OPINION: Leo Michel writes about NATO's "Open Door" Policy...
NATO's "Open Door" Faces North
by Leo Michel
Since 1999, 12 nations from the Baltics to the Balkans have graduated from the Partnership for Peace (PFP) to NATO membership. NATO’s new Strategic Concept, when unveiled at the Lisbon Summit on November 19-20, will reaffirm the “open door” policy that made this possible. However, enlargement toward problematic eastern aspirants (Georgia, Macedonia, and Montenegro) has stalled, and Ukraine has shelved its application. NATO’s best candidates for enlargement lay in a different direction: north.
As PFP members since 1994, Finland and Sweden have developed such close ties with NATO that many regard them as “virtual” Allies. Their participation in NATO operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, as well as in many PFP programs, has helped to transform their militaries from outdated, unsustainable Cold War structures to smaller, more capable and deployable forces. This benefits their regional defense cooperation (alongside Nordic Allies Norway, Denmark, and Iceland), contributions to the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy, and bilateral defense links with the United States.
Finnish and/or Swedish accession would bring new capabilities and expertise into Alliance structures. The new Strategic Concept will advocate: expanding NATO’s dialogue and cooperation with Russia; intensifying its “comprehensive” civil-military approach to crisis response; building closer relations with the EU; and enhancing cooperation on “cyber defense” and maritime security in the Baltic and Arctic regions. Finland and Sweden share many common approaches with the Allies. But as Partners, their ability to shape and implement NATO policies is constrained. Allies will not extend unfettered access to their inner councils to nations who are not bound to NATO’s treaty’s obligations, including collective defense.
« Read More News & Events