Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Effects of Enlargement on the Stability and Security of Central and Eastern Europe

His Excellency Dariusz Rosati
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland


The ancient city of Prague is a very proper place to observe that the Madrid Summit is likely to permanently change the course of European affairs as well as permanently change the face of Eastern and Central Europe. For over a thousand years, Prague has been one of the principal intellectual and artistic centers of this part of the Continent. A city of almost two thousand historic monuments, it symbolizes the deep and rich traditions of our region. And because Prague is the city where the Communist coup took place in 1948, where foreign tanks filled the streets in 1968, and the "Velvet Revolution" took place in 1989, Prague also symbolizes this region's difficult recent history. In less than two years, however, I believe that Prague will become one of the great capitals of the free, democratic nations that are united under the flag of the Atlantic Alliance.


When we talk about erasing the dividing lines in Europe, we usually think of the line that existed during the Cold War era. That line was indeed a painful and important one. But another dividing line exists that is rooted deeper in history and marked not by walls or "iron curtains" but by stereotypes and prejudices. This line does not run along borders, but across the minds of Europeans. It is a line that for much too long has separated Europe--or the West--from "the other Europe"--the East. This line was drawn by the dramatic and tumultuous histories of nations on our part of the Continent, and by the long tradition of their being objects of foreign designs and of the games played by the Great Powers. This psychological line has been at the foundation of the decisions made at Tehran and Yalta, as well as of those made earlier at Locarno and Munich.

In 1938, an ominous reference to this psychological line was made in a well-known statement by Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain said that it was "horrible, fantastic, and incredible" that British soldiers should fight and die "because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing." The far-away country he referred to was Czechoslovakia. The people of whom he knew nothing were the Czechs and the Slovaks. The "peace for our time--a peace with honour" that he claimed to have brought to London from Munich turned out to be a tragic mistake of terrible consequence for all of Europe.

Buying peace and security for the West at the expense of the "far-away" East was never a good policy, for it ignored the hard fact that European security is indivisible. In recent years much has been done to erase the line between East and West, but it will not disappear completely until we are all an integral part of the European system of security and cooperation that has blessed Western Europe with freedom, peace, and prosperity. The line will be erased only when democracy and freedom are defended with the same resolve whether in Paris, Berlin, Prague, or Gdansk.

True integration is integration that takes place in the minds and hearts of Europeans. The enlargement of NATO is a crucial element of this process, but it is only a means toward this end. Enlarging NATO is not only about admitting a particular country from our region; it is also about crossing the psychological Rubicon and opening the Atlantic community's door to all nations in Central and Eastern Europe, to make NATO truly and fully a Euro-Atlantic community.


The decisions on enlargement that we expect, the recent signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, the upcoming signing of the NATO-Ukraine Charter, and the launching of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council are all necessary components in the creation of a common, secure home for all nations in this part of the world. I believe that there is room in this home for all peace-loving, democratic states that share the values and goals on which NATO was founded. Enlargement will open the door to this home and provide an historic chance for all nations in Central and Eastern Europe--those who will be invited to join NATO and those who will not, as well as those who want to join NATO and those who do not.

Creating the truly undivided and free Europe that we envisage may take a long time. But even the longest journey begins with a first step. The step that NATO will take in Madrid is the right one and it is in the right direction.

Let me reiterate that the enlargement of NATO threatens no one; to the contrary, it expands the area of security and stability that is an indispensable condition for peaceful development of democracy and a market economy. Every one of the past Alliance enlargements widened this space, facilitated new members' political and economic development, and strengthened the entire Atlantic community. We expect NATO to continue doing this work in our part of the Continent, because it has been not only the most successful military alliance in history, but also an effective catalyst of domestic development and international cooperation and integration.


NATO's presence in our broadly defined region will also help to prevent a resurgence of those international behavior patterns that in the past won Eastern Europe the name of "powder keg." In addition it will help to address old as well as new risks and challenges to security, to which states undergoing rapid transformation are especially vulnerable. These challenges include organized crime, terrorism, trafficking of drugs and nuclear materials, and serious economic disturbances that can produce political instability and social tension such as that recently witnessed in Albania. Ethnic and territorial disputes, for decades suppressed by the realities of the Cold War, are also still a potential seed of instability in Europe, as demonstrated by the dramatic developments in the former Yugoslavia. But there the NATO-led IFOR-SFOR operation created conditions for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. This operation is tangible proof of NATO's continuing significance and of the vitality of its principles of solidarity and cooperation, supported by its military might in the service of peace.

Now the Alliance has a new challenge awaiting it outside its current borders. But enlargement will give NATO new strength and add a new meaning to its historic mission. I hope that its future successes will match those of its past.

Just the promise of enlargement has already done a great deal for stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe. Relations between Hungary and Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine, and Poland and Lithuania, to name just a few, have all benefited. And the prospect of enlargement, along with the development of the Partnership for Peace Program, has helped develop initiatives concerning regional and bilateral political and military cooperation among several nations of our region. The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced PFP, which is providing a new, improved political framework and new forms of military cooperation, will encourage additional initiatives of this kind. The promise of enlargement has also helped consolidate democracy in several states by encouraging thorough reforms of their defense systems to bring them in line with modern democratic standards.

Even before enlargement, NATO--with its values and principles, its spirit of cooperation and friendship--is present in Eastern and Central Europe. It would take a great deal of ill will to see anything negative in this presence.


"Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles," 19th-century American poet R. W. Emerson has said. NATO's success has resulted from the triumph of principles over more than a thousand years of conflict and war in Europe. But it was not the formalizing of the Washington Treaty that brought about this success. Rather, it was the unity of values shared by its signatories and the perfect combination of military power and political and moral principles that they instituted. I believe that the same principles to which NATO owes its current success will now bring lasting peace, security, and stability to our region.


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