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NATO Enlargement in an Era of Austerity and Uncertainty

2013 The German Marshall Fund of the United States. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Please direct inquiries to: The German Marshall Fund of the United States 1744 R Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 T 1 202 683 2650 F 1 202 265 1662 E This publication can be downloaded for free at Limited print copies are also available. To request a copy, send an e-mail to GMF Paper Series The GMF Paper Series presents research on a variety of transatlantic topics by staff, fellows, and partners of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GMF. Comments from readers are welcome; reply to the mailing address above or by e-mail to About the Asmus Policy Entrepreneurs Fellowship This paper is the final product of the authors Asmus Policy Entrepreneurs Fellowship. The German Marshall Fund of the United States launched this program in 2011 to honor Ronald D. Asmus, GMF Brussels office executive director and director of strategic planning. Asmus, a renowned policy entrepreneur who dedicated his life to the principle of freedom, passed away on April 30, 2011. Asmus Fellows must be U.S. or European citizens under the age of 40. The fellowship enables them to pursue a project that they believe will address an important foreign or economic policy issue and will advance transatlantic cooperation. Over the course of the year, Asmus Fellows will utilize existing GMF activities and networks to advance their policy questions and to frame policy alternatives before summarizing their results by the years end. More information can be found at http://www. About GMF The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the policy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship. In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies. Founded in 1972 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has offices in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm. On the cover: Olga_Stanis

Flexible Expansion
NATO Enlargement in an Era of Austerity and Uncertainty

Foreign Policy Papers July 2013

By Mark Simakovsky1

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 The Impasse of Bucharest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Current Obstacles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 A Flexible Enlargement Strategy for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Mark Simakovsky is a German Marshall Fund Ronald D. Asmus Policy Entrepreneur Fellow.



n April 4, 2008, 26 NATO heads of state and government departed Bucharest, Romania, after concluding one of the most contentious summits in NATOs history. The high water mark of NATO enlargement crested at Bucharest, raising questions about the future of a policy that had transformed NATO and made Europe more peaceful, democratic, and safe. To enlargement skeptics and supporters alike, the debate over extending a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine and Georgia posed a fundamental question does NATO enlargement have a future? A half-decade since Bucharest, the answer to this question remains unclear.

geopolitical window, including U.S. strength and leadership, unparalleled statesmanship in Central and Eastern Europe, near unambiguous European support, and Russian acquiescence. It overcame significant obstacles, including opposition from the U.S. foreign policy establishment, a public eager for a post-cold war peace dividend, a U.S. Congress weary of costly European entanglements, and a Russia unwilling to see its former sphere of influence overwhelmed by NATO. For over 50 years after 1945, the transatlantic community experienced an unprecedented era of prosperity and unity. Today, this community is entering an era of austerity and uncertainty. Despite the significant advances that were made in three rounds of NATO enlargement from 1999 to 2009, the legacy of NATOs enlargement is confronted by an inward looking Europe and a distracted United States unwilling to commit the political will and resources to reintegrate the remaining outsiders looking in. U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq has weakened the United States, exposing severe limits in U.S. economic, military, and political power. The largest recession since the 1930s has also exposed widening fractures in Europe. France faces severe economic problems, economic contagion has spread across Mediterranean Europe, the United Kingdom questions its future in the EU, and Germany grapples with the need to impose additional austerity measures on a reluctant continent. On both sides of the Atlantic, falling defense budgets have accompanied the economic decline, as the West experiences a period of military retrenchment. The situation in Europes periphery is similarly disconcerting. There has been a clear backsliding in national democratic governance, and conditions in Hungary, for example, show that Europe, too, is not immune to this trend. The overall democracy

From the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the 2008 Bucharest decision recommending that Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia be offered NATO membership, Europe bore witness to two decades of an unprecedented dual enlargement of NATO and the European Union (EU). NATOs expansion to 12 new members and the EUs parallel expansion to 15 new members changed the landscape of Europe forever. As former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted, never again would the central Europeans fates be tossed around like poker chips.1 Securing the lasting freedom of over 100 million people corrected the moral and strategic policy errors of the transatlantic community in the 20th century. In hindsight, some now argue that there was no alternative to accept willing and capable aspirants into Western institutions, thereby expanding the political, economic, and security space of Europe east, south, and north. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reintegration of the countries that had been abandoned behind the Iron Curtain after World War II, and mostly ignored during the Cold War, was neither preordained nor inevitable. It arose through a unique mix of a historical and
1 Asmus, Ronald D. Opening NATOs Door Columbia University Press (Nov. 2002)

The legacy of NATOs enlargement is confronted by an inward looking Europe and a distracted U.S. unwilling to commit the political will and resources to reintegrate the remaining outsiders looking in.

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scores of most countries on Europes periphery have either declined or remained unchanged, judicial independence is challenged throughout the region, and critical reforms are stalling in more integrated countries like the Balkan states.2

the process of integration that has helped stabilize Europe over the past 50 years. As President George W. Bush noted in 2001, The future of every European nation must be determined by the progress of internal reform, not the interests of outside powersAll of Europes new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe as Europes old democracies have.3 Candidate countries need the concrete and realistic prize of NATO and EU membership in their sights. The political will to reform that was mobilized in the aspirant countries in the 1990s and early 2000s were in large part due to this attainable goal. Instead of taking the easy path away from NATO enlargement, the United States, Europe, and Canada should continue to welcome the European democracies whose internal political stability, military contributions, and commitment to NATO solidarity would be assets to the Alliance.4 To close the door on NATO enlargement, even in an era of fiscal austerity and uncertainty, would undermine the credibility of Article 10 and the NATO Alliance itself. Enlargement today is a generational burden that will take much patience and even more political commitment than the earlier post-Cold war rounds. Democracy can only succeed if reforming states are bound to a secure European and Western political, economic, and military community. The alternative is a weak flank on the edge of Europe, where corrupt, authoritarian governments rule
3 Bush, George W. Speech at Warsaw University Library, Poland. June 15, 2001. europe/06/15/bush.warsaw.trans/ 4 Gordon, Philip and James Steinberg. NATO Enlargement: Moving Forward Expanding the Alliance and Completing Europes Integration; Brookings Institution November 2001.

Candidate countries need the concrete and realistic prize of NATO and EU membership in their sights.

