Bush signs into law U.S. endorsement of NATO expansion, aid for five prospects


The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush put the weight of the United States on Tuesday behind the continued expansion of NATO. The legislation he signed into law also authorizes new military aid for prospective member countries from the Balkans to the Caucasus and beyond.

The law designates the Balkan states of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, Georgia in the Caucasus region and Ukraine as eligible for military assistance under the NATO Participation Act of 1994, passed in the early days of post-Soviet expansion of the Atlantic alliance.

The aid is for the current budget year, which ends next Sept. 30.

Bush received the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act two weeks ago. It was sponsored primarily by Sen. Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In Russia, the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying "moves of this sort clearly don't help normalize the internal political situation in Ukraine in view of the fact that entry into NATO is an issue that was on the list of disputes that were one of the causes of the current political crisis in the country."

Last week, the Duma passed a resolution saying the bill supporting Georgia's and Ukraine's NATO aspirations was an interference in the internal affairs of those countries. Both are former Republics of the Soviet Union.