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EDITIONS
 Friday, 22 November, 2002, 14:40 GMT
Newcomers' joy at Nato invitation
Romanian child with flags
George Bush is now awaited in Romania
Nato's offer of membership to seven Eastern European countries is viewed by local media as a historic step.

For some it finally eradicates the legacy of World War II, for others its a sign of their long-awaited arrival in the West.

Just a few papers sound a quiet note of scepticism, or see potential problems ahead.

Bulgaria

"This day will go down in history," says Zemya. "Historic gesture", says Trud.

Estonia's time to party and prepare for responsibility

Postimees, Estonia

Other papers also hail the dawn of a new era.

"This is the end of division," reads a headline in Duma, while Standart News quotes historian Bozhidar Dimitrov as saying: "World War II ended yesterday."

The same paper reports the results of a poll showing 61.4% of Bulgarians support Nato membership with only 22% against.

But the socialist paper Duma is more circumspect. "We are in. Now what?", it wonders.

Estonia

"It's our Nato", says an editorial in Postimees.

This is "Estonia's time to party and prepare for responsibility", the paper says.

Elsewhere it notes that former Prime Minister Mart Laar, who campaigned hard for Nato membership, "kept his promise to shave off his beard once the invite came".

Eesti Paevaleht headlines its editorial: "Under the Nato umbrella".

"The invitation issued at the Prague summit is the biggest Estonian foreign-policy victory since the Russian troop withdrawal in August 1994," it says.

Aripaev believes Nato membership will boost business.

"Ever since it gained independence, Estonia has found it a major headache how to make itself known the world," the paper adds.

Latvia

"Yesterday... the end of World War II became tangible," says the main Latvian daily Diena.

The clock of history in Lithuania has started showing real Western civilization time

Lietuvos Rytas, Lithuania

The paper quotes extensively from statements by Latvian leaders.

"This is an historic and joyous day for us!" says President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

"This is the third most important day in Latvia's history, after the gaining and then the restoration of its independence," says Einars Repse, the country's new prime minister.

Lithuania

"Yesterday will enter the history textbooks," says the main daily Lietuvos Rytas.

"The clock of history in Lithuania has started showing real Western civilization time," it says.

One headline in Lietuvos Aidas cries: "At last!", while another revels in the "Transition from one world to another".

Kauno Diena says the invitation "rectifies historical injustices and marks the final end of the Cold War".

Finally, Respublika looks forward to the arrival of the "leader of the most powerful state, George W Bush".

"Along with the invitation to Nato, this is one of the most important events this year," the paper says.

Romania

An editorial in Romania Libera welcomes the move, but says "the invitation does not represent the end of the strategy, but the beginning".

A real milestone in the short independent Slovak history

Narodna obroda, Slovakia

"Romania did not fulfil all Nato criteria for membership", the papers adds, noting that "the level of compatibility of Romanian troops with NATO standards is far from satisfactory".

The Nine O'Clock daily considers Romania's potential contribution to the alliance.

It says that while there has been "no request yet on Iraq", Bucharest should "not rule out participation in the newly created rapid response force".

Slovakia

"Slovakia already has one foot in Nato," reads a headline in Narodna obroda. "A real milestone in the short independent Slovak history."

"Welcome to a better society", the paper says, adding that this is the best legacy that today's "communism-tainted generation" can hand down to its children.

"Nato invited us to join the elite", reads a headline in Sme.

"It took Slovakia 10 years to gain the trust of the two elite clubs on this planet," the paper says, referring to both Nato and the EU.

Slovenia

Here, the satisfaction is more muted.

Slovenia is honoured

Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek

The Delo daily comments that the country was invited "in line with expectations".

It adds that people view the development "with mixed feelings".

True, the paper concedes, joining Nato is "by all means" better than not joining. Yet, it adds, "it seems that a membership is some kind of a necessary evil".

Vecer reports what it calls the "surprising" results of the latest opinion poll: in a referendum, just 38% would support entry while 39% would vote against.

The Dnevnik daily does however see the invitation as historic, while Finance quotes Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek as saying: "Slovenia is honoured".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

21 Nov 02 | Europe
23 Nov 02 | Europe
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