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Canada supports NATO enlargement at Alliance’s triple anniversary
Archived Articles 13 Mar 2009 Estonian Central Council in CanadaEesti Elu
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Estonian Central Council in Canada – LL

The Confederation Room on Parliament Hill in Ottawa was packed with NATO supporters, diplomats, military representatives, politicians – all present at a reception to celebrate three important milestones in NATO’s history.

It was the tenth anniversary of Poland’s, Hungary’s and the Czech Republic’s accession, the fifth anniversary of Slovakia’s, Romania’s , Slovenia’s, Bulgaria’s, Latvia’s, Lithuania’s and Estonia’s accession, the probable accession of Croatia and Albania this year and the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Sponsored by the NATO Parliamentary Association and the Ambassadors/Heads of Missions of the mentioned countries (including others), the occasion was an opportunity to focus on the continuing importance of NATO as a vital cornerstone of the collective defense in Europe and lately, elsewhere in the world as a guarantor of regional stability.

Leon Benoit, M.P., chair of the NATO Parliamentary Association and Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, Canadian Army Commander, remarked that the contribution by the newest NATO members has been noteworthy. It was mentioned that their proportional contributions to dangerous joint missions such as Afghanistan has been over and above their relative population size. NATO expansion was of benefit to the existing organization and continued inclusiveness will be a positive factor in international stability and peace.

Hon. Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety, representing the Prime Minister, stressed that NATO embodies not only collective security but also our deeply embedded values of democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law. NATO enlargement, in considering candidate members, must advance these principles, he said.

Minister Van Loan stressed that no non-member can have veto power over a country’s aspirations to become a NATO member. Without mentioning the countries, it was understood by the audience to be a direct reference to Russia’s opposition to Ukraine applying for NATO membership. Canada has always supported NATO enlargement, amongst others, for countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union or former members of the Warsaw Pact. In this regard, one can recall that Canada was the first NATO member to ratify candidate countries who were initiating the accession process and the first NATO member to ratify the full, formal accession of new members.

Chargé d’affaires of the Estonian embassy - Rasmus Lumi (an event sponsor), Avo Kittask - president of the Estonian Central Council, Tõnu Onu - Clerk of The Senate, Laas Leivat – Hon. Consul-General of Estonia and filmmaker Margus Kolga re-connected with long time Baltic Evening supporters such as retired M.P. and currently an Atlantic Council member Jesse Flis, Senator Raynell Andreychuk and Minister Peter Van Loan to promote the “Estonian cause” amongst the well-connected participants attending.
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