Center for Strategic Decision Research


International Security After the Prague Summit

Mr. Gábor Bródi
Deputy State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Hungary

In recent years the international security environment has gone through a number of profound changes: Numerous new threats and challenges as well as new partnerships have emerged. The dangers posed by international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, failed states, and the combination of these threats demand a new set of defense tools and a new way of thinking about our security. The enlargement of NATO in 1999 and the rapprochement between Russia and the Alliance, as well as the conflicts in the Balkans, have altered profoundly the European security arena. 

At the November 2002 Prague summit, NATO's heads of state and government addressed these issues and succeeded in further transforming the Alliance by inviting new members, developing new capabilities, and building new partnerships. This enabled the Alliance to cope with the threats and challenges of the 21st century. At the same time they renewed their commitment to the core principles of our Alliance: preserving and strengthening the transatlantic link; collective defense as well as crisis management and addressing new security challenges; Alliance cohesion and preserving the principles of consensus; and, last but not least, the shared democratic values. 

NATO's growing emphasis on managing crises and tackling new threats is of particular relevance as far as enlargement is concerned: while the invitations to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were very much about abolishing old dividing lines between East and West, the accession of the seven countries after Prague is taking place within the context of the Alliance's global activity. 


The Prague summit will result in more security in Europe in the medium and long term, but it has already resulted in more security in the short term by launching the most robust change in NATO's history. The perspective of enlargement, however, had a positive impact on security in the Euro-Atlantic region even prior to the decision itself. Just as it did before the three countries were invited into NATO at the 1997 Madrid summit, the perspective of Euro-Atlantic integration and the indispensability of fulfilling certain requirements to achieve full membership has had a reassuring effect on security in Europe, despite predictions to the contrary. It has also had a positive effect on the respective countries' ability and willingness to contribute to this situation. 

Hungary's invitation has not led to any deterioration of relations with countries in our immediate as well as our broader neighborhood. Our membership in NATO has not led to the emergence of new dividing lines in Europe and thus to less security, as some feared. Very much to the contrary, countries in the region aspiring to membership have been able to rely on our political and practical support. This, in turn, has contributed to the further improvement and enhancement of relations among countries in our region and beyond.  

NATO enlargement has also not resulted in less security for countries not yet members and those not yet wishing to be members of the Alliance. However, it has brought the zone of stability and prosperity that NATO stands for closer to them, since candidates are required to fulfill strict and comprehensive criteria under the MAP process, such as political democratization, a market economy, defense reform, human rights reform, and well-settled neighbor and regional relations. 

On the other hand, the perspective of NATO accession-just like that of Euro-Atlantic integration-has had a positive impact on the process of democratic reform in the countries of the eastern half of the continent. It has also had a major positive effect on their commitment to and their participation in efforts to enhance security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region and well beyond. 


The parallel enlargement processes of NATO and the European Union are a milestone on the way towards reunifying the European continent after the long decades following the Yalta division. The two enlargement programs are creating a new, cooperative system of relationships, one that makes it easier for every state to pursue its interests and accommodate its endeavors. The fading away of dividing lines, combined with the fight against new threats and challenges, is making Russia feel differently about the enlargement of the Euro-Atlantic structures. 

The best examples of the benefits of enlargement are the determination, effectiveness, commitment, and courage with which countries striving for membership have joined our common fight against international terrorism, our efforts to bring stability to crisis-torn regions, and our endeavors to counter the new types of challenges, risks, and threats to security in general. Their contribution has been manifold, genuine, and valuable and has proved that an enlarged Alliance will indeed be an Alliance better equipped to and more capable of countering the threats facing us all. This includes cooperation with other like-minded countries such as Russia, the Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics that can, must, and are providing a valuable contribution to this joint endeavor. 

In our view, enlargement will not only have a beneficial impact on the countries about to join as well as their relations on the bilateral and multilateral levels, but also on their ability to contribute to the fight against the common threats we face and to cooperate with other partners. We also believe that an enlarged NATO will be an even better and more effective partner for Russia or the Ukraine. 


The countries of Central and Eastern Europe are in a special situation. Their relationship with the largest successor state of the former U.S.S.R. is a particular one. The countries of Central Europe had to overcome their old grievances towards Russia in order to start developing this new relationship, and in doing so had to identify and pursue new perspectives. The new partnership is now taking shape within several frameworks, the most important of which are the steadily developing NATO-Russia cooperation and the deepening relationship between the European Union and Russia. 

The integration of the countries of Central Europe into the European Union has also contributed to the improvement of their bilateral relations with Russia. Russia has made considerable progress in advancing its reform process in the last couple of years as well. We understand that, because of its size and status in the international arena, Russia faces unique and different challenges during the transformation of its economy and society. Closer relationships and cooperation with the EU in several fields will definitely alleviate some of these problems. As future members of the European Union, the countries of Central Europe will certainly make a significant contribution to further promoting EU-Russia relations. 


The NATO-Russia Council is another forum for cooperation between the countries of Central Europe and Russia. The creation of the Council indeed constituted a major, historic step in the relations between Russia and NATO on the long road from holding mutual prejudices to the joint work of struggling against terrorism, participating in crisis management, and cooperating on theater missile defense. 

The Prague summit has proved that Russia and the Central European countries are definitely determined to intensify and broaden their cooperation. Such joint work contributes to the international struggle against terrorism and to effectively countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to highlight just two key aspects of regional security. The achievements of the NATO-Russia Council will further increase stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area, including the countries of Central Europe. 

The Prague summit and the NATO-Russia Council will continue to provide an excellent framework for dialogue and cooperation between Russia and Europe. We Hungarians are confident that our relations with both Russia and the countries of Central Europe will continue to develop in the same dynamic and promising manner as they have been in recent months. This close cooperation will benefit and bring more security to all of us in the Euro-Atlantic region. 


Concerning the Southeast-European dimension of NATO's partnership, we can safely say that the Alliance has achieved a great deal of success. Besides leading peace-support operations in the region, NATO has launched its Southeast-European Initiative to help promote democratic development and regional cooperation. This initiative has proved to be an important and valuable political mechanism, offering countries in the region a tool with which to enhance their ability to take control of their destiny. 

The security environment has improved substantially and there are favorable tendencies in the Balkans. However, despite all these positive developments, the situation is not irreversible and several fundamental problems remain unresolved. Social and economic consolidation and the process of Euro-Atlantic and regional integration need to continue.  Governments in the region should take ownership of the reform process and aim at anchoring their countries in the Euro-Atlantic community. 

Therefore, NATO is placing greater emphasis on engaging the countries in the region politically in cooperative security mechanisms such as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace. It also continues to lead the necessary contingents of forces in Bosnia and in Kosovo-forces that focus even more strongly on the current security challenges. 


With its new capabilities, new members, and new partnerships, NATO after the Prague summit reflects the new security environment. Democratic nations in the Euro-Atlantic area are depending heavily on each other, but we can only be successful in meeting the security challenges of the 21st century if we continue to reach out and expand cooperation with all of NATO's partners. 

The next round of enlargement for both NATO and the EU will probably cover the Balkan countries that have satisfied the accession criteria. In the longer run, however, the two organizations' strategy concerning most of the countries in their neighborhood may not aim at further extending membership, but at offering new perspectives for enhanced partnership.



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