The United States-Adriatic Partnership: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia on the Way to NATO
November 13, 2003
Staff-prepared summary of the East European Studies Roundtable with Ilinka Mitreva, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Macedonia, Luan Hajdaraga, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albania, Ivan Simonovic, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Croatia
The EES Roundtable provided a forum to exchange experiences and views on the implementation of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia's Membership Action Plans, which are ostensibly their ‘roadmaps' for joining NATO. The three ministers were in Washington representing their countries in a new partnership agreement with the United States, outlined in the U.S. Adriatic Charter, which was signed in Tirana, Albania last May. The Adriatic partnership reflects the commitment of Macedonia, Albania and Croatia to overcome the obstacles to international cooperation in the Balkan region in order to join NATO. Following the example of the Vilnius 10, these countries intend to prove their abilities to cooperate with each other and their other neighbors. At the same time, the United States has shown its commitment to stand by these countries in their transition to societies that value peace, freedom and prosperity in an effort to bring them in under the transatlantic security umbrella.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic asserted that "Croatia has finally reached the point of no return" on its path to economic liberalization and democratic consolidation. Croatia's foreign policy goals are clear, with accession to the EU and NATO slated as top priorities. Simonovic believes that the Adriatic partnership will help all three countries facilitate cooperation, specifically in the security and defense arenas, between the parties in the Adriatic Charter and in the wider Balkan region.
Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva began by reiterating President Woodrow Wilson's desire that "the world must be made safe for democracy." She argued that Macedonia's pursuit of NATO membership reflects this aspiration. Mitreva asserted that the Adriatic Partnership is a tangible demonstration of the countries' cooperation in solving important regional problems, such as combating human trafficking, organized crime and terrorism. She commented that Macedonia's commitment to NATO is illustrated by the fact that the country has been transformed from a consumer of security to an exporter of security in its cooperation with the US missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Acting Foreign Minister Luan Hajdaraga also invoked the memory of President Wilson by pointing out that he was the first US president to recognize Albania as a sovereign nation. Hajdaraga asserted that Albania, too, is committed to promoting the fundamental values of the Euro-Atlantic partnership through the Adriatic Charter. He noted that while Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have all seen the ravages of war, all three countries continue to hope for freedom and democracy.