Center for Strategic Decision Research


NATO Enlargement and European Security

His Excellency Dimitrios Apostolakis
Deputy Minister for National Defense of Greece

As we stand on the threshold of the 21st century, we are witnessing among NATO members a period of intensive realignment of various political and military cooperation structures in Europe. This realignment is especially intensive concerning security issues, since Cold War-era arrangements are unable to cope with the new reality that resulted from the collapse of the Communist system in Central and Eastern Europe. Topics such as NATO's new structure, its enlargement, and its new relationship with Russia as well as with Partnership for Peace and OSCE countries are being discussed daily.

NATO's enlargement will result in radical changes in Europe. For one, accepting new members will help to remove one of the perennial sources of instability on our continent. The relationship between the Alliance and Russia will also have a profound and positive effect on the goal of building a secure, stable, and cooperative Europe.


The right of Central and Eastern European countries to seek membership in NATO is undeniable, provided, of course, that they abide by the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Under this framework, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic appear to be at the top of the short list of prospective member-states. It may be argued, then, that the first phase of enlargement will extend NATO security guarantees to Central European states that need them least, leaving out those that may need them most. Even though I share the concerns of this argument, I am also mindful that NATO's enlargement on a selective basis risks introducing a new dividing line on our continent, which would further undermine the axiom of indivisibility of security in Europe and result in a great clamor from those left out, creating a "new Yalta" situation. For these reasons, and for their direct proximity to areas of instability, something unknown to the rest of Europe, I deeply believe that the Balkan countries of Bulgaria and Romania have their place in enlargement.


As NATO adjusts itself to the new global reality, it is adjusting its operations. NATO administration and NATO force structure are now being reorganized to improve capabilities in crisis management and peace-support operations. This is to ensure that NATO can provide adequate safeguards for the security of all member-states against any kind of threat concerning their territorial integrity or sovereign rights, and do so through a global, non-selective application of the Article 5 provisions.


While NATO procedures and perspectives are of the utmost importance, we must also concern ourselves with other defense and security organizations in Europe, such as the Western European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation. WEU's main concern remains its integration into the European Union; however, WEU must continue to cooperate with NATO as it did during our common operation in the former Yugoslavia. OSCE will also continue to have an important role in developing stability and democracy in Europe and in ensuring the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris by preventing conflicts.


All of the undertakings I have mentioned cannot be achieved in one day. Differing views must be taken into account and considering them will be a time-consuming procedure. However, a consensus has already been reached on some issues and I believe that we will soon have significant changes that will prove beneficial to all of Europe.













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