Ten Years After NATO,s Big Bang Enlargement:

Romanian and Polish Views on the Future of the Alliance


Here are fragments from the conference Ten Years After NATO,s Big Bang Enlargement:

Romanian and Polish Views on the Future of the Alliance

organized by Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw   10 July 2014

Texts not authorized


Olaf Osica

Director, Centre for Eastern Studies, Warsaw


(…) What is the vision of the NATO.s future?  Here, the member countries are waiting for the results of the upcoming summit

I would say that will be, as always, the continuation, means that  we will still have many NATO,s and different approaches. Some of them will be interested in territorial defense, some – in out of areas operations, some  - in global perspectives, and  the big question will be also haw NATO should respond to Asia-Pacific region and US growing interest in it.


The new element in this, as I see it, will be more regionalization. One of the side effect of this changing security environment in Europe will be more regionalizations. This approach will be, I guess, but far more important in the upcoming years than previously.

Once we have regionalization, means than that  we will have of course more differentiations within the Alliance. Consequently we will have less ability, I am afraid, to agree on many things, to act together. So we will have, as Donald Rumsfeld once said, “ a tool box” , as the only way to keep NATO together.


Ioan Mircea Pascu

Romanian member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

From the EU point of view Ukraine crisis does not have an impact on this organization. The EU still prefers to judge the situation  by paying less attention to Ukraine. I think there is the discrepancy, and this discrepancy comes from the fact that we dealt with the USRR with was no integrated with the world economy, but now we are dealing with the partner – Russia, which is integrated with the world economy. That means that previously the West knew how to handle the Soviet Union, but now does not know how to handle Russia. Some of us having long history of relations with Russia see Russia as a global interlocutor, while the West sees it primarily as a commercial partner. Therefore we have different perspective how to react to the Ukrainian crises.

The international system is more and more confronted with disorder. This disorder is caused by many competing trends but at the same time the authority in charge to deal with it is eroded. Usually we have the center of power and the institutional architecture. Now, both of them are suffering, therefore this disorder is less and less under control.

Without the last events in Ukraine the NATO summit would be a mirror’s reflection of the December meeting of the EU – not much excitement, defense methods, but not much beyond that. Now,  NATO has to adjust to the fact that operational experiences are eroding inevitable because the operations are closed in Afghanistan, and we are improving operational abilities of our forces. Everybody is concerned about this – what will happen to Europe, and to NATO – due to the fact that the US will have to face more and more the Asians problems. Presently, with the Ukrainian crisis, NATO will come to the so- called the collective defense. And thus we are going back to that what we wanted when we wanted to joint NATO. It was a paradox that immediately after the end of the cold war the old member of NATO wanted the new members, while the new members wanted the old NATO. And now we are unfortunately vindicated.

There is, especially in the West, the feeling that the Ukraine crises is far away from us. The same logic was presented after the I World War. The Russian revolution – we do not care, the Russian soldiers – we do not care, but consequently we had to put up with the terrible treat from the Soviet Union. Finally, we paid for our ignorance and neglect.

NATO have to look at subartickle 5, subaggresion challenges. The article 5 is a guarantee against aggression against you, but is not a guarantee against subaggresion against you. We should not modify article 5, which is sufficiently general and we should not touch it. But what we have to touch is this space between small challenges and subaggrasions challenges, subversion primarily. And we have to look at that, and know haw we react to that. In a way we are confronted with the same situation which existed in the 1950s  when we had a doctrine of massive retaliation, challenges were under it, but you could not use the massive destruction implied by the doctrine of massive retaliation. Today, every action by our Russian partners is under article 5, but we have to respond to it not using as a reason article 5, because this is not possible. An in the end the accumulation of those not responded small challenges will create a new situation. It would be a big challenge.

The relations with Poland were always important to Rumania. In the past they were not that different to those which we have today.

The West wanted Poland and Rumania to stay together because the threat coming from the East. Had that changed today? As the situation did not change the rational is still there. Therefore we have solid and matured relationship. Before NATO’s summit in Madrid we wanted to learn from the Polish experience. Later on we had many useful consultations. We also cooperated in Iraque. Today we have to exchange our threat’s perceptions.  To see how we predict evolution of the situation. Many people would say that Russia has lost the strategic envy because NATO was invigorated, NATO have come closer, ect. But Russia has gained tactically, what is very important. They got Crimea, which is platform from which they can launch long range bombers, missiles, and so on. This is something which should be high on the agenda of our evaluation of the situation.

Therefore the rational is there, and Poland and Rumania should cooperate. 

Janusz Onyszkiewicz

Former Minister of National Defense of Poland

If we are serious about common defense we must have expedition capabilities. Otherwise we are not be able to deploy our units in other countries. The problem is that in some countries, especially in Germany, this sort of trends towards expedition is very thin. Let me illustrate this trend existing not only in Germany, but also in France, by one figure which I often quote –  after all in Kaliningrad alone there are more tanks than in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK taken together. I know that heavy tanks are less useful for expedition capabilities and mission in Africa, but for territorial common defense they are quite important.

As far as the forthcoming meeting of NATO in September I would like to drown your attention to the fact that the final  communiqué, seen from the point what in not written in it, should cover quite range of issues, in particular, to confirm this declaration that NATO,s presence in Central  and Eastern Europe should be somehow extended. What form this form will take is, of course, a matter of debate, of same technical decisions. It could be for example, preposition of equipment in Poland, for some units that could come in the case of problems. Than – what could be also important, is to have the very contingency plans, not  general  political declarations, but the plans which could be immediately put into action in the case of real attack.

