on "Central
and Eastern
Europe and

Apr. 24-26, 1997

"The Enlargement of NATO"

Keynote Speech by ASG/DS, Admiral Norman Ray

Assistant Secretary General, Defence Support Division

[Excellencies], Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana, has asked me to convey his warmest greetings to the organisers of this conference and its participants, and sends his best wishes for what he is sure will be an important, in-depth discussion of the topic of "Central-Eastern Europe and Euro-Atlantic Security."

Today, I am very pleased to have been invited to give the keynote address on NATO enlargement. NATO enlargement is a subject on which there is already considerable discussion and debate. It is very important that the debate is an informed one. This conference will help do that.

As the Secretary General said last Tuesday in welcoming Foreign Minister Thaler to a "16+1" dialogue session with the North Atlantic Council: "As yet, no decisions have been taken as to who will or will not be invited at the Madrid Summit to start accession talks with the alliance. Irrespective of that decision, we are committed to deepening and extending our cooperation with all countries ready to do so. Allies see their security as inseparably linked to that of our Partners. Allies have pledged that the Alliance will remain open to the accession of further members in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty."

Before I go further, there are one or two points that should be made clear: the decision on who will be the first new members is yet to be made. The Secretary General expects that the decision will be made as a result of intense consultations among the Allies in the immediate run-up to Madrid. The second point is that the opening up of NATO is a process. NATO's door will remain open for others to join. Madrid should not therefore be seen as a definitive day of judgement. NATO Foreign Ministers have already pledged to keep the process going.

You all are familiar with the game plan. At the Summit of Heads of State and Government next July in Madrid, NATO will invite one or several countries to begin accession negotiations. By 1999, NATO's 50th anniversary, full membership should be achieved. The question as to "whether" NATO will or will not enlarge is thus a settled question. The process has started, and it will continue as it has so far proceeded - in a steady, deliberate and open way.

By 1999, the Alliance should have all the pieces in place that will form the all-important context for a successful enlargement. We are looking to a broad series of measures intended to benefit European security as a whole. Getting the context of enlargement right is therefore as important as the act of inviting new members. Let me therefore briefly describe this context, starting with the wider strategic environment and then focusing on some specific questions raised by NATO's enlargement.

The past decade has seen a transformation in European security. Today, we see a level of cooperation between states that is unprecedented historically. The East-West division no longer exists - though its after-effects can still be felt. Democracy, too, has spread and taken root in most of the countries of Eastern Europe, and in parts of the former Soviet Union. In some cases, the process of democratisation has still be completed, and it still needs nurturing. No one would deny, however, that remarkable progress has been made in a short period. Equally, no one would deny that the effort needs to be kept up and reinforced, for we are still in the process of building a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe.

NATO enlargement should therefore be seen in the context of a strategy that has as its objective the building of a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe. Other European organisations - the European Union, the Western European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe - share this objective. And all have contributed in different ways to reaching this objective. For example, we have seen, since 1989, support for German unification; the creation of a cooperative framework for security; aid to Russia and Ukraine in their reform endeavours; implementation of the CFE Treaty; and the strengthening of the organisations themselves in their capacity to address issues of European security.

But let me, without anticipating or foreclosing later discussion in this conference, briefly address the main questions often put concerning NATO's enlargement.

The first question is why? The answer is that NATO enlargement will help anchor Central and Eastern Europe to the stable democratic institutions of the West. If we are truly to create a Europe without dividing lines, then successful established institutions like NATO and the EU must offer a real prospect of membership to those who are legitimately asking to join.

Opening up NATO will help solve one of the perennial sources of instability on this continent. Historically, when the security status of Central and Eastern Europe has been left unclear, the resulting uncertainty has exerted a strong and dangerously destabilising influence on the whole of Europe. Taking in new members will therefore help stabilise a key region, and thereby improve security and stability for the whole of Europe.

The second question is what about the effect on Russia? Among some analysts, there is the view that somehow NATO has to "choose" between NATO enlargement and good relations with Russia. The underlying idea seems to be that we can't have both: new members and a new relationship with Russia. This is nonsense. Those who believe that NATO has to choose between enlargement and Russia are stuck to a zero-sum mentality born at the time of the Cold War but increasingly obsolete in today's strategic environment.

It is obvious that Russia still has considerable problems in understanding the new NATO and why we are opening our doors to new members. But Russia is a great power with great power interests. Many of these interests will suggest close cooperation with NATO. Russia already has close links with the EU, the Council of Europe and the G-7. It wants its full place in Europe. And NATO is committed to developing a close partnership with Russia, with the broadest possible cooperation and a Joint Council. This will give Russia a visible place in the European and Transatlantic security landscape. It would provide opportunities for consultation as well as joint decision-making and joint action on a case-by-case basis. But the most valuable capital we want to build with Russia through the Joint Council is: mutual trust.

