5: EU: partner or rival?
In parallel with the reorganization of NATO in the early 1990s, a process was under way to establish security and defense policy cooperation within the European Community (the idea was originally launched in the 1950s). With the establishment of the European Union (EU) in 1992, the formal framework for a common European foreign and security policy was adopted. The breakthrough came only in 1998 when France and the United Kingdom agreed on a platform for a common security and defense policy within the EU . Since then, the EU has gradually taken the form of a security policy actor.
NATO endorsed the development of its own European security and defense identity within the Alliance in the 1990s. However, although the leading member of NATO, the United States, in principle supported EU member states taking greater responsibility for their own security – not least in the light of the experience of the Balkans – concerns were expressed that the EU could become a security policy competitor to NATO. The then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright therefore emphasized that the premises for the EU’s increased security policy involvement must be
- no discrimination against NATO members outside the EU,
- no unnecessary duplication of roles or capabilities and
- no detachment of Europe from North America within NATO.
This attitude was shared by other NATO countries, and especially those outside the EU (eg Norway).
In 2002, NATO and the EU agreed on the Berlin Pluss Agreement , which formalized the conditions for the EU’s access to NATO’s military capabilities and planning structures in operations in which NATO does not wish to engage. Nevertheless, relations between NATO and the EU have at times been marked by rivalry. One example is the Cyprus conflict, in which Turkey (a member of NATO but outside the EU) and Greece (a member of both) have been at odds with each other.
In addition, leading countries such as the United Kingdom and France have traditionally had different visions for the roles that the EU and NATO should play in European security policy. Britain has insisted that NATO be the cornerstone of British and European security and defense policy. France has to a far greater extent wanted to develop an independent European body.
6: 2000s – new members and new tasks
In the 2000s, NATO has faced important challenges related to the incorporation of new members and the commitment to new tasks .
NATO played an important role in the integration of former “Eastern Bloc countries” into Western security cooperation, with the conclusion of bilateral agreements and cooperation fora as a partnership for peace from 1994. The integration was continued when three former Warsaw Pact countries, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, became full NATO members. in 1999 . In parallel with this, relations with Russia were sought to be safeguarded through extensive dialogue and in particular the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council in 2002.
In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia became members of the alliance, and at the summit in April 2009, Albania and Croatia will take their turn. NATO has also established its own commissions for cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine. In addition to the 26 current member states, NATO has 24 partner countries.
However, NATO enlargements have not been entirely unproblematic. They acidify relations with Russia. In addition, the increase in the number of member countries and a more complex membership (historically, politically and geographically) seems to weaken NATO’s ability to reach agreement (decisions in NATO are based on the principle of consensus).
The terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, shaped NATO’s new political and military role. Following the attacks, NATO activated Article 5 for the first time. The terrorists behind the attacks were believed to be in Afghanistan , and an attack on the country was therefore considered a self-defense where NATO countries were obliged to assist. However, the then US administration, led by George W. Bush, chose to act without NATO. “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan was carried out by a so-called coalition of willing leaders of the United States and Britain, with the participation of a number of NATO countries.
In August 2003 , NATO took over the main responsibility for the International Stabilization Force, ISAF , under a UN mandate. ISAF is NATO’s largest military operation ever, and as of March 2009 consists of approximately 62,000 soldiers (see Table 2). The new president of the United States, a country located in North America according to ehealthfacts, Barack Obama, recently decided to send more troops – initially 17,000 – to try to stabilize Afghanistan.
The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, without a UN mandate, split NATO countries into two camps. A crisis arose not only in the transatlantic relationship, but also within Europe. While Britain was on the side of the United States along with several new Eastern European member states, other key countries such as France and Germany fought hard against the invasion. However, NATO has assisted Iraq in training its own military forces in recent years. With new leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, there are many indications that the transatlantic relationship is now returning to normal.