[CRS Report to Congress]

NATO: Congress Addresses Expansion of the Alliance
Updated July 24, 1997

By Paul E. Gallis

Specialist in European Affairs
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
Congressional Research Service
Library of Congress


  • NATO: Congress Addresses
    Expansion of the Alliance


    On July 8,1997, NATO named Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as candi- date states for admission to the alliance. On June 3, 1997, Representative Benjamin Gilman and others proposed the European Security Act of 1997 (H.R. 1758). It was engrossed in H.R. 1757, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, on June 11, 1997. A Senate version of H.R. 1757 passed on June 17, 1997.

    The House version endorses NATO enlargement; urges that the door to alliance membership be kept open should a first round of enlargement occur; specifically urges consideration of the Baltic states and Romania; outlines recommendations for arms control negotiations that affect new and current members; and states that the European allies should pay the bulk of the costs of enlargement.

    The House version states that no commitments be made to Russia concerning deployments of conventional and nuclear forces in new member status that would put such states in a category different from that of current members. In addition, NATO should make no commitments to Russia limiting the construction of defense infra- structure or deployment of reinforcements in a new member state's territory. The legislation states that a NATO-Russia charter should include commitments by Moscow on both arms control issues and the treatment of Russia's neighbors.

    The Senate version of H.R. 1757 does not contain provisions addressing such strategic issues as deployment of forces, nor does it contain stipulations relating to agreements with Russia. The Senate version makes Romania, the Baltic states, and Bulgaria eligible for excess defense articles; the House version names only Romania.

    On May 27, 1997, NATO and Russia signed a charter, now called the "Founding Act" that outlines their future security relationship.

    Congressional supporters of enlargement believe that some central European countries have made substantial progress towards democracy, and that NATO membership would consolidate that progress and fill the security vacuum between western Europe and Russia.

    Opponents of enlargement contend that NATO's future is not clear, that admitting new states could weaken the alliance's core mission of collective defense, and that expansion could fuel nationalistic tendencies and instability in Russia. They believe that the American people are not fully aware of the security commitments that would be extended to new members, and express concern that the United States might have to bear much of the financial burden for modernizing candidate states' militaries.


    On July 8, 1997, at a summit in Madrid, NATO named Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as candidate states for admission to NATO.



    The 105th Congress is considering legislation that could have important implications for future U.S. security interests in Europe. Legislation before the House calls for NATO expansion and authorizes financial assistance to selected candidates for membership. The debate over alliance expansion, or "enlargement," is taking place at a moment when NATO's mission is unclear. The legislation addresses NATO's mission in a general manner, but resolution of the alliance's purpose, and therefore of its future, most likely hinges upon the ability of the United States and its allies to come to an agreement over their mutual security interests, and how best to protect them.

    A central factor in the debate over enlargement is how to build stability in central Europe, and to do so without threatening or isolating Russia. Both proponents and opponents of NATO expansion wish to avoid a return to the era of enmity between Russia and the West. Some Members of Congress believe that enlargement would enhance stability by providing NATO's security guarantee for candidate states working to construct viable democracies and free-market systems. Other Members believe that too rapid expansion of the alliance could fuel nationalist sentiment in Russia, where some political groups contend that NATO is intent upon circumscribing Moscow's influence in a region of traditional interest. Some Members support enlargement, but oppose giving Russia any role in NATO decision making in the discussions underway to build a cooperative framework between the alliance and Moscow.

    For the United States and its allies, the conflict in Bosnia has thrown into relief some of the differing perceptions of interests among NATO states. Some European allied governments believe that ethnic violence in the Balkans, by spreading nationalistic sentiments and a continuing flow of refugees, could unsettle west European societies. Divergences between the Clinton Administration and allied governments over how to bring peace to Bosnia persist. Many Members of Congress remain opposed to the deployment of U.S. forces in Bosnia.

    Disagreements over Bosnia are relevant to the debate over enlargement because expansion would bring countries into NATO that are in an unstable region of Europe, and with political cultures different from current members. Some believe that the geographic location of central and east European candidate states for NATO membership gives them a potential strategic vulnerability should instability in Russia grow and an aggressive regime come to power in Moscow. The several years of wrangling among alliance members over how to respond to Bosnia has led some Europeans to ask whether U.S. and European interests may be diverging. A senior French official, for example, has said that "in the management of post-Cold War crises.... a priority for the Europeans may not be a priority" for the United States. Some allies are hesitant to view NATO's commitment to implement the Dayton accords as a test case for the alliance, in part because there is no alliance consensus over any future commitment to undertake such a mission should ethnic violence erupt elsewhere in Europe, in part due to concern that the Bosnian conflict could reignite should NATO forces leave, before peace is secured.

    The success or failure of efforts to bring peace to Bosnia will affect the enlargement debate in the coming months. The European allies see Bosnia as a test case for the Administration's and NATO's commitment and capacity to build stability in central and eastern Europe. NATO's SFOR mandate in Bosnia expires at the end of June 1998. Some Members of Congress have said that the allies must shoulder a greater share of the burden in Bosnia after that date to demonstrate their willingness to assume new responsibilities in Europe. Whether they are willing to do so, in this view, will affect Congress' ultimate decision on enlargement.

