POLAND AND NATO AFTER THE COLD WAR
AFTER THE COLD WAR ROBERT KUPIECKI
NATO AFTER THE COLD WAR
Copyright © Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych 2019 REVIEWER: Prof. dr hab. Jerzy Eisler,
Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of National Remembrance PROOF READING: BRIEN BARNETT
ISBN 978-83-66213-07-4 ISBN 978-83-66091-25-2 PUBLISHER: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych,
Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych COVER DESIGN AND TYPESET: Dorota Dołęgowska, Marcin Rossa PRINTED BY: Legra sp. z o.o.
introduction/ 5 part i: poland on the way to nato chapter 1: the groundwork/ 11 Conditions and Time Factor/ 13 Dismantling Yalta/ 20 Filling the Security Void/ 37 chapter 2: reaching for destiny/ 47 New Strategic Reality and a Time of Change/ 47 Polish “tak” and Russian “nyet”/ 64 A Step in the Right Direction/ 71 chapter 3: triumph of justice over history: madrid and independence/84 Individual Dialogue and Clinton in Detroit/ 84 Opposition to Enlargement and NATO-Russia Relations/ 89 The Madrid Summit and the End of the Accession Process/ 94 The Challenges of “Day One”/ 105 part ii: poland in nato chapter 4: polish priorities in nato 1999-2019/ 113 Poland and the Key Aspects of NATO Transformation/ 114 Collective Defence—the Polish Approach/ 125 Transatlantic Relations—Challenges and Opportunities/ 139 chapter 5: poland and nato crisis management/ 149 Poland as Security Producer in NATO/ 149 NATO and Crisis-Management Operations/ 155 Between Peacekeeping Missions and Collective Defence/ 164 Poland in NATO Missions/ 170
chapter 6: poland and nato cooperative security/ 177 The European Partnerships and NATO Enlargement/ 181 NATO Relations with Russia and Ukraine/ 185 NATO Partnerships beyond Europe: Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Global Partnership/ 198 conclusion: the nato that poland needs/ 202 The Polish road to NATOâ€”a short timeline/ 206 Selected bibliography/ 219
efforts to join NATO dominated the first decade of
Polish systemic transformation and the related endeavours shaped the security policy of the Republic of Poland after the end of the Cold War. Joining the Alliance in March 1999 was the consequence of a combination of successful national democratic reforms, endorsement by political forces whose legitimacy rested on popular support, and a beneficial evolution of Western policy. Both from the standpoint of domestic developments, or their international contexts, enlarging the Atlantic Alliance may appear indisputably natural, with no other alternative today. Since Poland joined NATO, a whole generation of young Poles has already grown up who take Polish membership for granted. Actually, however, the Polish road to the West and, to some extent, the West’s road to the East was complicated and, on the threshold of the post-Cold War era, hardly obvious for many domestic and foreign actors, filled with obstacles, stereotypes, fears, or plain ignorance. As long as the importance of external factors is adequately recognised, it may serve as a case study of building internal agreement, effective diplomacy, and the resulting reasonable foreign policy. It also teaches the importance of foreign policy consent as a strategic resource of the state and the foundation of its strength. The effect that was achieved in 1999 has been enhancing Poland’s security for 20 years and serves its foreign and security policy. Being a NATO member drives continuous adaptation of the national security system as a condition of bolstering it with the Alliance’s potential. Being allied to European and North American countries is today a major determinant of Poland’s security and extends its opportunities to achieve other foreign policy objectives. Interestingly, 20 years after joining NATO, this process, one of the greatest and most obvious political and diplomatic
successes of free Poland, has not yet been the object of a detailed monograph study. Even though the state of knowledge in this respect is gradually improving, with academic studies,1 lighter but fact-rich popular works,2 memoirs of participants3 and domestic and foreign collections of sources4 all seeing the light of day, the 1 See: R. Kupiecki, “Atlanticism in Post-1989 Polish Foreign Policy,” in: R. Kuźniar (ed.), Poland’s Security Policy 1989–2000, Warsaw, 2001, pp. 271–327; R. Kupiecki, “Akcesja Polski do NATO. Okiem historyka i uczestnika,” Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe, no. 1, 2014, pp. 41–76; R. Kuźniar, Droga do wolności. Polityka zagraniczna III Rzecz pospolitej, Warsaw, 2008, pp. 85–136; M. Tabor, “Polska w Organizacji Traktatu Północnoatlantyckiego,” in: S. Parzymies, I. Popiuk-Rysińska, Udział Polski w organizacjach międzynarodowych, Warsaw, 2012, pp. 137–172. A number of other studies follow up on the findings discussed by the aforementioned authors. For over 25 years, Rocznik Strategiczny has dedicated a large chapter to NATO’s analysis and Polish matters in the Alliance. Foreign studies worth mentioning include R. Asmus’s work (part academic study and part record of personal experience of an eyewitness to the events), Opening NATO’s door. How the alliance remade itself for a new era, New York 2002. Wider background of the U.S. decision to enlarge NATO is provided by J.M. Goldgeier, Not Whether, but When. The US Decision to Enlarge NATO, Washington DC, 1999. For an interesting set of essays written by a long-time architect of U.S. foreign policy towards our region, see: D. Fried, The United States and Central Europe in the American Century. Essays of the Lectures, Warsaw, 2019, esp. pp. 47–72.
