Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-262)

30 NOVEMBER 2004


  Q260 Chairman: Minister, we have kept you in the field for a long time, but I have one final question on NATO, if I may. Certainly, there seems to be a great ground swell of support within NATO for both Macedonia and its two colleagues, Croatia and Albania, in the Adriatic Three. In your judgment is this support sufficient for there to be a realistic prospect of the door to full NATO membership opening? I believe 2007 is the next possibility.

  Mr MacShane: I do not see membership on the immediate horizon.

  Q261 Chairman: Not in 2007?

  Mr MacShane: Everything is possible. I think we need a great deal of reforms from all the countries you have mentioned. We have not discussed Albania in this hearing, but I think Albania has got a long way to go. That is a matter for NATO authorities to discuss, so I will not commit to a date today, but I really think we want to see a lot of reforms. You mentioned Croatia, and I will end as I began, by saying that we need to see Croatia as an authority over all levels of its military, security, political, economic and civil society under the rule of law in the question of a gentleman, Mr Gotovina, accused of very serious war crimes.

  Q262 Chairman: Minister, we have asked you for a large number of notes, but on the question of NATO membership, perhaps there could be some indication of when the prospect of NATO membership is next discussed and, therefore, when there could be a possibility for Macedonia or the other two countries?

  Mr MacShane: My colleagues in Macedonia continually ask to be considered and they have submitted an EU membership application earlier this year. Mr Prodi, the then President Prodi, referred to it in the funeral oration he delivered over the dead President. My view in every bit of the conversations is: "Yes, please do your best". The ambition is there, they have got an excellent European integration office, as indeed they have in Croatia. "Make my day, make the grade" is my message.

  Ms Pierce: May I just add, Chairman. At the moment it is NATO policy not to set a target date for the next wave of enlargement which, obviously, encompasses the Adriatic Three. It is not just a question of meeting the defence reform criteria, political conditionality is key which is one of the reasons why targets dates are not being set.

  Chairman: Minister, Ms Pierce, thank you very much indeed on behalf of the Committee.

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