    Position of the Clinton Administration

    The Clinton Administration proposed expansion of the alliance at the December 1994 NATO summit. Administration officials believe a range of U.S. interests could be protected by expansion, including the strengthening of nations that share the U.S. belief in democracy; the development of free-market economies open to U.S. investment and trade; the securing of allies willing to share in cooperative efforts on a range of global issues; and preservation of a Europe free of the domination of any one power. (See Additional Reading: Talbott, NATO should grow.... and Report to Congress.)

    On October 22, 1996, President Clinton called for the admittance to NATO of new members by 1999. It was the first time that the Administration set a deadline for enlargement. The President promised that the alliance's mutual security guarantee would apply to new members. On June 12, 1997, the President named Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic as the United States' 3 candidates for membership. On July 8, 1997, at the Madrid summit, NATO named these 3 countries as candidates.

    The NATO Enlargement Study. The Administration sought a clear decision and direct steps to expand the alliance at the January 1994 NATO summit. However, other member states wished to go slowly. In a compromise, the Administration and the allies decided to undertake a study of the issue of expansion. On September 20, 1995, NATO announced the findings of the study (See Additional Reading: Study ... ). The study did not name prospective members and listed general criteria (democratic structures, a free market economy, respect for human rights) necessary in prospective members. New members must accept the full range of NATO responsibilities, such as building a military able to contribute to collective defense, providing humanitarian assistance and undertaking peacekeeping missions. According to the study, enlargement will be gradual and undertaken in consultation with other states -- a likely effort to reassure the Russians that an expanded alliance at their doorstep will not be thrust upon them. The study did not state that new members must enter NATO's integrated military command; the United States has contended that NATO should require all new members to be within the integrated military command, in order to minimize the ability of states to except themselves from duties required of others. U.S. officials have stated privately that Washington would back states for membership only if those states agree to enter the integrated command structure. The study promises new members a guarantee of protection by NATO's strategic nuclear forces. Finally, the study saw no near-term need for basing of nuclear weapons or other member states conventional forces on the territory of new members, but left the option of doing so "when and if appropriate." It does state that NATO headquarters, pre-positioning of materiel, and frequent training and exercise by NATO forces would likely be necessary "to demonstrate NATO's commitment to collective defense" and to become "familiar with terrain and conditions."

    The Final Communique of the Dec. 10, 1996, NATO Ministerial noted that NATO has "no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members..."

    Next steps. Negotiations for accession between NATO and the candidate states have begun. The purpose of the negotiations is to ensure that candidate states understand their obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty. NATO intends to draft a Protocol to the Treaty by December 1997. The Protocol, which will name the 3 states, must then be approved by all current members in order to amend the Treaty and admit the new members. The Senate may vote on the Protocol in the spring of 1998. NATO wishes to admit new members in time for the 50th anniversary of NATO's founding on April 4, 1999. (See Additional Reading, NATO Enlargement. Process and Allied Views.)

    Partnership for Peace. The Administration's Partnership for Peace program was adopted at the January 10-11, 1994, NATO summit. PfP provides a framework for NATO's evaluation of states considered to be candidates for alliance membership. PFP is intended to assist a state establish civilian control over its military; develop "transparent" defense budgets that outline military capabilities to its public and to its neighbors; learn new military doctrine; and work with NATO states to develop specific capabilities, such as peacekeeping. Since 1994, many PfP states have held joint training exercises with NATO states, and some are participating in the SFOR mission in Bosnia. The alliance intends to enhance PfP for those states still seeking membership. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Shalikashvili said that PfP military exercises should now become "more and more militarily challenging, so they prepare [partners] better for the kind of Bosnias of tomorrow..... He said that command and control exercises and operations exercises should be undertaken. (June 16, 1997).

    Congressional Action


    The House version of the European Security Act (now part of H.R. 1757) endorses NATO enlargement; urges that the door to alliance membership be kept open should a first round of enlargement occur; specifically urges consideration of the Baltic states and Romania, should they meet necessary criteria; and outlines recommendations for arms control negotiations that affect new and current members. The legislation refers to the NATO Participation Act of 1994 (Title II of P.L. 103-447) for a description of criteria for membership. P.L. 103-447 states that candidate states must make significant progress towards establishing democratic institutions and free market structures, as well as well-developed civilian control of the military and a policy of prohibiting transfer of arms to countries supporting terrorism.

    The House version addresses the NATO-Russia Founding Act, signed on May 27, 1997, after the legislation's introduction. The legislation states that no commitments be made to Russia concerning conventional and nuclear force deployments that would "have the effect of extending rights or imposing responsibilities" on new members different from commitments to current members. In addition, NATO should make no commitments limiting the construction of defense infrastructure or deployment of reinforcements on new member state's territory. It asks that these considerations on conventional forces be reflected in the re-negotiation of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) now under way. The legislation also states that no international organization and no non-alliance member should gain the authority "to review, delay, veto, or otherwise impede deliberations and decisions" of NATO's decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council. The legislation states that a NATO- Russia agreement should include commitments by Moscow to delineate its borders with its neighbors, station forces on other states' territories only with their permission, and agree to reduce nuclear and conventional forces in Kaliningrad, a part of Russia that borders Poland and Lithuania.

    The Senate version of H.R. 1757 reflects the House version in urging that future enlargements of NATO occur and in endorsing criteria for qualified candidate states described in P.L. 103-447. It differs from the House version in that it does not address such strategic issues as stationing of weapons and infrastructure on the territory of potential new members, renegotiation of the CFE Treaty, and Russia's relations with its neighbors.

