NATO Membership Is Not to Be Sneezed at

It does not want Bulgaria, Slovenia and Latvia as its members

As it is well known, the NATO summit is to take place in Prague on November 21st. Seven countries are expected to become new NATO members: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.

This event touches Russia  in a very direct way. The alliance  is expanding eastwards, which cannot but affect Russian national interests. Anyway, it seems that Moscow does not have any energy (and even wish) to stand up against  this process.  There is a possibility that  something might go wrong,  not as it was supposed before.

Pentagon military specialists released an unexpected statement that was meant to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. According to the information from the newspaper Financial Times, they called upon the head of the American defense department  to reconsider the USA’s position regarding  the membership of three countries in the alliance – Latvia, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

So, what did those three countries do that displeased the American defense officials? As it turned out, Latvia and Bulgaria did not take tough measures  to provide safety. Safety for what, for NATO? Slovenia  is even worse: this country has not provided the sufficient increase of its  defense spending.  Furthermore, Slovenia has not restructured its armed forces.  To crown it all,  over 50% of Slovenia’s citizens do not support the idea to join NATO. As if the Pentagon did not know about it before.

If Donald Rumsfeld  listens  to the opinion  of his subordinates,  this might mean that Latvia, Bulgaria and Slovenia will not be able to join the alliance. Those plans are not likely to become real, as the USA would like it.  It is too hard to do those things for the three countries. Of course,  there is an opportunity that they will become NATO members. Nevertheless,  it is a matter of the distant future.

If Slovenia, Latvia, Bulgaria are not going to be accepted in the alliance, the governments of those countries might  experience lamentable consequences.  They counted on becoming  NATO members as soon as possible.  If they are turned down, then they will have nothing to boast of in front of their electors.  Furthermore, the majority of those electors do not wish to see their countries a part of the alliance at all.

Well, ok.  It deems that Washington does not really care much about  the problems of the local governments. As a matter of fact, the USA does not really need NATO, although it does not mean that the alliance is living its days out.  Europe still needs this organization. But why did the claims come up  now, on the threshold of the Prague summit?

The blame can be definitely shifted on those military bureaucrats.  The fact of having new members  in the alliance is not important for them. The only thing they want is to follow NATO standards. On the other hand,  it is a very good example for other candidacies to follow. NATO membership is not to be sneezed at.

Anyway, most likely, the summit in Prague will go without a hitch. Who wishes to blacken such a solemn event? If they turn down Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia, it will become an international scandal with lots of unpredictable consequences. It seems that the three countries do not have to worry much.  Probably, it is just the game of intimidation.

Vasily Bubnov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka