Clinton Affirms NATO Open-door Membership Policy

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2012 — Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton said at NATO’s sum­mit in Chica­go today that mem­ber nations are com­mit­ted to the organization’s open-door mem­ber­ship pol­i­cy, which she called a “pow­er­ful moti­va­tion” for coun­tries wish­ing to join the alliance.

Speak­ing at a meet­ing of NATO’s deci­sion-mak­ing body, the North Atlantic Coun­cil, Clin­ton said the prospect of gain­ing mem­ber­ship in the alliance spurs coun­tries to “imple­ment dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary reforms, resolve inter­nal dif­fer­ences as well as dif­fer­ences with their neigh­bors, and con­tribute to secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions that ben­e­fit them­selves and all of us.”

The open-door pol­i­cy has pro­duced some of the alliance’s most active and com­mit­ted mem­bers, she said, and has helped to pro­mote sta­bil­i­ty and coop­er­a­tion in cen­tral and east­ern Europe.

Accord­ing to NATO agree­ments, the alliance is open to any Euro­pean coun­try able to meet the com­mit­ments and oblig­a­tions of mem­ber­ship and con­tribute to secu­ri­ty in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Since 1949, NATO’s mem­ber­ship has increased from 12 to 28 coun­tries through six rounds of enlarge­ment. Alba­nia and Croa­t­ia, which were invit­ed to join NATO at the alliance’s April 2008 sum­mit in Bucharest, Roma­nia, for­mal­ly became mem­bers April 1, 2009.

Geor­gia is advanc­ing toward NATO mem­ber­ship, and Mace­do­nia, Mon­tene­gro and Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina are also work­ing to become alliance mem­bers.

Clin­ton said the Unit­ed States is deeply com­mit­ted to NATO’s open-door pol­i­cy. “It is in that spir­it that we wel­come our aspi­rant nations here today,” she said.

“We will keep work­ing with each of them, both bilat­er­al­ly and through NATO, to help them imple­ment final­ly the reforms need­ed to meet the stan­dards for mem­ber­ship,” she added. “As I said yes­ter­day, I believe this sum­mit should be the last sum­mit that is not an enlarge­ment sum­mit.”

Clin­ton said NATO looks to aspir­ing mem­ber nations to demon­strate that they share NATO’s val­ues and =are will­ing and able to meet the stan­dards for mem­ber­ship. “And we promise to help them as they do so because this is in our inter­est,” she added.

Gain­ing mem­ber­ship can be a lengthy and chal­leng­ing process, Clin­ton acknowl­edged.

“We need to stick with it and remem­ber our ulti­mate goal: a stronger, more durable, more effec­tive NATO,” she said, adding that enlarge­ment of the alliance, done right, is a core ele­ment of NATO’s pur­pose and its com­mu­ni­ty.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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