    Program of Assistance. The House and Senate versions of the European Security Act authorize the expenditure of funds for NATO's Partnership for Peace program to eligible states (under P.L. 103-447); the House version alone urges funds for the Regional Airspace Initiative (RAI) and the PfP Information Management System (PIMS). RAI is designed to develop civilian and military airspace regimes fully compatible with west European civilian airspace organizations. Most central European states have committed funds to implement such systems, leveraged in part by a U.S. offer to provide Foreign Military Financing for construction of air operations centers. PIMS is a computer network that links PfP capitals with U.S. facilities and the Partnership Coordination Cell at SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium. Close communication between NATO and Partnership countries is considered by NATO officials as an important practical means to coordinate exercise planning via an electronics link, and thereby reduce the need for large (and expensive) conferences among military officials. (For the available details of PfP program funding levels, see CRS Report 97-531, NATO. Alliance Expansion, M, and U.S. Security Assistance.) On the House floor, a burdensharing amendment, stating that "the European members of NATO should pay the bulk of the costs of NATO expansion which are incurred by existing NATO members," was added to the bill.

    The House version of H.R. 1757 designates Romania as eligible for assistance under Section 203(a) of the 1994 NATO Participation Act, which provides for transfer of excess defense articles, and international military education and training. The Senate version designates the Baltic states and Bulgaria, as well as Romania, as eligible for such assistance.

    Assessment of the Debate

    NATO's Mission

    What is NATO's purpose? How would U.S. security interests be affected by enlargement? These questions are at the heart of the alliance debate over enlargement. During the Cold War era, the NATO Treaty's Article V commitment to collective defense was the core mission of the alliance. By the 1970s and 1980s, over 300,000 U.S. troops were stationed in NATO Europe. A heavy conventional force presence was viewed by political and military leaders of NATO states as an important instrument to put off the moment, should a conflict begin, when the West would have to make a decision to resort to nuclear forces; in addition, the very engagement of large-scale U.S. conventional forces sent a signal to the Soviets that the United States would use its nuclear forces to prevent a defeat of allied states. The United States stationed nuclear systems -- missiles, gravity bombs, and a range of tactical weapons -- in Europe, and backed its commitment to the allies' security by strategic nuclear systems as well. The presence of U.S. conventional forces in Europe and the U.S. nuclear guarantee sent a strong political message that the fate of the European allies was tightly linked to that of the United States. This guarantee was intended to deter Soviet aggression, and initially to reassure a rebuilding, and later a flourishing, western Europe.

    The U.S. conventional and nuclear presence gave a stronger message of guaranteed assistance in the event of conflict than a literal reading of Article V implies. Article V notes that "an armed attack against one or more [allies] shall be considered an attack against them all." But additional language makes clear that the commitment to come to the assistance of a Treaty party under attack is not unconditional. Rather, it states that each signatory will assist the ally under attack with "such action it deems necessary, including the use of armed force...." Such language could mean that an ally would provide no assistance, or political support only, or, of course, full military engagement. (See Additional Reading, NATO: Article V and Collective Defense.)

    U.S. conventional forces in NATO Europe are declining, and now stand at approximately 109,000. Few U.S. nuclear systems are now in Europe; Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) were eliminated under the 1988 INF Treaty, tactical nuclear weapons have been withdrawn, and only a reduced number of gravity bombs remains. In 1991, NATO declared that the (then) Soviet Union was no longer an "enemy" of NATO. In NATO's 1991 "New Strategic Concept", the alliance signaled its intention to move towards lighter, more mobile forces for power projection in central Europe to develop an improved capability for crisis management and such missions as peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Some countries, such as the United States, France, and Britain are in the process of reshaping their forces to accomplish such missions, a reflection of dramatically improved East-West relations since the end of the Cold War. Given that Russian military forces are suffering from severe budgetary constraints, conscription shortfalls, sharp deterioration in morale and readiness, and uncertain leadership, the threat posed by Russia has markedly declined.

    Senator Roth believes that enlargement will "project security into a region that has long suffered as a security vacuum...... and that the eventual incorporation of qualified states "will be an important step forward in the economic and political integration of Europe, and spur other states to follow the same course." (See Additional Reading: Senator Roth, CR.)

    Senator Lugar has called for consideration of the idea of "double enlargement" -- enlargement in geographic terms, but enlargement also in the sense of NATO taking on new missions that will give the alliance new and clear purpose. He has specifically mentioned crisis management and peacekeeping "perhaps beyond alliance borders" as such missions to which new members might contribute and which might also serve to enhance their security. (May 1996.)

    Other Members have expressed opposition to a rapid pace towards enlargement. Representative Hamilton has expressed concern that NATO expansion could create a gap between U.S. commitments in Europe and the resources required to meet them due to U.S. conventional force reductions. In this view, these reductions would leave too great a reliance on U.S. strategic nuclear forces to meet the U.S. commitment. At a June 20, 1996, House International Relations Committee hearing on H.R. 3564 (the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act of 1996), he expressed doubt over the Administration witness's contention that enlargement would "enhance U.S. security." Representative Hamilton said that it was not clear that U.S. security would be enhanced if the United States took on the commitment to defend with nuclear and conventional forces possible candidate states for admission. He noted the declining number of U.S. forces in Europe: "We're expanding dramatically our commitments," he said, "but dramatically cutting back our... capabilities. Why does that make sense?" Several other Members echoed these sentiments. Representative Johnston said that the American people must be made aware of new commitments and potential costs before enlargement is undertaken. He noted popular opposition to the IFOR mission in Bosnia, and said that this was evidence that the American people might well oppose new commitments in Central Europe. (Author's notes.)

