Objections To And Advantages Of NatoMembership For

Objections To And Advantages Of Nato-Membership For Central And Eastern European Countries Essay, Research Paper


In my essay I will discuss the objections to and advantages of NATO-membership for Central and Eastern European countries. First, I will give you a short historical profile of the post cold-war era.

In 1990 the Cold War officially ended. The two military alliances: NATO and the Warsaw Pact signed a treaty that stated they were no longer each others enemies and that they will advocate peace and stability in Europe and the world.

One year later, the Warsaw Pact collapsed. This left a ‘vacuum’, east of the NATO border. The natural reaction in the East was to ask for admission to NATO. Admission from Eastern European countries to NATO however brings many difficulties. NATO does not want to upset Russia, by expanding NATO to her former borders and eventually cannot prevent the admission of these countries to the Atlantic Alliance.

Not all Eastern European countries are at the same level of economic, military and democratic development. The four countries expected to join NATO first are: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

A good relationship with Russia is essential for the NATO countries. Russia does not see NATO as its potential adversary, but Russia is looking for a new role: keeping the status quo or returning to a system of ’spheres of influence’.

Germany, after unification, plays an important role in Central and Eastern Europe. Germany’s foreign policy towards these countries (’Ostpolitik’) is discussed in chapter 5.

In the end, I will give a personal conclusion on the next thesis, which will be the guideline to this essay.

Yes, NATO should allow Central and Eastern European states to become NATO-members.


Ch. Title page Source

0. Introduction

1. Practical Objections to admission

Eastern European countries

2. The Visegrad Four (Cz, Svk, H, Pl)

3. Russia’s discontent to

admission Eastern European countries

4. The Partnership for Peace,

the NACC and the CSCE

5. Germany’s post-unification

foreign policy

6. Conclusion

Chapter 1:

Practical Objections to Opening of doors for E European countries

Within the Western NATO countries there is not only fear of Russian reprisal (when allowing the countries to join NATO), there are also some practical objections.

A new member will be required to offer guarantees, including armed forces capable of integrating into NATO, compatible communication equipment and an agreed obligation to help any other member under military attack.

At this time, the Eastern European countries are only in the early stage of restructuring their forces aimed at forming Rapid Reaction Units (RRF). Some cannot defend their own territory. For good communication within NATO, the officers have to speak good English. In Poland, officers have already begun to learn the language.

The principal issue is: ‘Can the armed forces of Eastern Europe operate alongside existing NATO units in a peacekeeping role? ‘. In this matter, it is important that the Eastern European forces keep participating in joint military exercises (PFP). This will give the countries insight into the NATO operating procedures and will make their integration in the future much easier.

II. The Visegrad four

The four EE countries, first to join NATO in the future are the so-called Visegrad states or Visegrad Four: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. On 5 February 1991, they met in the village of Visegrad near Budapest (H) at an economic and political cooperation meeting.

The Visegrad four have the fastest developing economies and democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Still, they have to prove their political and democratic credentials such as internal stability and support for democratic practise.

Due to the small populations of the Czech and Slovak republics and Hungary their armies can be formed in short time into a modern force. Such a force is capable of acting in NATO’s Rapid Reaction Units in the future. In this context, Poland has a difficult task in reforming its army (the largest), but still Poland has made the greatest efforts in restructuring its army so far.

Poland is the country that is most threatened by a resurgence of nationalism in Russia. Russia’s president nominee Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, that if he became president, he would immediately attack Poland and divide it into two separate parts: one Russian and one Polish part. The Poles are clearly cautious and want NATO membership as soon as possible.

Slovakia, the country with the largest economic and also ethnic problems is expected to join NATO behind the other 3 Visegrad states. Slovakia, therefore has a larger interest in reforming the internal politics and economy of the country, and has no direct urge to become NATO member.

The Czech Republic is very eager of becoming NATO member. Its economic reforms have proven successful and the country is becoming the economic spill of Central Europe. The Czech government has made it clear that it does not want Visegrad to become an ‘institutionalised bloc’, faintly reminiscent of the old Comecon or Warsaw Pact. In fact, it might prefer to go in alone. It has also called Visegrad a ‘loose association’ focussing on economic rather than political goals. This kind of attitude is often called ‘the arrogance of Prague’.

