WELCOMING THE ACCESSION OF BULGARIA, ESTONIA, LATVIA, LITHUANIA, ROMANIA, SLOVAKIA, AND SLOVENIA TO THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
(House of Representatives - March 30, 2004)

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[Pages H1661-H1666]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   WELCOMING THE ACCESSION OF BULGARIA, ESTONIA, LATVIA, LITHUANIA, 
     ROMANIA, SLOVAKIA, AND SLOVENIA TO THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY 
                              ORGANIZATION

  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to 
the resolution (H. Res. 558) welcoming the accession of Bulgaria, 
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to the 
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and for other purposes, as 
amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                              H. Res. 558

       Whereas since 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
     (NATO) has played an essential role in guaranteeing the 
     security, freedom, and prosperity of the United States and 
     its allies in Europe and North America;
       Whereas since 1994 Congress has repeatedly endorsed the 
     enlargement of NATO through the NATO Participation Act of 
     1994, the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act of 1996, the 
     European Security Act of 1998, the Gerald B. H. Solomon 
     Freedom Consolidation Act of 2002, the Transatlantic Security 
     and NATO Enhancement Resolution of 2002, and House Concurrent 
     Resolution 209 (2003);
       Whereas NATO heads of state and government, meeting in 
     Prague on November 21, 2002, invited Bulgaria, Estonia, 
     Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to 
     commence accession negotiations with NATO;

[[Page H1662]]

       Whereas on March 26, 2003, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, 
     Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia signed accession 
     protocols to the Washington Treaty of 1949;
       Whereas on May 8, 2003, the Senate voted 96-0 to give its 
     advice and consent to ratification by the United States of 
     the seven accession protocols;
       Whereas on March 2, 2004, NATO Secretary General Jaap de 
     Hoop Scheffer announced that all 19 NATO members had 
     deposited with the United States Government their instruments 
     of ratification of the accession protocols;
       Whereas Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, 
     Slovakia, and Slovenia have reformed their political and 
     economic systems in preparation for NATO membership;
       Whereas Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, 
     Slovakia, and Slovenia have undertaken defense reform 
     programs that will enable each country to contribute to NATO 
     operations and are working to meet the financial 
     responsibilities of NATO membership by spending or committing 
     to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product 
     on defense;
       Whereas Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, 
     Slovakia, and Slovenia have contributed to military 
     operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, 
     and Iraq;
       Whereas Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, 
     Slovakia, and Slovenia became members of NATO on March 29, 
     2004, and are expected to be welcomed by NATO heads of state 
     and government when they meet in Istanbul on June 28 and 29, 
     2004;
       Whereas Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, the remaining 
     countries currently in NATO's Membership Action Plan, signed 
     the United States-Adriatic Charter on May 2, 2003, thereby 
     affirming their commitment to the values and principles of 
     NATO, their willingness to contribute to the peace and 
     security of southeast Europe, and their desire to join the 
     Alliance at the earliest possible time;
       Whereas in 2003 Congress, in House Concurrent Resolution 
     209, urged NATO to invite Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia to 
     join NATO as soon as each of these countries respectively 
     demonstrates the ability to assume the responsibilities of 
     NATO membership through the Membership Action Plan;
       Whereas the Governments of Albania and Macedonia supported 
     Operation Iraqi Freedom and are contributing forces to 
     stabilization operations in Iraq and to the NATO-led 
     International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; and
       Whereas the Government of Croatia elected in November 2003 
     has demonstrated its commitment to implementing reforms and 
     meeting conditions for integration into Euro-Atlantic 
     institutions, including the defense reforms necessary for 
     NATO membership, and has contributed forces to the NATO-led 
     International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
       (1) welcomes with enthusiasm the accession of Bulgaria, 
     Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia 
     to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);
       (2) reaffirms that the process of NATO enlargement enhances 
     the security of the United States and the entire North 
     Atlantic area;
       (3) agrees that the process of NATO enlargement should 
     remain open to potential membership by any interested 
     European democracy that meets the criteria for NATO 
     membership as set forth in the 1995 Study on NATO Enlargement 
     and whose admission would further the principles of the 
     Washington Treaty of 1949 and would enhance security in the 
     North Atlantic area; and
       (4) recommends that NATO heads of state and government, 
     meeting at Istanbul on June 28 and 29, 2004, should agree to 
     review the enlargement process, including the applications of 
     Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, at a summit meeting to be 
     held no later than 2007.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Biggert). Pursuant to the rule, the 
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Lantos) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).