2 See: J.M. Nowak, Od hegemonii do agonii. Upadek Układu Warszawskiego. Polska perspektywa, Warsaw, 2011; T. Lis, Wielki finał. Kulisy wstępowania Polski do NATO, Kraków, 1999.
Regular reports by ministers: K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz Atlantycki w latach 1989–1991,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 1, 1999, pp. 9–50; idem, Stosunki między Polską i NATO w latach 1989–1993. Przyczynek do historii dyplomacji w III Rze czypospolitej, www.skubi.net/nato.html (accessed 30/12/2018); D. Rosati, “Powrót Polski do Europy,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 1, 1999, pp. 51–64; J. Onyszkiewicz, “Na drodze do NATO—okruchy wspomnień,” Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe, no. 1, 2014, pp. 21–40; idem (in a long interview), Ze szczytów do NATO. Z Ministrem Obrony Narodowej Januszem Onyszkiewiczem rozmawiają Witold Bereś i Krzysztof Burnetko, Warsaw, 1999. Fact-packed memoirs by Andrzej Krzeczunowicz, the Polish ambassador in Brussels, also in charge (before accession) of contacts with NATO, Krok po kroku. Polska droga do NATO 1989–1999, Kraków, 1999. See also reports by former ambassadors: Andrzej Byrt (Germany), Jerzy Koźmiński (USA) and Ryszard Stemplowski (the UK): Polski Przegląd Dyplomatyczny, no. 3, May–June 2009, pp. 17–102, and the remembrance by Henryk Szlajfer, former Director of the MFA’s Strategy and Planning Department, “Ku członkostwu w NATO. Wybrane problemy i osobiste wspomnienia,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 3, 2009, pp. 13–28. Many assessments and observations from the different foreign policy periods that widen the context of the accession process and the related political disputes are found in reports and commentaries by participants of those events: President Lech Kaczyński’s in: S. Cenckiewicz, A. Chmielecki, J. Kowalski, A.K. Piekarska, Lech Kaczyński. Biografia polityczna 1949–2005, Poznań, 2013, pp. 486–500; Prime Minister Jan Olszewski’s, “Jak uniknęliśmy NATO-bis. Fragmenty wspomnień Jana Olszewskiego,” W Sieci Historii, no. 9, 2017; former Defense Minister Jan Parys, or former MFA and MoD official Grzegorz Kostrzewa Zorbas, in: J. Kurski, P. Semka, Lewy czerwcowy. Mówią Kaczyński, Macierewicz, Parys, Glapiński, Kostrzewa-Zorbas, Warsaw, no publication year. 3
Noteworthy is the systematically kept NATO documentation published in 1989– 99 in “Zbiór Dokumentów,” issued by the Polish Institute of International Affairs; collections: Expose ministrów spraw zagranicznych 1990–2013, Warsaw, 2013,
above statement remains substantially correct. This situation seems partially understandable, since many archival documents, both in Poland and abroad, still remain closed to scholars. I had the personal opportunity to make a fragmentary query in the collections of the Polish Diplomatic Archive at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, only to arrive at the recognition (painful for a scholar, but clear for a diplomat) that the set of diplomatic cables of Polish embassies I studied ought to remain secret for the time being. While it does confirm the good work and “situational awareness” of Polish diplomacy in the matters discussed in this work, it also contains much “internal” knowledge that should remain the sole purview of the foreign service. In addition to the systematic disclosure of American diplomatic sources, there is an influx of knowledge thanks to the archive declassification policy pursued by NATO Headquarters for 20 years, with researchers now having an opportunity to access thousands of documents generated by various structures of the organisation. These include, among others, an interesting collection of 56 declassified documents related to Polish affairs from 1987 to 1991 that provide insight into certain issues discussed in this book.5 Things are no better as far as the post-accession period and Polish involvement in NATO is concerned. Knowledge in this respect, mostly trivial, is scattered over various studies, and monographs bearing promising titles do not always deliver on the promise.