    On June 25, 1997 Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison sent to the President a letter, signed by a bipartisan group of 20 senators, asking for elaboration on a range of issues. They asked whether the greater needs of candidate states, for example, were economic and not military, and whether enlargement might lead to these countries spending valuable resources on military equipment and restructuring rather than on rebuilding their economies. They asked whether joining the EU instead might be a more stabilizing step for Europe. They also raised a number of strategic issues. The senators did not indicate their final position on enlargement. (See Additional Reading, Letter to the President).

    NATO's mission of collective defense remains important to member states because of a concern that Russia, still armed with nuclear weapons, might one day become more unstable and aggressive, and a direct threat to its neighbors. Representatives of several central European states interviewed recently expressed concern over an eventual Russian threat, and stated that the Article V commitment is the principal reason for their desire to join the alliance. While many Administration officials emphasize the importance of Article V, they also note that U.S. and allied defense spending is declining, in response to public demand as well as to a perceived declining Russian threat. Could allied forces defend Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in the event of a conflict?

    The current state of Russian conventional forces would make difficult mounting an attack in central Europe, much less launching a surprise attack. Many U.S. and allied officials believe that Russian conventional forces continue to decline; in May 1997, President Yeltsin called for a further 30 percent reduction in his country's defense budget. Today, Russia spends 5% of its GDP on defense; Yeltsin said on May 23, 1997 that he intends for the figure to drop to 3 to 3.5% by the year 2000. Some observers believe that the Russian government is cannibalizing its defense budget to free funds for internal security forces, reflecting an overriding concern about internal ethnic unrest.

    A meaningful Russian conventional threat, then, to central European states is plausible only at a future moment, when Russia's economy stabilizes, greater defense expenditures were taking place, and a leadership were in place that intended to seek territorial gains or exert greater influence over neighboring states. In such circumstances, in purely military terms, some states seeking NATO membership could prove difficult to defend. Poland's terrain is largely flat, making defense of its territory questionable using conventional forces. (See Additional Reading: New Challenges for Defense...) A contrasting view holds that Poland could offer tactical advantages to the alliance in the event of a conflict involving heavy armor. NATO force-projection capabilities and many years of training for "deep battle" -- moving highly maneuverable armored forces long distances and limiting an adversary's ability to do the same -- would put allied forces at an advantage, in this view. Russian armored forces would have to traverse considerable territory to reach Poland, an undertaking that would require a long and potentially vulnerable logistics train. A possible weakness in this argument is the relative lack of forest in Poland to provide cover for NATO's armored forces. Another weakness is that Russia might heighten its considerable influence over Belarus and station armored forces on Belarusian soil, a measure that would enhance Russian logistics. The Baltic states, hinged against Russian territory and difficult to supply, are, in the view of many NATO military officials, in a starkly more disadvantageous strategic position (interviews).

    In hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23, 1997, Senator Warner urged Administration officials to consider the American people's concern about extending U.S. commitments abroad, exemplified in their opposition to U.S. forces in both Somalia and Bosnia. He expressed his belief that enlargement would require an increase in the defense budget, a difficult course to follow given the absence of new threats. "There's no threat," he said, "and yet you're asking for increased spending in NATO. I do not see the staying power of this country behind that decision." Senator Warner strongly endorsed NATO's continued viability, but expressed concern that enlargement into "one of these remote regions," where casualties might be taken, could weaken public support for NATO if the American people were not convinced that U.S. vital security interests were at risk.

    Secretary of Defense Cohen responded that, in his view, important U.S. interests could be served by enlargement. Enlargement, he said, could dampen nationalism and ethnic tensions by bringing new member states into NATO's security framework. The re-nationalization of defense, with a country obtaining weapons of mass destruction, "arming itself against an enemy, real or perceived," could be more easily averted by enlargement, and a war into which NATO might be drawn could be avoided.

    Some DOD officials cast collective defense in a changing light. Citing Russia's military decline, they note that new risks such as nuclear proliferation could trigger an Article V (collective defense) situation. In this view, any new alliance members must understand that they would be expected to help prevent proliferation, and to assume responsibility in dealing with new nuclear powers that might become a threat. This view also supplies part of the rationale for NATO moving from a heavy, armored positional defense in central Europe (one geared against a Russian attack) and towards lighter forces for power projection, able to move quickly to address a distant crisis.

    Estimated Costs of Enlargement and Burdensharing

    An April 1995 RAND study estimated that NATO expansion to include the Visegrad states would require $10-50 billion over ten years, or as much as $100 billion or more should more vigorous measures be necessary to develop a strong defense posture. Under the conservative estimate, central European states would improve their infrastructure, develop command procedures and military doctrine in line with those of NATO states, and modernize their military equipment; NATO states would have a modest force presence in central Europe or prepare for modest force projections to the east. Principal costs would center around establishing modern combat aircraft components in new member states. Should more vigorous measures be needed to maintain a credible defense posture in central Europe, considerably larger expenditures on infrastructure and combat forces would be required for greater force projection. (See Additional Reading: Kugler, Defense Program Question.)

