Select Committee on Defence Ninth Report

5   NATO enlargement

Enlargement and the Bucharest Summit

168. NATO has long maintained an "open door" policy on enlargement of the Alliance. Under the terms of Article 10 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, any European country in a position to uphold the principles of the Treaty and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area is eligible to become a member of the Alliance when invited to do so unanimously by the existing member states. Since the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, there have been five separate rounds of NATO enlargement: Greece and Turkey in 1952; West Germany in 1955; Spain in 1982; the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999; and, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004.[201] The 1999 and 2004 enlargements have witnessed numerous counties of the former Soviet bloc become full members of the NATO Alliance. The fifth round of NATO enlargement, in 2004, is unlikely to be the last. At present, three countries—Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia—are members of NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), designed to assist aspiring partner countries meet NATO standards and prepare for possible future membership. Beyond those countries, Georgia is particularly eager to become part of the Alliance and has expressed the hope that it will be granted a MAP at the Bucharest Summit. Ukraine too has signalled its desire to be considered for a MAP in 2008. NATO also has an extensive range of partner countries throughout Europe and beyond, some of whom are keen to join the Alliance in the longer term. Further afield, NATO has a network of global partnerships with nations including Australia, New Zealand and Japan which have committed troops to the NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

169. Within NATO, there is now a debate on which countries should join the Alliance and whether the Alliance is approaching the outer limits of membership. There is, in some quarters, a concern that NATO is putting itself at risk by becoming overextended or taking in countries whose governments do not necessarily share its liberal democratic values. There are suggestions that some existing NATO members are suffering from enlargement fatigue, displaying scepticism about matters such as the value of further enlargement, the contributions new members make to the common defence, and the pace of reforms in those countries after joining NATO.

170. At the Riga Summit in November 2006, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, NATO did not launch any new membership initiative. No new members were admitted to the Alliance and no Membership Action Plans were granted. The Bucharest Summit is likely to be different. The Alliance will decide whether to admit Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and will also consider Georgia's application for a MAP. The MoD has stated in evidence that inviting new members to join the Alliance, on condition they meet certain performance-based criteria, will be one of the UK's priorities at the Summit. Although enlargement is unlikely to be the most important issue at Bucharest, it is likely to feature prominently on the agenda. Whatever decisions are taken at the Summit on further enlargement of the Alliance, they are likely to indicate NATO's enduring commitment to the open door policy.

171. Membership of the Alliance within the North Atlantic area should continue to be based on the ability of applicant countries to meet NATO's performance-based membership criteria rather than the imposition, by the Alliance, of arbitrary territorial boundaries. Welcoming new members at the Bucharest Summit, or granting Membership Action Plans to those who meet NATO's criteria, would be a powerful signal that the Alliance remains committed to its open door policy.

172. We call upon the Government to state clearly, in advance of the Bucharest Summit, which countries it intends to support in their applications for full membership of NATO and for Membership Action Plans.

Previous enlargements

173. We asked the witnesses to our inquiry about the impact of previous rounds of NATO enlargement and the contribution made by new members of the Alliance. Our witnesses agreed that previous enlargements had been a success. Sir Paul Lever, a former UK Ambassador to Germany, told us in evidence that the new Central and Eastern European members of NATO had "performed rather well" since joining the Alliance. He argued that "they have been good loyal members; they have shown a lot of solidarity and contributed militarily within their still modest but improving military capabilities".[202] Many of the newer members of the Alliance had demonstrated their willingness to contribute to Alliance operations and had committed troops to Afghanistan. Unlike some Western European nations, these countries have, by and large, deployed their forces without the imposition of national caveats and some of the restrictions upon their use were lifted at the Riga Summit. Similarly, Dr Webber argued that "most of the new entrants into NATO have shown a…willingness to go off on NATO missions", even if they had bought less in terms of their economic contribution.[203] Dr Eyal maintained that the newer members of NATO had been "scrupulous in their commitments" to the Alliance.[204]

