"The structures through which international affairs have been conducted for the past forty years have been shaken to their foundations. Now comes a time of rebuilding." Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1990.


NATO enlargement is not "an end in itself," asserts NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, "but a means to build security and stability within the wider Europe." This vision of a stable and secure Europe, where NATO has a vital role to play, must also include Russia. How to get from where we are today to a Europe "whole and free" for the twenty-first century is the primary policy challenge facing NATO. It has been so since the beginning of the decade and the end of the Cold War.

Grasping the immensity of recent events in Europe is difficult. The European security milieu was dramatically transformed by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the collapse of the Communist order in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE),(1) and the emergence of twenty new sovereign states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).(2) Security institutions such as NATO, the European Union (EU), and the CSCE/OSCE have been under considerable stress as they have attempted to adapt to the kinds of challenges faced by post-Cold War Europe.

Of all these historical events, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, was probably the most dramatic and will be remembered as the turning point in post-Cold War East-West relations. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and later the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, are likely of even greater historical importance. This judgement is warranted given the tremendous impact these events have had, and will probably continue to have, on the three main players in the Alliance enlargement debate: NATO, the fledgling democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia.


Russia has been suffering from what can be described as the "Versailles Syndrome," which affected defeated Germany after the First World War. Moscow thinks it is the victim, with NATO taking advantage of its temporary difficulties. It feels isolated, humiliated and has had great difficulty in adjusting from its past superpower status to its post-Cold War situation. Moscow's humiliation stems mainly from the major defeat sustained when it lost its two empires: the inner Soviet empire, contiguous to the Russian heartland, which had taken centuries to build; and the outer empire, acquired after 1945, consisting of the CEE satellites. Particularly frustrating for Moscow is the awareness that both empires were lost without having to fight a war.

In the spring of 1989, the political boundaries of the Soviet sphere extended to the Elbe River, in the heart of Germany. Before the end of 1991, these boundaries had changed to a greater extent than in the disastrous summer of 1941, following the Nazi invasion. Of Russia's major historical boundaries, only that in Siberia remains where it has been for the past several centuries. In the south, in the Caucasus, Russia's formal borders are today as they were at the beginning of the 19th century, before the incorporation of Georgia into the Russian empire.

In Central Asia, Russia's borders are now roughly the same as those before the rapid imperial expansion that began in the region in the middle of the nineteenth century. More important still, are those borders that reflect the country's standing as a European great power. Russia's western state borders are now those of more than three centuries ago, before the Treaty of Pereislav, (1654) which eventually led to the incorporation of Ukraine into the Russian Empire.(3) The rapid disintegration of the Soviet empire means that some twenty-five million ethnic Russians now live outside Russia, in what former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev described as the "near abroad." Russia has undergone revolutionary changes in recent years. These changes must be factored into the current NATO enlargement debate. The "NATO- Russia Founding Act, (4) signed in Paris on 27 May, marks the beginning of a better understanding of Russia's legitimate security concerns.


The dual collapse of the Soviet Union and the satellites communist regimes, followed by the rebirth of each country's national and historical consciousness, have created political and economic uncertainties throughout the region. These uncertainties have helped ferment the forces of volatile nationalism and ethnic conflict that Soviet hegemony had suppressed for more than forty-five years. Because of this transformation, all of the states in the Central and Eastern European region have had to redefine their security interests.

The end of the Cold War produced a situation that, in its fundamentals, is not unlike what emerged following this century's two world wars. Each postwar situation resulted in the defeat of a power or alliance of powers, (Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary, Nazi Germany and Japan), that had sought Eurasian hegemony. Each postwar situation witnessed the temporary emergence of a "security vacuum" in CEE, presenting the victorious powers with a clear opportunity to fill that vacuum.

In the two previous occasions, at Versailles and Yalta, the failure of the victorious powers to settle adequately the Central and Eastern European question set the stage for the next confrontation among the Great Powers. A failure, in the present post war period, to address satisfactorily the current perceived "security vacuum" in the CEE could very well create a cancer for the security of Europe. Whether the planned enlargement of NATO, to include "one or more countries," of that region, is the most appropriate remedy, remains a subject of intense debate.


The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War have clearly made the strategic environment much more unpredictable. John J. Mearsheimer warned us in his prophetic 1990 Atlantic Monthly article that "we may likely soon regret the passing of the Cold War." For many, the omen of these events was clear. The disappearance of the Soviet military threat that had so dominated NATO's strategy over the last forty

-five years meant the loss of the Western Alliance's raison d'être. Indeed the new European security environment, is analogous to a situation described by the modern Greek poet Gavafy in his poem entitled: Expecting the Barbarians. In it, the citizens of a mythical city await the arrival of the barbarians, only to find out that "there are no longer any barbarians." The citizens are left confused, and wonder: "What shall become of us without any barbarians? These people were a kind of solution."

The question"Whither NATO?" was a conference and workshop staple in the early 1990s. Then, many scholars predicted the demise of NATO. The dawn of "peace" in Europe, in their view, would give "collective security" a new life and would undermine the need for large multilateral military organizations, such as NATO. This post-Cold War euphoria also affected policymakers. In its 1994 report, the Special Joint Committee of the House and Senate charged with reviewing Canadian foreign policy, argued that Canada should "encourage NATO to continue moving to a collective security role for the whole of Europe." More worrisome still were voices in Washington, questioning the need for a continued US military presence in Europe. George Kennan, for example, observed in 1993, that: "the time for the stationing of American forces on European soil has passed. (5) Others, like US Senator Richard Lugar, suggested that "NATO go out of area or go out of business," and that the Alliance would face irrelevancy, if it did not take in new members from the East.

