OF THE NATO ASPIRANT COUNTRIES
DEFENCE MINISTERIAL MEETING
Sofia, 12-13 October 2000
The Ministers of Defence of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Romania and representatives of Latvia and Slovenia, all of them aspiring to join NATO, met in Sofia on 12-13 October 2000. The NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and MoD representatives from Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland took part in the meeting as observers.
The Ministers reiterated their countries' common interest to become members of the North Atlantic Alliance as soon as possible and recognized the importance of fundamental and fast reform and gradual modernization of their armed forces, which would make them contributors for the common security. They took note of the remarks of NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson on the crucial importance of defence reform for NATO membership. Special attention was paid to the experience of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, shared by their representatives at the meeting.
Ministers underlined the importance of the MAP process and exchanged views on the lessons learned from its first cycle as well as on achieving its final objectives. They reaffirmed their commitment to continue implementing the defence reform as a whole and the MAP in particular in areas such as: defence restructuring and reforms management; requirements on defence capabilities development; preparation for contribution and/or participation in NATO -led crisis response operations on case by case basis.
Ministers also noted the importance of the Partnership Goals and DCI key areas for defence reform plans implementation and the development of new operational capabilities of the forces and assets made available for NATO-led operations.
Ministers welcomed Latvia's proposal to host a meeting of CHODS from the nine aspirants and interested NATO countries in June next year in Riga.
Ministers agreed to work on bilateral agreements of co-operation in the defence related area as well as agreements on the protection of classified information.
They welcomed the Estonian-Polish initiative to create ad hoc expert teams to share the experience of NATO members with the aspirant countries.
The Ministers welcomed the recent developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and expressed their wish and hope for the continued advance of democratic institutions and functions, which is necessary for the earliest consolidation of democracy in that country. These changes were brought about by the Serb people themselves who rejected the policies of the Milosevic regime. The Ministers also underlined the crucial role of the international community in supporting the changes in Yugoslavia, as well as the importance of all relevant UN resolutions. KFOR and SFOR have been and will remain a most important factor of stability for the whole region.
The Ministers agreed to meet again in Brussels at the beginning of December 2000.