Due to a lack of strategic vision, erosion of political will, increase in competing priorities, the aspirants own weaknesses, new members failure to meet defense commitments, and politicized integration mechanisms, enlargement has changed from a source of strength to a potential burden in Europe and its critical integrating institutions, NATO and the EU. Such stagnation has sparked numerous questions. Are new dividing lines reemerging in Europe? Does NATO still have a role in democratic transformation? Can NATO enlarge without U.S. leadership? Will Europe formulate a coherent approach for dealing with aspirants and partners? Have the United States and Europe granted Russia a de facto right of veto over membership? Does enlargement have a limit? A coherent strategy based on an effective transatlantic dialogue is needed to answer these questions and address the feasibility of future enlargement. The strategic case for enlargement espoused in the 1990s, although not as strong today due to the limiting conditions described above, still rings true. The democratic backsliding on Europes periphery reinforces the need for NATO to remain a tool for democratic reform. Enlargement continues to help fledgling countries democratize, keeps the United States and Europe working together to support stability inside Europe, and sends a deterrence signal to Russia that there are no dividing lines in Europe. As long as there are aspirants committed to promoting European stability through a process of NATO membership, enlargement can contribute to
2 Habdank-Kolaczkowska, Sylvana, and Christopher Walker. Fragile Frontier: Democracys Growing Vulnerability in Central and Southeastern Europe, Nations in Transit 2012. Freedom House

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over territory riven with porous borders and ethnic conflicts. To chart an effective path forward, NATO needs a clear vision and a flexible policy that reinvigorates an Alliance skeptical of the merits of further expansion. The way to sustain enlargement is to first acknowledge its limits and press where feasible with nimble, yet committed political will and resources. A flexible enlargement policy, which addresses current obstacles, confronts regional dynamics, and charts a credible way forward will help NATO navigate the current era of austerity and uncertainty. This policy should be based on three pillars: 1. consolidate the gains made by strengthening the Alliance internally, reforming enlargement mechanisms, ensuring that members meet the responsibilities of membership, and pressing forward with enlargement in the Balkans;

2. prevent rollback by deepening NATO-EU cooperation on European integration, accept a tactical pause of expansion eastward, and clarify NATOs approach to Russia; and 3. plant the seeds for additional action in the future by elevating U.S.-European cooperation on challenges inside Europe and reinvesting in the economic base of the transatlantic partnership. This approach would rely on selective NATO enlargement, an enhanced EU neighborhood policy, deepened NATO-EU cooperation, and higher standards of both aspirants and allies. Identifying lessons learned from past rounds of enlargement can help synergize EU and NATO enlargement processes, reinvigorate the internal Alliance debate on how and when to facilitate future enlargement, and give aspirants the same opportunities that their predecessors had in rewarding their reforms with membership in transatlantic institutions.

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The Impasse of Bucharest

n April 2, 2008, in Bucharest, German Chancellor Angela Merkel walked into an ambush. Surrounded by a cabal of new members from Europes east, led by Polish President Kaczynski, Merkel found herself grappling with an impassionate group of heads of state and government seeking to convince her and other enlargement skeptics of the need to support strong enlargement language on Ukraine and Georgia. For Merkel, however, the two candidates deep flaws, as well as the risk of alienating Russia, undermined the case for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) championed by the new NATO members and the United States. Nonetheless, open to the need for a political signal that would bolster reform efforts and lock in the European integration of aspirant countries, Merkel and her allies, including France, agreed to a compromise that was sufficiently ambiguous and yet sufficiently explicit to satisfy both sides of the argument. Due to the intractable impasse in Bucharest, the leaders themselves resorted to drafting the final communiqu which almost never happens and ultimately led to the unusual language. Thus, the Summits final communiqu included unprecedented language that supporters trumpeted as committing NATO to guarantee that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members. The Summits enlargement debate highlighted a growing divergence within NATO on the wisdom of further expansion. Based largely on contrasting perceptions of aspirants and Russia, the United States, Poland, Romania, Turkey, and the Baltic states argued that Ukraine and Georgias aspirations for deeper partnership with NATO was a natural extension of the earlier NATO expansion into former communist countries. The new allies pointed to their own difficulties with democratic transition and meeting reform requirements, reminding skeptics of the historically wise NATO

decision to support fledgling democracies at risk. Advocates believed the Orange and Rose Revolutions created a small window of opportunity to anchor fledgling democracies firmly into the West; placating Moscow over the issue risked emboldening Russian revanchism and undermined the sovereignty of countries on Russias periphery. This view was not shared by political leaders in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Amsterdam, who saw the huge risks in NATO over-extending itself into countries with unresolved conflicts and uneven democratic reforms. MikheilSaakashvili and ViktorYushchenko were seen as transitional, not revolutionary figures, whose strident calls for Western integration on a shortened timescale dangerously provoked Russia and ignored delicate ethnic, regional, and cultural dynamics. In addition, EU leaders had become wary of integrating countries with unresolved conflicts due to the negative experience of Cyprus EU accession, which to this day blocks any effective NATO-EU cooperation (among other problems). The skeptics felt NATO enlargement had seemingly become automatic, with little thought given to the costs involved in deepening relations with risky partners at the expense of Moscows interests. Russias opposition had appeared to grow as the country regained some of its past power, and as NATOs bombing of Kosovo in 1999, the 2003 and 2004 colored revolutions, Russian suspension of the CFE treaty in 2007, and recognition of Kosovo in 2008 poisoned NATO-Russia relations. NATO expansion, declared Putin in 2007 does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust.5 Putins ominous warning that Georgia and Ukraine would be treated

The skeptics felt NATO enlargement had seemingly become automatic.

Putin, Vladimir. Remarks at 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. Security Conference. February 12, 2007.

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differently than the Baltic states was confirmed in Georgia four months after the Bucharest Summit. Lessons of Bucharest

Any public effort to manage divisions within NATO on enlargement can be counterproductive.

The 2008 Bucharest Summit made public what was privately acknowledged in Allied capitals: the U.S.-European grand strategy to expand NATO and create a post-Cold War Europe whole, free, and at peace was fraying at the edges and had possibily run its course. There are five lessons to draw from Bucharest. One, any public effort to manage divisions within NATO on enlargement can be counter-productive. The communiqu pronouncement that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO was a specific political commitment for membership that deviated from previous practice. Aspirants had previously been required to meet membership requirements before NATO made firm political commitments on membership. The communiqus ambiguity had the opposite effect than had been intended, as it papered over differences with a statement that surprised everyone and pleased no one. The statement contributed to the current standoff between skeptics and advocates over Georgias MAP prospects. Bucharests second lesson is that NATO can pursue a flexible enlargement policy tailored to vastly different regional contexts. Although the U.S. effort to push for MAP ultimately failed, enlargement did not die at Bucharest. Allies decided to pursue enlargement in the Balkans, thus reinforcing the EUs 2003 Thessaloniki Commitments to integrate the Balkans into European institutions. The next NATO Foreign Ministerial in December 2008 was mandated to grant an invitation to Albania and Croatia, while Bosnia and Montenegro were to receive Intensified Dialogue status, and Macedonia was offered membership after the resolution of Greek opposition. In contrast to Russias immediate neighbors, there were no philosophical objections

to expansion in the Balkans. NATOs intervention in two Balkans wars, continued military presence in the region, and Russias general ambivalence reinforced a consensus that the Balkans was an area of unfinished business and ripe for further enlargement. Third, Bucharest was also a failure of U.S. diplomacy. The Bush administration was unable to develop and implement a strategy to achieve its objectives of securing MAP for Ukraine and Georgia. Having waited months for a final decision on whether to support MAP, and ignoring the depths of Allied opposition, the United States pushed too hard publicly and refused to engage in a patient and quiet effort to gain German and French support. This experience had lasting impact, as it still undermines the willingness of the Obama administration to expend future political capital to press for enlargement in the face of stiff Allied opposition. The fourth takeaway from the framework created by Bucharest was the general frustration with aspirant reform and the contrasting concern that even if criteria are met, membership will be blocked. Saakashvilis strong leadership and decisiveness in rapidly reforming Georgia stood in contrast to his emotional approach to Russia, authoritarian tendencies, efforts to clamp down on domestic opposition, and dangerous selfassuredness that worried leaders in Western Europe. Chancellor Merkel did not trust Georgias impetuous leader and saw Saakashvilis role leading to the Russian-Georgia war as vindicating her intransigence at Bucharest. Yushchenkos unwillingness and inability to push through necessary reforms, lift public support, and achieve a domestic consensus on NATO enlargement also raised skepticism among the allies about Ukraines suitability. These examples showcase how difficult, if not impossible, it will be to make the case for

