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Germans approve NATO's enlargement to the east

German government formally approves NATO's enlargement to the east

The German government has taken the process of NATO enlargement involving the admission of seven Eastern European countries a step closer to completion.

On April 2 the cabinet approved a draft bill for parliamentary ratification of the accession protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Brussels on March 26.

On ratification by the parliaments of the NATO member countries the invited countries, i.e. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, will become parties to the North Atlantic Treaty.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder noted in this connection that: "The accession of our Eastern and Southeastern European friends and partners will constitute a significant contribution towards security and stability in Europe."

By expressing formal approval so soon after the signing of the accession protocols the German government is sending a signal of its strong support for the formal admission of these seven countries to NATO.

Under the German constitution the passage of a federal law expressing consent is required, since the protocols regulate political relations of the federal government in the meaning of Article 59, paragraph 2, sentence 1.

At the NATO summit held in Prague in November 2002 the heads of state and government of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) invited these countries to conduct accession talks. Under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty of April 4, 1949 to which the Federal Republic of Germany has been a party since May 6, 1955

"The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America."

Accession by invitation The NATO member countries agree to the accession of a new member by approving a formal invitation to join. The protocols of accession for Bulgaria Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia form the basis for a formal invitation to join.

It is only after the respective protocols have gone into effect, i.e. when each of the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty has deposited the instruments of ratification with the government of the United States of America that the NATO Secretary-General can extend a formal invitation to the country in question on behalf of all the parties to the Treaty.

The accessions will go into effect on the date on which the governments of the invited countries deposit their instruments of accession with the government of the United States of America in accordance with Article 14 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The cabinet gave its approval for the signing of the protocols on March 17. On March 26 the protocols were signed by the permanent representatives of the NATO member countries in the North Atlantic Council and by representatives of the invited countries. The German government will continue to support as yet uninvited candidate countries in their efforts to qualify for invitation as soon as possible.

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