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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stressed Monday the importance of bringing more countries into NATO as she spoke before a meeting with the foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro and Macedonia at the NATO Summit in Chicago.
Clinton said NATO is committed to its open door policy. There were only 12 countries in NATO in 1949 and there are 28 today.
“As I said yesterday, I believe this summit should be the last summit that is not an enlargement summit,” Clinton said.
Clinton said that by this fall Georgia will become the largest non-NATO contributor to support the International Security Assistance Force or ISAF initiative in Afghanistan. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has praised Georgia for its plans to double security forces in Afghanistan.
As of May, Georgia had 800 troops in Afghanistan. Georgia is one of dozens of partners that aren’t full members of NATO.
According to Clinton, Georgia has made efforts to reform their democratic system, and it has been asked to pledge to avoid using force with neighboring country Russia, which Georgia went to war with in 2008. Russia has been asked to pledge the same, she added.
Macedonia also has contributed to the ISAF , Clinton said. The country has approximately 177 troops in Afghanistan. While it has fulfilled the standards for NATO membership, Clinton said NATO is working with Macedonia to solve the name dispute with Greece.
Since 1991, The Republic of Macedonia has been battling Greece over the name “Macedonia,” which is similar to ancient kingdom of Macedon, located in Greece.
According to Clinton, support from the people of Montenegro is growing for the country to join NATO. That country has made contribution to ISAF as well and has made reforms in military and security services.
In June 2006, Montenegro formally declared its independence from Serbia. Following its independence, the country received membership in the United Nations.
Montenegro is also in talks with the European Union about membership.
Currently Bosnia-Herzegovina is making efforts to join NATO.
“We welcome the political agreement on defense properties and now we urge that it be implemented,” Clinton said.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is an emerging federal democratic republic. Human rights reforms have recently been implemented in the last year. It declared its independence in March 1992 from Yugoslavia.
NATO played a key role in intervening in the Bosnian war in the 1990s.
Clinton stated that these four countries all share our values and are willing and able to make the standards for membership in NATO.
“Regarding all these countries, as with any country that wishes to join NATO, we look to them to demonstrate that they share our values and they are willing and able to meet the standards for membership,” Clinton said. “And we promise to help them as they do so because this is in our interest. We know it can be a lengthy and challenging process, but we need to stick with it and remember our ultimate goal: a stronger, more durable, more effective NATO.”