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THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY AND THE FABRIC OF NATO - THE NEW EUROPEAN DEMOCRACIES AND NATO ENLARGEMENT

SUB-COMMITTEE ON NATO ENLARGEMENT AND THE NEW DEMOCRACIES

Draft Special Report

Mr. Petre ROMAN (Romania)
Special Rapporteur


International Secretariat
21 October 1996
AN 246
PC/ED (96) 4
Original: English

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. PUBLIC OPINION AND THE ELITE IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: PROPENSITY FOR NATO ENLARGEMENT

  2. RUSSIA: AN INSEPARABLE PART OF EUROPE

  3. FREEZING THE SPRING? WHY ROMANIA SHOULD BE IN THE FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT

  4. REFLECTIONS OF A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE


INTRODUCTION

  1. The spirit of democracy means, above all, liberty of choice for human beings. Respect for others will and habits, tenacity and hard work in searching for happiness, arduous respect and defence of individual freedoms should be also added. Extending these features to the scale of human society means recognising the principles of plurality of opinions and the freedom to express them, respect for democratically-elected institutions, the market economy, as well as displaying responsible behaviour in the international arena, etc. Considered from the intellectual, moral or emotional point of view, democracy, in both its individual and collective forms, is the main engine of the eternal human striving for justice and prosperity.

  2. It is the Rapporteur's firm conviction that all of these features can be found in the fabric of NATO. It is an Alliance which unites nations faithful to democracy as a system and in which the consensus principle reflects not only freedom of choice but also equality and respect for others will. It is an Alliance whose functioning serves to defend, enhance and demand more democracy. It is an Alliance which could exist only based on the bedrock of democracy, and extending it means enlarging the scope of democracy. It is an Alliance which ensures, of course, the collective defence or common security of its members, but first of all it implies the certitude of existing democracy.

  3. Entering such an Alliance means undertaking that certitude and being a contributor to the development of this remarkable achievement of human civilisation: liberal democracy.

I. PUBLIC OPINION AND THE ELITE IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: PROPENSITY FOR NATO ENLARGEMENT

  1. In the aftermath of the breakdown of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and subsequently the implosion of the former Soviet Union in 1991, the geopolitical landscape in Europe has considerably changed. Thus, the withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces from the former socialist states and the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation have created a new geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. Westward of this region there is a powerful Alliance which has proved its cohesion during the Cold War era facing the threat of communist expansion. In the East resides a vast area of turbulence which evolved in the processes of the Soviet Union's disintegration, and of state-building in the newly-independent republics. Moreover, in this area the new democracies have embarked upon a huge transformation process, not experienced historically up to now, of destroying communist structures and creating new ones in the political, economic and social domains.

  2. The process of confidence-building between the West and the emerging European democracies evolved steadily and vigorously after the 1989 revolutions. The Rapporteur believes it is time to proclaim that the rite of passage binding the imposed, undemocratic past of the Central European nations to the foreseeable democratic future has a lot of importance. The terms Go quickly or go slowly do not automatically promise rapid or smooth success. The results appear among many complications, some of them infectious, like the intolerant fear and suspicion towards the "new strangers" and/or "old predators". On the contrary, democracy and free initiative remain, above all their imperfections, too peaceful and beautiful to be wasted in undeserved nostalgia and blind regrets.

  3. In this moment, for the entire Central and Eastern European region the need for a security umbrella in order to ensure stability and the fluency of the transitional process has become imperative. The only solution is NATO membership, the Western Alliance itself striving to redefine itself and determine new roles and strategies.

  4. It is beyond question that after enlargement NATO will continue the process of reform begun several years ago. This transformation was needed by NATO in order to accommodate itself to the changing circumstances of the post-Cold War era, to avoid the fate of the WTO doomed to dissolve itself in 1991. Consequently, in NATO's life intervened changes in strategy-conducting out-of-area operations like the current one in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the organisation of its forces - planning the formation of the Combined Joint Task Forces, or in the relations with former enemies that have become present-day partners - setting up the North Atlantic Co-operation Council and the Partnership for Peace. In the aftermath of enlargement obviously this transformation process will keep going and presumably it will develop more rapidly in order to absorb new members without weakening the Alliance. It can be said that this absorption has already begun with the candidate states having to reach interoperability and standardisation objectives and being periodically checked on in this respect.