K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna i odzyskanie niepodległości. Przemówienia, oświadczenia, wywiady 1989–1993, Warsaw, 1997; J. Stefanowicz (ed.), Polska-NATO. Wprowadzenie i wybór dokumentów, Warsaw, 1997. An invaluable series for studying the international context of Poland’s accession process: NATO Communiques. Texts of Statements, Declarations and Communiques Issued at Meetings of North Atlantic Council, the Defence Planning Committee, the Nuclear Planning Group, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and at Joint Meetings with NATO Partner Countries, Brussels, no publication year, vol. 4 (1986–1990) and vol. 5 (1991–1995) and later volumes published in print (annually) until 2002. All the documents are available at the NATO website: www.nato.int. See also the volume containing a spectrum of arguments that appeared in the U.S. enlargement debate: Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate, 105th Congress, First Session October 7, 9, 22, 28, 30 and November 1997, Washington 1998, and the collection of stenographic records of Sejm sittings: www.sejm.gov.pl. 5 See: NATO Archives, Publicly Disclosed Documents Related to Poland 1987–1991, www.nato.int/eps/en/natolive/news_117492.htm?selectedLocale=en (accessed 7/1/2019). This is by all means not the only collection of documents about Poland that was declassified by NATO.
Two anniversaries falling in 2019 contributed to the work on this book, whose volume is necessarily limited. I mean here the 20th anniversary of Polish membership in NATO and the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the North Atlantic Alliance, a unique event in the history of international relations. This temporal window allows for the analysis and assessment of various issues from a broader perspective. The intention of this book is not, however, to celebrate anniversaries (even if they are worthy of celebrating) but to give readers the most orderly view of the relations between Poland and NATO since 1989, first as a strategic foreign policy objective and a decade later as its instrument. The author feels that the subject has not been exhausted but intends to provide the readers with as wide an examination of facts, events, and processes as possible, hoping that they can be used as the foundation of knowledge and a stimulus for further research on the issues dealt with here. The book, organised in chronological and topical order, has
been divided into two parts. The first deals with Poland’s road to NATO, from the beginnings of the political transformation in 1989 to accession in 1999. The chronological narrative sets the internal aspects of the accession process side by side with developments in the international situation. The second part covers the post-accession period. Using NATO’s evolving mission as the background, it focuses on both areas of strategic interest to Poland and specific actions related to carrying out the Alliance’s policy. For additional clarity, both parts have been subdivided into chapters. An addendum contains a detailed timeline of the accession process that helps follow the sequence of events discussed in part one. The bibliography found at the end contains the most important titles in the subject literature that have been used to write the book. An extra touch is inset boxes with information that summarises and supplements the main narrative and, sometimes, provides further background on the discussed events. This work has been designed as a continuation and expansion of a previous publication issued as part of a Ministry
of Foreign Affairs Project I led.6 The format, volume and editorial layout of both are similar, and their contents mutually complementary, with the provision that the present publication puts greater stress on the Polish view of NATO affairs. It is from this vantage that the Alliance’s evolution after the Cold War is discussed, but only to the extent necessary to properly clarify the Polish interests and viewpoint. Read together, the books can serve as a useful reference for specialists and those interested in international relations, including Polish foreign and security policy. As a diplomat and a NATO accession “greybeard,” later involved in implementing policy, I dedicate both books, with unflagging affection and gratitude, to those who have and still do apply their work, service, talents, minds, and dedication to enhance Poland’s security. Warsaw, January 2019