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enlargement when aspirants themselves do not meet the criteria for membership. The final lesson is that Russia has an increased ability to shape enlargement decisions within NATO. Using both overt and covert means, Russia pursued a concerted campaign to undermine Ukraines and Georgias NATO integration efforts after the Orange and Rose Revolutions. By employing sharp public rhetoric highlighting the dangers of NATO enlargement; capturing political elites through corruption, economic patronage, and dependency; building ties with domestic opposition groups; applying military pressure; and conducting intensive bilateral diplomacy with skeptics, Russia has changed the context of the enlargement narrative in Europe.6 German Foreign Minister
6 Greene, James. Russian Responses to NATO and EU Enlargement and Outreach. Chatham House June 2012

Steinmeiers public statements just prior to the Bucharest Summit proved the efficacy of Russias strategy. He said the West had gone to its limits in its relations with Moscow by recognizing Kosovo, stating there was no compelling reason to further upset Moscow by offering MAP.7 Russias campaign ultimately contributed to vague communiqu language that was interpreted as a hollow pledge. Russias invasion of Georgia four months after Bucharest reinforced already stark differences within NATO over how to deal with a resurgent Russia. The 2008 NATO Summit resulted in a Bucharest hangover that continues to cloud Allied capitals, limiting real discussion over how to move forward with a credible and clear enlargement policy.
7 Amsterdam, Robert. Steinmeier undermines Medvedev. April 5, 2008.

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Current Obstacles

he decade of NATO enlargement from 1999 to 2009 took advantage of a unique historical window that was opened by united U.S.-European political will, democratically attractive aspirants, Russian weakness, and political leadership on a grand scale. These conditions no longer exist, and enlargement in the current era does not have the same level of demand and regional cohesiveness as for previous rounds. The prospects of further enlargement is dimming due to an emergence of higher priority challenges in the Middle East and Asia, the impact of fiscal austerity on both sides of the Atlantic, general enlargement fatigue in Europe, weak aspirant credentials, allies failure to meet defense budget commitments, a U.S. administration unwilling to lead on enlargement, and Russian resurgence. Five years after Bucharest, NATO is no closer to agreeing to the who and when of the fourth postCold war round of enlargement. There are five mains reasons for this dilemma. One, the United States is no longer able nor willing to be the engine of enlargement. After two decades of significant investment and leadership in Europe marked by managing the reunification of Germany, dealing with the collapse of the Soviet Union, intervening in two Balkans conflicts, and expanding NATO to 12 new members U.S. leadership inside Europe appears by choice to be no longer inevitable. The foreign policy generation that saw all global problems through a transatlantic lens is passing the baton of leadership to a new generation whose instinctive reaction is more global in scope and less NATO-centric. A decade of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, rising challenges like the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, and China, as well as economic stagnation at home have distracted the United States and undercut its willingness to lead on security, reform, and development in Europe. Over the past four years, the administrations approach to enlargement has

also been hesitant and skeptical. Although there was an aspirant meeting at the 2012 Chicago Summit, there were no enlargement events and the communiqu did not provide a new prospective for membership. The Obama administration has a fundamentally different philosophical approach to enlargement, rejecting the Bush administrations freedom agenda as an overstretch of U.S. principles and creating more enemies than friends. The United States has refused to provide overt support to Georgias NATO membership prospects, humbly accepted Ukraines neutrality with few creative initiatives to keep Ukraine engaged with NATO, and taken a wait and see approach to reform in Montenegro and Bosnia. There is a real likelihood that Barack Obama will be the first president since George H.W. Bush to not oversee an enlargement round during his tenure. U.S. foreign policy is currently at an inflection point, as the national security and defense strategy rebalance to Asia and the Middle East has reoriented the traditional U.S. priority away from Europe as the first among equals in U.S. global engagements. The pivot is neither a surprise nor a byproduct of the Obama administrations foreign policy initiative. It was rolled out after consultations with allies and partners and clarifies developments that have been ongoing in U.S. security policy for the past decade. The rebalance to Asia and the Middle East will impact the United States traditional role as the engine of enlargement and its willingness to use U.S. resources and political will to support reform in Europe. The rebalance will reduce the political capital available for new, large initiatives in Europe that could be seen as costly and sap U.S. attention. Fiscal reductions imposed by the sequester and rising Department of Defense war costs are also having an impact on U.S. resource commitments to Europe. Sequestration has resulted in deep cuts to U.S. spending, amounting to $47 billion per

There is a real likelihood that Barack Obama will be the first president since George H.W. Bush to not oversee an enlargement round during his tenure.

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The transatlantic disengagement from enlargement, with the United States in particular, is not only institutional, but personal.

year for the next ten years at a minimum. The decision to permanently remove two brigades and their support infrastructure from Germany (albeit two brigades that had spent the past ten years in Afghanistan), freeze or reduce in foreign military financing funds to almost all countries in Europe and Eurasia, and the quiet administration effort to push European allies for a 50/50 split in NATO contributions is only the peak of an increasing iceberg of U.S. rebalancing away from Europe. State Department assistance for Europe and Eurasia is on the decline, with the presidents FY 14 budget involving a rapid reduction of U.S. assistance to Europe by 20 percent from $627 to $497 million. Engagement with NATO allies and partners is at risk of suffering accordingly, with less spending for exercises, bilateral activities, and events that support aspirant military reform. The transatlantic disengagement from enlargement, with the United States in particular, is not only institutional, but personal. The United States and Europe have not effectively found or regenerated a cadre of public and military officials committed to enlargement. Enlargement in the 1990s was highly personal, with a small group of U.S. officials and largely Republican congressional leaders eventually convincing the Clinton administration of the merits of enlargement. In the spring of 1994, three analysts from RAND Ron Asmus, Stephen Larrabee, and Richard Kugler advocated for a new U.S.-European strategic bargain that would extend NATOs collective defense and security arrangements to those areas where the seeds for potential future conflict in Europe persisted: the Atlantic alliances eastern and southern borders. Their recommendation to expand the EU and NATO east and south aimed at promoting democratic reform, converging U.S. and European interests, supporting Germanys strategic