And what is more important we should be ready for attacks below the rational of war. This is what is obviously more likely to happen then all about war.  It should be not the response of the attacked country, but should be the NATO,s  response and within NATO’s framework.

The other problem is that the response for the attack should be limited just to defense but should be also an element of punishment.

NATO should also have a common defense structure. Particularly NATO should be very concerned about the situation in NATO,s neighborhood. What is happening in Ukraine is obviously of NATO,s concern – this is NATO,s business.


Returning to Polish – Rumanian relations I have to say that we share a lot. First, we are two larger countries at the eastern periphery of  NATO. We are front lane states.  Both countries treat defense very seriously which also brings us together as well as our concern and our commitment to improving, maintaining and increasing the transatlantic relations. We have also some more concrete issues on which we should cooperate. Ukraine is one of such a concern. But what about we can think jointly is regional cooperation, which is absolutely natural. The other thing is that we already have some kind of cooperation in ammunition production. We should also close cooperate in the European Union – haw to make EU really serious about security issues. After all in Lisbon Treaty there is some kind of security guarantee. Obviously nobody treats it seriously but we should try to change it. We should try to make the EU more aware not only of the area of energy security or environmental security. So there are many issues that we work together.


Witold Waszczykowski

Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sejm of the  Republic of Poland


It was much easier to define the posture and the identity of NATO during the cold war. For the 40 years NATO existed according to the famous quotations – to keep Russians out, Americans – in, and German – down. In the 1990- there were difficulties in defining the NATO,s posture; at that time NATO was living according the idea that security will be provided by protection of stability and by  enlargement. Enlarging NATO, accepting more and more countries, shearing the same values, the same standards. Democracy and the free market. all of it  was an illusion, also this that this will create the security in Europe  and thus it will provide  the security and guaranties not only for us but similarly for our commercial partners or geopolitical revivals.

We were living under the illusion, not only NATO but also in Central European countries, thinking that once we create the huge bureaucratic agenda of plans, standards, norms and ideas and  one we will be eager to implement those instrument than also our partners from outside word will be busy enough to study this huge network of  not standards values and  therefore will not compete with us. It happened different way. New threats emerged and we have to remind ourselves and also to our partners that NATO is a military alliance due not to protect only the democratic standards and market economy, but to provide the security guarantees by military means.

This notion is not widely shared – participating in General Assembly of NATO I have to remind my colleagues from Portugal, Spain, Italy, and from other countries that NATO is a military alliance.  This is not a club for political discussion, this is the military alliance, which same day can be engaged in military operations. Being recently in Germany I have asked my ministerial colleagues haw long would take NATO to help Poland in case of trouble here. They said – three, four months. After three, for months everything will be over – they will be not only in Warsaw, but also in Berlin.

One can say that we have to define well dangers and threats. We know it – it is Russia. Some people say that first we have detect what are the intentions of Russia. I think they are obvious. We were, we are, and we will be on the collision course with Russia. A few years ago Putin bluntly mention that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the biggest tragedy in the history of Russians. He tries to mend this mistake. So it is obvious that Russians intentions are imperial  and that they will use of kind of methods, not only political but also the military, as they used in Georgia war, and Ukraine war, in order to compete with us, therefore we have to face this challenge.

Speaking about the threads we have to seriously look at the terrorist problem. We face right now shattered terrorist organizations  which sooner or later will start compete among them trying  to assault the West using dirty bombs. Among many specialists there is the wide sheared opinion that the question is not “if” but “haw” they attack. It could be a small boat sneaking to New York City harbor, Rotterdam or Hamburg, it could be also delivered by track.

As far as future of the Alliance is concern there is the problem because now we are part of the debate. From the Polish perspective one point is haw to treat Russia, and – should we provide foreign deployment of NATO troops on the territory which are bordering Russia, which for many Western partners is considered to be a kind of provocative step against Russia. Some of them are advocating just shoving capabilities to deploy the troops. I am not sure that is the right concept, I share the opinion that  important is the show possibility to reconquer.

The second problem is Ukraine.

The last question is regional cooperation and I think this cooperation should not be limited only to Poland and Rumania. We have to be honest and to prepare ourselves to plan B, or even plan C. Plan B means reluctance of our Western allies to help us, plan C is presence of some kind of dormant NATO, sort or sleeping beauty, like WEU was for many years. Therefore we have to think about serious scenarios with Romania, Ukraine and Turkey. Plan B means some political rearrangement within NATO, plan C – regional arrangement outside of NATO.


Finally we have to think also about procurement of armament. Maybe we can combine our efforts, we do not need to compete in the procurement, we can introduce the new ideas of procurement – procurement plus deployment. We can not buy weapons because they are cheap; we have to buy weapons because they are connected to some kind of strategy of some countries which are eager and willing to cooperate with us. So maybe we can offer them, or will buy system of weapon but this offer will be connected with the concept of deployment the troops on the territories of such countries us Poland, Rumania and other central European countries. This concept is worth discussing because we can not just spend money and play with the sophisticated equipment but we need some kind of real insurances by physical presence of the troops of our allies on the territory of CentralEurope.

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