Remarks at the North Atlantic Council Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Chicago, IL
May 21, 2012

Thank you very much, Deputy Secretary General Vershbow, for chairing today’s meeting of the North Atlantic Council. I am delighted to be joined by my fellow foreign ministers from the NATO member-states and from the nations of Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And let me again welcome you to Chicago, which happens also to be my birthplace and one of America’s great cities.

We’re meeting today to reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s open door policy. The possibility of NATO membership has proven to be a powerful motivation for countries to implement difficult but necessary reforms, resolve internal differences as well as differences with their neighbors, and contribute to security operations that benefit themselves and all of us. Our open door policy has produced some of our most active and committed allies, and it has helped produce stability and cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe. And more broadly as NATO has grown, Europe has become more secure and more prosperous.

So the United States remains deeply committed to the open door policy, and it is in that spirit that we welcome our aspirant nations here today. We support their aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration, and we will keep working with each of them, both bilaterally and through NATO, to help them implement finally the reforms needed to meet the standards for membership. As I said yesterday, I believe this summit should be the last summit that is not an enlargement summit.

To speak just briefly about each aspirant, Georgia will become the largest non-NATO contributor to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan this fall, and we are very grateful for its contributions. Georgia has made democratic reforms, and the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections are additional opportunities for Georgia to show the world that it is committed to NATO’s democratic values. We stand firm in our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We welcome Georgia’s non-use of force pledge, and we call on Russia to reciprocate with its own pledge. We stand by the Bucharest decision and all subsequent decisions on Georgia.

Macedonia has also made contributions to regional and global security, including significant and longstanding contributions to ISAF, and it has fulfilled the key criteria for NATO membership. We strongly support a resolution of the ongoing name dispute and urge the parties to reach an agreement so Macedonia can join the alliance as soon as possible.

Montenegro, too, has made contributions to ISAF and reforms in its military and security services, which we applaud. The U.S. plans to send an advisor from the Department of Defense, and we welcome similar initiatives by other allies to support Montenegro’s efforts to implement the remaining reforms for NATO membership. Support for NATO membership is growing among the Montenegrin people, and we encourage efforts to continue increasing public awareness and understanding.

Finally, regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, we welcome the political agreement on defense properties and now we urge that it be implemented. And we encourage Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro to continue pursuing regional initiatives like the Balkan Regional Approach to Air Defense, as well as natural disaster preparedness and the joint ISAF deployment by the Adriatic-5 Group.

Regarding all these countries, as with any country that wishes to join NATO, we look to them to demonstrate that they share our values and they are willing and able to meet the standards for membership. And we promise to help them as they do so because this is in our interest. We know it can be a lengthy and challenging process, but we need to stick with it and remember our ultimate goal: a stronger, more durable, more effective NATO.

In 1949, we were 12 nations; now we’re 28. The result is an alliance that has proven over and over it can meet the threats and overcome the challenges of our time. And here in Chicago, let us reaffirm our commitment to enlargement done right as a core element of our purpose and our community. Thank you very much.

PRN: 2012/802