Hungary is also a vast advocate of NATO membership. Hungary’s prime minister Peter Boross said that:’ a security vacuum in central Europe would be dangerous because, history showed that the region was vulnerable to the ambitions of outside powers.

To summarize, Poland and Hungary would like a quick entry into NATO for security reasons; they fear renewed Russian influence after 45 years of Read Army occupation. This besides the Czech, who are more independent and sometimes mistrust their Visegrad partners. If possible, they would like to enter without the other partners. Slovakia still has a long road ahead to NATO membership and lies behind her three partners on economic and political issues.

Chapter 3

Russia’s discontent to admission Eastern European countries

What could the admission of EE countries to NATO, mean for Russia?

* such an NATO expansion could isolate Russia and separate it from the West

* the expansion could affect Russia’s security interests

* the Russian public opinion is not ready for such a move. This could seriously strengthen communist and nationalist parties in Russia (like Zhirinovsky’s LDP)

Russia is opposed to the idea of NATO expansion, though Russia has agreed ‘in principle’ that it will happen. She wants to ensure that it will take time, that there will be new pan- European cooperation to bridge the East-West gap, and that she is consulted in every matter.

To give insight into Russia’s discontent, I will give you a short historic profile of Russia’s geographical history.

In 1991 the collapse of the Soviet Union gave birth to states in places colonized and controlled by Russia for centuries

[see map]. Russia already lost their ‘bufferzone’ in the 1989 revolutions in E Europe, which was in place since the mid-1940s.

On its western flank, Russia is confined to frontiers last observed in 1654, when Russia began its absorption of the Ukraine. Russia also lost its influence in the Baltic region. Most of the Russian troops already left the Baltic states and the only parts still in Russian hands are: the Kaliningrad strip and the area north of St.Petersburg (former Finnish territory).

Lithuainia is the only (former SU) republic, which officially applied NATO membership. She does not expect to be granted access because of Russia’s security interests in the Kaliningrad strip.

[see map].

The Russian Federation lost the Caucasus states, annexed at the start of the 19th century. Currently, the neighbouring Russian republic of Cheznya is ‘in war’ with the Russian army. The independence struggle of the Czechen could seriously threaten Russia’s Union, but this does not approve Russia’s cruel behaviour in the region.

Also, in Central Asia, the mid-19th century expansion has been reversed. Nowadays, Russia wants to remain the policeman of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), not only because the Russian army feels it is their ‘duty’ also because there are over 25 million ethnic Russians in the newly formed Republics.

Russian president, Boris Yeltsin said in December 1993 to former NATO secretary-general Manfred W rner( ), that any early attempt to incorporate Eastern European states would damage Russia’s strategic interests and hurt prospects for reconciliation with the West. Enlarging NATO would arouse Russia’s old fears of ‘encirclement’ and possibly undermine the cause of democratic reforms.

We all hope that Russia, which remains heavily armed and spends a large proportion of her national income to defence, will be content to live at peace within her own borders from now on. However, there is any guarantee at all and past performance does not make one optimistic.

Chapter 4: The Partnership for peace, the NACC and the CSCE

In August 1994, Russia signed the Partnership for Peace (PFP). The Russians say this is only the first step towards a new post- cold war environment in Europa. Still, the Treaty with Russia was a great step forward to a better relationship with the former enemy. German defence minister Volker R he, said: “The PFP is a common position for everybody but beyond that there is scope for a partnership with Russia and NATO, although it still needs to be worked out”. Russia has no interests at all of becoming a warmerNATO partner, but still wants a relationship adequate to its weight”.

NATO decided in 1991 to bring the former Warsaw Pact countries into the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).

The NACC (”nack-see”) could be a meeting-place for all parties involved to assure contacts at all levels and joint exercises (PFP). The Atlantic Alliance has always subscribed to a broad vision of security, not limited to the sole protection of the territorial integrity of its member states. These NACC countries have expressed in the forum, high expectations of extensive, incisive action by NATO.

