Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
October 31, 2002
The Enlargement of NATO
Why should NATO enlarge and how will it benefit the United States?
U.S. security today requires us to look closely at NATO, which is already the strongest security Alliance in history, and find ways to make it even stronger. To confront and eliminate such global threats as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we must ally with countries that share our values and act effectively with us. Since the end of the Cold War, Europe's newest democracies have proven themselves as able partners, whether securing stability in the Balkans or fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. The enlargement of NATO will cement these benefits for the United States and its Allies, making the whole of NATO much stronger than the sum of the capabilities of individual members. NATO enlargement will help to enhance the political and economic stability for all countries in the Euro-Atlantic area. By helping Europe's newer democracies as they strengthen good governance, rule of law, and human rights, NATO will also facilitate a better long-term environment for American trade and investment.
The Membership Action Plan (MAP) was created in April 1999 to help candidate countries to prepare themselves for membership in the Alliance. Under MAP, aspirants adopt an Annual National Program (ANP) that sets objectives and specific benchmarks for reform that will strengthen their country's candidacy. The ANP reforms encompass a broad range of issues, including anti-corruption measures, protections for classified information, and establishment of coherent National Military Strategies. Aspirants receive practical and technical support from NATO, which regularly assesses their progress.
How much will enlargement cost the United States?
The total cost for the last enlargement is estimated at $1.5 billion over ten years; of this, the U.S. share is $400 million. The present round of enlargement is expected to carry similar costs, with greater benefits, as the previous round in 1999. That round of enlargement reduced the U.S. share of NATO's budget and the costs of its Balkan operations.
Which countries are candidates for membership in this round of NATO enlargement?
There are nine "aspirant" or candidate countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
How will new members contribute to the defense of the Alliance? Have Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary made meaningful contributions?
Through their strong and unwavering support for the anti-terrorism coalition and assistance in bringing stability to Bosnia and Kosovo, current aspirants have already shown they can make positive contributions to NATO operations. They have clearly demonstrated their willingness and ability to participate in the work of the Alliance.
The three newest allies have sent troops to the Balkans, Afghanistan, and other peacekeeping operations. They have also made excellent progress in building their capabilities and thus their contribution to common defense.
Will NATO's further expansion eastward alarm Russia?
Russia, through the newly established NATO-Russia Council, is now a partner with NATO in addressing mutual security concerns. Cooperation extends to a broad range of issues, including peacekeeping, non-proliferation, emergency planning; and civil aviation. NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia. That said, Russia has no veto over Alliance decisions, including those regarding membership.
What will happen to countries that are not invited to join in this round?
NATO is committed to an open door policy: any European democracy that is willing and able to contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area can become a member of the Alliance. Enlargement is not a new phenomenon but an ongoing process, as illustrated by previous rounds of enlargement: Turkey and Greece in 1952, Germany in 1955, Spain in 1982, and the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999. Those countries not selected will continue to participate in MAP and work towards future membership.
Released on November 12, 2002