Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Slovenia's NATO Bid

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Slovenia's NATO Bid

Article excerpt

In July, NATO members will meet in Madrid to issue invitations for full membership in the alliance. The Republic of Slovenia, which was founded only six years ago, has clearly stated its wish to participate in this historic process and to be included in the first round of NATO enlargement.

Bordering Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, Slovenia is a developed and industrialized country in the heart of Central Europe. Since our independence, we have served as a stabilizing factor in Europe based on our political, social, and economic achievements. We have no territorial disputes with our neighbors, and our human rights record exceeds European standards.

From our bilateral dialogues with NATO and participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, we have gained a better insight into the alliance, its functioning, and its mechanisms. As a result, we are now even more convinced that our principal national security interest lies in full membership. Moreover, Slovenia is probably the only country whose candidacy does not antagonize Russia. Slovenia was not a Soviet republic, nor a member of the Soviet bloc or the Warsaw Pact. Its inclusion would not bring NATO any closer to Russia's borders and would fit well into the alliance's nonconfrontational policy toward Russia. Since it would be the only continental link between NATO and likely member Hungary, Slovenian membership in NATO would provide strategic and logistical benefits. Hungary would otherwise be isolated from its fellow NATO members. A first-round invitation would confirm the fact that Slovenia plays a stabilizing role in Central Europe. At the same time, it would send an important message to the region: The West recognizes the democratic achievements and rewards the constructive and responsible efforts of the partnership countries by inviting them to join the alliance. …

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