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Albania, Croatia Sign NATO Entry Accords


Albania and Croatia have signed NATO membership accords paving their way for their expected entry into the Western alliance next year.

Albanian Foreign Minister Luzlim Basha and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandrokovic signed the documents at ceremonies in Brussels. The two countries will gain full membership once the parliaments of the 26 current alliance members approve their entry.

In comments at the ceremonies, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer insisted that the door for Macedonia's alliance entry remains open.

The April NATO summit in Bucharest invited Albania and Croatia to launch alliance entry talks. But Greece blocked an invitation to Macedonia because of the continuing dispute with that country over its name.

The former Yugoslav republic and a historic region of northern Greece share the name.

De Hoop Scheffer urged the countries to resolve the dispute and permit Macedonia's alliance entry.

Athens has said allowing its neighbor to use the name Macedonia implies a claim on Greek territory. Macedonia says it makes no such claim.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.