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Published on 05 Apr 2022 / In News & Politics

(21 May 1998) English

U-S President Bill Clinton has signed a document giving formal U-S approval to the expansion of the NATO alliance to include the former Soviet satellite nations of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Clinton said on Thursday that the deal would bring the 60 (m) million people of the three countries peace and security.

A White House ceremony marked what is considered to be one of the Clinton administration's major foreign policy victories.

Three east European countries are to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which was formed in 1949 as a bulwark against the former Soviet Union.

On Thursday, Clinton signed the instrument of ratification passed by the U-S Senate on April 30th.

The President was joined at the White House ceremony by the U-S ambassadors from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The Clinton administration believes that including three former Soviet bloc nations in the Western alliance will mean a greater chance of stability in central Europe.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"Today we welcome Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, finally erasing the boundary line the cold war artificially imposed on the continent of Europe. Strengthening an alliance that now clearly is better preserved to keep the peace and preserve our security into the 21st century."
SUPER CAPTION: Bill Clinton, U-S President

All 16 present NATO members must ratify the inclusion of the new member states.

So far, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Norway have ratified the eastward NATO expansion, in addition to the United States.

NATO leaders are planning a ceremony to formally welcome the three new members at a summit meeting in Washington next April, to coincide with the organisation's 50th anniversary.

Clinton said it would mark a new era for Europe.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"Our goal is to help to build a Europe that is undivided, free, democratic, at peace and secure. A Europe in which Russia, Ukraine and other states of the former Soviet Union join with us to make a common cause. A dynamic new Europe with partnership for commerce and co-operation."
SUPER CAPTION: Bill Clinton, U-S President

But there have been some dire predictions in the U-S about the implications of expanding NATO against Russia's strong opposition.

Moscow sees an enlarged NATO as a potential security threat closer to its borders.

But Clinton said the deal increased the chances of a peaceful future, rather than lessening it.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"We have to reinforce the practical co-operation between NATO and Russia and NATO and Ukraine. We have to see through our efforts to secure a lasting peace in the Balkans. And we cannot walk away until the job is done."
SUPER CAPTION: Bill Clinton, U-S President

But even as the ink is drying on the U-S-led expansion initiative, NATO's core members are still working out the details of how they'll pay for a larger alliance.

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