Statement by European NATO parliamentarians

02.12.2014. 19:09

NATO Enlargement - for a bold move forward during the next round in 2002
A European parliamentary initiative
drafted by Markus Meckel,
MP - Vice President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly

11 December 2001

The horrific terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 have not only hit New York and Washington but shaken the free world. Tools of modern everyday life such as civilian aircraft, the stock exchange or the internet have been turned into deadly weapons and used against us. Although we are still struggling to fully understand the consequences, we all know that those attacks will fundamentally change our thinking on security. We need to consider developing new instruments and institutions to master the new challenges to our common security.

NATO has risen to the challenge. All European allies pledged their support for the United States. The Alliance has invoked article five of the Washington treaty for the first time making the terrorist attacks a matter of "collective defense". Beyond the immediate response to the attack we will have to rethink how to create security for our peoples in the future. NATO will play a key role in mastering the new threats to our common security but it may have to adapt to the changing security situation.

NATO has already begun to adapt over the past decade by opening up to new members and to the new missions of peacekeeping and peacemaking. Apart from a response to the threat of terrorism the next round of enlargement will be on the agenda of the alliance next year. And we would like to keep the enlargement process on track despite the enormous attention the immediate crisis draws to the first issue.

The "velvet revolutions" that swept across Eastern Europe in 1989/90 opened the way to creating a "Europe whole and free". Ever since the reformist countries have been striving to join Western institutions, in particular the European Union and NATO. After the fall of the Berlin Wall parliamentarians took the lead in inviting their colleagues from the new democracies to participate in the deliberations of the North-Atlantic Assembly and were at the forefront of opening the alliance.

When Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic became NATO members in March 1999 it was an important step along the path of creating an undivided, democratic and stable Europe. NATO has extended the realm of peace and stability in Europe. The alliance was strengthened by the accession of the new members. They have supported NATO's strong stance during the Kosovo conflict and among others contributed to SFOR and KFOR peace-keeping operations.

NATO's heads of state and government are going to evaluate whether the nine officially recognized candidates Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and aspiring candidate Croatia are prepared for membership. They will find that all candidate countries have seen progress in meeting the targets of the "Membership Action Plan" (MAP) since 1999, though to varying degrees.

We welcome that the heads of state and government firmly committed themselves to inviting new members next year at their Brussels meeting in June 2001. We hope that a courageous decision to enhance security in Europe will be taken and we advocate that the most advanced candidates should be invited to start negotiations on membership at the Summit in 2002. Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will have met the requirements by 2002. All five have successfully transformed into stable democratic and free market societies. They have embraced civilian control of their armed forces, made significant investments to increase their defense budgets and modernize their forces. They have participated in international peace-keeping operations and demonstrated their ability to operate with allied forces under NATO standards.

Next year's decision must not lead to a de-coupling of Romania and Bulgaria from the integration process. They have made significant progress and played a key role in supporting the stabilisation of Southeast Europe and the fight against terrorism. They must have a binding perspective for joining NATO, whenever they meet NATO's requirements.

We are aware that many wonder whether the idea of NATO membership for the Baltic States shouldn't be postponed or abandoned considering Russian opposition. However, we are convinced that the integration of the Baltic States in the EU and NATO will ensure long-term stability for Russia on its Western border. A prudent Russian leadership will recognize this. It's an encouraging sign that President Putin has toned down criticism of NATO enlargement in recent months and stated that he is willing to put NATO-Russia relations on a new footing. All three Baltic states are pursuing policies towards Russia aimed at reconciliation, a relaxation of tensions, and cooperation. In keeping with the principles of the OSCE and the Charter of Paris President Putin has acknowledged that the Baltic states are free to choose to which alliance for collective defense they want to belong to.

Upon NATO's advice the three Baltic states have tried to provide for their security in the framework of common institutions. They have pooled their resources and formed joint military units, airspace surveillance, and military procurement projects. Tearing these institutions apart by inviting them to join in a piecemeal manner would be counterproductive. Treating them differently could be misinterpreted by Russia as horse trading and might lead to a destabilization of those left outside.

There will be no new dividing lines in Europe. NATO remains open to any European democracy willing to join and meeting the requirements of membership. We need to demonstrate our interest in strengthening relations with Russia by expanding support for economic reforms and by engaging in more practical cooperation under the NATO-Russia Founding Act. Joint initiatives could focus on disarmament, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating international terrorism, resolving regional conflicts, research and development projects for the peaceful use of outer space. We should try to reach a consensus on how to deal with the threat of ballistic missles. The terrorist attacks on the U.S. have highlighted how important cooperation with Russia is. Russia is the key partner in providing stability and security in Europe - and beyond. Unequivocal Russian support for the international coalition on countering terrorism holds out the prospect of more intensive cooperation in the future. President Putin signaled during his recent trip to NATO and during the summit with U.S. President Bush that he is willing to dramatically improve NATO-Russia relations. Thus, we should consider arrangements for more binding and long-term cooperation, including decision-making on joint action as envisaged by the Founding Act on a case-by-case basis.

Transparency and predictability are two key features of security. Thus, the Alliance should set a date for a future round of enlargement no later than 2005. This would provide candidates not invited next year with a clear perspective for carrying out future reforms. It would inform others about our intention to maintain the momentum.

Providing for the security of the free and democratic societies in the Euro-Atlantic area is NATO's key task. We have to rethink how the free world can be safeguarded against the new threat of terrorism and how negative side-effects of globalization can be limited without compromising our basic principles. But there is also reason for hope on the horizon. The alliance is attracting new members. The process of integration is strengthening the transatlantic community, a community based on the shared values of freedom, human rights, democracy, rule of law and prosperity for all. NATO leaders are called to take a courageous decision to make our community more comprehensive and to respond to the new terrorist threat in 2002. We are committed to making next year's NATO Summit a success.

List of Signatories

Mihaly Balla, MP, Vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian National Assembly, Head of the Delegation to NATO PA;

Dr. Czeslaw Bielecki, former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Sejm and Head of the Polish delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly;

Klaus Francke, member of the German Delegation to NATO PA;

Prof. Dr. Bronislaw Geremek, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland;

Florian Gerster, Minister of State for Labour and Social Relations, Family and Health for the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, Head of the German Federal Council Delegation to NATO PA;

Jan Hoekema, MP of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of NATO Parliamentary Assembly;

Ulrich Irmer, Spokesman of the FDP on the Foreign Affairs' Committee of the German Bundestag;

Karl Lamers, Spokesman of the CDU/CSU on the Foreign Affairs' Committee of the German Bundestag;

Jon Lilletun, Leader of the Christian Democratic Parliamentary Group, member of the Norwegian Delegation to NATO PA;

Jozef Oleksy, Chairman of the European Committee of the Polish Sejm;

Tomas Ingi Olrich, chairman of the Icelandic Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and chairman of Althingi's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs;

Manfred Opel, Deputy Spokesman of the SPD in the German Bundestag on Security Policy;

Prof. Longin H. Pastusiak, Marshall of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, Vice-President of the Socialist Group in NATO Parliamentary Assembly;

Dr. Friedbert Pfluger, Chairman of the EU Committee of the German Bundestag

Alfred Recours, member of the French National Assembly;

Christian Schmidt, Spokesman of the CSU on Security and Foreign Policy in the German Bundestag;

Volkmar Schultz, Chairman of the German-American Parliamentary Group;

Michael Zantovsky, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Czech Senate;

Martin Zijlstra, MP of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, member of NATO Parliamentary Assembly;

Peter Zumkley, Spokesman of the SPD on the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transatlantic Defense and Security Cooperation of NATO PA