February 23, 2001
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 alliances general secretary, and Russian President Vladimir
Putin. Although the formal decision on NATOs 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. NATOs decision will undoubtedly have a major
impact on both European security and the relative importance of the Atlantic
Alliance for decades to come.
New Democracies and the Future of Alliance Security
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. NATOs ultimate
political purpose it defined as the achievement of a just
and lasting peaceful order in Europe accompanied by appropriate security
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 Alliances enlargement
for the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic community.
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 Europes 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
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 NATOs 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 NATOs
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 Macedonias 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
But there is a larger
point in what we have begun to accomplish together in SE Europe. Europes
new democracies are hoping to join the Alliance not only because we need
Europe and NATO as Europes 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 Europes democracies will be a success that future generations
of Europeans and Americans will remember and find remarkable.
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
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
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.