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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2002 > June

NATO Enlargement

Robert A. Bradtke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Europe
Washington, DC
June 19, 2002

(As Prepared)

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee: I would like to begin by thanking you and other members of the International Relations Committee and the House for your strong and consistent support for NATO's enlargement. The International Relations Committee's support of the Freedom Consolidation Act last fall helped advance the debate on how bringing new members into NATO can strengthen the Alliance and promote American interests. It is in the spirit of wanting to continue our consultation and dialogue on NATO enlargement that I appear before you today.

In inviting me to testify, you asked that I address how the Administration views the process of enlargement and the progress of the candidate countries in preparing themselves to be invited to join NATO at the NATO Summit in Prague in November. To address these issues, Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a step back and first answer briefly another more basic, but very important question: What kind of Alliance do we want in the 21st Century?

The Administration believes that today we face new and grave threats, but NATO’s original and fundamental mission – to defend its members and deter attack on them – remains the same. As President Bush said last month in Berlin:

"NATO’s defining purpose -- our collective defense -- is as urgent as ever. America and Europe need each other to fight and win the war against global terror."

This means that we want as many allies as possible in the struggle against that those who would destroy our way of life and who would threaten us with terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We need allies who share our values, who will work with us to shut off terrorist financing, who will join us in diplomatic and political actions to promote security and stability, who will be vigilant about the export of sensitive technologies, and when necessary, who will go with us into battle.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, we have been discussing intensively with our Allies how NATO should adapt to the new threats we face. The United States has proposed that at the Summit in Prague, NATO’s leaders make the decisions that will prepare NATO for the 21st century. We want to put the enlargement of NATO in the broader context of what capabilities NATO needs and how to develop these capabilities, and how NATO can build new relationships with Russia, Ukraine, and other members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

This integrated vision of NATO in the 21st century was strongly endorsed by NATO’s Foreign Ministers when they met in May in Reykjavik. The Ministers agreed that in the world of new threats to our security, NATO needs:

-- new capabilities, such as strategic lift, precision-guided munitions, and secure communications, to enable NATO to carry out the full range of its missions and field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed;

-- new members, who demonstrate a commitment to the basic principles and values of the Washington Treaty and the capability to contribute to collective defense and the security of the Alliance; and,

-- new relationships, with Russia, Ukraine, and other members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, who will work with NATO in the common effort to promote security and stability.

New capabilities, new members, new relationships: this is the Prague Summit agenda, and this is the context for the decision that NATO’s leaders will make about which countries should be invited to join the Alliance.

Let me turn now more specifically to the process of enlargement. NATO has of course, enlarged several times in its past -- in fact four times previously: first Greece and Turkey in 1952, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955, and then Spain in 1982.

But when Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were invited to join NATO in 1997, it marked an historic first: inviting former members of the Warsaw Pact to join the Alliance. When these countries formally joined NATO at the Washington Summit in 1999, NATO’s leaders reflected upon the experience of the three new members, and recognized that preparing for NATO membership was a difficult task. They decided to create a tool to help aspirant countries to understand better what was expected and to prepare themselves better for membership. They created the Membership Action Plan or MAP.

In creating the MAP, NATO’s leaders acknowledged a basic fact about NATO: one size does not fit all. NATO’s membership is highly diverse, from the United States to Luxembourg, from Turkey to Iceland. When it comes to selecting new members, Article 10 of the Washington Treaty states only that:

"The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of the Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty."

So when they created the MAP in 1999, NATO’s leaders stated specifically that the MAP "cannot be considered as a list of criteria for membership." Instead, MAP is a tool to help countries prepare themselves. Each fall, under the MAP, aspirant countries develop an Annual National Program (or ANP) to set objectives and targets for reform. These reforms are focused in five key areas: political and economic development; defense and military issues; budgets; security of sensitive information; and legal issues. NATO reviews the Annual National Plans, and each Ally provides comment and feedback. In the spring, each aspirant meets with the North Atlantic Council in a "19 plus 1" format. The nine aspirants for this round of enlargement -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, and Macedonia -- just completed their third MAP cycle and have begun their fourth round of the MAP. In this MAP round, they will be joined by Croatia whose participation in the MAP was welcomed at the May NATO ministerial. However, Croatia will not be considered a candidate for this round of NATO enlargement.

