15 years ago: The Bulgarian flag was raised at a ceremony in front of the NATO headquarters in Brussels

In 2019, when the Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates the 70th anniversary of its establishment, Bulgaria celebrates 15 years since joining NATO in 2004, BTA reports.

On March 29, 2004, Bulgaria and six other Eastern European countries became full members of NATO. At a ceremony at the US Treasury Department, the prime ministers of seven countries, including Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, presented US Secretary of State Colin Powell with documents ratifying the North Atlantic Treaty, and Powell hailed them “in the most successful alliance in human history.”

Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was the first to present the ratification documents, followed by the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. The United States is the depositary of the North Atlantic Treaty, and since the State ratifications were handed over to the State Department, the seven countries have become full members of the Alliance.

A few days earlier, on March 18, 2004, the Bulgarian National Assembly voted to ratify the North Atlantic Treaty with 226 votes in favor and four against. The law was also published in the extraordinary issue № 22 of the State Gazette, which officially enters into force.

Bulgaria was invited to start accession talks with the North Atlantic Alliance on 21 November 2002. In a letter from Foreign Minister Solomon Passy to NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson on 17 March 2003, the government formally reaffirmed Bulgaria’s desire and readiness to join the Alliance.

On March 26, 2003, the Permanent Representatives of the member states signed a protocol on the accession of Bulgaria in Brussels. The document is an addendum to the North Atlantic Treaty, which allows Bulgaria’s accession and expands the territorial scope of the treaty.

On February 5, 2004, the Council of Ministers decided to propose to the National Assembly to ratify the North Atlantic Treaty, signed on April 4, 1949 in Washington.

On March 1, 2004, the new NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer issued an official invitation on behalf of the member states to Bulgaria to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty.

In 2004, with the accession of Bulgaria and six other Eastern European countries, the fifth enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization took place, founded on April 4, 1949 as a military alliance of 10 European countries, the United States and Canada.

Two days earlier, on April 2, Bulgaria’s national flag was hoisted at a ceremony in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels, along with the flags of the other six new member states, in the presence of Solomon Passy and the foreign ministers of the other new member states.

The publication of Pavel Galabov in Dnes.bg was used for the preparation of the material.