emancipation, and expanding partnership with Russia and Ukraine.8 The RAND study was supported by a small cadre in the executive and legislative branch, as well as public sector. Daniel Fried, Alexander Vershbow, Nicholas Burns, Richard Holbrooke, and Anthony Lake, as well as Secretary Albright and ultimately Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott and President Bill Clinton, shared the idea that enlargement was the keystone to a new U.S.-led Western strategy that would strengthen U.S. national interests and secure the hard fought peace that resulted from the end of the Cold War. In Prague in 1994, President Clintons announcement that the question was no longer whether NATO would take on new members, but when and how was a spark that culminated in three rounds and 12 new members.9 After Clintons endorsement, and with the critical support of and pressure from Republican Senators Robert Dole, Jesse Helms, Richard Lugar, William Roth, John McCain, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, enlargement proceeded as quickly and broadly as it did.10 A comparable level of personal and professional commitment to institutional enlargement is lacking today. The key personalities in the U.S. government that drove enlargement in the 1990s have retired or moved on to other priorities. Also lacking is the critical measure of public support that was gathered by the Committee to Enlarge NATO, an advocacy group headed by Bruce Jackson, which brought together, significantly enough, a number of leading members of the Republican administration that continued to proceed with enlargement in January 2001 after the election of a new president.
8 Asmus, Ronald D., Richard Kugler, and Stephen Larrabee. Building a New NATO. Foreign Affairs, September/October 1993. 9 Goldgeier, James. Not Whether but When. Brookings Institution Press (October 1999) 10 NATO Participation Act of 1994. (Public Law 103-447) 103rd Congress


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Despite the relative lack of champions in the U.S. government, in Europe, there remains a small group of advocates centered among new members, most prominently Polish Foreign Minister RadosawSikorski, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who continue to find ways to keep traction on the enlargement of European institutions. The third factor undermining NATO enlargement is the aspirants themselves, which shoulder much of the blame for the erosion of the transatlantic enlargement consensus. Many of the countries on Europes periphery (former Soviet Republics, former Warsaw Pact members, and the former Yugoslavia) remain more difficult to reform, more corrupt, more authoritarian, and more divided than their predecessors who achieved earlier admission to NATO and the EU. As expansion has driven up NATOs requirements for membership, partners such as Georgia, Bosnia, and Ukraine have found it difficult to build steady progress in democratic reform, retain public support, and resolve latent ethnic divisions. Ukraines inability to commit to real reform and secure public support for membership, Georgias difficulty in securing control over its own territory, and Bosnias failure to implement the political agreement to register defense installations as the property of the central government is the tip of the criteria gap that exists with aspirants. In addition, latent doubt on the ability of NATO to ensure Article 5 guarantees to countries with ethnic conflicts and border disputes, such as Azerbaijan, Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine has also raised the risk that further enlargement is actually detrimental to European security. The fourth obstacle remains Europes own enlargement fatigue. The EUs expansion to 15 new members and an extended period of economic recession has reduced the Europeans political

will to expand and spend dwindling resources on countries with even weaker political and economic institutions. Notwithstanding the case of Croatia, scheduled to enter the EU in July 2013, expansion is not the first or even a leading priority of European policymakers, as shoring up the Union is the primary challenge. The last hurdle runs external to NATO, as Russia refuses to acquiesce to further enlargement along its borders. Russias rising objections have changed the strategic debate about NATO enlargement. As Russian President DmitryMedvedev claimed in 2011, the 2008 Russia-Georgia war was waged to prevent Georgias NATO integration. If we had wavered in 2008, the geopolitical layout would have been different; a range of countries which NATO tries to artificially protect would have been within it.11 Pro-Western revolutions on Russias borders undermined its own regional ambitions and threatened the Kremlins own power base, as the Kremlin fears similar popular revolutions in Russia. Putin is committed to ensuring that he does not repeat his predecessors half-hearted attempt to prevent further NATO enlargement. Russia has shown that it will prevent encroachment on its privileged sphere of influence and that Moscow is willing to invade a neighbor to stop enlargement, breaking the general rules of the road of European security that have been present for years. Russias perceived resurgence, however, is cloaked in inherent weakness, as an overreliance on energy exports, latent internal political instability, and uneven military reform will continue to hinder Russias ability to dictate the future of its neighbors. Allies should be wary of avoiding enlargement due to a perception of Russian strength for years to come.

Many of the countries on Europes periphery remain more difficult to reform, more corrupt, more authoritarian, and more divided than their predecessors who achieved earlier admission to NATO and the EU.

Russias 2008 war with Georgia prevented NATO growth Medvedev; RIA Novosti, November 21, 2011

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A Flexible Enlargement Strategy for the Future

continue to enlarge as long as there were applicants for membership. Enlargement still has the potential to support critical U.S. and European interests, as it once did in the 1990s. Enlargement can provide a new binding agenda and can help modernize the strategic partnership between the United States and Europe by making the EU and NATO work closer together in Europe, and ensuring the United States remains invested in the success of Europes periphery, just as it had helped transform Europes west during the Cold War and Europes east after.15 The challenge today is how to map a plan for NATO enlargement, recognizing the changed strategic context and acknowledging that future enlargement in Europe will not be similar to the past. NATO should implement a flexible enlargement strategy that consolidates past gains, prevents rollback in Europe, and plant the seeds of further enlargement. The strategic objective of flexible enlargement is to provide a tool to strengthen transatlantic relations and find a way for the United States and Europe to deepen and broaden reforms on Europes periphery and to develop a common strategic approach, which is sorely missing, to the post-Soviet space and the countries not yet integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions. NATO should strive for a Gap Filler round of enlargement north and south to Sweden, Finland, Macedonia, and Montenegro, individually or collectively, by the 2016 Summit. This objective can be achieved through the following policies: 1) A prioritized push for enlargement in the Balkans, with a Montenegrin invitation and a resolution of Macedonias name issue that clinches membership; 2) Enhanced NATO-Russia partnership, which

he parallel process of NATO and EU enlargement consolidated democracy and ensured stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea, redrawing the map of Europe and ushering in a new era of peace on the continent.12 Enlargement arguably reinvigorated the Atlantic Alliance, strengthened U.S. influence in Europe, and seemed to erase the dividing lines in Europe once and for all. Russias steadfast opposition to NATO enlargement was managed by an unprecedented effort to engage and strengthen NATO-Russian relations, which although only partially successful, changed the nature of the NATO-Russia relationship from one of competition to increasing transparency, engagement, and cooperation.

NATO should implement a flexible enlargement strategy that consolidates past gains, prevents rollback in Europe, and plant the seeds of further enlargement.

