Ex-Soviet Nations Rallied to 21st-Century Cause; NATO Membership Expands by 7, Faces 'New Enemy' in Terrorism

Article excerpt

Byline: James G. Lakely, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Bush yesterday welcomed seven former Soviet Bloc nations into NATO, urging those countries that "know what tyranny is" to help him rally the alliance in the global war on terrorism.

Diplomats and leaders from Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia enthusiastically greeted Mr. Bush's speech on the South Lawn of the White House.

He reminded those assembled that NATO already has pledged to defend its members from the new threat of terrorism.

"Some wondered whether NATO could adapt to the new threats of the 21st century," Mr. Bush said. "Those doubts were laid to rest on September the 12th, 2001, when NATO invoked - for the first time in its history - Article 5 of our charter, which states that an attack against one NATO ally is an attack against all."

NATO was formed by the allies of World War II to counter the rising power of the Soviet Union.

"Today, our alliance faces a new enemy, which has brought death to innocent people from New York to Madrid," the president said. "Terrorists hate everything this alliance stands for. They despise our freedom. They fear our unity. They seek to divide us.

"They will fail. We will not be divided."

With the addition of the seven countries, membership in the 55-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization has grown to 26. The benefits of membership begin immediately, and representatives of the new members will take part in their first meeting Friday in Brussels.

The inclusion in NATO of countries formerly hidden behind the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain - Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined in 1990 - has rankled Russia, but the process shows no sign of stopping. …