Czech Republic approves NATO expansion

The Senate of the Czech Republic in a 60-2 vote has ratified expansion of the NATO, moving Latvia and six other nations closer to membership in the defense alliance.

The Aug. 7 vote in Prague brings to nine the number of current NATO members that have approved expansion, according to the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All 19 NATO members must ratify englargement.

The lower house of the Czech parliament ratified the expansion on July 24.

Besides Latvia, the NATO candidates include Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The seven countries were formally invited to join NATO during a November 2002 summit meeting in Prague. Accession is expexted to be completed by May of next year.

The first to ratify the expansion was Canada. Other nations that have ratified expansion are Norway, the United States, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg, Germany and Italy.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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