                             General Leave

  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on H. Res. 558, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Nebraska?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Madam Speaker, this Member is extremely pleased to offer this 
resolution welcoming the accession to NATO membership of seven Central 
European democracies: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, 
Slovakia and Slovenia.
  Yesterday, these seven nations became America's newest allies when 
their prime ministers presented Secretary of State Powell with their 
instruments of accession. Secretary Powell recalled their struggle for 
freedom and promised that ``by joining NATO's bond of collective 
security, Article 5 and all, you will remain free.''
  Later, President Bush yesterday publicly welcomed their leaders to 
the alliance on the south lawn of the White House. In his remarks, the 
President noted, ``The countries we welcome today were friends before 
they were allies, and they were allies in action before becoming allies 
by treaty.''
  The decision to admit former communist nations from Central and 
Eastern Europe, Madam Speaker, into the Atlantic Alliance, is one of 
the great successes of American and Alliance foreign policy since the 
end of the Cold War. It is a bipartisan success promoted by Republicans 
and Democrats in the Congress and by both the Clinton and Bush 
administrations. It is also a success in which the House of 
Representatives has played an important role.
  Since 1994, the House has repeatedly declared its support for NATO 
enlargement and the fundamental role of NATO in transatlantic security. 
We recognize that throughout its history NATO has succeeded not only in 
keeping its MEMBERS free, but in extending that freedom to new lands 
that have long yearned for freedom's blessings.
  Already, the three nations that joined NATO in 1999, Poland, Hungary 
and the Czech Republic, have been contributing to the Alliance and its 
operations in Bosnian and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan. 
Furthermore, Poland has been a major contributor to Operation Iraqi 
Freedom and currently commands a multinational force in south central 
Iraq.
  The current round of enlargement, the fifth in NATO's history, will 
further erase the dividing lines across Europe that were drawn at Yalta 
and will further extend the zone of peace and security in the North 
Atlantic region.
  Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia 
are already contributing to the Alliance, with each of these new allies 
contributing to one or more of NATO's ongoing operations. In addition, 
six of them have forces on the ground in Iraq.
  That is far from their only contribution. Last year as president of 
the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, this Member traveled to all seven of 
these countries; and after those visits, this Member is confident that 
they and their membership will reinvigorate the Alliance. In fact, the 
new vigor is already being felt.
  Because the citizens of these new MEMBER countries have recent 
memories of living under oppressive dictatorships, they are especially 
committed to NATO and its collective defense guarantee.
  Having fought so long and hard to gain their freedom, they know how 
precious freedom is and how fundamentally important the defense of 
freedom remains. They have pledged that they are ready to defend their 
freedom and ours, and we are very fortunate to be able to call them our 
allies.
  In addition to noting the accomplishments of the incoming NATO 
members and welcoming their accession to the Alliance, this resolution 
also reaffirms the support of the House for the process of NATO 
enlargement and for keeping NATO's doors open.
  Finally, this resolution expresses our support for the remaining 
candidates for NATO membership, at this point, Albania, Croatia, and 
Macedonia.
  To ensure that the enlargement process continues after the accession 
of the seven new members, the resolution recommends that the leaders of 
the NATO nations at this summer's Istanbul Summit ``should agree to 
review the enlargement process, including the applications of Albania, 
Croatia and Macedonia, at a summit meeting to be held no later than 
2007.''
  This language is consistent with the language of the relevant 
communique from the 1999 Washington Summit at which Alliance leaders 
welcomed Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to NATO membership. 
That communique called for a summit meeting to review the enlargement 
process to be held ``no later than 2002,'' that is, 3 years after that 
summit.
  Scheduling a 2007 enlargement summit would also establish a 5-year 
cycle for NATO enlargement. Three nations

[[Page H1663]]

received invitations in 1997 at Madrid, and seven nations were invited 
in 2002 in Prague. This Member believes that this is a reasonable 
timetable, one that gives NATO time to incorporate the seven new 
members, while absolutely ensuring that the three remaining candidates 
are not forgotten and that they have met the necessary requirements to 
be full-fledged partners in NATO.
  Madam Speaker, yesterday was a historic day for America's seven 
newest allies as they joined the most successful Alliance in history 
and thereby secured the freedom that they had fought so hard to gain. 
This Member urges his colleagues to vote for this resolution in order 
to welcome these countries to NATO and to ensure that NATO's door 
remains open to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia 
and Slovenia, and probably to countries to follow.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution.
  Madam Speaker, first I want to commend my friend, the distinguished 
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter), for his outstanding leadership 
as the current president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and as a 
long-time champion of NATO in our Congress over many years. He is 
serious and thoughtful in his leadership, and he has served our Nation 
well through his commitment to NATO and in many other ways.
  Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure and a sense of personal delight 
to welcome seven new members to NATO. I passionately believe that in 
NATO we have a powerful group of allies who share our democratic values 
and objectives.
  Congress has consistently led the way in supporting NATO enlargement 
and in promoting a strong and robust role for NATO. NATO is the longest 
effective alliance in our time, and it has endured because it is 
comprised of free and democratic nations. No country was ever forced to 
join the Alliance by a larger and stronger power. There can be no 
better endorsement of NATO's success than the eagerness of the newly 
emerging Central and East European democracies to be part of it.

                              {time}  1230

  The accession of seven countries is a milestone in Central and 
Eastern Europe where, not long ago, some people were skeptical about 
the fate of democracy and human rights. Some argued that the American 
emphasis on democracy in this region was misplaced and that our 
Nation's efforts would fail. We proved the skeptics wrong.
  These new NATO allies have taken positive steps to advance their 
integration into Europe, and they have already contributed to the 
security and the stability of that continent. They have acted as de 
facto NATO allies by contributing forces to both peacekeeping and other 
military operations, both within and outside of Europe, in Afghanistan 
and in Iraq.
  So today, Madam Speaker, as we raise seven European flags at NATO 
headquarters, we again reaffirm the close friendship and partnership we 
have with Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and 
Slovenia; and we express our desire that this friendship grows stronger 
and even more vibrant within NATO.
  Madam Speaker, let me just say a few words about Russia's 
relationship to NATO. It is evident that as Russia strives to join the 
international community of democracies, it is in Russia's interests to 
have the arena of stability and prosperity in Europe expanded to 
Russia's borders. It is clear that if democratic forces gain strength 
within Russia, these democratic forces will welcome the enlargement of 
NATO and the growth of stable democracies in adjacent countries. It is 
not in Russia's interests to have a country on its border which is a 
totalitarian and authoritarian state, like Belarus. It is in Russia's 
interests to have countries nearby which are democratic, such as 
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, prosperous, free, and proud members of 
NATO.
  During the Cold War, Madam Speaker, I never accepted the notion that 
NATO threatened Russia, and I do not accept it now. There is no NATO 
leader who has the slightest ambition to invade or act in a way that is 