Our thinking is that the agreement with Russia should be expressed in a NATO-Russia document signed at the highest political level. It would cover four main areas: the shared principles that would form the basis of our partnership; a mechanism for regular and ad hoc consultations; a broad set of areas of political cooperation; and politico-military questions, including military liaison.

Secretary General Solana and Foreign Minister Primakov have had four rounds of negotiation, and the process continues. A lot of work will still have to be accomplished but both sides remain committed to a successful outcome. We are hopeful that agreement will be reached. Ultimately, Russia will see that a constructive relationship with NATO and the other nations of Europe serves her interests better than a retreat into self-isolation. That is why, despite the difficulties, we are confident that Russia will eventually be on board.

A third question concerns those not invited at Madrid. This group includes Partners who have been particularly active in the Partnership for Peace. We are now looking hard at introducing new measures to enhance our practical cooperation in PfP.

These ideas are far-reaching. For example, the scope of Partnership activities can be expanded to include the full range of peace support operations - from conflict prevention and crisis management to peace-building, under the authority of the UN or OSCE. Another initiative is a new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. This would provide us with a single new cooperative framework within which practical cooperation under PfP would be deepened and the political dimension of our relations with Partners greatly enhanced.

So, there are two elements to the enhanced Partnership. More intense involvement directly with NATO through PfP and a new political framework, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. After Madrid therefore, all Partners who wish to do so, will continue to deepen their links with NATO. This is a major step forward - substantial new opportunities for cooperation are being opened up. Partners will be able to choose from this menu as much -or indeed as little - as they wish. This is not intended as a compensation for NATO membership let alone as a "consolation prize" or "waiting room". There will be real security value to be gained. The arrangements will benefit everyone, Allies and Partners alike. Through such close association, Partners and Allies together will be able to demonstrate that in today's Europe, their security is inseparably linked.

The fourth question is cost. At this point, any assessment of cost depends directly on the kind of assumptions analysts make at the outset.

My view is that enlargement is more about commitment than cost. The US Administration's Report to Congress of last February confirms that point. New members will pay their fair share of common costs, but it will not be an excessive share. New members, like NATO's present members, will have the time and the freedom to meet Alliance military and infrastructure requirements in a way that they can realistically absorb. In providing a solid, reliable framework for long-term security, new members can look to greater cost-effectiveness in their defence than they would otherwise have.

Other questions have been raised about NATO's enlargement. Many of them we have addressed in the Enlargement Study which NATO published back in December 1995. We have also used the format of so-called "16+1" individual dialogue with Partners interested in joining NATO. In these we have had frank and intensive discussion of the range of obligations and commitments that Allies would expect of new members, and what new members, in turn, could expect from them. Prominent among these expectations is the ability of new members to meet - in practice as well as in aspiration - these obligations and to accept all NATO policies, including our outreach and cooperation with Russia, with Ukraine, and with all countries that have joined the Partnership for Peace.

Let me conclude my remarks with one final point and with a question of my own. I see a great tendency to highlight the difficulties of NATO enlargement. Far less attention is paid to the greater difficulties that would follow from staying in the configuration which we had during an earlier, very different era - as if things should be frozen in time.

I can already cite advances which we would have had to forego if the commitment to adjust our membership to new political realities had not been made. For example, the incentive to join the Alliance and the experience of cooperation through PfP have helped entrench democratic reforms at home and settled longstanding bilateral disputes abroad. Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and others have concluded or are about to conclude agreements settling long-unresolved differences. Such progress has been made because the Alliance, at the right time, has signalled that it is no longer a closed club.

Moreover, in Central and Eastern Europe, historical memories of partition and abandonment continue to figure prominently in contemporary thinking. It is difficult to see how this region can develop in hope and confidence without being anchored to the stable, established democratic structures of the West. To keep NATO as a closed shop would be to keep those countries imprisoned in their past. It would be to rob them of one of the best means of moving forward and sharing in the same peace and prosperity we in the West are aiming for.

And so to my question, which is straightforward. Are we prepared to deal with the consequences of excluding those countries which share the values and democratic principles of the Alliance; which have already shown, and want to demonstrate further, their readiness and determination to take on the full obligations of NATO membership; and which are able to contribute in real terms to the wider security of the Euro-Atlantic area?

[Excellencies,] Ladies and Gentlemen, NATO has demonstrated a tremendous capacity for change and reform. The Atlantic Alliance has created a community of values that transcends the narrow focus of the nation-state, a democratic security community where trust and cooperation is the hallmark. This Atlantic community has been a resounding success. Its success dictates that it is bound to grow. That is why NATO will enlarge.

Thank you.

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