174. The argument that the countries which had joined the Alliance since the end of the Cold War had made an important contribution to NATO was endorsed by the Secretary of State for Defence, who told us that:

    Many of these smaller countries who have come into membership of NATO from the disaggregated Soviet Union or Eastern European countries are becoming valued allies and are making a great contribution. Proportionately to their ability they are making an increasingly greater contribution and they are using that process for the transformation of their own military capabilities, and I think that is a very good thing.[205]

175. Previous rounds of Alliance expansion had also had a transformational and defence diplomacy effect, promoting internal democratic reforms and reforms of the armed forces in new or applicant countries. Dr Webber maintained that "NATO's strength historically has been to pacify its membership…part and parcel of enlargement…is to continue with that process".[206] Dr Rob Dover maintained that enlargement had succeeded in promoting "security sector reform" throughout Eastern Europe since it "allowed Western European governments to influence governance structures of those countries, which can only be seen as a good thing".[207]

176. Previous enlargements of NATO have made an essential contribution to the development of stability and democracy in Europe. Many of NATO's newer members have made significant contributions to Alliance operations and are improving their military capabilities. Equally importantly, enlargement to date has played an important role in extending and embedding democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

The prospects for further enlargement

177. The further enlargement of NATO depends in large part on the ability of candidate countries to meet the criteria for membership laid down by the Alliance. A study on enlargement, carried out by NATO in 1995, considered the merits of admitting new members and the process for bringing them into the Alliance. It concluded that enlargement would contribute to enhanced stability and security for all countries in the Euro-Atlantic area by encouraging and supporting democratic reforms, including the establishment of civilian and democratic control over military forces; fostering patterns and habits of cooperation, consultation and consensus-building characteristic of relations among members of the Alliance; and promoting good-neighbourly relations. It also concluded that enlargement would increase transparency in defence planning and military budgets, thereby reinforcing confidence among states, and would reinforce the overall tendency toward closer integration and cooperation in Europe. In terms of the mechanics of entry into the Alliance, the study emphasised that countries seeking membership would have to demonstrate that they had fulfilled certain specific requirements. The Intensified Dialogue process aimed to provide these countries with concrete information regarding their rights and obligations as they proceeded towards full NATO membership. According to the study, any country wishing to join the Alliance would have to meet the following key requirements:

178. The Membership Action Plan, which follows the process of Intensified Dialogue, gives substance to NATO's commitment to keep its door open to new countries. According to the MoD, it provides "a programme of advice, assistance and practical support designed to help countries within to join the Alliance in their preparations for potential membership and in their drive to meet NATO standards".[209] The main features of the MAP are:

  • the submission by aspiring members of individual annual national programmes on their preparations for possible future membership, covering political, economic, defence, resource, security and legal aspects;
  • a focused and candid feedback mechanism on aspirant countries' progress on their programmes that includes both political and technical advice;
  • a clearing-house to help co-ordinate assistance by NATO and by member states to aspirant countries in the defence/military field; and
  • a defence planning approach for aspirants which includes elaboration and review of agreed planning targets.[210]

179. We asked the Secretary of State for Defence what the prospects were for a further enlargement of the Alliance. Mr Browne told us that "within the North Atlantic geographic area…European countries that meet the criteria for membership of NATO should be allowed membership of NATO because that is what NATO was set up to do".[211] He argued that "the countries who meet NATO's performance-based standards and are willing to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security, assuming they have gone through the process of Intensified Dialogue and then into the Membership Action Plan, should be allowed to join NATO".[212]

180. We asked our other witnesses whether they believed it was feasible for NATO to expand further, in effect whether NATO had reached the outer limits of membership. Our witnesses argued that, at present, further expansion of the Alliance was realistic, though there were some practical limits about how far, and into which areas, NATO should seek to expand. Dr Eyal maintained that "we have not reached the outer limits [of membership]". He maintained that he was not convinced by the argument put forward by some commentators which suggested that NATO was suffering from "indigestion" from previous enlargements. According to Dr Eyal, it was the older members of NATO, "old Europe", which were creating problems within the Alliance; new members had made a very positive contribution.[213] Dr Webber agreed, saying that in the long term it was feasible that Sweden and Finland could join the Alliance and that it was "inevitable" that Albania, Croatia and Macedonia would join.[214] Beyond this, however, some of our witnessed believed expansion of NATO could prove difficult and perhaps even undesirable. According to Dr Webber, Dr Dover and Mr Grant, it was questionable whether Georgia and Ukraine should be considered for NATO membership. Mr Grant, in particular, argued that "I certainly do not believe we should encourage Georgia" and that admitting Ukraine could be interpreted by Russia as an aggressive move by NATO.[215]


181. In a memorandum to our inquiry, the MoD states that Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are due decisions on their applications to join NATO at the Bucharest Summit. The MoD maintains that "Croatia is in a strong position, and remains on course to meet the requirements for NATO membership, with public opinion now around the 50% mark in favour of joining NATO".[216] It noted that support for NATO in Albania was high and that membership of the Alliance was a key priority for the country. However, its membership would be determined by its performance in making "sustained progress against organised crime and corruption". As far as Macedonia was concerned, the MoD said that the NATO Allies would "want to see sustained progress…on reform up until the Summit".[217] Ultimately, if those countries met the performance-based criteria outlined by NATO in their Membership Action Plans, the Alliance should be prepared to accept them. The performance of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia in meeting the criteria for NATO membership will be assessed at the Bucharest Summit. Providing they meet those criteria there is no reason why they should not be admitted into the Alliance.


182. One of the key decisions facing the Alliance at the Bucharest Summit will be whether to grant Georgia a Membership Action Plan, the first significant step on the path to eventual membership of NATO. Both the Georgian population and the Georgian government support the bid for NATO membership. When we visited Tbilisi in October 2007 we heard that 80% of the population were in favour of Georgia joining NATO. We were told that NATO membership was a key foreign policy priority and that Georgia believed that membership of the Alliance would help to secure its young democracy, stabilise its position in the region, and allow it to assume its proper place in the European family of nations. In our meetings with Georgian ministers and officials, we heard that Georgia was committed to undertaking the reforms necessary to secure membership of the Alliance, both strengthening its democratic institutions and reforming, and democratising control over, its armed forces. We were told that Georgia believed it was on-track to meet the criteria for a MAP laid down by the Alliance; it had successfully completed its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) and had been part of the Intensified Dialogue since September 2006. We also heard that it expected its friends—the US, the UK and the Baltic states in particular—to support its request to be granted a MAP at the Summit. The United States has been a vocal supporter of Georgian membership of the Alliance. In July 2005, President Bush endorsed Georgia's NATO aspirations and in January 2007, the US Congress adopted a bill expressing its support.

183. Recent political unrest in Georgia, however, has thrown that country's aspirations into doubt. In November 2007, shortly after our visit to Tbilisi, the Georgian government violently dispersed a peaceful opposition rally, imposed a state of emergency, and closed down an independent television and radio broadcaster. The Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, agreed under domestic and international pressure to hold snap elections, 18 months earlier than scheduled. The elections, held in early January 2008, were won by President Saakashvili who attained 53% of the vote. According to international observers, the elections were for the most part free and fair. The fact that the international community has endorsed the election results has given Georgia renewed hope for being granted a MAP at the Bucharest Summit. However, a number of Western European countries are believed to be opposed to early admission of Georgia to the path towards NATO membership.