contrary to Russia's long-term interests. NATO's leadership hopes for 
the evolution of a democratic and prosperous and stable Russia. The 
leadership and the members of NATO want nothing more for the Russia 
people than an improvement in their economic conditions and an 
improvement in their political and civil liberties.
  In conclusion, let me just say a word about the responsibility of 
NATO out of area. When NATO was established, Madam Speaker, it was 
designed as a shield against the Soviet Union. Thanks to our efforts, 
the Soviet Union no longer exists, and NATO must find for itself a new 
raison d'etre. That new raison d'etre is in places like Afghanistan and 
Iraq, where the free and democratic way of life we enjoy and other NATO 
members enjoy is threatened.
  Now, NATO today performs a very limited function in Afghanistan. I 
call upon NATO leadership to dramatically increase its presence in 
Afghanistan. Short of that happening, the new Afghanistan will 
collapse, and we will have countless hearings as to the reasons why. 
Well, we know what the reasons would be. It is the failure of NATO 
members to have a presence in Afghanistan commensurate with the need.
  In Iraq, NATO has a profound responsibility. While NATO members were 
divided initially with respect to moving into Iraq, today there is not 
a NATO member who has not benefited by the establishment of stability 
in that country. I call upon the leaders of all NATO countries, old 
NATO countries and the seven new ones, to recognize that for NATO to 
have any reason for existence, it must be present in a robust way in 
places that can desperately use NATO's presence. I call upon our 
leadership and the leadership of all NATO countries to recognize this. 
And I look forward to the time in the very near future when NATO will 
be present in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, in a major and robust way, 
that can guarantee success in these two important areas.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume for a brief set of comments, and I want to thank the gentleman 
for his outstanding statement and for his generous remarks directed 
toward this Member.
  I would say to the gentleman with respect to Iraq and with respect to 
Afghanistan, the two subjects that the gentleman addressed towards the 
remaining part of his time, I certainly am in absolute agreement. The 
gentleman will recall, of course, that the House and the Senate have 
both expressed their view that NATO should take a larger role in Iraq 
and that, in fact, we should call upon the resources of the United 
Nations where appropriate. I am sure the gentleman is concerned about 
the lack of resources from NATO countries being directed towards 
Afghanistan at this critical time.
  Madam Speaker, it is now my pleasure to yield time shortly to the 
distinguished gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus), who is a graduate 
of the U.S. Military Academy and who had the experience of being an 
infantry officer in a combat unit stationed on the Czechoslovakian 
border before, in fact, the Wall came down and before we moved to now 
admit, some 3 or 4 years ago, the Czech Republic to NATO. The gentleman 
has taken an outstanding interest and involvement in the NATO 
Parliamentary Assembly as a rapporteur or co-rapporteur on a number of 
important reports for the Defense and Security committee and, I might 
also say, he has a special interest in our Baltic neighbors who are, by 
actions yesterday, joining NATO.
  Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus).
  (Mr. SHIMKUS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Madam Speaker, it is a wonderful day. Actually, the 
great day was yesterday, and it is an honor to be here on the floor 
with the gentleman from Nebraska (Chairman Bereuter) and the gentleman 
from California (Ranking Member Lantos), who have become great friends 
in this battle. It is a battle that I have really been fortunate to 
join, really at the closing of it. It is an important step forward to 
President Bush's goal and others within the administration's goal of a 
Europe whole, free, and at peace.