In February, I visited all the MAP countries, as part of an inter-agency delegation, headed by Ambassador Burns, our Ambassador to NATO. In meetings with Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign and Defense Ministers, military officers, and parliamentarians, we stressed that NATO members would be asking themselves two basic questions in the weeks and months before Prague:

-- Can we be confident that a candidate's commitment to democracy and the support of Allied values and interests -- such as free market economy, rule of law, and human rights -- will be enduring? And

-- Will this candidate strengthen the Alliance’s ability to protect and promote its security, values, and interests?

We found that all nine countries have taken the MAP process seriously. The goal of NATO membership has helped their governments to propose and push for reforms, and the MAP has provided a clear focus for a critical dialogue between the Allies and aspirant countries. The success of the MAP is reflected in the real progress that all of the aspirants have made in addressing difficult and sensitive issues. They are demonstrating their commitment to real political and economic reform. They are all working hard to consolidate democracy and the rule of law, to strengthen judicial systems, to promote good relations with neighboring countries, to improve the treatment of minorities, and to privatize state enterprises.

To cite a few recent examples, Estonia and Latvia have done well on minority rights issues -- eliminating their language requirement for electoral candidates. Lithuania and Slovakia have worked with Jewish community representatives to address property restitution. Slovenia has taken steps to reduce the role of the state in its economy. Romania has moved ahead on funding for a national anti-corruption office. Bulgaria has adopted important legislation to strengthen export controls and ensure the protection of classified information. Albania has made significant advances in political reform and continues to boast the highest level of public support for NATO membership among the aspirants, and Macedonia has made progress in completing the legislative requirements associated with the Framework Agreement, including laws on election and equal rights and opportunity for all its citizens.

The aspirant countries are also undertaking the difficult tasks of reforming and restructuring their military and defense establishments, including strengthening their defense capabilities, as my colleague Deputy Assistant Secretary Brzezinski will describe in greater detail.

We have also seen a commitment by all of the aspirants to act as de facto allies, even before being invited to join NATO. After September 11, all of the aspirant countries opened their airspace and ports in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; many of them offered to send troops.

Bulgaria allowed the United States to base refueling aircraft on its territory, and has provided a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical decontamination unit to support the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. Romania, using its own air transport capability, has sent military police to Afghanistan, and the Romanian parliament recently authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have offered to deploy forces to the region as part of a Danish contingent. And, Slovakia will send an engineering unit to Kabul in August.

Other aspirant countries continue to make valued contributions to KFOR and SFOR in maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans. Macedonia and Albania have provided essential use of their territory and infrastructure to support NATO’s operations in Kosovo. And, Slovenia, which already provides troops to KFOR and SFOR, will deploy a motorized infantry company to SFOR this fall.

While the record of accomplishments and contributions by the aspirant countries, working with their Membership Action Plans, is impressive, all of the countries need to do more to prepare themselves to join the Alliance. None can afford to become complacent. Indeed, the process of reform will not and cannot end with Prague. The commitment to reform is one that will be needed after Prague, which is why NATO Foreign Ministers agreed at Reykjavik that the MAP should continue for countries invited at Prague until they formally join the Alliance. And as the current members of NATO know, the process of reform continues even after membership.

As we have told the aspirant countries, no NATO member is perfect, and we do not ask that the aspirant countries achieve perfection. Rather we are looking for the strongest possible commitment to dealing with problems, some of which are found in NATO countries themselves.

I would like to share with this Committee some of the areas that we have discussed with the aspirants as requiring more attention. (Again, my colleague, Mr. Brzezinski will address areas of military and defense reform.)

First is the problem of corruption, a particularly acute problem for many countries in transition, not just the NATO aspirants. Corruption’s highly corrosive effect on public confidence and trust can undermine democracy, which is essential to NATO membership. Corruption also opens the door to the influence of organized crime, and creates an environment in which NATO members cannot be confident that classified information will be protected. The aspirant countries need to strengthen their legal and judicial systems, toughen enforcement of existing laws, and put into place laws on conflict of interest and transparency of decision-making. It is not realistic to think that corruption can be completely eliminated from any country before Prague, but NATO Allies will need to see a strong degree of commitment at the highest levels of government to combating corruption and will need to be convinced that NATO secrets will be safe.

A second area of reform that we have stressed in our dialogue with the aspirants is the treatment of minorities. While the situation varies from country to country, history and conflict have left most of the aspirant countries with substantial groups that may be ethnically different, speak different languages, or practice different religious faiths. Intolerance is not a problem exclusive to the aspirant countries, but NATO Allies will look closely at how a government treats its own people, including groups such as the Roma and Sinta, and will want to be assured that the Alliance is not bringing ethnic conflict into NATO.

