The legislation also authorizes US foreign assistance to the nation-states highlighted in the bill
National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Press Release
President Bush signs new NATO Bill passed by the Congress
For Immediate Release - April 23, 2007
Washington, DC - The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) congratulates the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on passage of the most recent bill, S. 494, in support of full membership - at the earliest opportunity - for the Republic of Croatia. On April 10, 2007, President George Bush signed into law the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007. This piece of legislation continues the Congressional and Executive Branch support for the next expansion of NATO in 2008 when, it is believed by many, Croatia will be admitted into NATO as a full member.
The bill is significant for several reasons. S. 494 outlines the history of the U.S. Congress' support for the continued expansion of NATO, includes several new nation-states as candidates for membership (Ukraine and Georgia), and reminds the world of the strides that the Adriatic Charter nations (Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania) have made towards the reforms required for full membership. The legislation also authorizes US foreign assistance to the nation-states highlighted in the bill.
One controversial amendment was added during consideration of the Senate's bill. An amendment by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) added an unnecessary reference in the bill (and Committee report 110-34) by way of attaching the acronym FYROM - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - behind references to the Republic of Macedonia. The NFCA opposed this nomenclature amendment in letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The NFCA commends the Congress for its continued interest in the expansion of NATO and President Bush for his encouraging words related to Croatia's readiness for full membership, most likely, in 2008. The NFCA's letter in support of this legislation is attached.
The NFCA is a national umbrella organization of Croatian American groups that collectively represents approximately 130,000 members. For additional public affairs information, please call Mr. Joe Foley, NFCA Government and Public Affairs Director, at (301) 294-0937, or Mr. Ed Andrus, NFCA President, at NFCA Headquarters at (301) 208-6650, or by email at NFCAhdq@verizon.net. For recent NFCA newsletters, important NFCA membership and chapter information, and other Croatian American news please visit the NFCA's Web Site at www.nfcaonline.com.
Letter to the U.S. Congress:
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS
April 12, 2007
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Chairman
The Honorable Richard Lugar, Ranking Member
Foreign Relations Committee
U. S. Senate
439 Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
On behalf of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA), I want to congratulate and thank you for your great leadership in managing to successful passage S. 494, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007, which was signed by the President on April 10.
The NFCA is a Washington, D.C. based umbrella organization representing a variety of Croatian American organizations across the United States. We have been strong supporters of all NATO-oriented legislation in the U.S. Congress encouraging the promotion of Croatia to full NATO membership as soon as possible. We have worked with all involved in this endeavor including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the leadership of the Europe Subcommittees in the Senate and House, the House Croatian Caucus Co-Chairs George Radanovich (R-CA) and Peter Visclosky (D-IN), and, when appropriate, Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica and his talented Embassy staff.
Continuing the expansion of NATO throughout Eastern Europe to those countries that desire to reform and become part of the Alliance is a critical strategic objective for the United States and this important multilateral organization. Given the successful record of the Alliance over more than fifty years, NATO is an organization to which many freedom-loving people will aspire, and it brings many western-oriented economic and political benefits to these nation-states in return.
As you have properly represented in the comprehensive language of this legislation, the Republic of Croatia has worked diligently in instituting democratic reforms and in transforming its military to meet the requirements of NATO membership. She has also made Partnership Agreements with her neighbors, some of them former enemies, to work together in protecting human rights. In a further friendly gesture and show of leadership, she has offered to assist her neighbors in achieving their democratic goals.
Membership in NATO will provide Croatia with the defensive protection she will need to grow her economy while continuing the implementation of democratic reforms. Hopefully in the future, as other members of the NATO Alliance have experienced, she will have peace and prosperity unknown to her in her long history. In addition, a presence of the NATO Alliance in Croatia will enhance the current stability of the potentially trouble-prone region of South Central Europe.
The NFCA and the Croatian American community also appreciate that the Republic of Croatia is designated as eligible to receive assistance under the program established in the NATO Participation Act of 1994. We agree that assistance of this type will produce enormous dividends to the cause of peace for Europe in the future.
More remains to be accomplished before Croatia achieves NATO membership, hopefully in 2008. We appreciate the great support over time that you and your colleagues have provided and trust that you will continue these legislative endeavors in the U.S. Congress so that Croatia achieves her NATO ambitions and becomes a strong participant in the future successes of the Alliance.
If the NFCA can be of further assistance regarding the Republic of Croatia's continued progress toward full NATO membership and related matters, please contact me directly at your earliest convenience or our Government and Public Affairs Director, Mr. Joe Foley, on 301-294-0937. As always, we will work to develop whatever support within the House and Senate, the House Croatian Caucus, and the Croatian American community that is needed.
Again, thank you for your leadership on matters affecting Croatia before the U.S. Congress.
Edward A. Andrus
National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA)
2401 Research Blvd, Suite 115
Rockville, MD 20850 USA
PHONE: (301) 208-6650
FAX: (301) 208-6659
WEB SITE: www.nfcaonline.com
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