Main events during 2000 - 2002

02.12.2014. 19:09

Main events during 2000 - 2002

21 November 2002 The Summit of NATO Heads of State and Goverment - a decision on enlargement has been made

On 21 November 2002 during the NATO Summit in Prague seven from ten Vilnius Group countries - Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Rumania, Slovakia and Slovenia - were invited to start the accession talks with the Alliance. "This has been a hugely significant decision, for NATO, for these seven countries that we have just invited to start accession talks, and for the Euro-Atlantic Community," said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson when announcing the decision.

 The Heads of State and Government of the Vilnius Group issued a statement where delight for the invitation to join NATO was expressed and support of the aspiration of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia was emphasised. The determination to continue the process of reforms in each country in order to meet new security challenges and to offer their contribution to NATO operations were stated in the document. The Vilnius Group countries confirmed their determination to support the process of democratic reform and efforts to join the Euro-Atlantic institutions of other countries of Caucasus, Balkans and Central Europe.

The Statement informs that Lithuania is going to host the next meeting of the Vilnius group at the level of Parliamentary speakers on 22- 23 May 2003 and Macedonia has an intention to host a Vilnius Group Meeting in 2004.

Statement by the Heads of State and Government of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia on the occasion of NATO Summit in Prague

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5- 6 July 2002 Prime Ministers of Vilnius group meet in Riga

The Summit of the NATO Aspirant countries "Riga 2002: The Bridge to Prague" took place in Riga, Latvia, on July 5-6, 2002. The prime Ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia and Poland, the Foreign and Defence Ministers of Croatia, the Defence Ministers of Finland, Sweden un Turkey, delegations from NATO member states and Northern countries, the parliamentarians of the largest member states of the Alliance, world known academics and representatives of the NGO community, i.e., Prof. Bronislav Geremek, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carl Bildt and Dr. Roland Asmuss arrived in Riga to participate in the last summit of the Vilnius Group before the NATO 2002 Prague Summit in November.

The participants of the meeting jointly expressed their solidarity to NATO enlargement, reviewed the individual work of each aspirant country, and discussed the building of community based on shared values and the aspirants' contribution to Euro-Atlantic security.

For the first time in Vilnius group history the US President George Bush, the Czech President Vaclav Havel and the Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair spoke to the NATO aspirant countries. In their video messages addressed to the delegates of the meeting Mr. Bush, Mr. Havel and Mr. Blair expressed their full support of as large an enlargement of NATO as possible.

During the Summit the NATO aspirants were urged to continue the co-operation of the Vilnius group also after the Prague summit in November by stressing the successful experience of the Vilnius initiative, which is valued as an interesting example of co-operation.

The Declaration of Riga

The remarks by Prime Minister A. Bērziņš

Video Message by George W. Bush, the President of the United States
Video Message by Vaclav Havel, the President of Czech Republic
Video Message by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Great Britain

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25-26 March 2002

Prime Ministers of Vilnius group meet in Bucharest

On 25-26 March 2002 the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Mr.Andris Berzins participated in the meeting of the Prime Ministers of NATO candidate countries "Bucharest 2002: The Spring of New Allies". Mr.Andris Berzins gave a speech in the panel discussion "New Threats, New Allies", pointing to the role and contribution of the North Atlantic Alliance in managing crisis situations. The Prime Minister of Latvia introduced to the participation of Latvia in the fight against terrorism as well as noted the contribution of the Countries of Southern Europe to the stability of Balkan region. In the final declaration the NATO candidate countries affirmed their determination to continue developing their readiness for NATO membership. The candidate countries welcomed the co-operation between Russia and NATO and pledged to facilitate the integration of democratic Russia in the Euro Atlantic community. Next summit of the Prime Ministers of NATO candidate countries will take place in Riga on 5-6 July 2002. Mr.Andris Berzins introduced to the programme of the summit and invited his colleagues and guests of Bucharest to visit Riga in July.

