Center for Strategic Decision Research


International Security Organizations: EU Enlargement, NATO Enlargement, and the New European Democracies-a Slovak View

Mr. Rastislav Kácer
State Secretary, Ministry of Defense of Slovakia

When NATO and non-NATO countries ask us why Slovakia wishes to become a member of NATO, I believe that either they do not understand the character of the institution or they are puzzled about the identity of the countries that are applying. If Russians ask the same question, then it is because they do not understand what NATO's role used to be and what its role is now. If representatives of NATO nations ask, I think it is because they are confused about the identity of nations such as the one I represent. 


NATO has been relevant, is currently relevant, and has the strong potential to stay relevant in Europe and the transatlantic area and to become even more globally relevant. NATO played a very specific role in the second half of the 20th th century, though perhaps an old, famous saying may have applied when the organization was first coming to life: "Russians out, Germans down, and Americans in." But NATO as well as the EU has now developed an unusual level of trust, confidence, security, and prosperity in Europe. It is my belief that Slovakia always belonged to this part of the world, and it was certainly not our choice to stay behind the curtain. Once again becoming part of Europe provides historical satisfaction. 

But more important is the issue of relevance and responsibility. If you looked at a current map of Europe, you would find that Slovakia is a little island inserted almost inside of NATO. Some might wonder why we are even trying to become an official NATO member because we are already a de facto member. If a serious crisis occurred in Europe that concerned Slovakia, I would say that the NATO umbrella is already stretched over my country. Our close relationship with the Alliance is clear, so to me the question is of responsibility. Since we share the NATO umbrella, we want to share the responsibility. We do not want a free ride, rather, we want to pay our portion of the bill. 


I believe there are three basic fallacies related to NATO enlargement:  

1. People say that the character of NATO would change if it enlarged, but NATO has changed its character many times since its inception. In 1955 it embraced Germany. If military effectiveness had been a sticking point in 1955, NATO would never have taken in Germany. But the move was a political decision, and it was made with an eye to the future. NATO has always been driven by a strong political vision. 

So when people say that enlargement would weaken the Allies, I wonder in what sense they mean. Adding three new members has made NATO stronger, something which many speakers have confirmed and not only at this workshop. Enlarging the Alliance further would make the institution still stronger, and politically more relevant. In military terms, NATO would become stronger as well. Slovak military contributions to various missions around the globe peaked at almost 800 people deployed, which shows a strong military commitment. Our soldiers have enjoyed a good reputation as well. 

2. Another fallacy is that NATO enlargement would bring more division in Europe. I doubt this very much. We definitely do not feel a greater division in our region, and we are directly on the border of NATO countries. We do not want to be a part of NATO in order to create a greater divide, but we do not feel that further enlargement will cause this to happen. I think this is one of the biggest fallacies of the past. 

3. The third fallacy is that enlargement would cause a somewhat confusing relationship between NATO and the EU. NATO and the EU are closely linked, twins, in a sense, or two parts of one project. But these twin supports of post-World War II Europe have brought unprecedented security, stability, and prosperity to a part of the world that had never known these things before. Today we take a lot for granted, but we should not take these things for granted, or assume that they will always remain at the same level.  

NATO and the EU cannot be separated, and, although it may be controversial, if I were an EU policy planner I would require that aspirants be NATO members before they become EU members. If we want to take the ESDP seriously, there is no better way for countries to obtain the necessary capabilities than to meet NATO membership requirements during the membership process. 






















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