NATO Expansion: NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008

According to the official NATO internet resource, the definition of NATO is the following.

The North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on 4 April 1949 (“Welcome to NATO”, 2010).

The central idea of the North Atlantic Treaty defines the philosophy of organization and determines the main program of its actions.

In accordance with the document mentioned above, the Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security (North Atlantic Treaty Organization 2010).

The NATO programs of actions cover the various spheres of life and different aspects of human existence in order to keep peace and democracy on the Earth. The vast program of defence is worked out by NATO committee. This program stipulates the defending of states, NATO members against any aggression or an attempt to aggression from any terroristic organization or hostile country. Thus, any aggressive attack against even one NATO member is considered to be an aggression against everyone. Hereby, the support and brotherhood are considered to be key factors in interstate partnership. All 28 states which are the members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, remain sovereign countries. And every decision taken by NATO is based exceptionally on joint consensus. That means that if any NATO-decision is publicly announced, the collective opinion expression of democratic sovereign states is declared.

NATO mechanisms and main structures provide the pattern for collaboration with partner countries, which are part and parcel of the everyday Alliance activity.

The enlargement of NATO has been one of the most important events in post- Cold War international affairs, American foreign policy, and East European politics. Still, NATO leaders have maintained that expansion is an on-going process that entails the integration of additional East European states (Barany 2003).

The periodic opportunities for presidents and governments of member countries to estimate the situation and present the strategy of future actions permitting to resolve numeral problems and questions are NATO summits. The items on the summit meetings agenda take into account not only internal activities of the Organization, but consider the partnership development with external partners, which are not members of Alliance.

The NATO summit meeting in Bucharest in 2008 was an outstanding event in the history of Organization. This summit revealed the true picture of successful NATO expansion to the Eastern Europe. In 2008, by joint consensus of the Meeting Leaders three European countries became new members of this union: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.

Before the summit some critics tried to make prognosis as for results of meeting. Here is one of them.

Croatia and Macedonia were part of the former Yugoslavia, a communist state but one that kept the Soviet Union at arms’ length and had reasonably friendly relations with the West. Albania, also once a communist state during the Cold War, was for many years the most isolated country in Europe. With the collapse of Yugoslavia and the end of the Cold War, the countries put themselves on the path to democracy and a commitment to join western institutions. The three countries have aspirations to join the European Union as well as NATO. Albania and Macedonia are poor countries with few natural resources. The three candidate state, in the sense of their military importance and their general resources, would not represent a “strategic” presence in the alliance, although their consistent contributions to NATO operations have been lauded. However, Due to the continuing instability in the region, further stirred by Serbia’s and Russia’s sharply negative reaction to Kosovo’s independence, the three countries are a potential factor for stabilization in southeastern Europe. At the same time some allies believe that the three candidates’ membership in the alliance would provide greater stability to southeastern Europe, especially given thje recent independence of Kosovo and the enduring hostility to NATO of important political factions in Serbia (Gallis 2008).

Ukraine and Georgia were another two countries which felt the great impact from NATO and were longing for the membership.

Those two nations have met skepticism within the alliance. Citing the fear of upsetting relations with Russia, France on Tuesday joined Germany and other NATO allies who have indicated they would oppose invitations to Ukraine and Georgia (Myers 2008).

But as the practice showed, there appeared a divergent understanding of outcome of the 2008 NATO Leaders Meeting in Bucharest. There is a lot of reasons and explanations to such reaction. One of the main reasons to support the NATO enlargement is the possibility to obtain free markets and democracy as the basis for prosperity, international security and peace building.

Even president Clinton noted that NATO could “do for Europe’s East what it did for Europe’s West: prevent a return to local rivalries, strengthen democracy against future threats” and create the conditions for prosperity (Cambone 1997).

However, the expansion of NATO caused the non-adequate reaction.

The fear that NATO is evolving into a worldwide coalition of the willing, as such increasing polarisation and militarization in international affairs, sparked off protests at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels two weeks before the summit, and in Bucharest protesters targeted the renewed determination of NATO to use nuclear weapons and NATO’s backing of the US anti-missile shield (Pratiyogita Darpan 2008).

Also it encouraged some anti-Western political parties in Russia. This fact, of course, prevented Clinton’s Government and the Government of his successor to strengthen the democratic components in the political stage of Russia. Russia, by-turn, always was concerned about the safety of its territory and America’s possibility to threaten the Eastern European peace. Is it a pure irony or not, but only Baltic states were the countries which considered themselves to be victims of universal Russian imperialism. That is why their attitude to NATO expansion was always loyal.

In spite of the fact that the NATO enlargement was not a military decision, but a political one, Russia occupied wait-and-see attitude towards propositions and actions of NATO.

But immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Putin was the first foreign leader to call U.S. president George W. Bush and pledge his country’s cooperation in the unfolding war on terror. Following Putin’s declaration of solidarity with the United States, Bush solemnly proclaimed the dawn of a new era in U.S.-Russian relations, characterized by the revival of the “strategic partnership” between the two former Cold War rivals that had existed in the first glow of the post-Cold War world. Putin immediately welcomed this new characterization of the relationship and declared his hope for a continued rapprochement between Moscow and Washington (Mankoff 2009).

Returning to the question of NATO expansion, it should be mentioned that Russia will be no more as it was with Yeltsin. That is why west politicians must get used to cooperate with new, more powerful and confident state. Moreover, they should understand that only Russia and nobody else can choose how to build its own politics, economics, and social programs. At the mean time they ought to do everything they are able to do in order to encourage Russia’s conversion into strong stakeholder in the international stage, even sometimes ignoring their own values and interests. Also it is important for NATO and its members to make the expansion process effects less exploding on relations with Moscow. This means “being more explicit about the nature of the challenges NATO is designed to confront in the twenty-first century, and also beginning to take seriously Russian proposals for some kind of broader security pact (Mankoff 2009).

In spite of recognition of Russia’s influence and importance in the interstate relations, the further process of NATO expansion should not be stopped just because of Moscow willingness. Countries, the former members of Soviet Union have complete sovereignty enough to make independent decisions. They have the full right to construct the policy orientation based on their own preferences and reasonable choices.

NATO’s relationship with the next most significant independent country, formed by a former Soviet Union republic, Ukraine, has been of an entirely different character than that with Russia. Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons deployed on its territory by the Soviet Union in return for Western financial assistance and the tacit promise of acceptance into the Western community of nations (Sloan 2005).

The only country in south Caucasus that has been a serious candidate for NATO membership in response to its own security problems is Georgia, which opted for NATO assistance in 1992. In 2000, Georgia announced its intention for NATO membership, and at the November 2002 NATO summit in Prague, Shevardnadze made an official bid for membership. After the “rose revolution” in Georgia, the US-Georgian relationship went into a new positive spin. In July 2006, Saakashvili visited the United States and was promised more funding for the Georgian military training agreement (Nygren 2007).

During the 2008 summit the leaders of NATO welcomed those two countries to join the membership. The leaders highlighted the great services of Ukraine and Georgia as valuable contribution to vast Alliance program activities. They expressed the opinion to the soon political reforms and positive changes in Ukraine and Georgia that could hasten the process of joining to Alliance.

Moreover, between NATO and Ukraine were agreed different ways of cooperation covering almost all spheres of life and the most burning problems.

In conclusion it should be said that the NATO summit displayed a camaraderie among the participants, but the irritants in the mutual relationship were evident from different sides. In particular, Russia expressed its strong disapproval of the NATO’s point of view over the admission of Georgia and Ukraine to the NATO, recognition of Kosovo and President Bush’s anti-missile defense plan in Eastern Europe. As regards Kosovo’s case Russia said it would block Kosovo from becoming a member of the UNO. Despite its clear-cut stand on these issues Russia has ruled out a return to the cold war. Mr. Putin said “There is no longer any ideological split between East and West, and no global players are interested in going back”. The summit ended with the alliance reaching reconciliation over its mission in Afghanistan. Seven member States and three outsiders pledged to send extra troops to combat terrorism as part of NATO’s biggest ongoing military operation in Afghanistan (Pratiyogita Darpan 2008).

Moreover, it the Bucharest summit decided how to compile a new Strategic Concept, an important document, defining the future Alliance’s path to actions, including missions, decisions, geographical and military peace saving.


Barany, Z. D. (2003). The future of NATO expansion: four case studies. Cambridge University Press.

Cambone, Stephen A. (1997). The strategic implications of NATO enlargement. Strategic Studies Institute.

Gallis, P. (2008). Enlargement issues at NATO’s Bucharest summit. Congressional research service.

Mankoff, J. (2009). Russian foreign policy: the return of great power politics. Rowman & Littlefield.

Myers, S.L. (2008) Bush supports Ukraine’s bid to join NATO. The New York Times. Web.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization. ( 2010). Web.

Nygren, B. (2007). The rebuilding of Greater Russia: Putin’s foreign policy towards the CIS countries. Routledge.

Review of the article 20th NATO summit 2008 concludes in Bucharest. (2008). Pratiyogita Darpan, 24 (2). Web.

Sloan, Stanley R. (2005). NATO, the European Union, and the Atlantic community: the transatlantic bargain challenged. Rowman & Littlefield.

Welcome to NATO. (2010). Web.

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