[[Page H1664]]

  It was great at the ceremonies yesterday when, on the lawn, on the 
east lawn, not only was the current administration there, but 
representatives of previous administrations: the Honorable Jean 
Kirkpatrick was there, the Honorable Madeleine Albright was there, 
Sandy Berger was there. So it really shows that NATO enlargement is 
really something that has lasted the test of time.
  At a time in our country where there seems to be great divisiveness, 
one unifying aspect is NATO enlargement. I am proud to be a Member of 
the House where I think all enlargements, actually, the momentum has 
always started, I think from the Madrid enlargement to even this most 
recent round. I think the other body gets a lot of credit because of 
their votes, but we do not want to shy away or take a second seat to 
anybody in our position and our push for NATO enlargement.
  I have enjoyed the relationship with the American citizens who still 
have a great respect and honor for their ethnic heritage and their home 
countries. These American citizens, who have fought in our wars and 
have given their lives for freedom and democracy, really ask their 
government to do a simple thing and help return that type of stability, 
peace, and freedom to their home countries, the countries of their 
birth, the countries of their forefathers. NATO does that.
  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization brings a collective self-
defense mission to again address that area of a Europe whole and free, 
so it is just a very important and exciting day. So I appreciate the 
resolution, because we should be part of the celebratory aspect and 
make sure that we are on record saying a job well done.
  There is still much work to go before us, as both the gentleman from 
Nebraska (Chairman Bereuter) and the gentleman from California (Mr. 
Lantos) have mentioned. But we are going to be much stronger as a 
united world, united under basic principles of freedom and democracy 
and the rule of law when we address totalitarian regimes than we would 
be to continue to have a fractured environment in Europe.
  We know what these new entrants are already doing. Actually, they 
have come through the membership action plan, which was not an easy 
task. When we have these democracies move from a centralized market 
economy to a free market economy, that creates a lot of stress on the 
way that the government used to provide services. These governments had 
to decide whether they needed to move aggressively with large parts of 
their dollars to transform themselves to be prepared to enter NATO. 
That is not easy, when you are changing from a system where the 
government is providing for all of the basic needs and now you are 
taking money away to increase the ability for self-defense. So they 
need to be applauded. They have gone through the process of reform in 
the military, in the economy, the rule of law; and the membership 
action plan really helped do that.
  Now they have also come to the forefront in the war on international 
terrorism. I know a lot of folks understand that it is important what 
they have given after September 11, their involvement in Afghanistan 
and for many their involvement in Iraq; and it is not a small task to 
ask these new emerging democracies to send their sons and daughters 
overseas for a cause of freedom, peace, and security in the world.
  So this is really appropriate that we do this. Bulgaria is focused on 
engineers and mine-sweepers; Romania on unmanned aerial vehicles and 
mountain troops; Slovakia, nuclear, biological, and chemical defense 
units; Slovenia, mountain warfare troops; Estonia, military divers and 
mine countermeasures; Latvia, explosive ordnance disposal; and 
Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia will provide 
special operations forces.
  So they are going to be additive to NATO. But where they are really 
going to be more additive, actually a multiplier, is really their heart 
and soul. These countries still have the scars of totalitarian regimes. 
They still hurt as they look at what has occurred to their countries 
over the decades. They bring an understanding of the cause for freedom 
and democracy. That is a message that sometimes those of us who have 
experienced and benefited from democratic governance for many years, we 
sort of take for granted and forget. Not after September 11, of course. 
But they are reenergizing NATO. They are bringing their commitment, 
their heart and soul.
  I wholly applaud, really, the international community, the United 
States for our leadership, and really the membership countries for 
saying, this is the right thing to do at the right time. The world will 
be stronger and more at peace because of the most historical 
organization in the history of the world that has kept the peace for 
over 50 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I am honored to 
have the chance to be on the floor to recognize them. I look forward to 
their added power as we move forward in this very dangerous and 
difficult time in this world.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield such time as she may 
consume to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), our 
distinguished colleague and my good friend.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I thank the distinguished 
gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), and the gentleman from Nebraska 
(Mr. Bereuter) as well.
  I represent an enormously diverse district. I am reminded of the 
Kosovo war and the refugees that wound up in Albania. We found 
ourselves in Houston hosting a number of those individuals who had come 
for refuge during that terrible time of ethnic cleansing. As I reflect 
upon that, I reflect on how important it is for this Nation to remain 
engaged internationally and to be able to promote democratization and 
collaboration.

                              {time}  1245

  My first introduction to this was joining the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Lantos) and the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) 
at the European Union. I want to acknowledge their leadership, the 
respect that they receive internationally, and certainly in that body, 
when we discussed the opportunities for Central and Eastern European 
countries to be part of the NATO Alliance.
  I recall visiting the NATO Alliance, which is a very, if you will, 
strong structure and I think has a very deliberative leadership at that 
Alliance and noted the importance of that institution to Europe's 
safety. But, as we spoke, we recognized that, as these nations would 
attempt to join the Alliance, there were several things that they had 
to engage in. As my good friend who just spoke on the floor of the 
House acknowledged, they had to overcome the scars of the kind of 
dictatorships and the kinds of governments that they had had in the 
past.
  I was very proud to note that they were eager to do so, to diversify 
their economy, to begin to look at opportunities for all of their 
citizens to be part of the dream of promoting a diverse economy and a 
diverse political system.
  They are now welcomed into the NATO family because they want to stand 
united against the war on terrorism or with us on the war on terrorism. 
They are eager, I think, to find a way to democratize, and I use that 
word in quotes, as it fits both their culture and their understanding. 
They desire to be allies.
  And I would, just as I welcome them, extend this welcome on the 
grounds that we all work together for peace in this world. It is easy 
to enter into conflict and war but not so easy to extract oneself and 
to promote peace.
  Because they have experienced the devastation of a divided and 
devisive government, bloodshed, rebellions through a long history, it 
is a very fine statement of the NATO Alliance and the United States 
that we have worked closely with them to bring them to this point and 
that they have joined and accepted the criteria for admission into 
NATO.
  I thank with great enthusiasm the number of Members of Congress who 
independently through their interaction on international 
parliamentarian exchange have been at the forefront of working with 
these particular nations and to bring them to this point. So my hat is 
off to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) for his continued 
leadership and interest in collaboration and as well continued exchange 
in promoting democracy, peace and freedom, and certainly to my

