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European Security and NATO Enlargement: A View from Central Europe

Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.

April 1998

188 Pages

Brief Synopsis

On August 4-5, 1997, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), together with the Reserve Officers Association, cosponsored a conference in Prague on "Eurasian Security in the Era of NATO Enlargement." In order to clarify fully the emerging security agenda in Europe and hear from member states and other interested parties, SSI invited analysts and officials from all of the Central and East European countries, including those invited to join NATO, those not invited, and those former Soviet states with a vital interest in the outcome, e.g., Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. The panelists provided assessments of their respective countries' perspectives, of their own governments' policies, and of how they see emerging trends in European security issues.

The chapters in this monograph offer a representative selection of the papers presented at the conference. By publishing them, SSI offers our readers a broad spectrum of views, including some not often heard, on the issues connected with NATO enlargement. In this manner, SSI seeks to shed fuller light on what could be the single most important national security issue to appear before Congress and other Alliance legislatures in 1998.


NATO's enlargement represents a watershed event in European security. It closes the so-called "post-Cold War" epoch that began with the fall of the Soviet empire and opens the way to a new stage in European and American history. The tendencies that are now pushing Europe towards greater integration have received a new injection of energy. NATO has not only proven itself the only truly effective security provider among European institutions, it has also shown itself to be the moving force behind Europe's other security agencies, particularly the European Union (EU). After NATO decided to take in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland at its Madrid Conference in July 1997, the European Union, meeting at Amsterdam, decided to begin accession talks with those three states, Estonia, Cyprus, and Slovenia.

Thus concurrent and coinciding waves of integration throughout the continent are going to transform Europe's security map and agenda beyond recognition. But this does not mean either that past history is now utterly irrelevant or that Europe has attained a kind of security Nirvana. The Bosnian crisis, and to a lesser degree the Albanian crisis of 1997, as well as the recent problems in Kosovo show that many challenges confront Europe, and that Europe is reluctant to confront them. Insofar as out-of-area issues in the Middle East are concerned, the Iraqi crises of 1997-98 demonstrated that Europe remains divided, unable to forge a common security policy for those issues in that region or to assume a leadership position in the resolution of international crises.

Thus, integration does not necessarily produce more security everywhere. Indeed, integration could produce more gridlock, as in Bosnia until 1995. The NATO allies' inability to come to a common understanding of the causes and origins of the wars in the former Yugoslavia was among the most powerful inhibitors of coherent action by NATO before 1995. Furthermore, our allies' fears that we would use our airpower in ill-advised fashion that enhanced the risks to their ground forces there led them to propose the unhappy dual-key arrangement, surrendering control of NATO air operations to the United Nations (U.N.). In other words, our allies mistrusted our proclivities and policies and sought to restrain us, leading to both U.N. and U.S. refusal to commit fully to the defense of our interests in Bosnia. Allied cohesion in Bosnia was and perhaps remains a fragile thing. And it certainly will not be readily forthcoming as well in future out-of-area crises involving Iraq, for example.

Accordingly, it is clear that there are contrasting debates as to the future scope of NATO's activities and expansion beyond its members' current frontiers. And such disagreement probably will appear within the EU as well. Given the fact that these organizations' memberships will be only partly overlapping after 1999 and at times driven by discord as to their future direction, e.g. the emerging disagreement on the Baltic states' future membership in NATO, it is by no means certain that the present level of integration in and of itself makes Europe as a whole safe for democracy. What these agencies' decision to expand does mean is something different. It means that the pursuit of national interests and the ability to conduct them unilaterally will once again be subjected to the discipline of alliance and union. It simply is not the case that membership in these organizations means that states have forsworn their past histories of seeking to enhance their position and influence at the expense of their neighbors. Rather, these organizations constrain that approach and discipline what used to be called "power politics" by means of the overall benefits that integration provides.

Security integration in Europe's security organizations, first of all, sets limits on efforts at renationalizing security policy or even the U.S. ability to go it alone. Membership in the EU and NATO allows for Churchill's "small birds" not only to sing, but actually to have solos for a time until the orchestra hopefully comes together and makes a decision. Therefore, integration also enhances the dialogue of all states in the common quest for European peace and stability.

This volume is fundamentally about giving Europeans and Americans the opportunity to explore how we got to the point of enlargement and where we should be going afterwards. The conference it grows out of was designed to present to a largely American audience views from representatives of all the states most affected by enlargement, the Central European, Balkan, and Baltic states, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and the United States. It also represented an effort to focus our attention on the future challenges, especially vis-à-vis Russia, in the Balkans and the Baltic that will not go away. And this focus on how the past merged with the present to shape the future hopefully shook away both the absence of non-American voices in the debate over enlargement and the tendencies of many participants in that debate to conceal their real motives, hopes, and fears about NATO enlargement.

In the United States, we have only heard American voices and approaches to European security, not the outlooks of those most affected by the trend towards enlargement. Furthermore, there is a tendency to focus only on American national interests which, after all, is quite proper, and thereby excludes the broader European perspective that sees European security as being equally tied up with the progress of integration through the EU and other regional organizations or initiatives. If the main challenges of the future are going to be situated in the Baltic, Balkan, and post-Soviet arenas, then it is necessary to examine local processes in these regions in detail.

To stimulate the debate in a broader context and to raise issues and voices that have not been previously heard were the objectives of the conference organizers. We entertained no illusions that by doing so we would once and for all lay down the truth or the one right way to look at Europe's future. But we did believe that the enlargement of NATO and of the EU provides us with an opportunity and a responsibility to launch that debate along with voices from the region for the benefit of our audience and in accord with the mandate of the Strategic Studies Institute to contribute to the education and informed debate of the public. After all, NATO enlargement may be the most consequential foreign policy issue of our time. If we fail to understand what we have wrought, what our allies think about NATO's future, and what future challenges we face to important and even vital interests, then, to a significant degree, enlargement will prove to be unavailing. If, on the other hand, we further stimulate the existing dialogue on European security, we will then have contributed, however modestly, to the success of the European integration project, for any successful integration begins with dialogue.



1. Introduction
Stephen J. Blank

2. Rhetoric and Reality in NATO Enlargement
Stephen J. Blank

3. 'From Prague' After Paris and Madrid
Jacob W. Kipp

4. After Madrid and Amsterdam: Poland and the Future of European Security
Przemyslaw Grudzinski

5. Hungary and the Future of European Security
Laszlo Valki

6. Latvia and the Future of European Security
Daina Bleiere

7. Post-Madrid Estonian Security Policy
Mart Laanemae

8. Bulgaria and the Future of European Security
Valeri Ratchev

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