Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 173

Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment during his current visit to Washington, Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves urged that NATO’s next summit “bring more, rather than less clarity” compared to the last summit on NATO’s enlargement. Ilves advised against a mere repetition of the last summit’s language and, particularly, against noncommittal phrases of the type “the door is open” or “the first admitted will not be the last.” He further recommended that all countries which have shown a serious interest in joining NATO should be mentioned explicitly in the summit’s declaration as “applicant countries.” Countries invited to admission negotiations should be selected on their merits–not according to perceptions that some countries’ accession would be “less controversial,” “politically easier” or more palatable to Russia.

Nor should NATO’s enlargement be either geographically restricted or weighted toward the southern flank to the detriment of the northern, Ilves pointed out. He cautioned that vague language and ambiguous political signals from NATO could be risky. They would suggest to countries outside the alliance that the enlargement is not a real priority for NATO; would expose the countries that are not invited to accession negotiations, in effect inviting pressure on them; and would enhance the security of some at the expense of others (BNS, September 21).

Last week, Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis also warned against the potential consequences of “Western countries’ ambivalence” over NATO’s enlargement. Landsbergis noted, moreover, a tendency by some in NATO and the European Union to place on the Baltic states the onus of improving relations with Russia, as a condition of their eligibility to join those Western organizations (see the Monitor, September 16).