Center for Strategic Decision Research


Central Europe in NATO: Reliable Allies

His Excellency Aleksander Kwasniewski
President of the Republic of Poland


During the weeks before this Workshop, we have witnessed extraordinary progress in the drafting of a new design for international relations in Europe. Preparations for NATO's enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe have been intensified and are now nearing the decisive phase. Talks with Russia on defining a new framework for relations concluded successfully with the signing of the Founding Act. Almost simultaneously, the NATO-Ukraine Charter was initialed. The Presidents of Poland, the Baltic States, and Ukraine met in Tallinn. The inaugural session of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council was held in Sintra.

Watching these events happen, some observers have concluded that politics have come to resemble business, with cycles of economic upturn unexpectedly followed by recessions, followed by recoveries--all seemingly without clear logic or explanation.

This is a misleading comparison. The sense of increased confidence in the direction in which the Euro-Atlantic order is evolving has not come like a bolt out of the blue; it is a direct result of the thoughtful and considered process of modeling a new security construction in Europe, with the enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance its central element. The progress observed in the recent past testifies to the value of building upon tested structures of Euro-Atlantic security and transatlantic values. A few years after the peaceful ending of the Cold War, the security system in Europe now reflects a transformed reality that includes a democratic, free-market-based, forward-looking Central Europe. As long as the international community continues to recognize the sovereign right of states to choose where they want to belong, the benefits and gains of the present period will be preserved into the next millennium.

Founding Principles of the New Europe: Solidarity, Integration, and Cooperation

While the mission outline of the new NATO is being adjusted to Europe's security conditions and to the requirements of Europe in the 1990s, a number of features of current relations on the Continent are becoming particularly prominent. Solidarity among like-minded nations is at the very center of these relations. The future Central European members of NATO are aware of both the demands and the benefits of transatlantic solidarity. We shall be credible partners, aiming to erase any differences that may, in the initial years, distinguish new members from old. But these differences will surely not be of approach or commitment. Poland and the other likely new entrants are determined to assume responsibility for their share of the Alliance's tasks and costs.

The values of solidarity are being taken up throughout Europe in parallel with continued reliance on integration. These two notions forbid any future reference to such concepts as geopolitics and spheres of influence--concepts that have become null and void as the pattern of relations in Europe has become more democratic.

Finally, a drive is taking place to establish bonds of cooperation between members of the enduring Euro-Atlantic structures and those countries that remain outside them--whether of their own will or due to the exigencies of the current phase of enlargement. In this area, the designing of new channels of communication and cooperation has advanced notably as of late, and will continue to undergo adjustment. The time has arrived to breathe life into the framework that has been created and to ensure that it functions effectively.

Cooperation with Russia

In our view, a meaningful dialogue between NATO and Russia must be transparent and must take Polish and other Central European perspectives into account. Even if it takes up to two years for Poland and other countries to formally join the NATO-Russia Council as a consequence of gaining full membership in the Alliance, these years will be crucial to the success of that forum. It is therefore in the interest of the coherence of NATO policy to build a channel through which the positions as well as the contributions of Central European countries can be taken into account. No temptation should exist for others to assume that the invited allies have somehow been left out of an arrangement that the Alliance considers important.

Inclusion of Aspiring Members

Somewhere between solidarity, integration, and cooperation lies the sense of inclusion the Alliance must instill in those countries that aspire to membership but are not invited to become members at the Madrid Summit. Poland takes the view that the enlargement of NATO should be an ongoing process with openly stated and transparent criteria. I believe that a number of states in Poland's proximity will soon become part of the integration order symbolized and expressed by NATO. In that sense, enlargement should be viewed as a single process with more than one stage. The invitation given to the first group of new members must also be perceived as an opportunity to consolidate European and regional stability and security. Frustration on the part of uninvited countries should be avoided by all means, and focus should instead be placed on strengthening membership qualifications.

Poland is aware that current NATO countries will expect the first entrants to carry the message of solidarity and inclusion to uninvited Partners. Presently we vigorously pursue bilateral and multilateral partnership projects, covering political, economic, and military cooperation, with the Baltic States, Ukraine, and others. In the post-Madrid period, the newly invited Allies that are active participants in Partnership for Peace must not focus their attention exclusively on the accession talks, but should ensure the continued success of the PFP framework. When first announced, the Partnership program was greeted with some skepticism. Yet it proved tremendously important as a way to allow NATO and Partner nations to learn about one another and build mutual confidence. It is vital to approach "PFP Plus" with a similar dose of enthusiasm and commitment to enable the remaining Partners to continue to benefit from the Euro-Atlantic arrangements.


