Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) is the lead Democrat on a bipartisan letter authored by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), encouraging Secretary Kerry to make NATO enlargement a priority for the United States and the Alliance in advance of the 2014 NATO Summit.
Rep. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement:
"As we approach the 2014 NATO Summit, it is important that the United States supports the aspirations of those states which seek to integrate with the Alliance. In particular, and as the letter authored by Rep. Turner and that I and 40 of my colleagues signed specifies, the United States should support the application for NATO membership for Montenegro and Macedonia at this year's summit, encourage continued progress in implementing the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Bosnia-Herzegovina, and advocate for granting a MAP to Georgia. I also echo the call in the letter for the United States to work with NATO to ensure that Kosovo be offered a place in the Partnership for Peace program, which all of its immediate neighbors have been admitted, and be provided a pathway for eventual membership in the Alliance.
"Support for these initiatives will encourage these nations to further pursue important democratic reforms and strengthen their commitment to partnering with Euro-Atlantic institutions, both of which are important to achieve our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace."
The text of the letter follows:
February 5, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street , NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry,
As we approach the 2014 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit hosted by the United Kingdom, we encourage your continued efforts to make enlargement a key priority for the United States and the Alliance. Furthermore, we believe the United States should continue its close partnerships with the aspirant countries of Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as with other countries in Central and Eastern Europe which seek closer relations with the U.S. and NATO. In particular, we urge you to support membership for Montenegro and Macedonia at this year's summit, to encourage continued progress in implementing the Membership Action plan (MAP) for Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to advocate granting a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia. Additionally, we urge you to work with our NATO allies to ensure that Kosovo--which in February celebrated the sixth anniversary of its independence and is a staunch supporter of the United States--joins its neighbors as a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), and has a pathway for eventual membership in the Alliance.
In the 25 years following the end of the Cold War, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have sought independence, democracy, and partnerships with the United States and NATO. Through various collaborative efforts--many led by NATO--meaningful reform initiatives brought about great economic growth, more accountable governance, and the rule of law for millions of Europeans. And for the past two decades, NATO's spirit of collective security has been the bedrock of stability in the region.
It is our firm belief that the genuine prospect of NATO membership for the current group of aspirant states will further strengthen democratic institutions and values and increase stability and security in the region.
In contrast, failure to recognize and reward their significant efforts could discourage aspirant countries from pursuing further democratic reforms and weaken their commitment to partnering with Euro-Atlantic institutions. In addition, the Ukrainian government's recent decision not to sign a long awaited association agreement with the EU--in defiance of the popular preference for European integration--raises concerns about back-sliding on democracy and the possibility that states in the region will be pressured by outside forces seeking to divide the continent and undermine the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.
The United States and its Allies have reached a critical point in which action is necessary to ensure NATO's future relevance and viability. As we approach the 2014 Summit, we stand ready to work with you to promote the accession of Montenegro and Macedonia to the Alliance, and to advance the membership prospects of Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina through the MAP process. In addition, we would like to work with you to ensure that other states in the region, such as Kosovo, which seek closer relations with Euro-Atlantic institutions, have a clear path toward integration with the Alliance.
We appreciate your continued commitment to NATO and await your response on the issue of enlargement at the 2014 summit.