    In March 1996, CBO issued a report assessing costs of enlargement under five possible options, ranging from assisting a new member engaged in a border skirmish or a conflict with a regional power, to the permanent stationing of the forces and equipment of current member states on the territory of new members to prepare for a broader conflict. The study assumes that Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia would be the initial new members and would bear the brunt of the costs of military modernization; that the costs would be spread over 1996-2010; and that current allies would pay a percentage of modernization costs equal to their proportional shares in NATO's Security Investment Program (formerly the Infrastructure fund). In such circumstances, costs at the low end (for option 1) would be $60.6 billion, with the U.S. share being $4.8 billion, and at the high end (for option 5) $125 billion, with the U.S. share being $18.9 billion. The author of the study acknowledges the many uncertainties in making such assessments, such as the weakness of the Central European economies, and he treats the figures as estimates. (See CBO, Costs ... ) Clinton Administration officials criticized the study by saying that too great expenses were factored into the analysis for exercises. The author has countered that if forces of current NATO members are not stationed on the territory of new member states, then extensive training and exercises will be necessary to move NATO forces eastward in the event of a crisis.

    A fall 1996 RAND study estimated that expansion (to include the Visegrad states, over 10-15 years) would cost $10-20 billion if new member states alone modernized their militaries; $30-52 billion if current members undertook preparations to deploy 10-15 divisions and 10 fighter wings on the territory of new members; and $55-110 billion for forward deployment of current members' forces on the territory of new members in contemplation of a resurgent threat from the east.

    The Administration's February 1997 Report to Congress estimates that the cost of admitting four (unnamed) members would be $27-36 billion between 1997-2009. The emphasis for prospective new members would be on enhancing "interoperability" (such as developing air defense and command-and-control compatible with those of current NATO members, and training to learn the alliance's operational concepts), modernizing and downsizing their militaries, and upgrading facilities such as airfields and roads for receiving reinforcements from current member states. Over 12 years, the estimated .annual costs to the United States would be $150-200 million; $800-100 million to new member states; and $600-800 million to current members. The report notes that enhanced needs for collective defense could drive the costs up.

    Allied governments are reluctant to share in the costs of enlargement, in part because their publics desire declining defense budgets, in part because of competing budgetary priorities. President Chirac has been the most vocal among leaders of allied governments. On July 11, 1997, he said, "We have adopted a very simple position: Enlargement must not cost anything in net terms" because there is no threat. "In reality, NATO is a peacekeeping body, a crisis management system, and accordingly can afford much lighter resources in terms of both equipment and infrastructure .... France ... has no intention of increasing its contribution to NATO to cover enlargement." (Document provided by the French Embassy.) There is growing sentiment in Congress that a cost-sharing arrangement for enlargement be developed before new states are admitted. As yet, there is no generally agreed assessment among all NATO states of the costs of enlargement.

    The Senate Defense Appropriations bill (S. 1005), which passed, contains an amendment requiring a report to Congress on the anticipated costs to the United States of admitting the 3 candidate states to the alliance. In addition, an amendment also passed stating that "should the Senate ratify NATO enlargement, [the] proportional cost of the U.S. share of the NATO common budget should not increase, and that if any NATO Member does not pay its share, the United States shall not either."

    The European Allies

    The European allies evince a spectrum of views on the issue of enlargement. (See Additional Reading, NATO Enlargement. Process and Allied Views.) At the Madrid summit, a consensus settled on naming Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as candidate states. A number of countries, led by France, championed Romania's candidacy; some members, led by Italy, supported Slovenia's candidacy. The United States opposed naming either of the two states. Member states must unanimously agree, through their constitutional processes, to amend the North Atlantic Treaty to admit the 3 candidate states.

    Most allies have put great emphasis on first assuring that NATO enlargement will not create anxiety in Moscow and jeopardize reform there. The allies wish to ensure that expansion does not dilute NATO's effectiveness in carrying out its core mission of collective defense. France's position on enlargement was thrown into doubt on June 1, 1997, when legislative elections overturned President Chirac's center-right majority, and put into power a leftist coalition led by Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who supports enlargement in principle. Prime Minister Jospin's cabinet includes Socialists and Communists who in the recent past have vigorously opposed enlargement. France ultimately supported enlargement at the summit. It remains unclear whether passage of enlargement through the French parliament will prove difficult.

    Some German officials, such as the Federal Republic's ambassador to NATO, believe that "different security interests [in NATO] are being regionalized," with the implication that the addition of more states would lead to further dilution of consensus in the alliance. This last view is widely heard in allied Defense ministries, where a belief remains that the impulse for divergent responses of member states to the conflict in Bosnia would only be exacerbated were new states to join and new ethnic conflicts or regional crises to emerge. (See Additional Reading: Rifkind, European Defense; CR, January 25, 1996.) Some Italian officials privately express doubt that the interests of southern European members of NATO would be served by the potential entry of northern European countries such as the Baltic states; in contrast, the Nordic countries opposed the inclusion of Romania and Slovenia, backed by Italy and other members, as not serving the interest of northern European members.

    Some allies had earlier contended that EU expansion should first take place to build political and economic stability in central Europe before consideration of steps in the security arena, which are much more likely, in their view, to antagonize Russia. EU expansion to include former communist states is not expected before 2002, and some observers put the date in the 2005-2010 time frame. Turkey, a member of NATO and desirous of gaining EU entry, has repeatedly floated the view that it might block NATO enlargement if its efforts to join the EU are not placed on a faster track. Ankara now expresses this position with diminishing determination.

