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Keep the Russians out,
Keep the Americans in, and
Keep the Germans down.
Lord Ismay, 1957
First Secretary General of NATO - 1952-1957

"Out of area or out of business"
US Senator Richard G. Lugar, ~1990?

NATO Enlargement

In 1994 NATO launched the Partnership for Peace. This program, which initially included 27 non-NATO states, is open to all the countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. In May 1997, President Clinton and the other NATO leaders signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act, reflecting the desire to build a new and constructive relationship with a democratic, peaceful Russia.

NATO has enlarged six times since its founding in 1949 - adding Greece and Turkey in 1952, Germany in 1955, and Spain in 1982. As a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has been a valued ally and participant in international security activities. At the Madrid summit in July 1997, President Clinton and the other NATO leaders unanimously decided to invite Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to begin the process of joining NATO. The three new members, bringing total membership to 19 states, added approximately 200,000 troops to NATO's ranks in 1998. By early 2002 nine European countries had applied for NATO membership: Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. All were participating in the Membership Action Plan set up during the 1999 Washington Summit. At Prague, on November 21, 2002, the members' heads of state designated the three Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia, as prospective members, bringing total membership to 26 states. The applications of Albania and Macedonia were deferred. On April 4, 2009 NATO marked 60 years of operation by welcoming two new countries - Albania and Croatia - to the alliance during a ceremony in Strasbourg, France, bringing total membership to 28 states.

In 1949 France was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a regional defense alliance led by the trans-Atlantic partners. France has relied on NATO ever since, while also insisting on a degree of independence in military affairs. In 1966 France, wanting sole control of its nuclear weapons, withdrew its forces from NATO's integrated military command structure, while remaining a member of NATO's political councils. NATO today is no longer the NATO of 1966, when President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from the Alliance's military command out of concerns over preserving the country's foreign policy independence.

In 1995 France rejoined the military structure and has since worked actively to adapt NATO - internally and externally - to the post-Cold War environment. By 2005 France was one of NATO's top military contributors. The French currently led NATO forces in Kosovo, are participating in NATO military operations in Afghanistan and have offered to train 1,500 Iraqi police outside of Iraq. The French military has been an active supporter of NATO's modernization and was a leading contributor to the NATO Response Force.

France is a longtime contributor to NATO missions from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo to Afghanistan. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans in Paris on 11 March 2009 for France to fully rejoin NATO. In a March 11 speech at the cole Militaire in Paris, Sarkozy announced his intention to end France's self-imposed exile from the alliance's leadership. Times have changed, he said, and as the alliance's fourth-largest contributor of funds and deployed troops, France can better protect its interests in the face of emerging security challenges by having a voice in strategic discussions at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. By fully rejoining the alliance, France's military will benefit from support with force modernization and greater interoperability with its NATO allies. Full membership may also open new opportunities for the French defense industry, say analysts, as well as build support for closer defense cooperation among European nations.

Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat said on 29 September 2009 that his country needed a transition period "to convince the people about the need of joining NATO, and to change the perception of NATO as a hostile bloc, which has been created under the influence of Russian media." Commenting on Filat's remarks, Sergei Nazaria, director of the Moldovan Center for Strategic Analysis, said that Moldova's accession to NATO "is unnecessary. ... From my perspective, we do not face any threats today and nobody is planning to attack us. In the present geopolitical situation, it makes sense to maintain Moldova's neutrality," he said. He said that if Moldova joined NATO in the foreseeable future, it could end up in confrontation with Russia. "The North Atlantic alliance is not quite a friendly organization for Russia. If we join NATO, we will be perceived as 'not very good people'... This will lead to a dramatic worsening of relations with Russia," he said.

On 02 October 2009 a delegation from Bosnia-Herzegovina handed in an official application for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). MAP is designed to assist aspiring partner countries meet NATO standards and prepare for possible future membership. Aspiring nations must first participate in MAP before they join the alliance. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed Bosnia's move, and said he was expecting the country's leadership to conduct further democratic reforms. After joining NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina signed an agreement on security cooperation in March 2007. The Balkans nation began further cooperation with NATO within the Individual Partnership Action Plan in January 2008. Bosnia then started the process of Intensified Dialogue at the 2008 Bucharest summit and expects to join NATO between 2012 and 2015. Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its independence during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

As of late-2009, pending membes include Macedonia, Georgia and Ukraine. By the end of 2012, Ukraine was no longer interested in NATO membership, while the list of countries seeking membership had grown to include Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia. Greece continued to block Macedonia's entry into the alliance because of the dispute over Macedonia's name.

The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is a NATO program of advice, assistance and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join the Alliance. Participation in the MAP does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership. Current participants in the MAP are the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1, which has been participating in the MAP since 1999, and Montenegro, which was invited to join in December 2009.

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