29 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Seven former ‘iron curtain’ countries joined Nato on Monday, marking the alliance’s most important enlargement since it was founded in 1949.
The seven countries – Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – began formal negotiations to join at a meeting of alliance leaders in Prague in 2002.
Monday marked their official entry into the military club, which has its main headquarters in Brussels.
Celebrations to welcome the new member countries took place in Washington on Monday and further festivities are planned in Brussels on Friday.
On Sunday four Belgian fighter jets landed at an airfield in Lithuania ahead of its entry into the alliance. The aircraft are set to carry out routine patrols of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia’s airspace on behalf of Nato.
Five years ago Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the alliance.
Since the end of the Cold War Nato has been working hard to define a new role for itself.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news