NEWS BRIEFS

Slovakia to sign NATO protocol

NATO member countries will sign protocols on the accession of Slovakia and six other invitees in Brussels on March 26, the Slovenian delegation reported January 21, after completing its first round of accession talks.

Unlike the European Union accession agreements, the NATO protocols will be not signed by candidate countries, but only by the current NATO members, amending the Washington Agreement under which NATO was established.

The amendment will allow Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania, invited at the Prague Summit in November 2002, to join the Washington Agreement and become official NATO members. The invited countries must then ratify their membership.

Slovenia is the only candidate to hold a referendum on its accession to the Alliance.

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