May 8th, 2006 03:56 EST
Croatia, Albania, Macedonia seek full transatlantic membership By Howard Cincotta
Washington -- Vice President Dick Cheney says that the United States supports the aspirations of Croatia, Albania and Macedonia to become full members of the Euro-Atlantic community, including their goals of joining both NATO and the European Union.
He spoke at a meeting with prime ministers Ivo Sanader of Croatia, Vlado Buckovski of Macedonia and Sali Berisha of Albania in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on May 7.
"It's very important -- both for NATO and the EU -- to take in new members," Cheney said at their meeting in Dubrovnik's Excelsior Hotel. "Those who aspire to join and rejuvenate such organizations, he continued, "help us rededicate ourselves to those basic fundamental values of freedom and democracy that are a very important part of our collective security arrangements."
In 2003, the three nations and the United States signed the Adriatic Charter, which affirms the commitment of Croatia, Macedonia and Albania to the values and principles of NATO, as well as continuing U.S. support for their full integration into the European and Atlantic community.
Cheney also expressed his appreciation for the engagement of the three nations alongside NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he called "a further indication of your willingness to be part of this international effort."
For their part, all three prime ministers expressed their determination to undertake the necessary political, economic and military tasks and reforms necessary to join NATO.
Sanader said, "In NATO, we recognize a uniquely efficient political and defense alliance, an alliance founded on the values of peace, freedom, democracy and free market economy; an alliance which links both sides of the Atlantic into a powerful community of shared values and interests."
The Croatian prime minister expressed the hope that that the upcoming NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, November 28-29 would provide "a strong signal for our future membership." (See related article.)
Berisha said that his government would "take any decision, to pay any price, to seriously implement the NATO membership action plan." Buckovski pointed out that his country had transformed itself from a "consumer" of NATO's security assistance to the role of "contributor to Euro-Atlantic security."
Cheney stopped in Croatia for the meeting of Adriatic Charter members following a summit conference with leaders of nations from the Baltic and Black Sea region in Vilnius, Lithuania. He also met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan in the capital of Astana. (See related article.)
For more information on U.S. policy in the region, see Southeast Europe.
The full transcripts of Cheney's remarks at a meeting with the leaders of the Adriatic Charter nations and at a dinner with Sanader are available on the White House Web site.