Although the doyen of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, George Kennan, stated in 1997 that NATO enlargement was the the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-Cold War era,13 enlargement did not fatally impede Allied decision-making, did not draw the United States into myriad ethnic conflicts on the periphery of Europe, did not create an unacceptable financial burden at a time of reduced military spending, did not weaken Allied military capabilities, and did not dangerously provoke Russia and irrevocably damage Russian democracy. The problem NATO has discovered is that the enlargement process has become a victim of its own success. As a U.S. government official noted, enlargement was a fabulous success and went from the impossible to the inevitable. The result exceeded all of our expectations. The problem is that we took it for granted, assuming [enlargement] was the only possible alternative.14 Once the process started, many assumed NATO would
Asmus, Ronald D. Europes Eastern Promise; Rethinking NATO and EU Enlargement. Foreign Affairs, Jan./Feb. 2008 13 George. F. Kennan, A Fateful Error, The New York Times, February 5, 1997
12 14

Interview with U.S. government official. April 2013

Asmus, Ronald D. Opening NATOs Door Columbia University Press (Nov. 2002) xxv

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Consolidating gains made in Europe will involve shoring up NATO defense capabilities, finishing the job of expansion into the Balkans, and adjusting NATO partnership mechanisms.

includes a negotiated solution with Russia on missile defense; 3) A reinvigorated push for including Sweden and Finland in a future round of enlargement; and 4) A tactical pause eastward, with the EU continuing to take the lead in integrating Moldova and Serbia while keeping the door opened for Ukraine and Georgia. This strategy should focus on the following ten policy priorities. Step 1 - Consolidate Gains Made Policy 1 The 1949 Washington Treaty and the Strategic Charter in 2010 espoused enlargement as a central tenet to NATOs code of conduct and strategic rationale. The responsibilities of membership are clearly set out, and they are labeled as applicable to any European state that meets the obligations and criteria set forth by the Alliance. As a result, there is no need to reinvent the wheel and change the fundamentals of NATO enlargement or revisit the 1995 NATO Enlargement Study. NATO should seek to consolidate the gains made by focusing on flexibility, setting priorities, and picking policies that will achieve the objectives set out. Consolidating gains made in Europe will involve shoring up NATO defense capabilities, finishing the job of expansion into the Balkans, and adjusting NATO partnership mechanisms. Consolidation first involves strengthening NATOs defense capabilities through the Smart Defense initiative and ensuring that allies retain the defense budgets necessary to field modern capabilities able to deal with the wide array of global threats. The 2 percent threshold of spending on defense remains only an aspiration, as a majority of current members fail to apportion necessary amounts to support this goal. This condition is likely to last. As NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Adm. James Stavridis recently noted, [T]he declining European defense budget and the fact that

the United States accounts for nearly 73 percent of total NATO defense spending is unbalanced and unsustainable over timeAmerican taxpayers will begin to feel that the European allies and partners are getting a free ride as some already say in the United States. While the United States spends more than 3 percent of GDP on defense, NATOs overall average shrank to 1.6 percent in 2012, down from 1.9 percent in 2009.16 The United States should actively pursue a 50-50 split in U.S.-Allied contributions to NATO capabilities, moving gradually away from the 75-25 status quo that has given the Europeans a free ride on U.S. commitment to European security. Policy 2 NATO can help consolidate gains made on enlargement by building on the membership of Slovenia, Croatia, and Albania to expand the Alliance further into the Balkans region. The United States and Europe should focus partnership resources and political will on the Balkans as a first among equals in enlargement priorities. The new secretary of state should make it one of the highest U.S. priorities in Europe to resolve the Macedonia name dispute, which would open the path for membership and facilitate Montenegros and Macedonias admission by 2016. Although Montenegro should not be restricted if it meets the criteria, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for one small country to enter alone. Montenegrin and Macedonian membership can send the strategic message that the door remains open to new members. Montenegros successful reform efforts, past military contributions, geographic position as the final non-NATO tract of territory on the Adriatic Sea, and ability to be an example of NATOs transformative agenda in the Balkans makes it

Vandiver, John. Stavridis calls on allies to up defense spending. Stars and Stripes. April 23, 2013


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an attractive candidate. Although Montenegro has minimal military capacity, NATO can easily absorb a country similar in population to a large European city without any significant costs. The only real disqualifiers to membership are technical, with halting intelligence reform, including the continued presence of undesirable personnel in the security services, Russian influence in all government institutions, and weak public support for membership. NATO needs to keep the bar high for Montenegro, and push it to resolve these weaknesses before issuing an invitation. To achieve membership by the 2016 Summit, Montenegro will need to pursue an aggressive dual track political campaign. An internal campaign must focus on building public support domestically. The external campaign must build support within the Alliance, with Montenegro targeting Germany as a key interlocutor supporting further enlargement in the Balkans. To support this effort, European NATO members should make use of Greeces weakened economic position to break their resistance on Montenegro. The same goes for pressing the economically crippled Cyprus to quit its objections to EU-NATO cooperation because of Turkey. Policy 3 NATO can help consolidate the gains of enlargement by fixing the Membership Action Plan (MAP) process. Launched in 1999 as the vehicle and tool for deeper integration into the Alliance, MAP was intended to create a clearinghouse mechanism and support system for partners to fulfill clearly defined criteria to prepare for membership. Instead, MAP is politically tainted, has lost any sense of consistency, and its effectiveness has dwindled as a result. Allies have used the MAP process to slow down and even derail a countrys enlargement prospects. Aspirants used the MAP status as a guarantee of membership

instead of a mechanism for implementing the changes required for membership, as originally intended. Germany and other skeptics have refused to grant Georgia a MAP, even though it participates in the primary MAP component, the Annual National Program (ANP). Macedonia has successfully achieved ten MAP cycles and has been graded by NATO as meeting all the technical requirements for membership, yet remains stuck in the MAP process due to Greeces political objections. Bosnias problem is opposite that of Georgias, as NATO refused to allow the former to begin the ANP process despite already having a MAP. This situation has made a mockery of MAP, resulting in an inherently political and confusing process that has stymied a clear path to membership. MAP in its originally intended form is dead, killed off at the Bucharest Summit. A solution to the current status quo would be to depoliticize the MAP debate and divorce the political objectives from the technical reforms being undertaken by MAP and ANP countries. MAP should remain a technical process, allowing countries to focus on the five chapters and submitting the ANP that consists of detailed activities that help the country meet allied compatibility in the relevant chapters. This approach would allow progress on the technical reforms required in the ANP, while giving allies the ability to have political discussion on aspirant credentials and political risks in other forums such as the North Atlantic Council (NAC), where political objections belong. It would also prevent the current situation, where countries raise technical questions repeatedly as a way to hinder a countrys ability to pursue MAP.

A solution to the current status quo would be to depoliticize the MAP debate and divorce the political objectives from the technical reforms being undertaken by MAP and ANP countries.

