Nine former communist-ruled NATO countries and Canada have urged alliance members to overcome their disagreements and initiate the membership process for Georgia and Ukraine at next month's summit in Bucharest.

Representatives of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania as well as Canada expressed their views in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The message says extending a NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine will increase stability and security in Europe. It adds failure to do so would create doubts that NATO membership is available to all democratic countries.

Russia strongly opposes further NATO expansion. Some larger NATO members have expressed doubts that Georgia fully satisfies alliance standards for democracy. They also note that a large proportion of Ukrainian citizens opposes NATO entry.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.