It cannot be stressed frequently enough that a secure and prosperous Ukraine is a critical part of the Euro-Atlantic construction we are creating. The initialing in May of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine and its planned signing in Madrid constitute a decisive step towards the kind of cooperation framework that Poland has long favored. Ukraine strongly leans toward Europe and the United States for the economic model it aspires to and for the political orientation it has adopted. The trust that Ukraine places in Western countries and institutions must not go unanswered. Poland is pursuing an intensive dialogue with Kiev and offers many channels for economic cooperation and expertise transfer. However, Ukraine is going through a stage in its economic transformation that demands concerted international assistance, and we must not miss the opportunity to ensure the well-being of that great country. Poland will continue to contribute to that effort.


At the Madrid Summit, Poland expects to receive the invitation to begin accession talks leading to full membership in the Alliance. Following several years of preparation, we are ready to accept all obligations that come with being part of NATO.

Poland will be a reliable and committed NATO member. My country has a long record of honoring its obligations, and will solidify and consolidate this tradition within the Euro-Atlantic framework. We will also contribute our assets to the Alliance's pool of resources. These do not include only our armed forces' military potential and skills. We will focus equally on the political aspect of our participation. Over the past few years we have attached particular importance to building regional harmony and understanding. We intend to redouble our efforts in that field following Poland's accession to the Alliance.

The security of all Allies--including those newly accepted--will remain indivisible. The principle that an attack on one amounts to an attack on all is binding. When expressing our intention to become a member of NATO, we declare our readiness to share the roles, risks, and responsibilities with the other member-states. This means full participation in:

  • Joint military planning;
  • Joint operational and strategic planning;
  • Multinational formations;
  • Preparedness for anti-crisis actions;
  • Readiness to take part in support operations;
  • Consultative procedures;
  • Joint standards and procedures concerning equipment, training, and logistics;
  • Common and joint military training;
  • Cooperation in the field of infrastructure, armaments, and logistics.


The enlargement of NATO is part of the process of redefining the Alliance's mission in the post-Cold War world. That process has already produced remarkable results. The Alliance's open character is of crucial significance to its relevance. It ensures that while NATO remains--as it should--a collective defense organization, it will have sufficient political and moral clout to succeed in facing off any future challenges to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. This requires sharing the costs as well as the benefits of protection. The Alliance's determination to adhere to the values of solidarity, integration, and cooperation with others will be decisive for NATO's effectiveness in the years to come. However, the overall objective of the Alliance--ensuring the freedom and security of all member-states by political and military means, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations--will remain unchanged after the admission of new members. Only the scope of territorial co-responsibility will increase.

The tasks that the Alliance will pursue in the future will be a logical continuation of the tasks already underway. The most important of these include:

  • Creation of stable security conditions in Europe based on the consolidation of democratic institutions and adherence to the peaceful resolution of international conflicts and tensions;
  • Provision of a forum for inter-Allied consultation on all issues threatening the security of member-states and for coordination of efforts in the areas of common interest;
  • Maintenance of a political-military balance in Europe.

All of these tasks will be reflected in three complementary spheres: dialogue, cooperation, and preservation of a common defense capacity.

The enlargement of NATO will most probably lead to fresh consideration of the Alliance's strategy. However, viewing the Washington Treaty or the Rome Strategic Concept in the context of Central European states' membership does not necessitate substantive modification of the concept of common defense. This is an important observation if we take into account that the Alliance will extend over a large, flat area in the center of Europe, a step that could possibly be accompanied by military procedures to facilitate common defense of that territory, for example, new dislocations of significant contingents of Allied forces. That we do not expect. We believe that defense of the area can be assured through modernizing the Polish army and the Polish military infrastructure, ensuring maximum interoperability between our forces and those of NATO.


As a representative of the country that undertook the same task last year, I wish to thank our Czech hosts for organizing this Workshop. Such events are useful for specialized dialogue, an important part of the complex process of enlarging NATO. This year our meeting takes place only days before the Summit that will mark an historic moment for the Alliance. Thus, our debate here enables a manifestation of standpoints and attitudes vis-?-vis all important aspects of the Madrid decisions.

I would like to conclude by recalling the Polish-Czech agreement reached last January enabling the two countries to issue a common declaration just before the Summit. Fortunately, this turned out to be unnecessary. However, the willingness of Central European countries to cooperate at a crucial and delicate political moment, also keynoted by our permanent, close contacts with Hungary, should be seen as yet another sign of the maturity of the candidates.


Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research