Senate endorses NATO admission of 5 more members

The US Senate has approved legislation to endorse the enlargement of NATO to include the admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine. The measure was approved Thursday night by voice vote. The House approved a similar bill on March 6. Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said eventual membership for the five countries "would be a success for Europe, NATO, and the United States by continuing to extend the zone of peace and security." He said Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia have been making progress on reforms through their participation in the NATO Membership Action Plan since 2002. "Unfortunately, Georgia and Ukraine have not yet been granted a Membership Action Plan but nevertheless have made remarkable progress," Lugar added. "This legislation will provide important incentives and assistance to the countries to continue the implementation of democratic, defense, and economic reforms."