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Policy 4 Consolidating gains made in Europe should involve NATO and the EU raising criteria for membership even higher and ensuring current members meet the responsibilities of membership. Admission criteria during the Cold War were greatly lower and were strategic in nature. Non-communist credentials were enough to put countries on a path to membership, and aspirants did not find their path to NATO littered with mechanisms like IPAPs, PARPs or Membership Action Plans guiding a multi-year process of integration. Spain was not a full-fledged democracy when it entered NATO, while Greece and Turkey were absorbed to prevent the encroachment of communism and ensure they avoided conflict with each other. NATO raised its standards in the 1990s, focusing on subjective criteria and giving aspirants a tougher regime of reforms and guidelines to meet. The last two rounds in the 2000s saw NATO move to objective criteria, seeking even higher standards focused on deeper reform. The Baltic states ability to overachieve and surpass reform expectations, particularly when compared to Romania and Bulgaria in 1999-2001, helped them overcome significant Alliance resistance to enlargement due to Russian objections. The Baltics showed that a real commitment to reform could facilitate and expedite enlargement. In an era of fiscal austerity and rising threats, allies need to hold potential members to a higher standard than their predecessors. NATOs flexibility in shifting from strategic, to subjective, and finally to objective criteria should be replicated again today. Criteria for the future should be a mix of all three of these approaches, as NATO should pursue flexible enlargement criteria tailored to individual aspirants. Countries like Sweden and Finland should be viewed strategically, while Ukraine and

Georgias weaker credentials and risks should result in objective criteria. In addition, NATO needs a tough love approach with aspirants, giving them a clear-eyed view that their inability to perform and meet requirements will significantly hamper and delay their integration efforts. That said, an overreliance on democratic credentials as the prerequisite for membership ignores the fundamental security benefit that NATO enlargement provides. The need for a stable security framework is greatest when democracy is most fragile and threatened. Without the stability that enlargement provides, aspirants will find it hard to have the domestic security required to make the difficult reforms necessary. Finally, NATO needs to hold current members accountable for commitments to contribute necessary expenditures to collective security. The United States finances nearly three-quarters of NATOs military spending, up from 63 percent in 2001. Besides the United States, only three other NATO members currently meet their 2006 commitment to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. In addition, only four other NATO members met their obligation to invest in critical future capabilities and spend at least one-fifth of their defense budget on major defense equipment.17 Every new ally has seen their defense expenditures fall after entrance into the Alliance. This is unacceptable, and has sent the signal that once inside NATOs doors, allies can spurn the responsibilities of membership and weaken the Alliance. Step 2 - Prevent Rollback Policy 5 Preventing rollback of the gains already made in enlargement will require the prevention of

In an era of fiscal austerity and rising threats, allies need to hold potential members to a higher standard than their predecessors.

Weitz, Richard. Global Insights: NATO Spending, Capabilities Gaps Continue to Grow. World Politics Review, Feb. 12, 2013


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backsliding among aspirants and partners unlikely to achieve membership in the near-term. This means the EU will need to play a larger role in European integration. NATOs effectiveness in promoting reform will be overshadowed in the coming years by the EUs Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which has the resources and potential to be a leading element of engagement in the coming years. For the EU to be more effective and for partners to receive the full benefit of Western economic, political, and security assistance, the EU and NATO will need to harmonize their engagement beyond what has been done before. Similar ongoing efforts to ensure NATOs Smart Defense and the EUs Pooling and Sharing initiatives are not only compatible but mutually reinforcing, NATO and the EU should ensure initiatives on enlargement are complementary to the extent possible.18 Steps to support this effort could include holding yearly NATO/EU Deputy Ministerials on enlargement, for NATO to conduct a review of how NATO and Allied reform assistance can be better integrated into the EU Neighborhood Policy, and to create a EU/NATO Clearinghouse Mechanism to coordinate reform. The EU needs to ensure that engagement tools like the ENP will not serve as mechanisms for keeping members out rather than giving them a membership perspective. ENP can be enhanced by direct U.S. assistance, as the United States could carve out a slice of the Millennium Challenge Account and create a European Stability Compact that is directly tied to ENP engagement. Although it would rankle the U.S. Congress to cede control over assistance and engagement to the EU, the ESC could be a new and dynamic way to shape U.S. assistance with European input.

Flexibility on which institution countries join first should also define transatlantic enlargement in the 21st century. NATO membership has traditionally preceded EU membership, with the former setting the security conditions necessary for the more time-consuming and comprehensive EU enlargement process. In a flexible era of enlargements, this tradition should be re-evaluated. EU membership first might make more sense for many of the countries that aspire to EU membership, like Serbia and Moldova. For Ukraine and Georgia, however, prospects for EU membership any time soon are less likely and cannot be viewed realistically as an alternative to NATO membership, which looks equally or even more distant. Policy 6 In an era of reduced U.S. leadership on enlargement, aspirants will need to find new champions and reinvigorate old champions to be successful. New allies like Poland, the Baltic states, and Romania are doing the most critical thinking and engagement on enlargement. Poland played the key role in developing and implementing the Eastern Partnership and is seeking to use the Weimar Triangle as a way to draw France and Germany further into engaging Europes borders with Russia. The Baltics continue to lead dialogue in Brussels on enlargement and have a vanguard of bilateral programs with aspirants like Georgia to enhance reforms and provide much needed tactical and strategic advice. These new allies know what it takes to both reform and retain political support for enlargement in Western capitals. New allies should consider establishing a NATO Enlargement Contact Group East and Contact Group South to support enlargement in these geographic regions, similar to the New Friends Concept that exists for individual countries like Georgia.

For the EU to be more effective and for partners to receive the full benefit of Western economic, political, and security assistance, the EU and NATO will need to harmonize their engagement beyond what has been done before.


Chicago Summit Declaration NATO. May 20, 2012

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Germany cannot be seen as the obstacle, but as an underutilized partner.

Owing to Germanys economic power, special relationship with Russia, and the poisoned legacy of Bucharest, a new look should also be taken at establishing a strategic dialogue with an old champion of enlargement. Germany is a key broker on enlargement, as it remains the leading economic power in Europe and has driven the EU reaction to the fiscal crisis. As Bucharest has shown, it will be impossible to enlarge NATO and the EU into the Balkan and Black Sea region without German support. The stereotype of Germany is that it remains a spoiler, having derailed Ukraine and Georgias membership aspirations. Germanys position, however, is more nuanced, as it has continued to support Balkans enlargement and has pressed Ukraine to integrate into the EU. If history is any guide, Germany still has untapped potential to be a promoter of enlargement. Germany was a key driver after the fall of the Berlin wall, as its fear over its own untapped power propelled it to take steps to ensure its neighbors became allies. Germanys need for strategic depth and a buffer east and south was a primary impetus to enlargement to the Visegrad states. Germanys neighbors saw the rise of German power in zerosum terms, believing reunification would regain some of their past revanchist and hegemonic instincts, which would undoubtedly come at their expense. German officials such as former Defense Minister Volcker Ruhe understood that with reunification, the German problem would once again resurface into European politics, and Germanys support for NATO enlargement was therefore a strategic bargain expected to blunt the fear of Germanys rise. Although this historical experience will not create the same German impetus for enlargement, it can remind Germans that their current strength rested on exporting stability beyond German borders. The United States should seek to have genuine, strategic discussions with the Germans about

how to improve NATO engagement in Europes east and revive efforts to promote integration. Germany cannot be seen as the obstacle, but as an underutilized partner whose support is critical to maximizing the full potential of Balkans enlargement and the Eastern Partnership. Germanys unique relations with Russia also need to be leveraged. Russia has not blamed Germany for the first three enlargement rounds, and GermanRussian relations have remained strong despite the difference in views on enlargement. Step 3 - Plant Seeds for the Future Policy 7 A flexible enlargement strategy needs to recognize the current limits of enlargement. Enlargement advocates or aspirants, or both, need to find a way to step back, be patient, and plant seeds of integration that can germinate when the strategic situation improves. A tactical pause from pressing for enlargement in Ukraine and Georgia is appropriate, based on the current economic crisis, which will bind most of the political will and energy in Europe for some time to come. The litmus test for NATOs commitment to the Open Door Policy and NATOs credibility on enlargement will continue to rest on the border sandwiched between NATOs easternmost member Turkey and the largest obstacle to further enlargement Russia. No current NATO partner has undergone more reform nor signaled a clearer political willingness to reorient the country along Euro-Atlantic lines than Georgia. Matching political willingness with real contributions, Georgia is the largest non-NATO contributor in Afghanistan and has made great strides with its Annual National Program requirements. Georgias significant contributions bring parallel security risks as shown by its lack of control over its own territory and Russias willingness to use


