Slovenia Ratifies Albania, Croatia NATO accords

resizer13Slovenia’s parliament ratified the NATO accession of Albania and Croatia on Monday, paving the way for the alliance’s enlargement in the Balkans.

NATO issued invitations to Albania and Croatia last year in its Bucharest summit. All member states have to ratify the protocol before those two countries can be considered as full NATO members. Although the process normally takes more than 18 months, NATO member states were pushed to speed up the process so the upcoming summit in beginning of April would have he inclusion of the two new member states as a highlight.

Slovenia’s ratification was the one keeping NATO officials on their toes. The border dispute with Croatia has already posed big problems in Zagreb’s path towards European Union membership, with Slovenia blocking Croatia’s EU accession talks in December. Many in NATO feared that Slovenia might do the same for Croatia’s membership in NATO, leaving both Albania and Croatia out and overshadowing the summit marking the 60-th anniversary of the alliance.

The protocol for Albania was backed unanimously in the Slovenian parliament. Croatia’s passed by a large majority although nationalist parties called for a boycott.

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor said before Monday’s vote that the NATO membership issue was different from the EU accession process.

“Slovenia’s national interests are not endangered by the debate on Croatia’s accession to NATO,” he told deputies and urged them to back the ratification.

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