NATO hopefuls confident of being invited to join in Prague

Heads of government from ten countries aspiring to join NATO have expressed confidence that up to seven of them will be invited to join the alliance at the November NATO summit in Prague. The Estonian Prime Minister, Siim Kallas, told a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga that he could not see any negative signals.

The Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told the Riga meeting that he favoured closer cooperation between countries set to join NATO and the European Union and those left out, in order to prevent a "velvet curtain" dividing Europe. He suggested that the Vilnius Group of ten NATO hopefuls merge with the Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and has since been a strong advocate of further expansion.

Author: David Vaughan