Med tanke på diskussionen om ett närmare NATO samarbete med Ryssland och diskussionerna om ett stopp för utvidgningen kan det kanske vara av intresse vilken panel Carl Bildt sitter med i på Bryssel forumet.
Enlargement was one of the great success stories of the last decade. In the early 1990s, after the Iron Curtain lifted, Western leaders seized a historic opportunity to open the doors of NATO and the European Union to central and
eastern Europe. By consolidating democracy and ensuring stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea, they redrew the map of Europe and made the continent more peaceful, democratic, and free.
As successful as that strategy has been, the world has changed and the impetus behind enlargement has slowed for three reasons. First, the West has changed. The 9/11 attacks pulled U.S. attention and resources toward the Middle East.
In Europe, enlargement fatigue has set in. Turkey’s chances for EU membership are fading and even prospects for the Western Balkans are less certain. The window of opportunity to expand the democratic world may be at risk of closing.
Second, the East has also changed. Many of the new countries seeking western ideals lie deeper in Eurasia or around the Wider Black Sea. They are weaker, poorer, and more politically problematic than Central and Eastern Europe.
Their claim to be part of Europe is more tenuous, some have so-called “frozen conflicts” on their soil and the perceived Western imperative to help them is less obvious. In short, they have further to go and less of a perspective.
Finally, Russia has changed. In the 1990s, Russia was a weak yet quasi-democratic state seeking to become part of a larger Western democratic community. Today, Moscow is stronger and less democratic. It no longer wants to become part of a democratic West, but to challenge it. Moscow’s opposition to further enlargement closer to its borders is likely to be even stronger than in the past. Many in the West will think twice before pursuing enlargement in the face of a stronger Russia willing to use its energy clout as a political weapon. Against this new strategic backdrop, Western policy can no longer continue on cruise control as if nothing has changed.
Does Western strategy on enlargement need rethinking? If so, how?
What are the sources of enlargement fatigue and how can they be overcome?
Does the West need a new strategy to address Russian concerns and opposition to further enlargement?