184. Georgia's NATO aspirations are also likely to depend upon its ability to make a contribution to Alliance capabilities. In October 2007, shortly before our own visit to Georgia, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Tbilisi and warned that "more than ever, NATO is a performance-based organisation, which is making very serious demands of its members". He noted that "any further progress in [Georgia-NATO] relations will depend on Georgia being able to demonstrate that it is capable [of meeting] these commitments".[218] Following the political turmoil in Georgia in November 2007, Mr de Hoop Scheffer warned that President Saakashvili's actions were "not in line with Euro-Atlantic values".[219]

185. For NATO, there are potential advantages and disadvantages in granting Georgia a MAP at the Bucharest Summit. It could help to consolidate Tbilisi's commitment to democracy and encourage further democratic reforms. If Georgia emerges in future as a successful democratic state, this would have a major, positive influence on other parts of the region. Georgia is a major energy transit country hosting the only oil pipeline to the West which bypasses Russia. Georgian membership of NATO could, therefore, contribute to the broader strategic objective of ensuring energy security in Europe. Moreover, Georgia had already proven its commitment to NATO's expeditionary future, committing troops to Afghanistan, reforming and training its armed forces, boosting its defence budget, and increasing significantly its military capabilities. There is also the possibility that participation in a MAP would discourage Georgia from seeking a military solution to the unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, granting Georgia a MAP at a time when the strength of its commitment to democracy is open to question remains a concern for many NATO members. In its brief post-Soviet history, Georgia has never had a peaceful, democratic change of government. There is also the risk that NATO would, in effect, assume responsibility for resolving Georgia's internal territorial disputes which, in turn, could destabilise NATO's relationship with Russia. This is particularly problematic given Russia's threat to recognise Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence in light of Western recognition of Kosovo.

186. The unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia significantly complicate Georgia's bid for NATO membership. There seems little doubt that Georgia's enthusiasm for joining NATO is fuelled, at least in part, by its desire to protect its territorial integrity, particularly since Georgia alleges that Russia is actively backing the secessionist forces in both areas. Many Western European nations argue that the internal conflicts should be resolved and Georgian-Russian relations normalised before NATO grants Georgia a MAP. However, as we heard when we visited Georgia, Alliance insistence upon the resolution of the conflicts prior to the grant of a MAP would, in effect, hand Russia a veto on Georgian membership of NATO.

187. We asked Andrew Mathewson, Director of Policy for International Organisations at the MoD, whether the unresolved conflicts would prevent Georgia securing a MAP at the Bucharest Summit. Mr Mathewson told us that there was "no guarantee that Georgia will be given the MAP at Bucharest" and that, in any case, "the MAP process itself is open-ended; it will take as long as it takes". He acknowledged that "the fact of the frozen conflicts is a factor. It is a factor that NATO has to take into account openly without going as far as handing Russia a veto on Georgian membership".[220]

188. On that basis, we asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK intended to support Georgia's application for a Membership Action Plan at the Bucharest Summit. Mr Browne told us that the Government had not yet conducted an assessment of Georgia's performance against the criteria for being granted a MAP. Hugh Powell, Head of Security Policy at the FCO, stated that the process of assessing Georgia's performance would be undertaken some time in February or March 2008. Only after that process had been concluded would the UK be in a position to state whether it intended to support Georgia's application. Nevertheless, in evidence to us, the MoD states that "the UK continues to support Georgia's long-term Euro-Atlantic aspirations".[221] The Secretary of State added that "my view about Georgia, or indeed any other country, is that countries who meet NATO's performance-based standards [and] are willing to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security ought to be able to aspire to membership".[222]

189. Georgia's ambitions for joining NATO will depend upon its performance in meeting the Alliance's criteria for participation in a Membership Action Plan. Although we are not in a position to judge for ourselves whether Georgia currently meets those criteria, we support, in principle, its long-term ambition to join the Alliance.

190. Before joining NATO, Georgia must demonstrate clearly and unambiguously the strength of its commitment to democracy and further democratic and political reform. It must also work to resolve the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, though much depends on the willingness of Russia to play a constructive role. For NATO, there are real and legitimate concerns about admitting a country with unresolved conflicts within its borders. But if NATO insists upon the resolution of the conflicts before Georgia is allowed to join NATO, this will effectively hand Russia a veto over Georgian membership of the Alliance.


191. Although Georgia's bid for membership of NATO is inherently complex, the prospect of Ukrainian membership of the Alliance is an altogether more contentious and difficult issue both for the Alliance and for Ukraine itself. Following the Orange Revolution of 2004, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko signalled his desire for Ukraine to join NATO. Eager to embrace its apparent turn to the West, the Alliance granted Ukraine Intensified Dialogue with NATO, having earlier accepted Ukraine into the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme. In advance of the Bucharest Summit, the Ukrainian Government has written to the NATO Secretary General requesting "positive decisions" on a Membership Action Plan.

192. The prospects for Ukrainian membership of NATO, however, are deeply unclear. As we heard in evidence, the population of Ukraine remains firmly and overwhelmingly opposed to NATO membership. Charles Grant told us that unlike in Georgia, where there was widespread popular support for NATO, in Ukraine there was no appetite to join the Alliance. Polls suggested that a mere 10 to 20 percent of the population were in favour of Ukraine's membership of NATO. The lack of popular support for NATO membership in Ukraine contrasts starkly with the overwhelming popular support demonstrated in countries which have joined the Alliance since the end of the Cold War. In evidence to us, Professor Michael Cox argued that NATO enlargement in the 1990s had occurred "not simply from external pressure, but by demand". Expansion was "demand driven" and "came about by demand from democratic and newly elected governments".[223] In Ukraine, that demand is largely absent. In addition, Dr Webber maintained that Ukraine, in his opinion like Georgia, was "very far from the criteria" for membership. As a result, he believed it was "extremely unlikely that Ukraine and Georgia will join [NATO]".[224]

193. The prospects for Ukrainian membership is also complicated by the depth of the country's relationship, and cultural bonds, with Russia. Mr Grant argued that attempts to bring Ukraine into NATO would, in all likelihood, cause real difficulties in the Alliance's relationship with Russia. While Mr Grant noted that "I do not believe we should kowtow to the Russians or give in to them when they growl at us", he argued that Ukraine was culturally and historically Russian and that talk of bringing Ukraine into the Alliance was premature and might prove counterproductive:

    We must recognise, as any brief knowledge of Russian history will tell you, that Ukraine is the kernel of Russian civilisation. More practically, the Russian defence industry is partly based in Ukraine. Ukraine's armed forces are pretty bound up in Russia's own military structures. It is a fact that Russians do not regard Ukraine as a foreign country.[225]

Mr Grant concluded that, "psychologically, given the paranoia that genuinely does pervade Russian ruling circles, it would be seen as a very aggressive move to take Ukraine into NATO".[226]

194. In evidence to us, the MoD states that the Ukraine was currently participating in an Intensified Dialogue on its aspirations for joining NATO. Asked whether the Government supported Ukrainian membership of the Alliance, the MoD stated "the UK continues to support Ukraine's progression on the path towards eventual membership".[227]

195. Although Ukraine has indicated its desire to be considered for a Membership Action Plan, it seems highly unlikely that NATO will decide to make such an offer at the Bucharest Summit. The Ukrainian population is, at best, seriously divided on joining NATO and, at worst, opposed. For NATO to accept as a new member a country whose population did not support such membership would in our judgement exacerbate the problems considered earlier in this report. While in principle, if Ukraine demonstrates its commitment to the principles of the Alliance and fulfils the criteria for membership outlined by NATO, the Alliance should consider an application for membership, that application should in the longer term be determined only after great weight has been given to the wishes of the people of Ukraine.

The future of the Alliance's open door policy

196. Witnesses to our inquiry argued that provided prospective members of NATO brought with them a capacity to contribute to the Alliance, they should be considered for full membership. Martin Wolf, senior columnist for the Financial Times, acknowledged that further enlargement would bring difficulties but noted that previous enlargement in Central and Eastern Europe had been successful and had added capabilities to the Alliance. Further expansion to the Ukraine would also bring capabilities, though "it would also raise huge difficulties". In principle, Mr Wolf argued that there was no problem with further expansion of the Alliance, but he warned "I am a bit concerned about adding countries that increase obligations but not capabilities".[228]

197. Dr Williams expressed concern that expansion of NATO might undermine its ability to transform itself into the expeditionary and capable Alliance its members wanted. He argued that the problem of adding new countries like Macedonia, Croatia and Albania to NATO was that "these new countries make it more difficult to achieve consensus, which makes it harder to use NATO as an expeditionary force".[229] Dr Williams maintained that "whilst the stabilising factor of expansion benefits British interests, it also limits any ambitions that the Alliance can be used in an expeditionary capacity".[230] He further argued that "even when new members are willing to act abroad in an expeditionary campaign, they lack the resources to do so". He argued that "even states such as Poland or the Czech Republic, which are trying to transform their forces, for the time being, offer little support to Alliance capability".[231]

198. The Secretary of State for Defence, however, pointed to the longer-term benefits that maintaining the open door policy would bring, particularly in terms of encouraging democratic reform and promoting stability. Mr Browne told us:

    The question is whether the process of holding out [the offer of] membership of NATO, or indeed the European Union, encourages these countries along the path of development of good governance and the rest of the conditionality we would apply to it—the resolution of internal conflict, stability, security, the treatment of their own citizens, the rule of law—and whether all of these are in the best interests of Europe and indeed the United Kingdom, and in my view it has been.[232]

199. NATO should continue to be open to the acceptance of new members in the Euro-Atlantic area. The promise of NATO membership provides the Alliance with a means of encouraging countries on its borders to embrace internal democratic reform and the reform of their armed forces; it is a powerful tool of defence diplomacy. However, it is important that as new members join the Alliance they bring with them additional capabilities or, at the least, a commitment that would add to NATO's capabilities in future. New members cannot only be consumers of security; they must also contribute to the common defence.

200. Membership of NATO should continue to be performance-based; if a country meets the criteria for membership, it should be permitted to join. We believe it is essential that NATO's open door policy is maintained on this basis. Ending the Alliance's open door policy on membership is not in the interests of the Alliance itself or European stability as a whole. Signalling that the Alliance has reached its outer limits, or ruling out further expansion, would consign those countries left outside NATO's borders to an uncertain future, potentially creating instability on the Alliance's Eastern fringes. Perpetuating this instability is not in the interests of any member of the NATO Alliance.

NATO Partnerships

Partnership for Peace

201. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) process was set up in 1994 as a means of developing individual programmes of practical defence and security cooperation. Its aims are to promote transparency in defence planning and budgeting and democratic control of the military, and to develop the capacity for joint activity between NATO and the partner countries in peace-keeping and other operations. The Partnership Framework Document includes the commitment by the Allies to consult bilaterally with any partner country which fears a direct threat to its territory, its political independence or its security. The PfP works on the basis of individual Partnership Programmes between NATO and partner countries tailored to each country's needs and interests.

202. Participation in the Partnership for Peace is, for some countries, a precursor to the process of membership but it is said to be equally valuable in its own right in increasing stability and strengthening NATO's relationships with countries which border, or are strategically important to, its territory. The current PfP members are listed in Annex C.

Mediterranean Dialogue

203. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 as a means of engaging the countries of the southern Mediterranean and promoting good relations with, and between, them. Six countries initially joined: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Algeria followed in 2000. The seven countries participate in a range of activities, including courses at NATO colleges on issues such as peace-keeping, arms control and civil-military cooperation in military planning. The southern Mediterranean region faces instability from a number of sources, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, fundamentalism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The region is also strategically important to the members of NATO and to global energy security because of its geographic location.