    Candidates for NATO Membership

    The 1994 NATO Participation Act, as noted, mentions criteria necessary for NATO membership. The North Atlantic Treaty does not establish explicit criteria for entry. The preamble to the Treaty does state that member governments are "founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law." Article I obligates member states to refrain from the use of force, unless attacked, to resolve international disputes. Article II commits them to "strengthening their free institutions." Article III commits them to "maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack." Article X states that, by unanimous agreement, current members may admit other states "in a position to further the principles of this Treaty." These principles have not always been rigorously applied, either to applicants or to member states. Portugal became a member in 1949, even though it had a dictatorial government. Today, some members criticize Turkey for its repression of the Kurds, or Greece for discrimination against Moslems. Other members, such as Luxembourg and Iceland, have virtually no military capacity, or have sharply declining defense budgets and marginally effective forces.

    Criteria such as democratic institutions, free markets, civilian control of the military, and respect for ethnic minorities can be highly subjective in interpretation. The Czech Republic has internationally respected leaders chosen by its people, yet the country's Roma (Gypsy) population has been persecuted and has limited access to citizenship. Most east European countries, when in the Warsaw Pact, already had civilian control of their militaries, but in tightly centralized communist systems, with no true parliamentary oversight. Among civil-military issues today, NATO states wish to see a candidate state's legislature controlling the budget of the military; configuration of a military for uses -- such as crisis management -- suitable to NATO's mission; and a military that is not being used against a civilian population. Some U.S. and allied officials believe that Romania, for example, must make considerable progress in developing civilian control of its military to qualify for NATO membership.

    The effort to evaluate a state's respect for its ethnic minorities can pose considerable difficulties. In March 1995, Hungary and Slovakia signed a treaty that guaranteed rights desired by Slovakia's 600,000 ethnic Hungarians. Hungary reciprocated by guaranteeing the inviolability of Slovakia's border, but the Slovakians have backed away from elements of the accord. On September 16, 1996, Hungary and Romania signed a similar treaty guaranteeing minority rights of Hungarians in Romania. The Hungarian-Romanian treaty has been ratified. Even when such agreements are in force, interpreting their implementation on the ground is not an easy task, particularly if there are minority populations that demand more rights than the agreement grants.

    By reference to previous legislation on enlargement, the European Security Act stipulates that candidate states must not transfer armaments to countries supporting terrorism. In 1995, the Clinton Administration attempted to dissuade Poland from selling over 100 T-72 tanks, once the main battle tank of Soviet design among Warsaw Pact states, to Iran. The Polish government decided in May 1995 to go forward with the sale, but said that future weapons sales to Iran are unlikely.

    Evidence of commitment to NATO's strategic objectives is likely to play a role in consideration of candidate states. By this measure, Hungary, in the eyes of some observers, has taken strong steps forward. (Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have contributed forces to IFOR and SFOR, as have several other central European states.) Hungary is allowing its territory to be used as a staging area for SFOR, a decision that risks the antagonism of Hungary's Serbian neighbors. To those supporting Hungary's NATO's candidacy, Budapest's actions exemplify the political commitment and responsibility that strengthen its candidacy.


    Russia describes potential NATO expansion as a threat to its well-being. Russian officials frequently note that invasions by European powers of Russian territory since the 18th century have come across the Polish plain. Discussion of NATO expansion has caused a strong negative response from Moscow. (See Additional Reading: NATO Enlargement and Russia.) The chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament has said that the START II treaty (for reduction of strategic nuclear forces) is unlikely to be approved due to NATO's plans for expansion. On October 25, 1996, the Duma passed a resolution opposing enlargement by a vote of 307-0. Russian officials often contend that the "Two plus Four Treaty" of 1991 that united Germany prohibits the expansion of NATO beyond eastern Germany. The Treaty does not in fact contain such language, nor imply such an agreement. However, Jack Matlock, ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991, stated that the United States made a verbal, but legally non- binding, commitment not to enlarge the alliance at the Two plus Four talks.

    The Founding Act. On September 6, 1996, former Secretary Christopher endorsed a French plan for negotiating a "charter" between NATO and Russia. NATO and Russia signed the document, to be called "the Founding Act," on May 27, 1997, in Paris. All NATO governments have consented to the Founding Act, which will not be submitted to member states' parliaments because it is a "political" document and not a treaty. President Yeltsin, however, will submit the Founding Act to the Duma.

    The Founding Act touches upon several issues addressed in the European Security Act. The House version of H.R 1757 requires that no commitments be made to Russia -concerning nuclear and conventional forces that would place new member states in a category different from that of current members. The Founding Act restates a current NATO position that the alliance has "no intention, no plan, and no reason" in the foreseeable future to station nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons storage sites on new members' soil, but it does not preclude NATO from doing so should the need arise. In addition, the Founding Act states that NATO may maintain military infrastructure on the soil of new members "adequate" to assure their protection under Article V of the NATO Treaty. NATO pledges "in the current and foreseeable security environment" not to station "substantial combat forces" on new members' territory, but at the same time underscores the intention to increase interoperability, integration, and reinforcement capabilities with the new member states.

    The House version alone of the European Security Act states that the Administration must not give any state or international organization a veto or right of review in NATO decisionmaking. The Founding Act establishes a Permanent Joint Council between NATO and Russia to undertake consultations on matters of mutual interest, such as peacekeeping, nuclear and biological weapons proliferation, terrorism, and drugs, but states that "the consultations will not extend to internal matters of either NATO, NATO members states, or Russia....