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force to prevent Georgias integration. The debate over Georgia is even more acute than the one over the Baltic aspirants, where treatment of Russian minorities and border disputes with Moscow undermined their credentials. With two separatist conflicts and Russian occupation forces dug in, Georgia may not meet the 1995 Enlargement Study threshold of resolving internal territorial disputes.19 Despite a political commitment to peacefully resolving the conflict, Georgias decision to respond with force to Russias provocations in South Ossetia made allies question Georgias trustworthiness as a partner and commitment to peacefully resolving its territorial and ethnic disputes. Georgias pivotal location, significant contributions, and reform record in the authoritarian dominated South Caucasus make it a strategic aspirant unlike any other (except for Ukraine). Until Georgias accession promotes a net benefit to Alliance security and has the unquestionable reform credentials for membership, Georgia will need to remain outside the Alliance. NATO needs time to review which path Georgian politics will take and whether the new government is truly committed to democratic reform and meeting the requirements for membership. Georgia will not be a member by 2016 and allies should not target Georgia as a priority for membership in the near term. In this regard, advocates should abandon any talk of Membership Action Plans for Georgia and focus on how to make Georgia attractive for membership in the future. MAP discussions will only distract from the longterm goal and continue the politization that has stifled Georgias NATO prospects since Bucharest. Allies should follow through on the Chicago Summit commitment to enhance Georgias connectivity to the Alliance, which was a signal

that continues to motivate the Georgians and helps them retain domestic support for enlargement.20 Annual NATO-Georgia Commission meetings, at the Foreign Ministerial and Defense Ministerial level, continued support to ANP required reforms, and ramping up bilateral defense assistance are all areas that could raise the profile of NATOs engagement. Defense assistance, beyond the brains before brawn mantra espoused by the Obama administration for several years, should be expanded.21 Georgia has real defense needs and any NATO partner should have the ability to purchase Western defense equipment for territorial needs, beyond assistance dedicated to expeditionary capabilities. The first peaceful transfer of power through an election in Georgias history could strengthen Georgias credibility in the West, which has not yet recovered from the 2008 war. However, Prime Minister BidzinaIvanishvilis anti-Saakashvili platform and ongoing political score settling risks spoiling any goodwill engendered from defeating a political foe that many saw as an obstacle to Georgian democracy and NATO membership. The recent arrest of former Interior Minister and United National Movement Chairman Vano Merabishvili and the governments response to a gay rights event on May 17 raise further doubts about the democratic credentials and Western orientation of the new government. Whereas for the past few years, one could ask whether the West had a policy toward Georgia, the dilemma today is that Georgia no longer has a Western policy. Ultimately, the new Georgian government needs to show that it is genuinely committed to democracy and not settling political scores through selective justice, while convincing
20 21

Georgias decision to respond with force to Russias provocations in South Ossetia made allies question Georgias trustworthiness as a partner and commitment to peacefully resolving its territorial and ethnic disputes.

Study on Enlargement. NATO. September 3, 1995

Chicago Summit Declaration NATO. May 20, 2012 Schmitt, Gary. Georgia on My Mind. Weekly Standard. March 5, 2012

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Without engaging Russia in a long-term strategic framework that embeds it into Euro-Atlantic security, there will be no hope of securing and strengthening the countries on Russias borders.

skeptics in NATO that it continues its path toward Western integration and its political, economic, and military reform requirements. NATO and the EU need to take a strong stand against antidemocratic practices in Georgia, regardless of which party initiates them. Just as some policymakers allowed Western support for Georgia to become overwhelmingly focused on President Saakashvili, others are allowing their policies to be driven too much by their antipathy to Saakashvili, overpersonalizing the bilateral relationship and thus turning a blind eye to obvious abuses by the new government. NATO, the EU, and the United States in particular need a clear Georgia policy that remains firm. Although Georgians have much to be responsible for regarding their successes and failures in NATO integration, Russia is the primary obstacle to Georgias NATO membership. If Russia didnt object to Georgias membership, they would likely already be a member or well on their way. As a result, NATO needs to be clear that it does not accept Russias veto of Georgias membership, and that it stands by the Bucharest declaration that Georgia will be a member. Anything short of this commitment essentially serves up Georgia on a platter to Moscow and would be an implicit recognition of a Russian zone of strategic interest. NATO and the EU need to continually emphasize their principled resistance to Russias occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and must bluntly label it a military occupation. Policy 8 No strategy for a flexible enlargement strategy can be complete without a parallel effort to promote relations with Russia. With each round of enlargement, NATO redoubled its efforts to deepen a constructive relationship and mechanism for engagement with Russia. After ten years, the NATO-Russia Council has failed to live up to its

expectations and potential. Although NATO should continue its efforts to achieve real deliverables in the NATO-Russian relationship, the NATO-Russia Council will continue to be hampered by political differences between the two sides. A breakthrough on a cooperative missile defense framework that reaffirms NATOs offer for real cooperation while protecting two separate command and control systems and cooperation on Syria, the Middle East, and other strategic issues could break the current logjam in NATO-Russian relations. Without engaging Russia in a long-term strategic framework that embeds it into Euro-Atlantic security, there will be no hope of securing and strengthening the countries on Russias borders. The prospect of inviting Russia as a potential member should also remain on the table, however distant and even unrealistic that prospect may be. NATO will not be able to alleviate Russian objections to enlargement but it should make it clear to Moscow that it is committed to further enlargement in the future. Moscows growing strength relative to the 1990s reinforces its belief that it can wield a veto over NATO enlargement. Despite Russian agreement to the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act that all states have the right be a party to treaties of alliance, Moscows obstinate objections to the right of European governments to choose their Alliances will deepen.22 Although Russia will remain opposed to NATO enlargement for political and strategic reasons, allies need to remain steadfast in their position that only NATO will decide on the who, how, and when of enlargement. NATOs open door cannot be allowed to become an eternal delaying tactic or a process contingent on de facto consent from Russia, and no state should be excluded solely


Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Final Act. Helsinki 1975


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on geography.23 Part of this will need to involve a post-Putin strategy for Russia, which can help turn the page of an era marked by Russias antagonistic view of the West. Policy 9 Planting the seeds for the future involves deepening NATO partnership with Sweden and Finland as much as possible. Membership should be the goal for these two countries, as their significant contributions, geographic position, and strong strategic cultures would be an immeasurable contribution to NATO and European security. Their entrance would further stabilize NordicBaltic security and would allow NATO the ability to play a strong role in Artic security. Although they are not seeking NATO membership at this time, there are growing political elites in Helsinki and Stockholm that find strategic benefit to membership. Thirty-two percent of respondents in a recent poll stated that they were in favor of Sweden joining NATO, an increase from 23 percent over the last two years.24 Despite the rise in support, the political cost of opening a debate on enlargement is currently too high, as the public continues to value the independence and neutrality of non-alignment. A reinvigorated push for Swedish and Finnish enlargement is a natural conclusion of both countries valuable contributions to NATO security over the past decade and NATO operations from Afghanistan to Libya. Policy 10 Perhaps the most important component of a flexible enlargement strategy involves the political will in the United States to prioritize its relationship with Europe, avoid relegating European security
Solomon, Gerald. The NATO Enlargement Debate. (Praeger 1998) 24 Bosco, David. Swedes Sweeten on NATO, Foreign Policy, May 17, 2013.

to the Europeans, and taking steps to strengthen transatlantic relations. Although the current administration does not appear to have the will to be the engine of enlargement, U.S. political and financial support for the previously listed nine principles is critical to their success. The United States remains the most trusted partner for NATO aspirants, as its moral authority, power, and experience on enlargement are unparalleled. U.S. credibility in eastern and southern Europe will be judged according to its level of engagement on enlargement. Many European leaders view the United States as an unreliable guarantor of security, given the Obama administrations reported Asia pivot policy, the mixed outcomes of recent wars, and the impact of sequestration. In the past several years, U.S. officials have preferred to avoid an active enlargement discussion at NATO to avoid damaging a countrys current standing. This was the case with Georgia, as the fragility of Georgias credentials created the fear that an open discussion would undermine an already weak political foundation for future rounds of enlargement. As a result, the path of do no harm has become the de facto U.S. policy on enlargement. This needs to change, and it can start with the United States reinvesting in a dialogue on enlargement at NATO and pressing for NAC meetings on enlargement. An especially effective way for the United States to support enlargement is to strengthen the U.S.-European strategic partnership. In the State of the Union address of February 12, 2013, President Obama announced his commitment to the negotiation of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the EU. The presidents decision recognizes that the U.S.-EU economic relationship is already the worlds largest, accounting for approximately one-third of total

The United States remains the most trusted partner for NATO aspirants, as its moral authority, power, and experience on enlargement are unparalleled.

Flexible Expansion


goods and services traded, and nearly half of global economic output. The T-TIP is an ambitious and bold agreement that would provide significant benefit in terms of promoting competitiveness, jobs, and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. No less importantly, it would reinvigorate transatlantic relations and help end or reduce increasing cuts

in NATOs defense capabilities and deepening enlargement fatigue. A strong and confident Europe is more capable and likely to expand than a weakened and self-critical Europe. The United States and Europe should set a two-year deadline for the completion of the negotiations over such a treaty.


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he 2012 NATO Chicago Summit was a hopeful inflection point that could have opened the way for a vision on enlargement. Leading up to it, the United States made clear what the Summit was about: preparing for the end of NATOs combat role in Afghanistan, stemming the tide of weakening Allied defense capabilities, and strengthening NATOs partnerships around the globe. U.S. officials also made clear what the Summit was not about: NATO enlargement. This austere U.S. messaging on enlargement prior to the Chicago Summit was upended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clintons post-Summit remarks: I believe this summit should be the last summit that is not an enlargement summit.25 Clintons rhetorical salvo was an expression of frustration with the lack of consensus on whether and how to proceed with further enlargement. It opened the avenue for political leadership that can breathe life back into the enlargement debate in Europe. There is a need to break out of the current dysfunctional status quo on enlargement, reaffirm the goal of further enlargement, abandon the current MAP process as a combined technical and political vehicle, spark enlargement momentum by reopening the possibility for Swedish/Finnish membership and shifting bit of leadership toward Europe and the EU. The time before the next NATO Summit in 2014 and the Obama administrations last NATO Summit in 2016 are an opportunity for the United States and its European allies to re-set and re-imagine NATO enlargement. NATO has the opportunity to review the third pillar in the 2010 Strategic Concept, establish enlargement as an agenda item for the 2014 and 2016 Summits with concrete deliverables, and finally determine what cooperative security

really means inside of Europe. A rethink of where Europe finds itself, where Europe wants to go, and who is a part of Europe should drive this process. NATO has the time and strategic interest to put in place a strategy on enlargement that will not only strengthen the Alliance internally, but also ensure it reinforces its legacy role as a critical contributor to security and stability in Europe. A flexible enlargement strategy that consolidates past gains, prevents rollback, and plants the seeds for the future can help fill the void left by the current lack of a transatlantic strategy for Europes periphery, while setting a constructive and realistic path for the future of European integration. Although it is premature for NATO to descend on a strategically risky and politically inopportune round of large-scale enlargement in the near future, NATO can and should initiate a Gap Filler round of enlargement by the 2016 Summit. Completing the Balkans and Baltic-Nordic zone in a gap-filler round is a strategic reality that would bring Europe closer together in an organic sense. It would also strengthen NATO internally as it expands into two regions that have already experienced enlargement. Just as the architects of enlargement in the mid1990s could not imagine a Big Bang round of enlargement in 2002, NATO should strive for a round of territorial consolidation north and south to Sweden, Finland, Macedonia, and Montenegro collectively at the 2016 Summit. This would be enhanced by muscular partnerships east and south with Serbia, Bosnia, Ukraine, and Georgia, and reinvigoration of the NATO-Russia Council as a real venue for cooperation with Russia. This effort would also recognize current obstacles and restraints. Georgia and Ukraine remain a bridge too far, and the Alliance should set aside any plans to enlarge eastward in the coming decade. It is time to accept that NATO enlargement in Georgia and Ukraine is a long-term ambition, not

There is a need to break out of the current dysfunctional status quo on enlargement.


Parish, Karen. Clinton Affirms NATO Open-door Membership Policy, American Forces Press Service. May 21, 2012

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a near term possibility or objective. The same is true for Serbia, which has real potential to become a NATO member but needs physical and mental space between the poison pill of the Kosovo bombing and resultant NATO embrace of Kosovar independence. The success of the Western community and strength of the United States rested first and foremost on the strength of the Transatlantic alliance. Locking in peace and security in Europe on its strategic flank can help the United States promote its interests around the globe and pivot more effectively to Asia. A weak Europe and stagnation on Europes periphery would run counter to this effort. President Obamas political legacy could benefit greatly from one enlargement round, insulating the administration from accusations of ignoring and pivoting the United

States away from Europe. Although there are objections from the extremes of both parties that could hamper U.S. Senate confirmation of any new NATO members, NATO enlargement continues to retain political support of a strong portion of the Republican and Democratic parties. The challenge the United States and allies face is how to ensure that the institutions and geographic space that have served as the pinnacle of strength to international security NATO, the EU, and Europe remains strong and stable enough to allow the West to pivot East. Flexible enlargement in Europes north, south, and east will help improve security prospects of the European continent. The path is clear, and the only question is whether the transatlantic community can summon the political will to push again for a Europe whole, free, and at peace.


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Washington Berlin Paris Brussels Belgrade Ankara Bucharest Warsaw Tunis