February 23, 2001




In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski reported (“Debate Begins on How NATO Should Expand,” p. A18) that a “larger NATO was high on the agenda during a meeting in Moscow this week between George Robertson, the alliance’s general secretary, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Although the formal decision on NATO’s next expansion will not be made by the members of the alliance for twenty-one months from now in Prague, the issue is already receiving attention from policymakers, and deservedly so. NATO’s decision will undoubtedly have a major impact on both European security and the relative importance of the Atlantic Alliance for decades to come.
In this connection, I would like to draw your attention the address given by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mrs. Nadezhda Mihaylova, on the question of NATO’s expansion at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 3rd. It is a powerful statement of the case for expanding NATO to include virtually all the democratic states of Eastern Europe that remain outside the alliance. An edited version of the speech follows.


Europe’s New Democracies and the Future of Alliance Security
Nadezhda Mihaylova
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

Several days ago before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Colin Powell said: “The value of NATO can be seen by the fact that ten years after the Cold War, nations are still seeking to join the Alliance. The Alliance is as relevant for the future as it was for the past.” My country, Bulgaria, is one of the nations Secretary Powell refers to, but I am not here today to speak on behalf of Bulgaria’s national aspirations. Instead, I want to take the liberty of trying to express the aspirations Europe's new democracies have in common, some of our accomplishments, and, most importantly, our shared commitment to the Alliance.

NATO's Political Purpose

In the new Europe, many institutions are playing vital roles in helping make the continent more united, democratic, prosperous and secure. But NATO has a singular position among them. Four decades ago, the visionary “Harmel Report” described NATO as “a dynamic and vigorous organization which is constantly adapting itself to changing conditions.” NATO’s “ultimate political purpose” it defined as the achievement of a “just and lasting peaceful order in Europe accompanied by appropriate security guarantees.”

This definition has not suffered a loss of meaning over the past 40 years. It fairly captures the purpose of the present day Alliance. Not only has the Alliance triumphed in the Cold War, the new NATO has played a major role in overcoming the division of Europe imposed at Yalta. Moreover, it has emerged as the most effective instrument in bringing security and stability to the dramatically changed European security environment. But, never has the North-Atlantic Alliance been closer to realizing its “ultimate political purpose” than today, at the beginning of the new century.

NATO's decisive intervention in the Yugoslav crisis that threatened Europe throughout the past decade and the presence of the NATO forces in South-Eastern Europe made the recent encouraging developments in the Western Balkans possible. (It goes without saying that the commitment of US and European forces was and remains indispensable.) This story of lives saved and the rule of law and human values restored is an eloquent testimony of the continuing relevance of NATO.

On the other hand lasting instability and specific security threats and challenges to the East and South of the borders of NATO applicant countries further reinforce our conviction in the growing importance of the Alliance’s enlargement for the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic community.
So I am confident that, with a reinforced Trans-Atlantic partnership matched by
an expanded and deepening EU integration, the Alliance will remain the bedrock of European security.

Europe’s New Democracies

Vaclav Havel has said famously that consciousness precedes being. I believe that there is a new political movement in European politics that has arrived at political consciousness and will soon arrive at political reality. I have in mind the force of the new democracies in Europe’s East which were inspired by the example of Solidarity and Charter 77 and, like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, have chosen the political path towards integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.

The exclusion of the new democracies which have emerged in Europe since 1989 would be a great opportunity missed. This loss would expose the Euro-Atlantic community to new risks and dangers stemming from a new division of the continent and in the reappearance of the old gray areas of uncertainty. In effect, after having finally torn down the Yalta partition of Europe, we would be choosing to restore a grim and unstable system of unequal security between nations.

We take heart, however, that the Atlantic Alliance already proved to have the vision, wisdom and courage to take the lead in opening its door to the new democracies. I would submit that the reunification of Germany was, in fact, the first expansion of NATO after the Fall of the Wall. In 1999, the Alliance continued its work and admitted three new members and established a road map to membership for nine additional candidates.

The return to the Alliance for this generosity of spirit has not been negligible. The participation of the three new members has enhanced NATO’s defense and crisis response capability and improved its overall strategic posture. From the very outset of their membership in the Alliance, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have been a part of the decision-making on Kosovo and contributed to NATO’s peace-keeping operations there. The assistance and support from aspiring NATO members in South-Eastern Europe, such as Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria, contributed substantially to the success of the Allied intervention, while Albania and Macedonia’s roles continue to be invaluable in hosting and backing up NATO forces on the ground. Though relatively remote from the troubled areas, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have also acted as responsible allies and dispatched their peace-keepers to the Balkans.

Today, contingents of NATO hopefuls, side by side with forces of the Allies, are ensuring a safe security environment in the post-conflict areas of South Eastern Europe. Not only are these neighboring countries providing the necessary logistic support for current operations, they are the frontline of defense against emerging threats to our values and interests, posed by organized crime and narcotics and sexual trafficking. All the nations of Central and Eastern Europe applying for NATO membership are resolved to sustain these commitments in the future. These are commitments to the security and prosperity of all of us and to a Europe whole and free.

The Meaning of Vilnius

But there is a larger point in what we have begun to accomplish together in SE Europe. Europe’s new democracies are hoping to join the Alliance not only because we need Europe and NATO as Europe’s security component, but also because Europe and NATO need us. Without our new democracies, Europe will certainly not be whole and probably not entirely free.

It is this common perception and political commitment that brought Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to Vilnius on May 19th, 2000. There, we made a commitment to work together in an effort to join NATO and reaffirmed that commitment at the Defense Ministerial in Sofia in October and the Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels in December.

It is the conviction of all nine countries that membership in NATO and the European Union must be complementary and mutually reinforcing. We firmly believe that the integration of any of our democracies in NATO and the European Union will be a success for all of us, and we believe that the integration of all of Europe’s democracies will be a success that future generations of Europeans and Americans will remember and find remarkable.

Politically, NATO membership and EU accession will strengthen the new democracies and greatly encourage their peoples to make the sacrifices necessary to sustain the war against external corrupt influences (which we are winning) and to further reform the civic society. Thus, enlargement should also be seen as an important tool for accomplishing the great project of European construction. In the new democracies, the security guarantees of NATO will serve to encourage the investment of capital that, in turn, will accelerate our integration into the Euro-Atlantic economic system and enhance our ability to contribute to the common defense of the Alliance. This is a virtuous circle and is in the interest of all the nations of the West.

A Rendezvous with History

Twenty-one months from now, there will be a summit of the NATO powers in Prague. It is our view that this summit will be a rendezvous with history. Europe and the United States will have to take a decision on inviting the new democracies of Europe to share the burdens of defending the Euro-Atlantic community.

I cannot tell you today what will be the decision of the NATO allies. But I can tell you that the new democracies of Europe have already made their decision. Bulgaria and the other “Vilnius-9” applicant states share the values of this community and are prepared to share the responsibilities for protecting these values.

We, the nine applicants, recognize that we have more work to do, to match the expectations of the Alliance. But we have the will and the resolve to do our job. I can assure you that we will be prepared at the rendezvous in Prague.