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– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
NATO Issues Three Invitations; Signs Separate Charter With Ukraine
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Wade Boese

AT THE MADRID Summit, July 8-9, NATO formally invited three of its former adversaries—the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland—to begin accession talks with the alliance. NATO also pledged to hold the door open for other states "regardless of their geographic location," and signed a partnership charter with Ukraine. However, intra-alliance disputes over which countries to offer membership to, disagreements about burdensharing, continued Russian unhappiness with enlargement, and a growing chorus of criticism and questions within the United States, all combined to somewhat tarnish the luster of the decisions undertaken and promises made in Madrid.

 

The Summit

On July 8, NATO issued the "Madrid Declaration on EuroAtlantic Security and Cooperation," which emphasized that a new NATO was developing that would create "a new and undivided Europe." President Bill Clinton also extolled the value that NATO membership would bring to the three countries by securing the free-market and democratic gains they have made in recent years.

NATO and the newly invited states must now draw up protocols of accession (NATO is also considering drafting a single protocol), which the alliance hopes to sign at its December foreign ministers meeting. The legislatures of all 19 states will have to approve the protocols. NATO's goal is to have ratification completed by its 50th anniversary on April 4, 1999. Throughout the process, the three countries will be involved "to the greatest extent possible" in NATO activities and exercises.

President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Gyula Horn of Hungary and President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland issued a statement on July 8 expressing their "deepest satisfaction" for the invitations and hailing NATO expansion as a "historic decision paving the way to a more stable and secure Europe." The three leaders also stressed the importance of leaving the door open to additional members to prevent lines of division across the continent.

For the nine states that were not offered membership at Madrid (Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), NATO and U.S. leaders offered reassurances that this round of invitations would not be NATO's final expansion. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, in a speech on July 8, articulated the alliance's "open door policy," saying, "the alliance expects to extend further invitations in coming years." Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "no European democracy will be excluded because of its position on the map." The Madrid Declaration identifies Romania and Slovenia as states that have made "positive developments towards democracy and rule of law," and recognizes the progress of the Baltic states in moving toward "greater stability and cooperation." NATO emphasized the importance of participation in the Partnership for Peace program and the EuroAtlantic Partnership Council for those states that still wish to join the alliance.

NATO also moved to solidify relations with Ukraine through a July 9 "Charter on a Distinctive Partnership." Like the NATO-Russian Founding Act (see ACT, May 1997), the charter is a political and not a legally binding agreement, committing NATO to increase military cooperation and interoperability with Ukraine and to establish military liaison missions. The charter calls for the establishment of a NATO-Ukraine Commission to meet at least twice a year to explore ways to further develop the relationship.

 

Intra-Alliance Disputes

Leading up to the summit, France made a concerted push to include Romania and Slovenia in the first round of expansion. Eight states, including Canada and Germany, eventually supported the French position, but the United States, Britain and three others remained determined to limit invitations to three states in the first round. There was concern that France would withhold approval of the three invitees, but French President Jacques Chirac finally yielded only when he was satisfied that Romania and Slovenia would be top candidates for future membership.

A potentially more damaging fracture emerged over the costs and how they would be apportioned. The Clinton administration, in February 1997, estimated the total 13year cost of NATO expansion at $27 billion to $35 billion, of which the U.S. share (confined to direct costs) would be $1.5 billion to $2 billion, with the new and current members responsible for the rest. These estimates drew criticism from France, Germany and Britain as being inflated, and the Europeans declared that they would not increase their contributions. Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said exaggerated U.S. estimates were a product of the U.S. defense industry's desire to rearm the new members with expensive and unnecessary equipment. Seeking to smooth over the dispute, Clinton said, "the nations involved should pay most of the costs themselves." The Madrid Declaration said only that the "necessary resources to meet the costs would be provided." NATO will initiate its own cost study for release before the ministerial meeting in December.

 

Russian Discontent

Despite the signing of the NATO-Russian Founding Act, which is intended to ease Moscow's anxieties over enlargement, Russia still resents the process and vehemently opposes any NATO invitations to former Soviet republics. Russian aversion to the Madrid summit was clear from the outset, as President Boris Yeltsin declined to attend and sent his deputy prime minister, Valery Serov, in his place. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov reportedly characterized NATO's eastward expansion as "the biggest mistake in Europe since World War II."

NATO's expansion may have already further diminished the prospects of Russian ratification of START II. Prior to the summit, influential Russian policy-makers Aleksei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Duma's Defense Committee, and Ivan Rybkin, head of Yeltsin's Security Council, both warned that NATO expansion would stiffen the resolve and strengthen the hand of Russian nationalists and communists in the Duma who oppose START II. As NATO conventional superiority grows and extends eastward, Russian officials have said that Moscow may be forced to rely increasingly on nuclear weapons for security.

Yeltsin said consideration of the Baltic states would be "dangerous." Two Russian deputy foreign ministers, Alexander Avdeyev and Nikolai Afansyevsky, said, according to Russian news sources (Izvestia and Rossiyskiye Vesti respectively), that Baltic membership in NATO would force Russia to reevaluate its relations with NATO. European leaders, including Chirac and Kohl, have attempted to minimize talk of including the Baltic states in the next round for fear of antagonizing Russia.

 

Rising U.S. Domestic Debate

In addition to bickering allies and displeased Russians, President Clinton also found himself confronted with the prospects of a more contentious debate than expected in the United States over NATO expansion. A bipartisan group of 20 senators, including Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) sent Clinton a June 25 letter posing 10 questions regarding expansion which they felt he should answer for the American people. The following day, 50 prominent foreign policy experts and former congressmen released an open letter to the president calling expansion a "policy error of historic proportions."(See NATO Letter)

Both letters expressed similar concerns with respect to expansion, including the predominant fear that NATO expansion would draw a new dividing line in Europe and prove to be more exclusive than inclusive. The letters questioned the effect of alliance enlargement on Russian domestic and foreign policy and whether expansion would reinforce current Russian intransigence on arms control issues, such as the ratification of START II. Another major concern was that expansion would require an overextension of American commitments and resources to Europe at a time when resources are contracting and domestic political mood calls for fiscal restraint.

Reflecting the mounting cost debate, the House of Representatives on July 25 voted unanimously (4140) to instruct its negotiators in conference committee on the fiscal year 1998 defense authorization bill to retain an amendment sponsored by Barney Frank (D-MA), that would limit the total U.S. cost for NATO expansion to $2 billion or 10 percent of the grand total, whichever is lower. In past bills, the House and Senate voted strongly in favor of expansion, but the endorsement of the Frank amendment suggests that support has budgetary limitations.