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Minimum Requirements for NATO Membership

Fact sheet prepared by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, June 30, 1997.

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NATO membership is potentially open to all of Europe's emerging democracies that share the alliance's values and are ready to meet the obligations of membership.

There is no checklist for membership.

We have made clear that, at a minimum, candidates for membership must meet the following five requirements:

--New members must uphold democracy, including tolerating diversity.

--New members must be making progress toward a market economy.

--Their military forces must be under firm civilian control.

--They must be good neighbors and respect sovereignty outside their borders.

--They must be working toward compatibility with NATO forces.

Again, while these criteria are essential, they do not constitute a checklist leading automatically to NATO membership.

New members must be invited by a consensus of current members.

Decisions to invite new members must take into account the required ratification process in the member states. In the case of the United States, decisions are made in consultation with Congress.

The key determinant for any invitation to new members is whether their admission to NATO will strengthen the alliance and further the basic objective of NATO enlargement, which is to increase security and stability across Europe.

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