Remarks at the Acceptance of the Instruments of Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty

James B. Steinberg
Deputy Secretary of State
Remarks With Albanian Ambassador Aleksander Sallabanda and Croatian Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Washington, DC
April 1, 2009

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, thank you and welcome, everybody. This really is a very special occasion. I’m very excited about this. It’s really one of the great joys of my job to be able to be here at such a momentous occasion. On behalf of the Secretary, who wishes she could be here as well, I want to welcome the two of you here as well as the representatives from the Albanian and Croatian embassies.

This is, kind of, one of the unique roles that the United States plays as the depositary for NATO in accepting these articles of accession, these instruments of accession. So I am really delighted to have the personal opportunity to do this. It is a really notable occasion because it marks tremendous achievement on the parts of not just the governments of Albania and Croatia, but the people of these two countries and their commitment to do the hard work that’s necessary to get into NATO.

This is not just an honorary kind of association. NATO takes very seriously the conditions of membership. It’s a very important and functioning alliance, and therefore, we hold our members to high standards. And it is a mark of the respect that we have for your efforts that NATO has agreed to invite you to join. You’ve agreed to do that.

We’re especially grateful for the work that they’ve done both in promoting regional security but also in contributing to NATO’s very important mission in Afghanistan, which is something that the Secretary and the President are both very focused on right now as we finished the meeting in The Hague yesterday and move on to the NATO summit in just a few days.

The mission of NATO has remained since its inception the collective defense of its members, but it also plays a broader role in extending stability beyond its borders. And one of the important benefits of this process of NATO accession over the years has been for us to roll back the legacy of the Cold War and to bring that stability to all of Europe. And we are delighted by this impact.

And the fact that you are joining on the 60th anniversary of NATO really demonstrates how vibrant and lively NATO remains today. And it’s a reflection of the commitment of Article 10 of the NATO treaty to the open door and the seriousness with which we take that. It’s a signal not only to you and your people that that was a serious promise and a commitment, but to others who have the same aspirations. And we remain committed to the further integration of all of Europe and for membership as countries demonstrate their ability to meet the criteria for membership. We’re particularly looking forward to Macedonia joining NATO once the name issue is resolved.

And we appreciate your efforts and look forward to you continuing to provide active mentorship to Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Montenegro as they continue under the Adriatic Charter to pursue their ambitions. It’s very important to the long-term future of Balkan stability, something that the United States is deeply committed to and something that I personally intend to be involved in, in going forward. So I look forward to working with you on this.

This is a very important, reminiscent day for me as well because I was privileged to be part of the events ten years ago when NATO first embarked on this important period of enlargement at the time of NATO’s 50th anniversary. And so I think it’s an important time to look back on the accomplishments that we’ve achieved during that period and over the last ten years as we look forward to the meeting that President Obama will be joining in Strasburg and Kehl in just a few days.

So with that, we proceed to the formal part of this occasion, and I look forward to working with all of you here and in Europe and across the world as our newest members of NATO. Congratulations. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: All right. Ambassador Grabar-Kitarovic will now present the accession – the instrument of accession to Deputy Secretary Steinberg.

(The instrument was presented.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Thank you. Congratulations. Well done.

AMBASSSADOR Grabar-Kitarovic: Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: And now Ambassador Sallabanda.

AMBASSADOR SALLABANDA: Thank you. (Applause.) Please.

AMBASSSADOR Grabar-Kitarovic: Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is such a great honor and a privilege to have presented Croatia’s instrument of ratification and to be addressing you today on this historical moment when Croatia has become a member of NATO, fully committed to the values, interests, and principles of all our allies.

NATO membership has always been one of the foremost goals of all the Croatian governments ever since we regained our independence. And Euro-Atlanticism has been and will remain one of the basic frameworks within which we realize our national goals. I would like to congratulate Albania as well on our shared success here today. And I believe that this round of enlargement will be very important for the whole neighborhood of Southeast Europe, and that it will bring further prosperity and stability to Southeast Europe. We believe that prosperity and stability will be fully realized once all the countries of Southeast Europe become members of NATO and the European Union. And Croatia remains committed to do its utmost to help all of our neighbors along the same path.

The United States has demonstrated a strong leadership in NATO enlargement, and has also demonstrated a strong leadership in Southeast Europe. We have worked together within the context of the U.S.-Adriatic Charter initiative, but also within many other regional initiatives. And I believe that this cooperation will bear fruit in this – in further stabilization of the whole of our neighborhood.

Croatia is also fully aware of the global challenges to security, and we are determined to take our share of responsibility for global peace and stability in places such as Afghanistan, but also in other parts of the world. I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to all the NATO members, and particularly to the United States, for all the support, advice and friendship that you have demonstrated to Croatia on our path to NATO membership.

We are particularly grateful for the bipartisan support in the Congress and for the support and friendship of the past and present administrations, particularly the presidents, the vice presidents, the National Security Council, the State Department, Department of Defense, and many others. In over a decade and a half, Croatia has undergone tremendous transformation. And the credit for this goes to the Croatian leadership, but also to the Croatian people and all its citizens. And today we remember also most dearly those who gave lives for our freedom.

We have transformed from a security receiver to security provider. And today, we stand together, side-by-side, with the United States and other allies. And let me reassure you that you can continue to count on Croatia as a responsible and a reliable ally. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR SALLABANDA: A statement on the occasion of the depositing of the instruments of ratification of the accession of Albania to the North Atlantic Treaty.

Following the invitation of the Secretary General of NATO to the Government of the Republic of Albania to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty, I am honored to deposit today with the Government of the United States the instruments of accession of the Republic of Albania to the North Atlantic Treaty.

On behalf of the Government of Albania, I would like to express the deepest gratitude for the outstanding support that the NATO member states and the Secretary General have provided hitherto to the accession process of Albania into NATO. This is a truly historical accomplishment that puts an end to our century-long struggle for freedom and security.

Let me also express a particular gratitude to the Government of the United States of America. NATO’s open-doors policy and Albania’s membership into NATO would not have been successful without the steadfast commitment of the United States of America to enlarge the area of freedom and security after the end of the Cold War, fostering the vision of Europe whole and free. We highly appreciate that.

As a NATO member country, Albania is ready to take up all the challenges and responsibilities that participation in the alliance entails. In this context, we will work responsibly and constructively with our partners to strengthen the (inaudible) of alliance to protect our common values. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Deputy Secretary. Thank you, Ambassadors. This concludes our ceremony. Thank you all very much for coming today. (Applause.)


PRN: 2009/283