Welcome to this afternoon’s hearing on the timely and important issue of NATO enlargement and the Bucharest summit.
In approximately one month from now, leaders of the 26 countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - NATO - will be meeting in Bucharest, Romania, to look for ways to ensure security in the 21st century.
NATO is an alliance born in the Cold War. NATO, however, has found a role meeting the challenges of the post-Cold War world. We have seen that with the peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. We see it today in Afghanistan.
The Bucharest Summit will address the many ongoing and emerging threats to the security of its members. Obviously, the challenges that the International Security Assistance Force – ISAF - faces in Afghanistan will be a major focus of the summit participants. I understand that maritime situational awareness and cyber defense will also be high on the agenda, and there will be discussion of the missile defense project, the evolving situation in Kosovo and other current topics of importance.
While NATO adapts to change, it must change itself, and one way it has done so is to extend its cooperation and membership to like-minded countries in Europe. This process has been in play from the beginning, but it took on a whole new dimension since the end of the Cold War. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were invited to join at the Madrid Summit in 1997. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were invited at the Prague summit five years later, in 2002.
In Bucharest, three new countries may be invited to join the alliance: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia. The summit may also decide to extend Membership Action Plans or MAPs to Ukraine and Georgia.
NATO enlargement is something that has a lot of support in principle. Like the other issues addressed in Bucharest, however, enlargement is not without its controversy and disagreements when it gets down to the specifics, and all of the issues on the agenda can get mixed together in the effort to achieve a consensus view. Despite the best efforts of diplomats, little is certain.
Our hearing today, fortunately, is much simpler. From a Helsinki Commission perspective, a key ingredient to common security is shared values regarding democracy and human rights. Our hearing today will focus on just that, the degree to which five potential members of the NATO alliance – three near-term and two long-term -- have transformed their policies and institutions in order to join what is viewed as an alliance of democracies. That is, in our view, an important consideration, just as much so as their prospective contribution of military and other resources to a common defense is.
No matter what our affinities for any of these countries, we must be sure they are ready to take the next step and seek improvements if they are not. That is in our own national interest, but it is also to the benefit of the citizens of these countries as well.
I’m very pleased to have with us today this panel of distinguished and expert witnesses to discuss this issue.
Dr. Michael Haltzel is a Senior Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Haltzel was a senior Senate staffer deeply involved in two previous rounds of NATO enlargement.
Mr. Janusz Bugajski is Director of the New European Democracies Project and Senior Fellow, Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He has testified before the Commission on several prior occasions.
Amb. Steven Pifer is a senior advisor with the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program. His 25-year Foreign Service career included assignments as Ambassador to Ukraine and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia.