NATO Enlargement:

Report Is Responsive to Senate Requirements, but Additional Information Could Be Useful

GAO-03-255: Published: Nov 15, 2002. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 2002.

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On November 21 and 22, 2002, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will consider the admission of new members to the alliance. To facilitate congressional deliberations on NATO enlargement, the United States Senate mandated in 1998 that GAO review and assess a report that Congress directed the President to provide on countries seeking membership in NATO. The President submitted a classified report to Congress on August 26, 2002. To fulfill its mandate, GAO determined if the report met the Senate's requirements and if the cost estimates were sound.

The President's report responded to the mandated requirements with information that was generally accurate and current. The report provided a detailed discussion of each country's eligibility in terms of defense, budgetary, information security, legal, and economic issues. However, the discussion of each country's efforts to implement democratic principles and reforms was limited. That discussion did not reflect the challenges these countries face in the transition to democratic societies--or their efforts to address those challenges--in areas such as civil liberties, judicial independence, human rights, and minority rights. These are important principles of the alliance and a fuller discussion could be useful. GAO provides additional information on these issues in appendix II to help Congress in its deliberations on NATO enlargement. The figure below shows current NATO members and the nine countries that will be considered for membership in November 2002. The National Security Council generally concurred with the contents of this report.

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