The New NATO

James Appathurai
Senior Planning Officer, Political Affairs Division, NATO

October 4, 2000

Four issues are important for understanding where NATO is today and the directions in which it plans to go in the future. These four issues are its missions in Southeast Europe (the Balkans); its plans for enlargement; its relationship with Russia; and its transatlantic relationship, primarily between the United States and Europe.

NATO's decision to intervene in the Balkans focused on two interrelated objectives, humanitarian intervention and regional stabilization. NATO operations in Kosovo have sought to establish a stable security environment for all Kosovar citizens. NATO faces two challenges in achieving this objective. First, violent "flash-points" in Kosovo, specifically the town of Mitrovica and the borders around Kosovo, need to be neutralized in order to achieve an atmosphere of security. Second, a culture of law and order needs to be fostered in the region. This includes developing a legal system with judges, lawyers and police forces to justly prosecute criminals. In order to meet these challenges, NATO is working in coordination with civilian organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to name a few.

NATO operations in Bosnia have helped to improve the security and stability of this new state. In the past five years, multiethnic institutions have continued to progress including the creation of one government, one passport, one currency, one bank and even a multiethnic Olympic team at the recent summer Olympics in Australia. The major challenges in Bosnia's future include reducing corruption in the country and giving a full sense of ownership of the state back to the Bosnian people. These objectives are being met with safe and fair elections in the country and the revitalization of Bosnia's economy--but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Overall, NATO strives to promote stability within Kosovo and Bosnia, as part of a larger effort to promote integration throughout the region. Two initiatives have been taken to achieve this overall goal. The first, sponsored by the EU, is the Stability Pact. The Stability Pact seeks to support political institutions, economic cooperation, and technical assistance within the region. The second, sponsored by NATO, is the Southeast Europe Initiative. The Southeast Europe Initiative focuses on cooperative security in the region including joint training operations, military transparency, and overall confidence building between states in the Balkans.

The second issue, NATO enlargement, is focused on 2002, when NATO's leaders will consider further invitations. The logic of NATO enlargement has evolved, from its initial expansion through the end of the Cold War. Three rationales have been used to explain NATO enlargement. First, Article 10 of NATO's Charter states that all free and democratic countries that want to join and can contribute to NATO are entitled to apply. The second rationale is based on a promise made to certain countries during the Cold War, that once freed from the Warsaw Pact, NATO would look favorably on their membership. These first two logics were used with the admission of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into NATO, as was a third rationale, namely to break down definitively the Cold War dividing line.

The fourth logic of NATO enlargement is that the process has a stabilizing effect in Europe. In order for a country to qualify for inclusion into NATO it must have fair treatment of its minorities, healthy civil-military relations, and be free of border disputes with its neighbors. The process of application, therefore, encourages states to get their domestic affairs in order, which in turn strengthens the overall stability of the region. Furthermore, by keeping an open door policy, NATO encourages additional states to become more democratic, thus creating a more stable political and security environment in Europe.

The third issue is NATO's relationship with Russia. Healthy relations with Russia are essential to European-Atlantic security. This is because security issues such as peacekeeping, nuclear non-proliferation, terrorism, crisis management, and forced migration are best addressed in concert with Russia. In 1997, NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations. The future challenges for NATO/Russian relations include mitigating disagreements about NATO enlargement, and reducing differing perceptions of how best to achieve regional security.

The fourth issue facing NATO is the transatlantic relationship, primarily between the United States and Europe. NATO's Cold War function focused on the external threat of the Soviet Union to transatlantic states. Since the Cold War, NATO's purpose has changed; there is no longer an external threat. Furthermore, the status of Europe has changed since the beginning of the Cold War. Europe is now economically and politically strong. The time has come, therefore, for Europe to contribute more to its own security and rely less on the military power of the United States. In attempting to meet this challenge, the EU has begun to develop its own cooperative military power with the proposed objective of being able to deploy 60,000 troops within 60 days of request and to be able to sustain those troops in the field for one year. In addition, the EU is planning to have some 300 combat aircraft ready for deployment and a naval task-group of about 15-18 frigates. The EU hopes to reach these objectives by 2003.

NATO supports the EU's bid for a collective military force for several reasons. First, European nations need to contribute more military power to NATO. This will avoid divisive political squabbles during crises over the deployment and cost of NATO military operations. Second, the United States cannot engage in every European crisis. The EU, therefore, needs its own military power in order to offer it a third option apart from US and NATO military power. Moreover, NATO is prepared to support the EU as it builds up its military capabilities, giving it time to grow strong.

In order to help the EU achieve this goal, NATO will do the following. First, NATO will continue to keep open and clear communication with all regional organizations including the EU. Second, NATO will seek to ensure NATO countries not in the EU are not left out of the dialogue. And third, NATO will seek to ensure that the EU's political objectives can be met by its capabilities as a security organization.

James Appathurai is the Senior Planning Officer of the Political Affairs Division of NATO. Mr. Apparthurai's previous experience includes work within the policy sphere of the Canadian Department of National Defense, in addition to experience in peacekeeping operations with Canadian forces.

Rapporteur: Heather Gregg

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