Intervention of the Prime Minister Mr. Andris Bērziņš

Declaration by Vilnius group

Message by U.S. President George W.Bush:

8 March 2002

Foreign ministers of Vilnius group meet in Skopje

On 8 March 2002 in Skopje, Macedonia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Mr. Indulis Berzins participated in the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the NATO Candidate Countries, in the course of which the enlargement of NATO and the fight against terrorism were discussed.

The President of Macedonia addressed the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Candidate Countries. Along with the Candidate Countries, also the representatives of the NATO Member States - the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Turkey and the USA - participated in the meeting.

In his address, Mr.Berzins pointed to the success of the two years co-operation within the Vilnius Group of Ten, as well as introduced to Latvia's accomplishments in the fight against terrorism. Noting the necessity to have the co-operation between NATO and the third countries, including Russia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia said that such co-operation should not, however, impair the Alliance. Mr.Berzins invited the other colleagues to attend the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the NATO Candidate Countries, which is to be held on 5 - 6 March 2002 in Riga. The meeting, having its motto "The Bridge to Prague", will be the culmination event of the NATO Candidate Countries' co-operation before the Prague Summit, during which NATO will consider the further enlargement.

At the end of the Ministers' meeting, a joint statement was adopted.

Joint statement

7 December 2001

Statement condemning terrorism approved by Vilnius group

On 7 December Foreign ministers of the NATO candidate countries met in Brussels in the framework of Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council meeting. Vilnius group countries aligned themselves with the North Atlantic Council's Statement "NATO's Response to Terrorism".

Statement by Vilnius group:

4 December 2001

Foreign ministers of Vilnius group meet in Bucharest

Foreign ministers of the ten NATO candidate countries held a meeting on 4 December within the framework of the OSCE Council of Ministers' session in Bucharest, Romania which was also attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Indulis Berzins. The ministers discussed issues linked with NATO applicant countries' work ahead of the Prague Summit next November.

The Ministers remarked the steadily growing positive attitude towards the enlargement of NATO and underline that a maximum number of candidates should be invited at Prague summit.

The participants of the meeting noted that the candidate countries have achieved outstanding progress and already analyse the duties to be assumed upon the accession to NATO.

Latvia's foreign minister stressed at the meeting that Latvia highly appraises the improving relations between NATO and Russia, which will promote regional stability and benefit all countries. 

5 October 2001

Heads of States of the Vilnius group meet in a conference "The Contribution of New Democracies to Euro-Atlantic Security" in Sofia

Heads of States of Vilnius group met in a conference "The Contribution of New Democracies to Euro-Atlantic Security" in Sofia 5 October 2001. NATO applicant countries declared support for creation of united and free Europe and expressed determination to support USA lead coalition against terrorism.

The Vilnius group countries repeated their hope that the historical decision concerning NATO enlargement will be made at the Prague Summit in 2002. The applicant countries confirmed their readiness to contribute to the European security.

The welcoming message to the participants of the conference was sent by U.S. President G.Bush, who acknowledged that: "The United States will be prepared to make concrete, historic decisions with our Allies at that Summit to do as much as we can to complete the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace".

Sofia Declaration

Message from U.S. President George W. Bush

Speech by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson

Speech by the President of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga

4 October 2001

Foreign Minister of Vilnius group meet in Bleda, Slovenia

On 4 October 2001, in the framework of the annual assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association, a meeting of the Vilnius Group Foreign Ministers took place. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Mr Indulis Berzins was among the participants of the event. During the meeting the co-operation and action of the allies and partner countries after the terrorist attacks on the USA and further enlargement of the Alliance were discussed.

The participants of the meeting acknowledged that the NATO agenda has not changed and still includes the issue of further enlargement of the organisation despite the fact that combating terrorism has become current international priority. The Ministers also expressed their readiness to take an active part in the common efforts to combat terrorism. Mr.Berzins informed his colleagues on Latvia's contribution in this regard and called for a regular exchange of information between the Vilnius Group countries on their anti-terrorism activities. Latvia's proposal gained broad support from other members of the group.

