NATO ready to include new members once criteria is fulfilled

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Photo by AFP, 01 Apr 2014 - 18:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

Accession to NATO takes determination, implementation of reforms and years of hard work but the organisation’s door is open for those who are ready to take the next step.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed this point in his article devoted to the Alliance enlargement anniversaries.

"2014 marks a number of significant anniversaries for NATO. It marks 15 years since the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined the alliance; 10 years since the accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined; and five years since Albania and Croatia acceded,” he said.

Rasmussen named Georgia among the countries who still wish to join the Euro-Atlantic organisation.

"Accession to NATO is a free choice but it is not a free ride,” he said.

"These countries [Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro] are all working on the necessary reforms. NATO is supporting them. And once they have done all that is needed, we will make the necessary decisions.”

The Secretary General claimed sovereign states had the right to choose their own course and this was one of the foundation stones of modern Europe.

"That principle has stood us in good stead since the day NATO was founded. We must all stand by it today,” Rasmussen said.