Center for Strategic Decision Research


Enlargement of NATO and the EU: A Candidate's Opinion

His Excellency Ioan Mircea Pascu
Minister of Defense of Romania

The end of the Cold War opened the way for the reunification of Europe. After initial hesitation, due to the speed of the Communist collapse and the West's lack of preparedness, the right decisions were made: Western security, prosperity, and stability would be expanded to the East through the enlargement of NATO and the EU. 

In order to bring its influence to bear on shaping the post-Cold War world, Europe had to be reunited. Consequently, the challenges posed by the southeastern part of the Continent had to be addressed through integration instead of the containment of the Cold War. 


If one examines the parallel enlargement processes of NATO and the EU, three stages can be seen. In the first stage, NATO took the initiative, largely because it was able to achieve a balance between vertical (organizational) integration and horizontal (enlargement) dimensions more rapidly. Because of its higher level of inertia, the EU gave clear priority to vertical integration over horizontal enlargement. 

In the second stage, after Madrid and with Kosovo taking center stage, the initiative shifted to the EU. By this time the EU had managed to find the right balance between the two dimensions as well. Consequently, at the Luxembourg (1997) and Helsinki (1999) summits, 12 associated countries were invited to open accession talks. 

Finally, in the third and current stage, NATO has taken the initiative again, mainly because EU enlargement is a very technically complex process. However, it has become increasingly apparent as we approach the Prague Summit that NATO enlargement is also expediting the EU enlargement process, which is a positive development. 

Of course, a lot depends on the status of transatlantic relations. At the time of their formation, NATO and the EU had very different aims. While NATO worked to apply transatlantic defense cooperation against the then-Soviet threat, the EU worked in the interests of transatlantic economic and commercial competition. 

Consequently, transatlantic relations have been the subject of debate from the Cold War period on. "These debates," said Lord Robertson at The Hague on March 7, 2002, "[have been] at times both distracting and unnerving. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that these very debates helped the Alliance to retain its dynamism. For these debates generated an awareness of the need for change within the transatlantic community-and eventually they also helped generate the political will to implement that change." 


Today, we are in the middle of another transatlantic debate. It was generated by the necessity to find the best way for the Alliance and the newly created structures for EU security, defense, and foreign policy to share their roles. This situation resulted from the EU's "coming of age" politically and militarily due to the urgent need to deal with conflicts in the southeastern part of the Continent. The debate was reinforced by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 when the U.S. decided to act primarily alone, accepting the offers of allies on an individual basis. 

Unlike in the past, there is no reason to fear that the debate will generate negative consequences. On the contrary, my country, a candidate, expects such a debate to produce a strengthened transatlantic relationship. We also appreciate the fact that with only months to the Prague Summit, the debate within the Alliance is centered around such aspects, all of which presuppose enlargement, and not around whether or not enlargement is desirable. 

However, a connection between the two is unavoidable, primarily because some voices in the West still express some concern about the potential impact of enlargement on both organizations, with particular concern about the possible dilution of the organizations' content and effectiveness. Those who are concerned should be reassured that it is not our intention to join diluted organizations. We have as little need of such organizations as you. Our interest, as a candidate country, is to join a strong organization, fully capable of implementing its mission of effectively defending our values. As to any fear that new members would disregard or break the rules once admitted, let me say this-we are the last ones that would do so. The effectiveness of those rules and procedures is a primary reason why we want to join, and are as important to us as democratic security and stability and the chance for real prosperity. 

There are also those who express doubts concerning our ability to reform and our ability to contribute, and who suggest a longer pause between the issuing of invitations and ratifications. The reason most frequently cited for such fears is the weaker-than-expected performance by some of NATO's new members. I would like to remind those who express such fears that there is a major difference between the enlargement process before Madrid and the current process preceding Prague. While Allies may have been compelled to judge candidates primarily on the basis of economic, political, and military expectations, this time around they have solid evidence and reliable yardsticks by which to measure each candidate's performance: their involvement with regard to Kosovo and Afghanistan and, most of all, their performance in MAP, two actions that are closely intertwined. For example, had Romania not met MAP requirements, it would have been incapable of increasing its contribution in the Balkans (almost 400 people) while simultaneously deploying new troops to Afghanistan and increasing their numbers (more than 500 people in both ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom) in 2002. 

Beyond our reform achievements and our commitment to helping our friends and allies, let us not forget what we accomplished in our own interests. Our deployments assisted us in modernizing and professionalizing our military, in achieving full interoperability with our allies, and in protecting the democratic security and prosperity of our own country, since the security of every state is dependent on international security. Since we have contributed so much and accomplished so much even before becoming a member, what reason would Romania have to do less after admission? 


We should all be intensely aware that this is the perfect moment to make a courageous decision, matching the courage and determination of the candidates to fulfill the conditions for admission. Admission should not be postponed artificially. Such a postponement would only allow continued interference with reaching our common goal-eliminating the last lines of division in Europe. Only when these lines have been erased will NATO be able to use instruments similar to the PFP and the EAPC, which were employed so successfully in the reunification of Europe, to project security, prosperity, and stability further around the globe-in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and North Africa. 

Leaving aside the moral principle that one should not be punished for the wrongdoing of others, we should all be aware of the demoralizing effect that artificial postponement of NATO admission would have following the enthusiasm generated by the reception of the invitation. Postponement would be both bad principle and bad practice, and I say this irrespective of the decision made in Prague regarding the candidacy of my country. 

One final word on EU enlargement from a Romanian perspective. My country is a European country. Therefore, the destiny of Europe is inevitably Romania's destiny. Admission to NATO will help us accelerate our preparation for EU admission, and we have no intention of ignoring our duties as a European country. Our cooperation with our European partners in securing our eastern borders from illegal immigration and trafficking, as well as our contribution to stability in the western Balkans, vouch for our commitment. 





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