    The House version of H.R. 1757 states further that Russia should make a commitment to delineate its borders with its neighbors and agree not to station its forces on other countries' territory without their permission. The Founding Act is less explicit on these last points: it does not address delineation of borders, but it does commit Russia (and NATO) to refrain "from the threat or use of force against... any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence...... (See Founding Act.)

    President Yeltsin reiterated his opposition to NATO expansion while in Paris for signing the Founding Act. At the same time, the Founding Act mentions new member states several times; some observers believe that Russia's signature implicitly signals Moscow's political acceptance of at least a first round of enlargement.

    Some Members of Congress have criticized the Administration for inclining towards development of more political functions in NATO, at the expense of collective defense. Some also believe that any agreements with Russia, such as the renegotiated CFE Treaty, must have a tough-minded approach.

    At the April 1997 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary of State Albright told Senator McCain that the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council would not be a decision-making forum, and that Russia would have no influence over issues such as NATO's defense posture. Senator McCain asked whether Moscow would be obligated to discuss in the Council such issues as Russia's evolving union with Belarus, its policies towards the Baltic states, or the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces in the Caucuses. Secretary Albright responded that such issues are discussed bilaterally with Moscow, and would not be addressed in the Council.

    On November 27, 1996, Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, thought in the west to be a moderate, threatened possible military counter-measures should enlargement proceed. Should NATO station tactical nuclear forces in new member states, he said, Russia would target east European capitals with nuclear weapons. Should the Baltic states one day enter the alliance and their ports become home to NATO ships, then the Russian Baltic fleet would be put under unacceptable constraints, he continued. Enlargement, in his view, could lead Russia to renounce existing conventional and nuclear force treaties with the United States.

    On May 23, 1997, President Yeltsin sacked both Defense Minister Rodionov and Chief of Staff Gen. V.N. Samsonov for their unresponsiveness to his calls for reform of the Russian military. In Rodionov's place, he named Gen. Igor Segeyev as Defense Minister; in the past, Segeyev has strongly criticized corruption in the armed forces and has urged ratification by the Duma of START II.

    Russia's agreement to the Founding Act may be one in a series of signs that Yeltsin has more firmly cast his lot for political and economic reform, at the expense of strengthening or preserving his country's strategic military position in central Europe. Yeltsin has named two key reformers, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, to senior positions in his government. Both men support drastic economic reforms in the direction of a market economy. Nemtsov, for example, is attempting to break up industrial monopolies and attract western investment. In May 1997 the two men were given additional responsibilities when they were named to the Security Council, which oversees foreign and military matters. From these vantage points, the men should have strong influence over government spending and strategic decisions. In this context, the Russia's signing of the Founding Act may in part be an acquiescence that Moscow must seek accommodation with the West in order to rebuild its economy and establish a stable political order.

    In contrast, some observers see the Yeltsin regime as a 'Weimar Russia," a reference to the post-World War I German government that was humiliated at Versailles and became target for extreme nationalists, who ultimately undercut the fledgling German democracy. In this view, a political culture could take root in Russia that is seething against perceived Russian humiliation at the hands of NATO and the West. Russian nationalists view Ukraine as the historical seat of the Russian state's development and power. Ukrainian independence, perhaps one day to be followed by closer association with NATO and the European Union, is viewed by Russian nationalists as the result of Yeltsin's incompetence and willing subjugation to the West. In this view, NATO expansion could have the unintended consequence of creating a nationalistic and revanchist Russia, led one day by Yeltsin's opponents who currently hold sway in the Duma. (See Mandelbaum, Dawn of Peace... )

    The Clinton Administration believes that instability in the region, best addressed through development of democratic norms and expanding economies, is the principal threat, not a Russian invasion; inclusion of central European states in NATO, in the Administration's view, can supply stability by closely associating new members with the United States and the stable, prosperous democracies of western Europe. Moreover, in an era of declining defense budgets in the United States and in Europe (and Russia), some U.S. officials contend that a more "political" approach to Article V is not only appropriate but realistic, given the consensus since 1990 that has reduced U.S. armed forces. This reasoning has some force for those who believe that Russia must be strategically engaged to prevent a growing sense of isolation and nationalistic sentiment in Moscow. At the same time, the European allies and candidate states strongly oppose any softening of Article V. A key question in coming months in the congressional debate could be the degree to which NATO member and candidate states are .restructuring their militaries to preserve a capability against a potentially resurgent Russia, while at the same time preparing for new Article V contingencies, such as nuclear proliferation.

    Defense Capabilities

    Earlier legislation, such as the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act, encouraged the Administration to transfer "advanced fighter aircraft" and other weapons systems to frontline candidate states for membership. Poland and the Czech Republic have had discussions with the Department of State about acquiring small numbers (reportedly, less than a dozen) F-16s and/or F-18s, which are high-performance combat aircraft. (Hungary has postponed consideration of the purchase of such systems, in part for budgetary reasons, in part because NATO has not yet determined that Hungary needs these weapons.) Some DOD, State Department, and European officials believe that candidate countries should use their limited resources to concentrate upon restructuring their militaries for peacekeeping operations and defensive systems. In addition, in these officials' view, the territory of these three countries is too small to allow for meaningful training with such powerful, fast-flying systems. Other officials, especially in DOD, believe that the three countries' acquisition of such systems would more closely link the countries to U.S. military systems and promote interoperability; and still other DOD officials believe that the purchase of such systems is important to the continued health of U.S. defense industries.