The NATO-Russia Council

204. NATO-Russia relations formally began in 1991, when Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997), a forum created to foster transparency and dialogue with the countries of the former Soviet Union after the end of the Cold War. Russia joined the Partnership for Peace in 1994, paving the way for more practical cooperation and, in 1996, Russia deployed a major contingent to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

205. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security provided the formal basis for NATO-Russia relations and led to the development of a bilateral programme of consultation and cooperation under the Permanent Joint Council (PJC). However, lingering Cold War tensions prevented the PJC from achieving its potential. Differences over the Kosovo air campaign also impacted on relations. However, Russia played a notable diplomatic role in resolving the Kosovo crisis and deployed peacekeepers to support the Kosovo Force in June 1999. From 1999, NATO-Russia relations began to improve significantly.

206. In 2002, the relationship was given new impetus and substance with the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council. The decision to establish the NRC was taken in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, which reinforced the need for coordinated action to respond to common threats. It demonstrated the shared resolve of NATO member states and Russia to work more closely together towards the common goal of building a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic Area—a goal which was first expressed in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

207. Since 2002, the relationship between NATO and Russia is difficult and has been plagued by deep disagreements over a wide range of policy issues, including NATO enlargement and Russia's stalling democratic process. NATO-Russia relations on smaller, pragmatic issues such as counter-terrorism remain relatively strong, but it appears that political goals are drifting further apart. Given Russia's continued possession of a large nuclear arsenal, its vast energy resources, and increasing assertiveness, the relationship between NATO and Russia is of huge significance to the Alliance. Cooperation with Russia is desirable, but, at present, the signs are not encouraging.

Global partnerships

208. All NATO countries recognise the enormous contributions that non-NATO allies have made to Alliance-led operations in recent years. The presence of Australian, New Zealand and Japanese forces in Afghanistan is one positive example of such cooperation. What NATO cannot seem to agree on, however, is the best way to reward and further strengthen its relationship with these and other like-minded countries. As with the enlargement issue, there are two distinct points of view: those who favour a strengthened global partnership programme with formal structures and clearly defined parameters, and others who fundamentally reject the idea because of the difficulty of managing such partnerships and the increased political role it would require the Alliance to adopt. Whether progress can be made at the Bucharest Summit in resolving these issues is unclear.

209. NATO operations in Afghanistan are the first the Alliance has conducted outside the Euro-Atlantic area. They represent a commitment by the NATO Allies to project stability on the periphery of the Alliance and beyond. In tackling the sources of insecurity at root, NATO has gone some way to recognising that its interests are global in nature. This underscores the importance of building and maintaining an intensive and cooperative network of global partnerships.

210. NATO should continue to work closely with nations beyond its borders and should work to enhance further its relationships with Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Formalising the relationship between NATO and these countries is desirable, but this need not involve full membership of the Alliance. Extending full NATO membership beyond the Euro-Atlantic area carries distinct risks; there is a danger it could dilute the coherence of the Alliance, create yet more questions about its role and purpose, or complicate decision-making. However, NATO should continue to embrace the concept of global partnerships and seek to intensify cooperation with like-minded allies.

201   NATO Handbook, 2006, p 183 Back

202   Q 59 Back

203   Q 112 Back

204   Q 111 Back

205   Q 264 Back

206   Q 112 Back

207   Q 59 Back

208   NATO website ( Back

209   Ev 162 Back

210   Ibid Back

211   Q 253 Back

212   Q 261 Back

213   Q 111 Back

214   Q 112 Back

215   Q 62 Back

216   Ev 162 Back

217   Ibid Back

218   Speech by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, 4 October 2007, NATO website ( Back

219   Comments by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, 8 November 2007, NATO website ( Back

220   Q 272 Back

221   Ev 163 Back

222   Q 254 Back

223   Q 113 Back

224   Q 112 Back

225   Q 62 Back

226   Q 62 Back

227   Ev 163 Back

228   Q 22 Back

229   Ev 103 Back

230   Ibid Back

231   Ev 103 Back

232   Q 264 Back

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