A third area that has featured in our dialogue with many of the aspirants is how governments treat their oppositions. There are few better indicators of the long- term strength of a democracy than the acceptance by a government of the legitimacy of opposition views. We have urged the aspirants to ensure that opposition parties have fair access to the media, and that opposition groups are not subjected to unfair pressures or tactics. We have encouraged open, honest, political debate, with a broad participation by all groups in a society as a demonstration of the fundamental strength of a democracy.

A fourth area of our dialogue with aspirant countries is dealing with the legacy of the past, including the issue of the Holocaust. Again, the situation varies from country to country, but we have urged all of the aspirant countries to be as positive and forthcoming as possible in addressing issues such as property restitution and educating their publics about the Holocaust. These issues are inevitably complicated, but the willingness of the aspirant countries to address the injustices of the past is a sign of how successful their democracies will be in the future.

Finally, another key area has been public support for NATO. We have told all the aspirant countries that membership in NATO brings with it serious commitments, commitments to fight for each other’s defense. The ability of NATO members to carry out these commitments and ensure that adequate resources are available to contribute to Alliance security rests upon public backing for NATO. So, we look upon public support as a sign of the aspirants' future ability to contribute to Alliance’s security, and we have encouraged all of the aspirants to build public support for NATO membership.

Mr. Chairman, as I have mentioned, all of the aspirants need to do more in these and other areas. Since we favor admission to NATO for as many of the candidates as are qualified and ready to assume the burdens of membership, we want to give the aspirants as much time as possible to prepare themselves and make their cases for an invitation. For that reason, the Administration plans to wait as long as possible to decide, in consultation with Congress, on which of the aspirant countries should be invited at Prague. This is also the reason why the Administration has resisted the "naming the names" of the countries we think will be invited, or expect to support. We believe that all nine aspirants should receive fair and careful consideration. We want to see the candidate countries work together, as they have in the Vilnius-10 and not compete or engage in some kind of "beauty contest."

The decision to invite new members, however, is not just a decision for the United States alone. The United States will have a voice, and a strong voice, but not the only voice within NATO on this issue. The United States and its Allies must come to a consensus on the candidates. I would not expect NATO’s selection process to be completed until the eve of the Prague Summit.

Once new members are invited at Prague, the Administration supports a straightforward enlargement and accession process. At the NATO ministerial in Reykjavik last month, the foreign ministers agreed that all invitees should accede on the same date before the next Summit. In common enlargement parlance, this means the Allies do not support "the regatta approach" of staggered accession. Or, as Secretary Powell has said, there will be "no purgatory" after Prague; Prague will not set new conditions to be met.

"Historic opportunity" is a term that has been used in conjunction with the coming Prague Summit and with this round of enlargement in particular. This is not an over statement. Developments, particularly over the past nine months, have created conditions that are even more favorable to NATO's enlargement. As President Bush said in Berlin:

"The expansion of NATO will also extend the security on the European continent, especially for nations that have known little peace or security in the last century. We have moved cautiously in this direction. Now we must act decisively."

To enable us to act decisively at Prague, as the President has urged, all of the candidate countries must undertake a renewed commitment to reform.

If you will allow me, Mr. Chairman, I would like to end on personal note. Over the course of my more than twenty-nine years in the Foreign Service, there are naturally some memories that stand out. I recall my first visit to Bucharest in 1979, and finding the grim conditions of daily life and repression under the Ceausescu dictatorship to be deeply depressing. I also recall a visit to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the winter of 1991. This was a time of great tension with Moscow, of Soviet troops ringing Vilnius’ TV towers, parliamentarians barricaded in their buildings, and new martyrs in the cause of freedom. The future appeared bleak in the Baltics, as it had appeared a decade earlier in Romania.

History, however, and the people of those countries proved us wrong. In recent months, I have returned to Bucharest, and Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius. I have seen changes that I could not have imagined on my earlier visits. That process of change is not complete; none of the aspirants is perfect. But as we try to measure how far the aspirant countries have to go, we cannot forget how far they have come. As we prepare over the next five months for Prague, I firmly believe in the wisdom of the words of President Bush in Warsaw when he said of NATO enlargement: "We should not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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