[[Page H1665]]

good friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), the ranking 
member, who has steadfastly been a member of the Human Rights Caucus, 
ranking member on the Committee on International Relations in the 
House, and a continued voice for promoting democracy and justice. I 
want to applaud him for what he has been persistent in, the bringing to 
the table, if you will, of these nations to the table of equality and 
to the table of peace and to the table of discussion and to the table 
of strength, and that is with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  I ask my colleagues to enthusiastically support this legislation, H. 
Res. 558, as a commitment to the friendship that now exists with these 
countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I join my colleagues in 
strong support of House Resolution 558, welcoming the accession of 
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia 
to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  During my tenure in Congress, I have had considerable interaction 
with the leaders of these countries, as well as the opportunity to 
witness the transitions which have occurred. For several of our new 
NATO allies I first encountered as one-party communist states, as 
Warsaw Pact adversaries and as ``captive nations.'' As Chairman of the 
Helsinki Commission, I have closely monitored their human rights 
performance and encouraged their democratic development. The transition 
for some has been particularly difficult, particularly with the effects 
of regional conflicts, political or economic crises. Throughout, their 
peoples have been our friends. Now, they become our allies.
  While we must congratulate these countries, first and foremost, on 
the progress which brought them to this historic point, we can also 
take some credit for the investments we decided to make, through the 
human resources and bilateral assistance which planted the democratic 
ideals that now have triumphed. In my view, the returns on those 
investments have been notable.
  In addition to these seven new NATO members, the resolution before 
the House also encourages the three members of the Adriatic Charter to 
continue their efforts toward eventual NATO membership. I particularly 
want to comment on Croatia. That country has had a particular challenge 
since 1990. As Yugoslavia fell apart and Croatia asserted its 
independence, the country faced not only the challenges of democratic 
transition but of surviving the Yugoslav conflict. From 1991 to 1995, 
significant portions of the country were destroyed or occupied. The 
conflict in neighboring Bosnia led to massive inflows of refugees. 
Croatia itself was vulnerable to those leaders with highly nationalist 
and less than democratic instincts.
  While all of this slowed their transition, Croatia has rapidly 
moved--especially since 2000--to meet their democratic potential. In 
the last elections, a smooth transition in government took place, and 
we have a bilateral relationship which continues to strengthen over 
time. In addition, Croatia has become a key contributor to stability in 
a part of Europe where stability is highly fragile.
  It is my hope, Madam Speaker, that we recognize this progress as 
Croatia seeks membership in NATO. Once Croatia meets the criteria for 
membership, the invitation to join should be extended. I would hope 
that the upcoming Istanbul summit will make this clear and mandate an 
assessment of Croatia's progress in this regard. It would be wrong and 
counter to U.S. interests to leave Croatia or any other country 
otherwise qualifying for NATO membership waiting unnecessarily.
  I believe that taking this action would also encourage its Adriatic 
Charter partners, Albania and Macedonia, in meeting the criteria for 
membership more quickly. Rather than abandon its partners, Croatia will 
help them make progress as well. Albania and Macedonia are also good 
friends of the United States and would benefit from this encouragement. 
Ultimately, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro would 
benefit as well, all in the interest of European security and, 
therefore, U.S. security interests.
  Mr. STUPAK. Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to welcome 
the nine new members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  For the last 55 years, the United States and its allies have worked 
through NATO to ``make the world safe for democracy.'' The accession of 
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia 
to full NATO membership will further strengthen this alliance and 
enhance the security of the United States and all NATO countries.
  I would like to extend an especially warm welcome to Slovakia. In the 
107th Congress, I introduced, and the House passed, H. Res. 253 to 
commend the Slovak Republic for its progress toward political and 
economic liberty and efforts to meet the guidelines for prospective 
NATO members.
  Slovakia, a once authoritarian regime, embraced a pro-Western 
government in 1998 and freed its citizens from international isolation. 
Since independence, the Slovak government has successfully held free 
and fair elections three times. In their last elections, over 70 
percent of eligible voters turned out to express their newfound 
democratic right.
  I am certain that as a member of NATO, Slovakia will contribute to 
the protection of member states and significantly benefit the security 
and peace of Europe and the region as a whole. Slovakia's leaders value 
their participation in our military alliance, and its citizens align 
themselves with NATO's common values and democratic mission.
  The resolution we are voting on today ``reaffirms that NATO's 
enlargement enhances United States and North Atlantic area security, 
and agrees that NATO's enlargement should be open to membership by any 
European democracy that meets NATO membership criteria and whose 
admission would further the principles of the Washington Treaty of 1949 
and enhance North Atlantic area security.''
  I am proud to vote for this resolution, and I believe that Slovakia, 
and the other new members, will greatly enhance our alliance's security 
and further its principles. I am pleased to be able to welcome them to 
NATO.
  Mr. CARDIN. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 558, 
which welcomes the accession of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, 
Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization (NATO).
  Earlier this month I celebrated the 86th anniversary of the 
declaration of independence of Lithuania with my constituents and the 
Lithuanian Society in Baltimore. I am very enthusiastic about the 
accomplishments of the Lithuanian people and my optimism for that 
nation's future. As you know, I am of Lithuanian heritage and share 
your special interest in Lithuania's development.
  I am proud of the United States' strong support for Lithuania through 
the extension of membership to the NATO alliance, and the continued 
endorsement for the nation's integration into the European Union. In 
2003 the U.S. Senate unanimously ratified Lithuania's inclusion into 
NATO, and praised Lithuania for ``serving as an example to emerging 
democracies worldwide.''
  As as an invited member of NATO and the European Union, the Republic 
of Lithuania plays a role in promoting security abroad and in combating 
international threats. Since 1994, the Lithuanian Armed Forces have 
demonstrated this commitment by deploying over 1,300 servicemen on 
missions to the Balkans and, most recently, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  Lithuania's accession to NATO really marks the return of Lithuania to 
the Euro-Atlantic partnership and alliance, as we face the new 
challenges of the global war on terrorism.
  Lithuania has made considerable progress towards a functioning market 
economy, and has enjoyed some of the highest domestic product growth 
rates in all of Europe. I am therefore pleased to see that Lithuania 
will shortly be joining the European Union (EU), which will grow from 
15 to 25 members on May 1, 2004.
  By joining the EU, the nation will greatly benefit from a larger, 
more integrated European marketplace. We should continue our 
partnership to further strengthen Lithuania's economic growth.
  I am also pleased to report that in the last decade Lithuania has 
made great progress in the area of human rights, rule of law, and 
religious freedom all while pursuing further integration into European 
political, economic, and security organizations. As a member of 
Congress, I serve on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe, commonly known as the Helsinki Commission. I also serve as the 
Chairman of the Economic Committee of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. 
Lithuania, among other countries, has agreed to the terms of the 
Helskinki Final Act, which calls upon governments to respect religious 
freedom and minority rights as well as guarantee free speech and 
political dissent. Lithuania has successfully moved to establish a 
strong democratic government, holding fair elections since 1991 and 
supporting an independent judiciary--both of which are critical 
components for maintaining rule of law and fighting corruption in any 
country.
  Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in supporting this 
resolution, in saluting the accomplishments of Lithuania and looking 
forward with great pride and expectation to the future. I urge my 
colleagues to take a moment to reflect on the unique Lithuanian culture 
and its contribution to the world.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, we have no additional speakers, and I 
yield back the balance of our time.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) for her kind

[[Page H1666]]

remarks and knowledgeable comments. I thank my colleague from 
California (Mr. Lantos) again for his continued interest and leadership 
in this subject area.
  Madam Speaker, I urge all Members to support this resolution. I have 
no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Biggert). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) that the House 
suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 558, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of 
those present have voted in the affirmative.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be 
postponed.

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