NATO leaders gathered in Bucharest on Wednesday (2 April) agreed to admit two Balkan countries – Croatia and Albania – to the organisation, but an unsolved dispute between Skopje and Athens has delayed Macedonia's invitation.
Croatia and Albania also link NATO membership to their EU integration.
"Membership in NATO will be a stimulus to our partners on the other side of the table to accept Croatia as a full member of the European Union", Croatian premier Ivo Sanader was quoted as saying by daily Javno on Thursday (3 April).
For his part, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha told the Associated Press that joining NATO would represent for his country "the most important development since independence."
The European Union has given the political green-light to a 1,800-strong police and civilian mission to be deployed in Serbia's breakaway region of Kosovo, although differences remain over the possible recognition of Kosovo's independence.