  5. The opinion of the candidate states in Central Europe is that the transformation of NATO must proceed along with the overall strategy of the Alliance becoming the main political and military instrument for ensuring security in Europe. This task means shaping new political bodies for coping with the challenges of the future (and having more than twenty full-fledged members, security treaties with Russia and possibly with Ukraine), reorganising the command structures in order to face new military threats (local conflicts, intra-state crises, etc), and preparing military forces able to act instantly and effectively in any emergency situation, even in a distant corner of Europe.

  6. NATO enlargement is not only a question of decision for the members of the Alliance or of political will of the leadership in the new democracies of Central Europe, but also a request of the public opinion in the candidate countries. Recent polls developed in these countries have shown that public opinion acts for continuously shaping the above-mentioned political will and concomitantly acts like a surveyor of the attitude of the political establishment in this regard. Figures show between almost 45% in the Slovak Republic and more than 80% in Romania or Poland in favour of full-fledged NATO membership. This trend has two remarkable features for the region as a whole. Firstly, the public opinion s trend of being favourable to NATO has remained unchanged in the last years, in spite of the twists of high politics in the international system (the fierce opposition of Russia and the efforts of the West to comply with it). Secondly, in all these polls the number of "Yeses" for NATO membership is invariably higher among the young people. This feature is a reason of hope and confidence: hope for fulfilling the task of joining NATO, and confidence that the future of these countries will not accept hegemony, spheres of influence or other evils of the distant as well as recent past. It is a tremendous task of the new elites of the emerging democracies in Central Europe to capitalise on this orientation of the young generation to attain the aim of being a part of the world of stability and prosperity. Needless to say, the convictions of the younger generation will shape the future of these countries and will have more and more weight in elections, that is, in rejecting the conservative, reactionary forces. Furthermore, we can hardly accept that for these young people the reason for saying Yes to NATO is "fear of Russia".

  7. Among the new elites of the emerging democracies in Central Europe there is a firm conviction that only through NATO membership is it possible to overcome quickly the burden of transition and to ensure the future of democracy in their countries. Positive economic consequences could be expected also from the very fact of NATO enlargement in the countries of Central Europe. Beyond the climate of security and stability which is beneficial for pursuing growing economic activity, foreign investment would discover the region as one of the surest places in the world, and that will speed up the transition, economic recovery and take-off of the countries. This way the consolidation of democracy would be easier and faster. As a matter of fact that conviction reflects the mood of public opinion, fulfilling the requirement of political consensus between leadership and society.

  8. The origins for this firm belief are obvious. Firstly, the fear of the "fall back to the past" - the eventual recovery of the conservative political forces - induces the necessity of finding a shelter for avoiding the nightmare. Secondly, NATO membership is seen not only as a security umbrella, but in some cases, first and foremost, as a tool for modernisation of the entire society, meaning in fact brotherhood with the most developed nations of the world. Thirdly, from a historical point of view this important step is destined to unite these countries with the West and to ensure that such a liaison is on the path of no return. Last, but not least, there is a process of maintenance of stability and prosperity all over Europe, which is claiming NATO membership of these countries, and this continental-wide interest is clearly realised.

  9. Seizing upon this demonstrable truth, the whole request of NATO enlargement is made legitimate and reasonable.

II. RUSSIA: AN INSEPARABLE PART OF EUROPE

  1. The presence on the continent of American interests and forces is essential for the successful development of the process and, concomitantly, for the maintenance of the Alliance itself. As was demonstrated three times in this century - during WWI, WWII and the Cold War - the American physical presence has been crucial for the security of Europe, for avoiding the hegemony of a single power which would have endangered the stability of the Northern hemisphere. This lesson of the past has been assimilated on both sides of the Atlantic and, consequently, the presence of US troops on the soil of the Old world has become a natural thing for the long-term future. The new democracies learned this lesson rapidly and they became the most vocal supporters of the ongoing presence of the USA on the continent. Logically, the NATO membership candidate states must favour such a reality due to the fact that, otherwise, the Alliance itself would become irrelevant. The new democracies could not ask to become fully-fledged members without assuming that this multilateral body is a quintessential vehicle of US interests and presence in Europe. This logic is leading us to affirm that, in this regard, the new democracies are the best allies of the United States in Europe without being, of course, the enemies of a European identity in security and foreign policy matters. The Rapporteur does not see any potential risk of dissension and overlapping of powers since the EU security structure represents the "European pillar of NATO".

