Balkan states seek NATO invitation

Other News Materials 9 February 2008 21:05 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski on Saturday said he expected his country to be invited to join NATO at the alliance's April summit in Bucharest, along with Albania and Croatia.

"We are optimistic that the upcoming NATO summit will extend an invitation to the three candidates from the Adriatic group to become members of the organization," Crvenkovski said.

The president was addressing a high-level discussion on global security in Munich. For talks dedicated to European stability, he was flanked by Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin and their Georgian colleague, Mikheil Saakashvili.

In a speech made earlier to the conference, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had said he hoped the April 2-4 summit would be "ready to open NATO's door to new members" from the Balkans, including Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Unlike the latter two, Macedonia, Albania and Croatia are already members of NATO's Membership Action Plan. But full NATO membership for these three countries is still expected to take time. One problem is that NATO member Greece objects to Macedonia joining under this name, preferring the term former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia instead.

In his address to the Munich conference, Crvenkovski also called for calm and restraint on the issue of Kosovo, the predominantly ethnic-Albanian province that is seeking independence from Serbia in spite of opposition from Belgrade.

"What is needed is moderation and calmness by the local players" as well as 'dedication and strategic leadership of the Atlantic community'," he said.