NATO INVITATION IN 2008
Albania, Croatia and Macedonia expect to be invited to join the NATO military alliance in April next year, the Croatian foreign minister said after a meeting here on Saturday.
The three countries "expect an invitation for NATO membership in Bucharest," Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told journalists, referring to a NATO summit to be held in the Romanian capital in April 2008.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rosemary DiCarlo, also at the two-day meeting, stressed Washington's strong support for the three countries' bids to join the alliance.
"We will do our utmost to make them the best possible candidates by April of 2008," DiCarlo said, stressing that region's integration into both NATO and the European Union were important for its long-term stability.
Albania, Croatia and Macedonia signed the so-called Adriatic charter with the United States, aimed at facilitating their integration into NATO, in May 2003.
They are members of the alliance's Partnership for Peace programme, set up after the collapse of the Soviet Union to establish military cooperation between former Soviet bloc states and NATO countries, together with European neutrals.