  2. Another essential prerequisite for NATO enlargement is to be fully aware that Russia has been and will continue to be a sine qua non part of the European architecture of security. Beginning with the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Russia is a constitutive part of Europe and nothing could be done on the continent without it in terms of security. As we all know, Russia is strongly opposing NATO enlargement, albeit being at the same time a participant in the Partnership for Peace Programme.

  3. By opposing NATO enlargement, Russia is, in a way, opposing Europe. Recently, a conference was held in Moscow, co-organised by American and Russian political institutions, to discuss the "old divisions and the new bridges" between the Central European states and Russia. The central issue of the conference quickly became NATO enlargement, and it appeared that the representatives from the United States along with Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia voiced a united message in order to convince a resolutely opposing attitude of the Russian colleagues. We did not use words to conceal thoughts rather than express them because we felt there that our future was at present rather unsettled.

  4. It is necessary to explain and persuade Moscow that NATO enlargement is in Russia's interest as well - for the contribution it makes to spreading democracy and stability to the borders of Russia - and that Russia's opposition is projecting a new division of Europe which could harm especially the promoter of such a division. One powerful argument in convincing Russia is to clearly point out the fact that without Russia - or, moreover, against it - a viable European security architecture would be impossible to build.

  5. Is it possible to extend NATO eastward and concomitantly preserve Russia as a major actor in European security? This is a question that has to be answered not only by the West but by the new democracies of Central Europe as well.

  6. It was pointed out both in the West and in the candidate countries that Russia has no right of VETO upon NATO enlargement, and by opposing this process it isolates itself from Europe, dividing again the continent and triggering a "cold peace". Recently, during the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to countries of Central Europe this stance was promoted courageously by the latter. But at the same time in these countries there is a strong conviction that Russia could not be excluded from Europe, that it is necessary to undertake wise steps in order to ensure Russia's presence in the new security architecture of the continent. This conviction comes from many centuries of historical experience which has made clear the fact that it is better having Russia inside rather than outside Europe. On the same lines of thought, different authorities of NATO or political personalities in the West have expressed their concerns as regards leaving Russia outside the process of managing security on the continent, and they have underlined the idea that a treaty between this huge country and NATO has become a necessity.

  7. When the challenge is to establish a NATO-Russia partnership, talk is about co- operation and not interference. Preaching this co-operation means increasing the efficiency of security efforts through the common-sense use of the resources of both sides. It seems that for Russia it is still hard to accept, and yet how comforting should be the gradual realisation that the universal enemy might become at last a friend.

  8. Two remarks should be made regarding the NATO-Russia treaty. Firstly, due to both Russian claims of its traditional interests in Central Europe and the fact that this treaty is destined to smooth Moscow s hostility to NATO enlargement in that area, we consider that in one way or another the candidate countries should have a place at the negotiating table of that treaty. That very fact would articulate more clearly their desire to join NATO and similarly would persuade Russia that NATO enlargement is not a joint hostile move of the Western and Central European countries. Secondly, a treaty with Russia is not enough for European security. The stance of Ukraine in these matters is of critical importance due to its location and size and generally due to its geopolitical significance. The Rapporteur believes that having Ukraine as a major actor of the European security system is of equal importance to including Russia. Consequently, a peculiar liaison between NATO and Ukraine (a treaty?) is necessary for promoting NATO enlargement and avoiding new division lines on the continent.

  9. Another consideration is that by convincing Russia that NATO enlargement is in its own interest too it would equally be obliged to stop promoting its own model of European security: namely to base the new security architecture on the OSCE, subordinating other institutions - including NATO and the Tashkent Treaty - to this body, and to form a Security Council in Europe shaped on the same pattern as the UN Security Council or on the Contact Group for former Yugoslavia.

III. FREEZING THE SPRING? WHY ROMANIA SHOULD BE IN THE FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT

  1. As we all know, a large debate has developed around the order of admission of the candidate states in the Alliance. Here there are various points of departure: the geopolitical necessity of separating Germany and Russia, such that avoiding the roots of future conflicts in the region implies the admission of the Visegrad group countries in the first wave; the principle of territorial continuity requires firstly Czech and Polish adherence, albeit Hungary and the Slovak Republic being connected in the case that the previous two would not be members, with the questionable neutrality of Austria and rather impossible neutrality of Romania under some strain from the ambivalence of the Bulgarian attitude; to overcome the hostility of Russia, enlargement should be limited to the Czech Republic, as only this country is within the range of 1,500 km away from Russia's border, as admitted recently by Moscow; various political lobbies in the US Congress support an order of admission strongly related to the ethnic constituencies in that country; etc.