The Cold War has indeed melted away, and so has NATO's primary mission - to deter and defend against an attack on Western Europe by the Soviet led Warsaw Pact. But, the usefulness of the Alliance has endured. NATO has, in fact, adjusted better than expected to the new Euro-Atlantic security environment. In its quest to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving situation, since the July 1990 London Summit, NATO has gone through a major internal and external transformation. The approval of the new Alliance Strategic Concept at the November 1991 Rome Summit, (emphasizing dialogue, cooperation, as well as, collective defence) - signaled a shift to a more politically active and nonthreatening Alliance. In this vein, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was created to deepen ties with CEE states. By 1992, the Alliance had agreed to support CSCE and UN peace operations, thereby expanding the core function of collective defence to include peacekeeping and crisis management. At the January 1994 Brussels summit, NATO broadened its links with the rest of Europe by establishing the Partnership for Peace, (PfP), and agreed to create a more responsive military structure exemplified by the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF).

As a further example of its adaptation to the post-Cold War security environment, the Alliance announced that it: "expected and would welcome NATO enlargement that would reach to democratic states to our East as part of an evolutionary process, taking into account political and security developments in the whole of Europe."

Collective defence remains the core of the Alliance. Nevertheless, NATO member-states quickly realized after the end of the Cold War, that collective defence could not be the principal focus of NATO's activities in the foreseeable future. NATO's day-to-day activities have shifted from collective defence to "cooperative security" - in essence non-Article V activities have achieved a new prominence. Certainly the best examples of this "new Alliance" have been the NATO-led missions [Implementation Force (IFOR) and Stabilization Force (SFOR)], to implement the military aspects of the Dayton Agreement in Bosnia.


Despite these changes, it is NATO enlargement that is the most symbolic of this new NATO and the most problematic. NATO Foreign Ministers, at the December 1996 meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), announced that a NATO Summit would be held in Madrid on 8/9 July 1997, when "one or more countries that have expressed interest in joining the Alliance" will be invited to "begin accession negotiations." If all goes well, one or more CEE countries may join NATO in April 1999- the fiftieth anniversary of the Alliance.

NATO enlargement has generated a great deal of debate, largely among academics. Some argue that the enlargement issue is the most important and positive item on NATO's agenda. Others assert that enlarging the EU first would have been more logical. Indeed, the NATO enlargement process seems to have avoided answering some rather obvious questions. Before announcing the enlargement of NATO might it not have been wiser to give PfP longer to develop and provide vital dividends? Will the "new NATO," which places greater emphasis on non -Article V "cooperative security," fully meet the security concerns of the new members? What about the CEE countries not-invited to join NATO at the next summit? Will this planned enlargement of NATO to the East satisfy the current security concerns of the southern tier NATO members?

Moreover, the process of actually enlarging the Alliance is not a sure thing. A critical dimension of NATO's enlargement will involve the ratification of the protocol of accession by all sixteen NATO members. Without a clear and present threat to CEE countries, one might ask whether parliaments and national assemblies will be prepared to accept the risks and the costs inherent in further extending security guarantees provided by Article V of the Washington Treaty.

The concerns these questions raise are not trivial. However, the most challenging issue for NATO policy makers will be finding a satisfactory way of addressing Russia's security concerns. If not handled properly, enduring confrontation between Russia and the West will likely ensue. Such an outcome would, in the view of Jonathan Dean, be the "worst mistake in US policy towards Europe since the end of World War II." (6) The Rand Corporation pro-enlargement study group also issued a similar warning: "Depending how it is handled, expansion could stabilize a new European security order, or contribute to either unraveling of the Alliance or a new Cold War with Russia. (7)

Chapter II considers the security concerns of the CEE countries from an historical, economic, ethnic and geostrategic perspective, and then analyzes which Euro-Atlantic security organizations best meet their security concerns. Chapter III reviews the relevance of NATO to Euro-Atlantic security and the transformation of the Alliance from its traditional core function of collective defence to include crisis management and peacekeeping. This chapter concludes with a critical unanswered question: Will the "softer" NATO approach to Euro-Atlantic security satisfy the quest by new members for "hard" security guarantees? Given the multifaceted nature of Euro-Atlantic stability and security, any account of the current NATO enlargement debate would be incomplete if it did not address a number of broad outstanding security issues, of which enlargement of the Alliance is but one component. Chapter IV highlights some of the outstanding issues needing resolution in the months and years ahead. Chapter V will draw conclusions and put forward recommendations.


1. 1. For the purpose of this paper the term Central and Eastern Europe refers to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The former Yugoslavia, although part of Central Europe, will not be covered in this paper.

2. 2. The OSCE was known, until 1994, as the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

3. 3. For further details see, Allen Lynch, "After Empire: Russia and Its Western Neighbours," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report (hereafter as RFE/RL Research Report), vol. 3, no. 12, (25 March


4. 4.4. The full title of the agreement is "Founding Act on Mutual Relation, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

5. 5. Douglas T. Stuart, "Symbol and (Very Little) Substance in the US Debate over NATO Enlargement," Will NATO Go East? The Debate Over Enlarging The Atlantic Alliance, ed. David G. Haglund, (Kingston Ontario: Queen's University Centre for International Affairs, 1996), p. 118.


6. Jonathan Dean, "Losing Russia or Keeping NATO: Must we Choose?," Arms Control Today, (June 1995),

p. 3.

7. 7. MGen (Retired) B. Atkinson, "NATO Expansion," Army, (June 1996), p. 34.