on modernisation plan that enabled to carry out a considerable progress in the field of acquisition and modernisation. Nowadays, there is more than 10% of the budget allocated for defence spent for modernisation. There is a perspective goal of the concept of the Reform of the Armed Forces of SR to allocate up to 25% from defence budget. An important part of arms and military equipment modernisation of the Armed Forces is planned by 2010 and the rest is to be carried out by 2015. Modernisation is above all focused on communication and information systems, command system, air sovereignty, the forces of high preparedness and other programs of long-term developed forces. We will assure the interface of national defence planning with NATO defence planning.
    The concept Armed Forces – Model 2010 forms a fundamental conception frame of the reform, in which the Government is going to continue. The strategic aim is building up small forces of high quality, adequately equipped and very well trained forces capable to ensure the defence of the state and to contribute efficiently to a collective defence within NATO.

  4. The planning, management and the control of defence industry of the Slovak Republic are not in the competence of the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic.


Dr. Anton Grizold

Minister of Defence

  1. The decision of the Alliance to issue a formal invitation for membership has been greeted with approval both by the Slovene Parliament and the public. The formal opportunity to join NATO is seen by all major political parties as being the result of continuous diplomatic effort as well as reform of the country’s defence-military sector. The invitation, naturally, also brought forward some concerns and questions regarding Slovenia’s rights and obligations as a member state. These were raised in parliamentary and public debate equally. Slovenia’s role in maintaining regional security for example has been a dynamic one throughout the past decade, involving the cooperation with NATO and other international organizations in several areas of the Balkan Peninsula and including multiple tasks – a multilateral path to be followed also in the future.

  2. Slovenia’s public predominantly supports the country’s membership in NATO and this is unlikely to change significantly in the forthcoming years. The issues and concerns raised in connection with the integration process reflect the diversified security environment, posing new challenges for individual countries as well as the Alliance. These circumstances demand a reassessment of every state’s security requirements. As far as the Slovene Parliament and public are concerned, the Alliance is able to provide the necessary and desirable security framework.
    The Strategic Defence Review, which we are undertaking, will soon answer the principal questions regarding the future shape of the Slovene Armed Forces (SAF) and the defense system as a whole. A basic principle of ongoing defense reforms is the development of a modern, efficient, all-volunteer, affordable military organization, capable of providing national defense, integration into the system of collective defense, and of active contribution to the regional and international peace and stability.

  3. The reforms are focused upon the following areas: achieving a more capable and deployable force and rationalization of the command structure; establishing an army of professional personnel only – an increase from 5,000 to approximately 8,000 in 2010; as well as forming a voluntary reserve with a target strength of 6,000 personnel. Conscription will end in 2004 and compulsory service in the reserve forces will be abolished in 2010, when the war-time structure of the (SAF) will consist of approximately 14,000 personnel. Improvements in the personnel structure of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the SAF and the creation of a more efficient military education and training are further goals to be achieved. The personnel area within the defence system is generally the most pressing issue. We are aware of this and are systematically establishing a suitable human resource management system. As far as the economic aspect of the process is concerned, a gradual increase of defence expenditure is projected from 2003 onwards, reaching 2% of GDP in 2008. Spending of budgetary appropriations will be distributed among human resources, operations and modernisation in the ratio of approximately 50:30:20. A more transparent system of military acquisition is being introduced.

  4. Joining the Alliance is expected to have a positive effect on the country’s defence industry in particular and the economy in general. We are confident that Slovene companies have the skills necessary to face the opportunities for a more intensive international cooperation and to benefit from capital links. Alongside foreign partners, they will be able to participate in projects for joint procurement, maintenance of existing and future weapons as well as other systems, both for the SAF and other NATO allies. In trade relations among countries inside the Alliance, capital-equity links between suppliers and buyers are predominantly replacing offset mechanisms. This allows smaller manufacturers to become part of larger business systems with defined markets and high technology. Links with strategic foreign partners in the equity structure of dedicated production, such as in the steel, optical electronics, chemical, pharmaceutical, electronics, textile, automobile and food industries, in which Slovenia already has developed a capacity, would provide useful additional business opportunities for Slovenia.