The participants of the meeting adopted a joint statement, declaring solidarity and support to the USA in relation to the recent terrorist attacks. In the joint statement the Ministers voice confidence that the Alliance will find effective responses to the terrorism and underscore the commitment of their countries to act in the spirit of the Washington Treaty and as members of the international anti-terrorist coalition. The Ministers also stress that NATO will remain the most important guarantor of peace and stability. The document notes with satisfaction that the statements of the U.S. and NATO leaders have filled the candidate countries with confidence and optimism about results of the forthcoming Prague Summit concerning the enlargement of NATO.

Joint statement

Speech by Foreign Minister

1-2 July 2001

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Vilnius group meet in Tallinn

Minister of Foreign Affairs I.Berzins together with other ministers of Vilnius group participated in the meeting organized and chaired jointly by Latvia and Estonia. Ministers discussed the latest developments in the NATO enlargement debate and the experience from the first two cycles of the membership action plan (MAP) for joining NATO. The ministers also discussed co-operation among the NATO candidate countries during the last year and prospects for the next year. The final statement was accepted.

Tallinn statement

4-6 June 2001

The Chiefs of Defence of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Deputy Chiefs of General Staff of Slovenia and Romania and representative of Croatia, meet in Riga

On 4 - 6 June 2001 the Chiefs of Defence of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Deputy Chiefs of General Staff of Slovenia and Romania and representative of Croatia, all of them aspiring to join NATO, met in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Representatives of the Chiefs of Defence of NATO member states took part in the meeting as observers.

The Chiefs of Defence stressed the importance of practical military preparedness of NATO aspirant countries in the process of preparations for membership in NATO and shared their experiences in preparing their military forces for NATO membership. They took note of the experience of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland during their admission process to NATO.

The Chiefs of Defence stressed the importance of the Membership Action Plan as the main tool for preparation for NATO membership. They underlined that defence reform and Partnership Goals play crucial role in successful implementation of MAP requirements.

The Chiefs of Defence noted the successful Baltic States military co-operation as the effective mechanism of developing interoperability skills. They recognised the benefits of NATO aspirant countries involvement in peace support operations in Bosnia- Herzegovina and Kosovo and discussed lessons learned of military participation in these operations.

The Chiefs of Defence agreed on the value of further exchange of information and experience.

CHAIRMAN'S SUMMARY of NATO aspirant countries Chiefs of Defence meeting

10-12 May 2001

Prime ministers of Vilnius group meet in a conference "Europe's New Democracies: Leadership and Responsibility" in Bratislava

Prime ministers of Vilnius group meet in a conference "Europe's New Democracies: Leadership and Responsibility" in Bratislava 10-12 May 2001. Conference approved determination of NATO candidate states to co-ordinate their efforts in the NATO integration process and actualised NATO enlargement issue in the NATO capitals. US President G.Bush and influential US senators granted their support to the participants of the conference. They assured that Alliance remains open for all European new democracies.

Final statement

The remarks by Prime Minister of Latvia A.Berzins: and

Statement by U.S. President George W.Bush:

Speech by the President of Czech Republic V.Havel:

15 December 2000

The Foreign Ministers of Vilnius group meet with U.S. Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary

On 15 December 2000 upon Latvia's initiative the Foreign Ministers of the nine NATO candidate countries: Latvia, Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Macedonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia held a meeting in Brussels. Mr. Indulis Berzins, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and Chairperson of the meeting, urged the Ministers to continue co-ordinated co-operation among the nine countries in order to achieve further NATO expansion and the invitation to join the Alliance.

