Albania & Croatia Join NATO Alliance
A ceremony was held to officially welcome Albania and Croatia into NATO bringing the alliance to 28 member states. Flags for both countries were raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels to honor the countries.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed the two nations and said that the fact that they had joined showed the continuing appeal of the alliance. Both Prime Ministers say it was a historic moment.
Ivo Sanader, Croatian Prime Minister said:
"Today after many testing years and despite all difficulties we can proudly say that we have succeeded. This is certainly a moment to cherish. It is a day of historic importance for both Croatia and NATO because we have achieved this together.
Sali Berisha, Albanian Prime Minister said:
"My most heartfelt thanks and the deepest gratitude for the very precious support and assistance that you provided to my government and my country in the process of NATO integration.
Albania was among the first former communist countries to apply for NATO membership, and polls have shown that more than 94 percent of Albanians back the move.
Next year Albania is expected to have a totally professional army, reduced to some 14,000 troops from more than 40,000 after the fall of communism.
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