The Further Enlargement of NATO: Looking for the Most Favourable among Bad Solutions?

  • Jiří Šedivý


In 1999 the first three post-communist states joined NATO, and at present another nine countries are applying for membership. The candidates hope that NATO will invite them to join in 2002. However, the present outlook for further expansion differs in many respects from that of the first wave. The majority of these differences suggest the expansion should not occur too soon. The decision to include the first wave was determined by the political ambitions of the Central European countries on the one hand, and the political concerns and interests of the NATO member states (especially the USA and Germany) on the other. Resolving technical issues connected with the modernization of the military forces and capabilities of the incoming members was of secondary importance.
At present the order of priorities is quite the opposite; the programs for improving and evaluating the technical preparedness of the candidates are more thoroughly developed than they were for the states of the first wave. The reasons for this are many: the present group of candidates is quite heterogeneous in respect to the levels of political, economic, and security development achieved by the individual countries. As a result, the aspirants have different prospects for accession. In addition, there are external factors-the various preferences of the individual NATO members, the disputed assessment of the first wave of expansion, the experience from the Kosovo Crisis, concerns about the stance of Russia, and certain tensions between Europe and the USA in regard to the European defense projects-which further complicate the situation.
The goal of this article is to analyze these differences and propose ways to reconcile them. The solution may be a combination of inviting the candidates en bloc (the so-called 'big bang') and establishing individual timetables.

Author Biography

Jiří Šedivý



Research Articles