The Ministers of the Foreign Affairs of NATO candidate states adopted a joint statement, inviting NATO to continue expansion, expressing their commitment to continue co-operation and to support each other in implementing NATO criteria. The statement supports the NATO and EU measures for establishment of further stability in the Balkans as well as expresses commitment of the nine countries to provide their contribution to achievement of this aim.

In the second half of the meeting Ms. Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined the nine Ministers. In her speech Ms. Albright stressed the unchanging U.S. interest in the NATO expansion, significance of the new member states and candidates from the point of view of the Alliance as well as their necessity to co-operate. The Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary expressed the support of their countries to further expansion of the Alliance and the readiness to provide practical help to the candidates in the preparation process.

At the conclusion of the meeting Ms. Albright received a present from the hands of Ms. Nadezhda Mihailova, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, on behalf of the nine candidate countries: a sculpture, symbolising NATO expansion.

12-13 October 2000

Defence ministers of Vilnius group countries meet in Sofia

Latvia was the only country that proposed various initiatives at the meeting. They were included in the final statement: (1) Meeting of Chiefs of Defence of Aspirant countries in June 2001 in Riga; (2) Signing of the mutual agreements on co-operation in the defence related issues; (3) Signing of the mutual agreements on protection of classified information.

Sofia statement

13 June 2000

Specialists from the Foreign and Defence Ministries of NATO candidate countries meet in Sofia

From June 12-13 meeting of specialists from the Foreign and Defence Ministries of nine NATO candidate states took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. The main aim of the meeting was to discuss the process, implementation and future perspective of the NATO Membership Action Plan started during the Washington summit.

This was the first time when the nine NATO candidate countries discussed the issues, pertaining to the MAP process. The meeting was also attended by experts from the USA, UK, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, representative of the NATO Secretary General, researchers from George Marshall Centre.

Each country presented its experience in elaboration and implementation of the National Membership Action Plans as well as expressed their proposals for the further improvement of the MAP process. The representatives of NATO member-states and NGO researchers of security issues, in their turn, provided their vision on the MAP process.

During the meeting the success of the Baltic States' MAP process was stressed. The method of the Baltic States in elaborating and implementing the National Membership Action Plan and their close mutual co-operation was evaluated as a good example for other NATO applicant countries.

May 18-19 2000

Minister of Foreign Affairs Indulis Berzins takes part in the international security conference in Vilnius

On May 18-19 the Foreign Minister of Latvia Mr. Indulis Berzins participated in the international conference "NATO's Role in the Changing Security Environment in Europe" that took place in Vilnius. The conference were attended by the NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson as well as the Foreign Ministers of NATO candidate countries. Conference was organised by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania in co-operation with the US Committee on NATO, which is one of the leading and most influential US NGOs, supporting NATO enlargement.

At the conference the Foreign Minister of Latvia Mr. Berzins held a speech, emphasising that the NATO has to be enlarged in order to complete the unification of free Europe by embracing all the European countries that share common values and have expressed their wish to join the NATO.

The NATO Membership Action Plan process that was started during the NATO Washington summit last year has promoted consultations between the candidate states. In his speech Mr. Berzins invited all candidates and NATO member-states to the closest possible co-operation in order to ensure readiness of all candidates to join the NATO in the next wave of enlargement. Latvia considers that in the next wave of enlargement NATO has to accept all candidates, having proved their readiness to assume the obligations of NATO member-states with the help of their Action Plans.

Although Latvia has been one of the most successful countries in the NATO Membership Action Plan process, it fully supports the spirit of co-operation between the candidate states that is also noticable while preparing for the conference in Vilnius. Latvia agrees that it is unnecessary to define potential leaders in the NATO enlargement process. All the candidates as well as NATO member-states have the same aim: consolidation of security in the Euro-Atlantic space. This is why the attempts to make a preliminary assessment of progress candidates have achieved in the framework of their Membership Action Plans would be as fruitless as discussions on which of the Baltic States could be invited to join the Alliance first.

Vilnius statement 

Remarks by Foreign Minister