  2. Contrary to the wave theory - validated indeed by the September 1995 official "Study on NATO Enlargement" (chapter VI) - is the bloc admission of all former WTO members from Central Europe. Here we encounter a strange question: Does this theory actually represent a veto upon NATO enlargement? To answer this question, we should take into account the hopes and fears of the candidate states: the hopes of all these countries for reaching earlier the benefits of NATO membership, fears that the first wave will be the last one. Of course, we cannot exclude a hidden reason behind this theory, but primarily it reflects the will of the new democracies to enter faster under the security umbrella that would protect them from Russian neo-imperialism.

  3. The Rapporteur would advance some reasons to induce the members of the Alliance to avoid a discriminatory NATO enlargement. Firstly, mention should be made of the huge frustration that would be felt by public opinion within those countries left apart. There is a large expectation horizon among the public opinion in the new democracies concerning NATO enlargement, especially among the young (recent Gallup polls showed that, for example, in Romania 95% of the population is in favour of adherence to the Alliance). This feeling of frustration will surely produce political consequences that would strengthen the conservative appeal, inventing and exploiting the theme of a new Western treason (a new Yalta). The freezing of the spring could be predicted, that is, the freezing of the political, economic and social transformations triggered in 1989-1990. Secondly, geopolitically NATO enlargement without including Romania, for example, would preserve the Russian, at least, droit de regard over the Black Sea and would jeopardise the new course not only in Romania, but also, and especially, in the Ukraine. Maintaining this "aquatorium" outside the larger international context would reduce it to a neo-"red" Black Sea.

  4. Moreover, and more importantly, the selective enlargement of NATO would produce, for the first time in modern history, a division of Central Europe and, thus, endanger the security of the whole continent. Europe could not afford the division of its central region in terms of security without producing a long-lasting division and reviving spheres of influence.

  5. This potential division would also rob the new elite countries left apart - political, military and managerial - of their identities. The overall process of modernisation would be jeopardised. We could witness the revival of the confrontational way of thinking. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to avoid the emergence of a "no man's land" in Central Europe which would invariably gravitate eastward in the end. In short, partial, limited NATO enlargement in Central and Eastern Europe and generating liberal democracy are at irrevocable odds.

  6. Here the Rapporteur would like to make some reflections regarding the specific situation of Romania facing these two theories of admission. Why is Bucharest assiduously asking to be included in the first wave of NATO enlargement? What are the Romanian assets in this respect? It is not only that Romania is arduously seeking to be among the first who will join NATO - and she behaved accordingly in 1994 as the first to join the Partnership for Peace - but she expresses confidence in reaching this aim. This behaviour derives from the unmistakable feeling that time is running out, since Russia will recover before the second NATO enlargement wave can take place. At this point it is worth mentioning the Russian political and diplomatic offensive against NATO enlargement. Also of importance is the feeling that being left for the second wave means being condemned to a possible VETO submitted by a country which entered the first wave. This feeling cannot be understood without profound appreciation for the history of the region, a history of waves of hate and contest, of cycles of war and peace which disappear only when democracy is truly reigning in all of these countries. The Rapporteur expressed his opinion on the subject during the debate which took place in Budapest at the Spring Session of our Assembly last year, after the address of the Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn: "Romania and Hungary are set to become NATO members simultaneously". It is the firm conviction of Romania that she can be a real security generator on the continent and that she will belong to the privileged group of countries that will form the first wave of NATO enlargement. The recent signing and expected ratification of the Treaty between Romania and Hungary is another argument for the simultaneous admission of both countries into NATO. Separating them again for the purposes of NATO membership would drive a new wedge between them and defeat the very purposes of the historic Treaty they just signed after five years of painstaking efforts.

  7. Romania has important trumps on which her requests are founded. Strategically, Romania undoubtedly has the stature of the pivotal state in the region, forming a stronghold of stability in the huge space between the Baltic and the Black Seas. Romania also has an important economic, demographic, and other potential, second only to Poland. In Central Europe, it is beyond any doubt that Romania is needed by NATO to extend stability and security further to the East, and Romania risks becoming the first target of retaliatory measures by the party/parties opposing NATO enlargement. Politically, Romania could be a link between the enlarged NATO and the geopolitical area of the former Soviet Union in the new security architecture of the Eurasian space. Finally, - belonging to both Central Europe and South-Eastern Europe - Romania links the flanks of the region between the Baltic and the Aegean Seas and between the Black and the Adriatic Seas. As the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia has shown, any policy of containment of would-be conflicts in this region is out of the question without Romania.

