The Guardian August 28, 2002

NATO aspirants line up

NATO is to deploy a Kazakh battalion to the Balkans as Romania, 
Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, all candidates to become NATO junior 
partners, deploy forces in southern and central Asia to prove their bona 
fides to NATO headquarters in Brussels. These are the fruits of the 50th 
anniversary NATO conference held in Washington DC in the spring of 1999 
during NATO's war against Yugoslavia.

Nine new members may be asked to join NATO in its Prague Summit this 
November, and along with its Partnership for Peace apprenticeship program, 
the so-called Atlantic Alliance, now has some 50 national components, from 
Latvia to Uzbekistan, from Georgia to Slovenia.

Add to this its seven-member Mediterranean Dialogue  Morocco, Israel, 
Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Tunisia and Algeria  and the original 
NATO/Western Europe scenario has expanded to include four continents.

On August 16 a platoon of 28 Albanian soldiers arrived in Kabul together 
with five soldiers from Macedonia and another five from Kirghizstan to 
reinforce the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

All the 38 new soldiers are to work alongside one of the Turkish 
contingents in the city. Officially the forces would be used for 
maintaining security at the Kabul airport, the site of the assassination of 
Afghanistan's interim civil Aviation Minister in February.

But Albanian military officials see the stationing of the troops as a boost 
to the country's NATO entry bid. The mission marks the second time Albanian 
troops have been involved in so-called peacekeeping: Albanian Special 
Forces soldiers are also in Bosnia with the NATO-led SFOR occupation force.

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