Partnership for Peace (PfP) and a staggered admission process
James W. Peterson
NATO established a PfP process in the 1990s and admitted 13 Eastern European states between 1999 and 2017. The Balkan wars of the 1990s sparked a concern that states in the region take responsibility for establishing a framework for stability within their own neighborhood. Later, those new NATO members played a significant role in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. A number of challenged Balkan states such as Kosovo did not become members, but the alliance took steps to support their defense needs. After the 2014 Crimean crisis, NATO took purposeful steps to counter new Russian threats to the region, and member contributions to defense budgets became a key point of controversy.
Only North Macedonia, after its 2019 name change, had prospects for entering NATO as a member, for its PfP contributions to alliance missions had been considerable. The tragic wars in which both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo had been involved in the 1990s made them dependent on the two alliances for protection and security rather than members at an early date. Serbia’s goals switched from membership in NATO to that of the EU after outside recognition of the controversial new state of Kosovo in 2008. Alliance politics theory is useful in explaining how gradual movement toward democratic patterns helped relieve stress within the region, while ethnic diversity remained a challenge to stability. Clearly, the alliances also closed geographic space that was a threat after the end of Yugoslavia.
This book blends analysis of Eastern European security needs, foreign threats, domestic political events, and public opinion, in theoretical ways to understand how they lead to future defense postures and commitments for each country in the region. How has NATO and EU membership improved their overall regional defense protection, and what ingredients are still missing for them on an individual state basis? Separate chapters treat clusters of states that make up the various regions of Eastern Europe. For example, the three threatened Baltic states in the north will receive careful analysis. Second, the complex array of states in the Balkan area of Southeastern Europe merit examination, for their security conditions have been quite varied and diverse. For some, NATO and EU membership has become a reality, and for others that possibility does not yet exist. Third, three of the four geographically central states were the ones that first gained full membership in NATO at the earliest possible moment in 1999. At present, Poland in the north has perceived clear threats from Russia since 2014, while the three other East-Central European states possess greater sense of security.
Membership anniversaries and theoretical security models
James W. Peterson and Jacek Lubecki
The chapter provides theoretical frameworks for, and a general overview of, the book. First, alliance theory framework is examined, providing a theoretical perspective on how institutional factors can either diminish or increase distances between member states of an alliance. Second, a cluster of theories encompassed by “divergence and convergence” framework is highlighted. Based on realist, liberal, and constructivist theories, these theories examine non-institutional factors that explain variables leading to divergence and divergence of Eastern European states’ defense policies. Finally, we look at domestic and transnational factors that explain defense policy formation of states under consideration. The chapter ends with an overview of the countries encompassed in the book based on geography and factors of security and insecurity that the respective states feel.
Defense policies of secure East-Central European countries are examined in this chapter. On balance, and with a partial exception of relatively poor Slovakia, the countries in question successfully transition to stable capitalist and democratic polities, and are relatively stable and secure from geopolitical threats. The countries defense and security policies benefited from relatively early integration into NATO and EU, and the policies have been characterized by convergence and shirking of institutional and policy distances. The countries thus have largely faithfully followed NATO- and EU-led policies and security frameworks. However, precisely because of the countries’ early success with integration and the countries’ relative safety, they also experienced diminished defense budgets and neglected their territorial defenses. The countries’ reaction to the Crimean crisis has been ambiguous, as concerns about Russia are balanced by growing anti-liberal and Russophilic trends in all of the countries. However, a recent trend toward partial remilitarization is also visible. In all cases pro-European rather than pro-US tendency of defense procurement efforts is pronounced.
The chapter examines three states which face perceived security challenges from Russia: Poland, Romania, and Moldova. While geopolitical factors mostly explain these challenges, cultural and other factors are also important. Poland has to confront a legacy of 500 years of complex security relationship with Russia, mostly characterized by mutual hostility and conflict. Romania is a non-Slavic state among the Slavic sea, but has to deal with legacies of conflict with Russia/Soviet Union over Bessarabia (Moldova). Significantly, between 1922 and 1939 Poland and Romania were joined by an anti-Soviet military alliance, and we are seeing a return to a similar alignment today. Significantly, both countries have been pursuing a relatively well-funded and vigorous defense policies aimed at reinforcing the alliance with NATO and with the United States. The recent Crimean crisis only reinforced these policies, leading to Poland’s and Romania’s strenuous efforts at military buildup. Poland stands out in NATO as the country with the highest relative defense spending besides the United States and Greece. Both Poland and Romanian are characterized by a strong Atlanticist and pro-US direction of their defense policies.
Moving beyond the 15– 20–year anniversaries to stable policies in a time of constant political turmoil
James W. Peterson and Jacek Lubecki
The chapter concludes the book by examining the meaning of anniversaries in creating mythical “places of memories” for peoples and institution. The meaning of NATO and EU admission anniversaries for the newly admitted Eastern European member states is scrutinized. While facing challenges in Eastern Europe, NATO and the EU have been largely successful in providing security and stability in the region. The current crises facing the countries and institutions in the region are likely to strengthen rather than weaken the institutional frameworks in question.
Three states that emerged from the old Yugoslav Federation (Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia) have joined NATO, while only two (Croatia and Slovenia) have entered the EU. In a sense, these new alliance partnerships have replaced the void left in the absence of the Yugoslav political entity. Alliance politics theory that emphasizes the driving importance of erasing geographic and systemic open spaces is important in this analysis. Separately, Albania has joined NATO while Bulgaria has joined both alliances, and both countries contributed in important ways to alliance global peacekeeping missions. Bulgaria also figured largely in the Western plans to build a defense barrier in light of the Afghan and Iraq wars, but its relationship to Russia has also been a consistent matter of concern and debate.