IV. REFLECTIONS OF A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

  1. Romania is a part of the new direction international politics took after the downfall of communism. Namely, the Rapporteur is referring to the open and democratic mutual understanding among the nations and countries and the respect for partners, irrespective of their power status or military forces. Romania is striving incessantly for adhering to the democratic, developed and prosperous world, and therein lies the fundamental reason why Bucharest is asking for non-selective NATO enlargement and is rejecting neutrality and the theory of Alliance admission waves.

  2. The so-called neutrality solution, in fact vested isolation and suspicion, does not indicate the necessary guarantees for maintaining it while assuming that Romania could alone pretend to be neutral. In other words, according to this view we expect to get guarantees all the same for our national security but to give nothing in return, which is not realistic.

  3. The Rapporteur wishes to present two perspectives concerning the wave admission theory. Firstly, accepting it would mean agreeing to enlarge the gap between the countries of the primary wave and the others due to the dynamic of this process. Now, the differences among various candidates are negligible but, in a wave admission context case, such differences would develop dramatically and jeopardise the overall process of enlargement. In such a case, for the Romanian nation the well known legend of Dracula would acquire dramatic new connotations. The non-admission into NATO in the first wave would be a sort of "Draculisation" of Romania in the eyes of its nation.

  4. In view of the coming elections this year, as a presidential candidate, the Rapporteur would like to turn to the task of enhancing the authority of Romania's aspiration to NATO membership through its internal democratic development. After the December 1989 Revolution Romanians felt a sense of triumph: freedom was at last in their hands, not only in their hearts. Freedom paved, immediately and without hesitation, the road to democracy. The paradox inherent in democracy, however, is that it must create and depend on citizens who are free, autonomous and self-reliant - qualities which were the most endangered and repressed under communist rule.

  5. How modern Pericles' summary of the qualities necessary for a democratic statesman suddenly appeared: to know what must be done and to be able to explain it; to love one's country and to be incorruptible". These same qualities are needed by the leaders of our own fragile and emerging democracy.

  6. Undefeated traits of mentality and residual elements of so-called real socialism should not interfere with the newly-planted roots of democratic society. While too many people are still suffering as much, and sometimes more, as they suffered in the previous regime, the Rapporteur can see only one way of maintaining the positive accelerating dynamics needed: raise hope in the hearts of those who lost it too quickly in the period following the successful anti-Communist revolution. Designing and building a new and normal society is Romania's paramount vision beyond the necessary and tenacious efforts devoted to controlling the multiple uncertainties which inevitably accompany the transition process.

  7. For too many years Romanians were excluded from the area of democracy. Even without knowing exactly how beneficial they were, Romanians lost the main opportunities offered to the free countries by the great economic, social and technological changes which took place in the West. Uniting their destiny with that of the Western European countries is their goal. Nothing can guarantee Romania's success save their own will and national effort. Such efforts will, however, come to naught without NATO's enlightened solidarity.

CONCLUSION

  1. To conclude this paper devoted to Central Europe's new democracies' perceptions concerning NATO enlargement, the Rapporteur would like to single out two key words. They spring largely from his analysis of Romania's situation in this respect, but he is convinced that they can be applied also to other candidates accordingly.

  2. Bitterness will cover the dreaded non-enlargement of NATO towards Central Europe. The Alliance s inability or unwillingness to expand eastwards will seal the fate of the new democracies, deflecting them from the way of unending effort in completing economic transition and avoiding authoritarian, or even totalitarian, temptations. Without a firm umbrella of security, the new democracies may fail to reach economic prosperity as a bedrock for democracy, thus inviting ancient expansionist dreams always present in the region. Needless to say, in such a case the security of the entire continent would be jeopardised, with Central Europe being connected equally to both parts of Europe and creating a new division line within it.

  3. Failure is the key word for delaying NATO enlargement. Since in this way the transition inside the new democracies and, implicitly, the suffering of the population will be expanded in time, dashing the expectations fostered by the crush of communism, and will also affect Western Europe.

  4. The Western democratic vision for a more stable and prosperous world is becoming reality through tireless regular efforts of the leaders and nations of the emerging European democracies working more and more within the Euro-Atlantic institutions. The Rapporteur reflects that the words of P.D.James about love fit well with the reborn passion and devotion for democracy of the new European leaders: "The moment of (their) affirmation had been both a fulfilment and a promise, not the end of searching but the beginning of discovery".