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Congratulating Albania and Croatia on Being Invited to Begin Accession Talks With the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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Location: Washington, DC


CONGRATULATING ALBANIA AND CROATIA ON BEING INVITED TO BEGIN ACCESSION TALKS WITH THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2008)

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Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 1266, a resolution congratulating Albania and Croatia on being invited to begin accession talks with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I support this continuing enlargement of the alliance.

These nations have been preparing for NATO for 8 years and are undergoing a historic process. They have made important improvements in the areas of ethnic diversity, human rights, free market economic principles and the promotion of good neighborly relations. Their unique geo-strategic position will be an asset to NATO. I commend the governments of these deserving nations for this historic achievement.

However, it bears mentioning there were three nations being considered for NATO membership this year, Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia. Unfortunately, Macedonia's bid for NATO accession was blocked due to an ongoing dispute with another NATO member.

It is a shame that Macedonia, our steadfast ally who just this year committed to doubling its troop level in Iraq and has military serving in Afghanistan, was treated in this manner. I remember Macedonia took over 35,000 refugees, I was there at the time, as Milosevic tried to wipe out Kosovo.

Macedonia's strong and sincere commitment to transforming their country into one dedicated to the principles of free market economics, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law cannot be denied. The exclusion of Macedonia from NATO will only serve to diminish regional stability, which I think is what we want, and will discourage other developing democracies from making needed political, economic and military reforms.

Its omission was purely political. As a Member with both Macedonian and Greek constituents in my district, the 8th District of New Jersey, I have been involved in this dispute for a long time. I strongly belief we should be bringing nations together, not keeping them apart.

We are talking about objecting because of what Macedonia calls itself. Thomas Friedman has written about this time and time again. This is the 21st century. What are we doing to ourselves? This nation has responded every time the United States has asked, and yet we have accepted the denial. And the State Department agrees with my position.

Madam Speaker, I offer my sincere congratulations to Albania and Croatia on their achievement.

And I will tell you how far this went, Madam Speaker: The denial on the floor of the Senate, holding up the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Philip Reeker, apparently because he was not talking enough ``pro-Greece.''

I am pro-Greece. I am pro-Macedonia. We cannot afford to have this happen, because we stand for the little guy, remember, the United States of America. Macedonia is a very small country, less than 2.5 million people. It doesn't have a great standing army.

I ask us not only to congratulate Croatia and Albania, but do everything in our power to make sure Macedonia sits at the table.

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