Russia sees the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe as the new ‘collective security system’ in Europa, in which NATO would play a subordinate role. The CSCE consists of 50 European states + the US and Canada. It includes the NATO states and former Warsaw Pact allies. NATO is at present ready to support peacekeeping activities under the responsibility of the CSCE.

Consequently, the CSCE is the best instrument for affaires regarding the entire European continent.

Chapter 5: Germany’s post-unification Eastern European policy

On 3 October 1990, the German unification was officially signed. In 1989 already, the Berlin Wall came down. Very few Germans thought this could ever come about. In a very short period the two German states became one.

Suddenly, Germany became a European great power with 80 million inhabitants and 357,000 square kilometres in size. The Federal Republic has a great appeal to various regions and countries in Eastern Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, the destruction of Yugoslavia and the breakup of Czechoslovakia, this appeal has only increased.

Germany is a major power in middle Europe. The foreign policy of rapprochement towards European countries is often called ‘Ostpolitik’. Some NATO partners criticize the German government in establishing individual relationships with these countries, instead of establishing them in a European/NATO context. Why should Germany continue with its Ostpolitik? There are mainly three reasons:

1. Germany’s is in the geographical proximity of Eastern Europe

2. G. has long political, economic and cultural relations with the countries of Eastern European (esp. Poland and Czech Republic)

3. G. has a moral responsibility imposed by the legacy of major conflicts and bloody wars, of promoting democratic processes in Central and Eastern Europe.

Chancellor Kohl said that the Visegrad countries should have a real prospect of membership for those who joined the partnership group. Potential candidates had to trust the alliance in extension of the Atlantic Alliance to these candidates.

I feel, Germany should also broaden its ties with the Russian Federation. The historical perspective should be stressed even more than was the case with contacts established by the old Germany and the USSR.

The CSCE is the only framework for resolving issues that involve all European countries. Germany, situated in Central Europe, close to regions with tensions, must have a special interest in the future developments of the CSCE process.

6. Conclusion

Though NATO has agreed on membership for the Visegrad four in four or five years, there is still no firm timetable for these countries, to hold on to. The Four were forced to accept that the Partnership for Peace was all they could realistically expect for now. What is the alternative if we do not enlarge NATO with the Visegrad states.

If because of their exclusion, the Visegrad states formed an alternative to NATO membership, undesirable fragmentation would be promoted. This means there would be less protection against regional conflicts generated by nationalism and unstable minorities. I believe, such a situation would be more not less provocative to Russian security interests, because of the uncertainty brought along.

At the moment, indecision within NATO means that the obvious candidates for membership are being left in a void, with only the offer of vague partnership (PFP) to sustain them. It should be made clear that these partnerships are staging posts to membership, although the form of membership is flexible.

I am confident, that the Eastern European will be allowed to join NATO before the year 2000. With the Russian elections ahead, uncertainty in Eastern Europe is increasing now Russia should vote a democratic president who wants to enact democratic and economic reforms; although Yeltsin made some huge mistakes, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

If we create a positive climate for negotiations in Europe and solve our old disputes, I am certain Europe will leave the post- cold war era and jump, with renewed strength, into the next millennium.

R.J. van der Toorn

H.E.B.O. 1996


Independent, 12 Jan 1994, “Clinton’s try to sugar the NATO”, A. Bridge, A. Marshall, C. Bellamy

Independent, 2 Dec. 1994, “Russia frets over plan to expand alliance”

Financial Times, 5 Jan 1994, “Practical objections to opening doors for Eastern European countries”

Times, 7 Jan 1994, “Extension to east of NATO alliance”; letter, P. Mandelson

International Herald Tribune,7 Jan 1994

“Yes, NATO should expand eastwards”

International Herald Tribune, 10 Dec. 1993

“A blunt new Yeltsin warning to NATO”

NATO review, N|2 April 1993, “Preparing the ground for an Alliance peacekeeping role”, S. And (Italian Minister of Defence)

NATO review, N|2 April 1993, “Putting Germany’s post-unification

foreign policy to the test”, G. Sch llgen

De Balans van de 20e eeuw, Harenberg

Abbreviations used in the essay

NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

PFP: Partnership for Peace

CSCE: Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe


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