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Bosnia and Herzegovina Makes Critical Step Toward NATO

  • Peter Fedynsky

James Appathurai, NATO Spokesman (undated photo)

James Appathurai, NATO Spokesman (undated photo)

NATO has granted its Membership Action Plan, or MAP, to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the final step before full membership in the alliance. But our correspondent reports from the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Tallinn that the status comes with conditions.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said NATO Foreign Ministers reached the decision to grant MAP status to Bosnia and Herzegovina during a working dinner in Tallinn. He said ministers welcomed the Balkan country's military reform effort, including destruction of surplus ammunition and arms, and as well as its new contributions to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Appathurai noted, however, that ministers remain concerned about an unresolved defense property issue.

"They have authorized the North Atlantic Council in permanent session to accept Bosnia and Herzegovina's first annual National Program only when all immovable defense properties identified as necessary for future defense purposes have been officially registered as the state property of Bosnia and Herzegovina for use by the B&H Ministry of Defense," said James Appathurai.

The North Atlantic Council holds effective political authority and powers within NATO. The National Program reflects a candidate's readiness to take on NATO membership responsibilities.

Spokesman Appathurai says ministers also discussed nuclear issues and missile defense. He says they stressed almost unanimously that NATO has made substantial progress in recent years to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by the alliance. They also turned to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to congratulate the United States for its leadership role in reducing nuclear weapons.

"All ministers stressed very clearly that our unity when it comes to nuclear policy will remain rock solid," he said. "There will be no unilateral moves. Any moves that are made will be taken together."

Appathurai said no specific proposals were made, but all agreed that when it comes to reducing the number or role of nuclear weapons in Europe, it is impossible to ignore Russia, which should be engaged in the discussion.

The spokesman says missile defense was discussed as a way to complement, not replace the deterrence of nuclear weapons. He says ministers agreed Iran is a threat. He quotes Secretary General Anders Rasmussen as saying the missile defense system being deployed is based on existing and viable technology. Rasmussen is also quoted as saying he hopes alliance missile defense can be adopted as a NATO mission at the organization's Lisbon summit late in 2010.

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