    Congress is likely to continue to evaluate central and eastern European states in relation to the general criteria for membership present in the current and previous legislation on enlargement. A steady course by these states towards democratic practices and market economies could allay some Russian concerns that NATO seeks to build an aggressive defense alliance near its borders. In contrast, ethnic violence and economic dislocation in central Europe would raise tensions with Russia and further the cause of those in Russia who believe that Moscow must play a major, perhaps decisive role in determining the future of the region.

    NATO expansion would most likely enhance security in Europe if it occurred in a period when the conditions that led to the Article V commitment to mutual defense had receded, and minimal criteria for improvements in central and eastern Europe's defense posture were required. Politically, the mission of collective defense coexists uneasily with NATO's intention to expand to the east, in that NATO states have been seeking to assure Moscow that expansion is not intended as a threat to Russia. The Russian political elite continues to view enlargement as an encroachment on Russia's traditional sphere of influence. In contrast, supporters of enlargement stress NATO's posture as a defensive alliance, and underscore the right of candidate states to seek membership in political and security institutions that enhance prospects for stability.

    Uncertainty over NATO's mission is closely linked to the issue of expansion. At a moment when some NATO members believe the alliance is being "regionalized" and that a consensus is lacking for addressing ethnic violence, some member states remain most comfortable with NATO's current boundaries and its initial core mission of collective, defense- Bringing in new members, in this view, carries the risk of diluting .both political likemindedness within the alliance and collective defense by giving increased weight to the less tried missions of peacekeeping or peacemaking, and crisis management. Some of the same countries that have doubts about such added missions also tend to fear that NATO may crowd out development of an independent European security capability to address crises that the United States may not wish to address.


    H.R. 1757
    The European Security Act. Addresses NATO enlargement and a range of issues including arms control and relations with Russia. Introduced June 3, 1997 as H.R. 1758, engrossed in H.R. 1757 by voice vote on June 11, 1997, and passed the House. Passed the Senate by a vote of 90-5, on June 17, 1997.

    S. 1005
    The Defense Appropriations bill. Senate version contains amendments on the cost and on cost-sharing of enlargement. Passed the Senate by a vote of 94-4, July 15, 1997.

    S.Con.Res. 5 (Roth)
    Endorses enlargement, and names states as viable candidates for membership or a closer relationship with NATO. Introduced February 5, 1997.


    Hearing before House International Relations Committee on H.R. 3564, June 20, 1996. Congressional Record. Debates in the House of Representatives. 104th Congress, 2/15- 16/95, 7/23/96, and in the Senate 8/10/95, 9/21/95, and 7/25/96; statement by Representative Solomon, 1/25/96, p. E102; statement by Senator Warner, 2/29/96, p. S1446-47; and statements by various Members, Senate, 6/4/96, p. S5764-68, and 6/5/96, p. S5785; S.Con.Res. 5, with Senator Roth's statement, 2/5/97, p. S1027- 1034.


    A First Look at Options for Poland, by C.T. Kelley, D.B. Fox, and B.A. Wilson, in New Challenges for Defense Planning. Rand, 1994. p. 451-476.

    The Costs of Expanding the NATO Alliance, by Ivan Eland. CBO Papers. March 1996.

    The Dawn of Peace in Europe, by Michael Mandelbaum. 20th Century Fund, 1997.

    The Defense Program Question: The Military and Budgetary Dimensions of NATO Expansion, by Richard L. Kugler. RAND. April 24,1995.

    Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, Paris. NATO Press Office. May 27, 1997.

    Letter to the President, by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and others. June 25, 1997.

    Prizes and Pitfalls of NATO Enlargement, by Representative Gerald B. Solomon, in Orbis, Spring 1997. p. 209-221.

    Report to the Congress on the Enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Rationale, Benefits, Costs, and Implications. U.S. State Dept., Feb. 24, 1997.

    The Senate's Role in NATO Enlargement, by Senator Trent Lott, in the Washington Post, March 21, 1997.

    Study on NATO Enlargement. Brussels: NATO, September 1995.

    Why NATO should grow, by Dep. Sec. of State Strobe Talbott, in the New York Review of Books, August 10, 1995.

    CRS Issue Briefs

    CRS Issue Brief 92051. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Recent Developments, by Julie Kim.

    CRS Reports

    CRS Report 97-531. NATO: Alliance Expansion, Partnership for Peace, and U.S. Security Assistance, by Paul E. Gallis, Richard F. Grimmett, and Larry Nowels.

    CRS Report 97-717. NATO: Article V and Collective Defense, by Paul E. Gallis.

    CRS Report 97-480. NATO and Bosnia: A Looming Transatlantic Debate, by Stanley R. Sloan.

    CRS Report 97-477. NATO Enlargement and Russia, by Steven Woehrel.

    CRS Report 97-718. NATO Enlargement.- Pro and Con Arguments, by Paul E. Gallis.

    CRS Report 97-666. NATO Enlargement.- The Process and Allied Views, by Paul E. Gallis.

    CRS Report 97-668. NATO Expansion: Cost Issues, by Carl Ek.

    CRS Report 95-979. NATO's Future: Beyond Collective Defense, by Stanley R. Sloan.