Joint Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries
Trakai, 21 May 2003
We, the Speakers of the Parliaments of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, have convened today to review the progress of the democracies which declared a common purpose in Vilnius three years ago to build a Europe whole and free in an alliance including the countries of Europe, the United States and Canada as the foundation for stability and security in the 21st century, and to discuss the NATO enlargement process and recent issues of transatlantic relations.
The NATO Summit in Prague invited seven of us to start accession talks that have been completed by signing the Accession Protocols late March. We wish to thank the Governments and Parliaments of Canada, Norway, United States, and Denmark, for their prompt ratification of this robust NATO enlargement that is a historic step in the completion of a vision of Europe whole, free and united. We, the invited countries, recognise our responsibility to ensure the speedy ratification of the Washington Treaty in our Parliaments and have made a joint commitment to do so today.
As the Euro-atlantic partnership remains essential in guaranteeing security and stability, our Parliaments and Governments have the important duty to contribute to the strategic partnership between Europe and the United States. For this reason, we fully support the transformation and adaptation of the NATO Alliance to contend with new threats to security and to incorporate new and future members into its structures. NATO must remain a collective defence organisation with the Article V guarantee at its core and maintain the transatlantic link as the foundation of its effectiveness.
We firmly believe the institutions of the European Union and NATO are complementary. For this reason, we fully support the development of a European security and defence policy and stress the need to place credible forces and resources against existing European Union security requirements. We commend the agreement reached among Macedonia, NATO and the European Union for exchange of mission of NATO and the EU as an expression of true partnership, mutual confidence and positive development in the region as well as a promising model of future co-operation. We believe the partnership between Europe and the United States will be enhanced by the further development of European defence capabilities.
Our countries always stood by the position that the international community has to deal ultimately with the dangers posed by tyranny. With the removal of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein, the Euro-Atlantic community must now look forward and concentrate on the reconstruction of a prosperous and peaceful Iraq. The reconstruction of Iraq presents an opportunity to reinforce transatlantic co-operation. In this endeavour, our countries are willing to play a role in reconstruction and share the view that the United Nations should play a vital role in post-conflict Iraq.
NATO enlargement has been and will continue to be the decisive factor in ensuring and strengthening security and stability in Europe. We are committed to the -open door- policy and strongly believe that Albania, Croatia and Macedonia will be invited to join NATO at the earliest opportunity. We pledge to work together with the NATO Allies to achieve the integration of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia into NATO. We welcome the recent signature of a Charter of Partnership among Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and the United States that aims to the same objective.
We agree that our joint efforts and the security of the Euro-atlantic community at large will be strengthened with integration of all the countries of South-Eastern Europe in the regional and multilateral institutions. We express readiness for a further promotion of bilateral, regional and multilateral relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and other countries of the region.
We are pleased to have been joined by the Speaker of the Georgian parliament as our guest who contributed significantly to our discussions. We welcome the expressed political will and commitment to reform in Georgia. We believe that this democracy is an important part of the completion of the vision of a Europe without dividing lines and that this will contribute to the wellbeing of its people. We have agreed to ask our Governments to consider an invitation to Georgia to attend the next meeting of the Vilnius Group. We are committed to share our experience with all countries aspiring to NATO membership.