Macedonia, Croatia and Albania can expect NATO membership invitation in 2008 if the meet the required criteria.
"We welcome the efforts of Albania, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to prepare themselves for the responsibilities and obligations of membership. We commend their increasing contributions to international peacekeeping and security operations as well as their common efforts to advance regional cooperation.," it is said in the Riga Summit Declaration issued by Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Riga.
"At our next summit in 2008, the Alliance intends to extend further invitations to those countries that meet NATO’s performance based standards and are able to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability."
NATO welcomes Macedonia’s successful conduct of Parliamentary elections in 2006, and the strong efforts to deepen political, economic, defence, rule of law and judicial reform, which must be sustained.
NATO firmly believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia can offer valuable contributions to regional stability and security. The Alliance strongly supports the ongoing reform processes and wants to encourage further positive developments in the region on its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
"Taking into account the importance of long term stability in the Western Balkans and acknowledging the progress made so far by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, we have today invited these three countries to join Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council," Riga Summit Declaration says.
"NATO’s ongoing enlargement process has been an historic success in advancing stability, peace and cooperation in Europe. In keeping with our pledge to maintain an open door to the admission of additional Alliance members in the future, we reaffirm that NATO remains open to new European members under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is a crucial stage in preparing countries for possible NATO membership. All European democratic countries may be considered for MAP or admission, subject to decisions by the NAC at each stage, based on the performance of these countries towards meeting the objectives of the North Atlantic Treaty."
"We reaffirm that the Alliance will continue with Georgia and Ukraine its Intensified Dialogues which cover the full range of political, military, financial, and security issues relating to those countries’ aspirations to membership, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision."
Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the NATO reaffirmed their resolve to meet the security challenges of the 21st century and defend populations and common values, while maintaining a strong collective defence as the core purpose of the Alliance.
Leaders of NATO member-states endorsed the Comprehensive Political Guidance which provides a framework and political direction for NATO’s continuing transformation, setting out, for the next 10-15 years, the priorities for all Alliance capability issues, planning disciplines and intelligence.
"Contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan is NATO’s key priority. In cooperation with Afghan National Security Forces and in coordination with other international factors, we will continue to support the Afghan authorities in meeting their responsibilities to provide security, stability and reconstruction across Afghanistan. We reaffirm the strong solidarity of our Alliance, and pledge to ensure that ISAF has the forces, resources, and flexibility needed to ensure the mission’s continued success," Riga Summit Declaration says.
Continuing defence transformation is essential to ensure that the Alliance remains able to perform its full range of missions, including collective defence and crisis response operations.
The establishment of the NATO Response Force (NRF) which today is at full operational capability has been a key development. It plays a vital part in the Alliance’s response to a rapidly emerging crisis.