Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by Michael MccGwire on the Future of NATO

  There appears to be a consensus within NATO officialdom and among European members of the alliance that following the accession of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in April 1999, there should be a moratorium on further invitations.

  Such a policy, providing time for digestion, restructuring and evaluation, can be supported by almost all parties to the debate. Many of the strongest proponents of enlargement urge caution at this stage, as do most governments.

  The adoption of such a policy at the Washington Summit is threatened by the US political process. For their different reasons, the hard line Republicans in Congress and the White House favour further invitations.

  The danger lies in the White House tactic of making unilateral statements about future membership, which take on the garb of irrevocable NATO commitments.

  To counter this threat requires that pre-emptive statements on the need for a moratorium be placed on record by European members and publicised internationally, preferably before the end of the year. The following example is worded to attract maximum support from both sides of the debate.

    "At the NATO Summit in April 1999, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will be confirmed as members of the alliance.

    Even though there is a certain logic to their membership in geopolitical and strategic terms, to incorporate these former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO's evolving mission structure will require significant adaptation by all parties.

    The last five years has been a time of continual change for NATO: PfP, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the push for enlargement, the Dayton accords (and Kosovo), the Founding Act with Russia, joint operations with `partnership' forces, and now the new Strategic Concept.

    There is a pressing need for time to digest these structural developments, to analyse the growing body of experience and to consider how best to move ahead.

    It is also clear that enlargement beyond NATO's newly created eastern border will involve political complications of a different order to those encountered to date.

    In the period leading up to the April Summit, it is important that all NATO members should avoid any statements, collective or individual, that imply that the alliance is committed to further enlargement at this juncture in time."

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Prepared 13 April 1999