R. Kupiecki, Organizacja Traktatu Północnoatlantyckiego, Warsaw, 2016.
polaND ON THE WAY To nato
THE Groundwork Following the 1989 political transformation, the task of Polish foreign policy was to actively shape the external conditions for the newly independent state, which, as believed, was to operate in (...) a safe (near and far) environment, in external conditions conducive to development, able to effectively influence its security (not being anyone’s bargaining chip), and approaching the strategic goal that is the membership in Western European security and integration structures, but not at the price of aversion and hostility of other partners.7 The initial phase of Poland’s transformation that covered the first post-Cold War decade was to a large extent filled with endeavours to become a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member. This process stressed the essence of a sovereign choice made by Poles, who after rejecting communist rule showed the will to cement their relationship with Western security and socioeconomic integration structures and to strengthen their ties with Western civilization and affiliation with “free world” countries. The fathers of the renascent sovereign Polish foreign policy viewed the NATO rapprochement process as a permanent feature of its Western (Atlantic) option and a major step in the great “return of Poland to the family of free nations.” According to the Polish head of diplomacy from 1989 to 1993, this ambition arose as a result of extensive work whose objective was to gradually move Poland and Central Europe closer to the European Communities (...) the Community accession policy inevitably involved NATO as well. Our ties with the Alliance were therefore intensified, step by
K. Krzysztofek, “Wyzwanie cywilizacyjne a zewnętrzna funkcja państwa polskiego,” in: R. Kuźniar (ed.), Między polityką a strategią. Polska w środowisku międzynarodowym, Warsaw, 1994, p. 68.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was founded under the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington on 4 April 1949 by 12 Western democracies from Europe and North America (Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States). The Cold War era saw the accession of Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982) and, subsequently, of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), and Montenegro (2017). The main objective of NATO from its very beginning was the (collective) mutual defence of member states. This is reflected in Article 5 of the treaty that considers an armed attack against one or more parties an attack against all of them and recommends member states take specific actions to restore security in the North Atlantic area. The main provisions of the treaty relate to strengthening free institutions of member states (Article 2), developing national capacity to resist armed attack (Article 3), consultations if the security of any of the parties is threatened (Article 4), defining the territorial extent of the North Atlantic sphere (Article 6), and inviting other states to join the Alliance (Article 10).
During the Cold War years, the main mission of NATO was to use political and military means to deter the Soviet Union and its satellite states (the communist bloc) from potential aggression and to prepare for joint defence if a conflict broke out. In a wider political plan, NATO saw its role as supportive of international law principles and cooperation standards found in the United Nations Charter. A popular political slogan encapsulating the essential purpose of NATO (attributed to its first secretary general, Lord Ismay) was “to keep the Russians out, Americans in, and Germans down.” This summarised the three historical functions of the Alliance: 1) deterring and defending against possible armed aggression of the Soviet Union and other communist countries, 2) maintaining U.S. military presence in Europe that guaranteed assistance to allies in case of external attack, and 3) preventing the resurgence of German military power, which sparked both world wars in the 20th century. With the Cold War ended, NATO extended its mission by emergency actions outside the treaty area (peacekeeping missions and combating terrorism) and developing cooperative security by collaborating with non-member international organisations and states.
step, in a simultaneous and tangible manner.8 These processes were crowned by Polish accession to NATO, which took place on 12 March 1999, resulting in security guarantees from the world’s largest defence pact and participation in its collaboration, consultation, and coordination processes related to security and defence.
Conditions and time factor The
and security policy was to receive became possible due to a combination of internal systemic reforms at home and a favourable political change abroad. The basic condition for landing an opportunity for establishing ties with Western institutions was to effect a transformation in the mould of Western democracies. After all, the North Atlantic Treaty preamble does say that NATO members reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. On the other hand, developments abroad provided a dynamic background for efforts to improve Poland’s standing. Even though this carried no automatic promise of NATO and European Community memberships, it provided a favourable milieu for promoting Polish national interests. This included: • the political determination of democratic Polish governments to build new relationships with the Western world and its institutions. The veracity of the international aspirations of the Polish state was enhanced by its internal transformation
K. Skubiszewski, “Zadania i perspektywy polskiej polityki zagranicznej w Europie,” Rzeczpospolita, 31 December 1994.
that led to building a democratic system, free market, and collaboration with the West. • the initial reluctance that over time turned into a willingness to build foundations for partner-like contacts with former adversaries. The transformations of 1989 not only led to the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe but also prompted a NATO transformation. This process consisted of adapting the organisation to new operational conditions, broadening
capacity (involving the reduction of conventional and nuclear weapons), and opening to collaboration with non-member states, first the former Moscow satellites, then Soviet Union successors, and finally Russia itself. One of the features of this process was the slow but systematic maturing of the decision to admit new members.9 The interconnectedness of Polish internal policy and changes in Western countries and NATO itself allows the division of the
accession period into four clear phases: The first phase, which can be called preliminary, runs from 1989 to 1992. It started with diplomatic overtures by the Mazowiecki government that involved establishing working contacts with NATO. The closing date was the sovereign (for the first time after World War II) formulation of the basic tenets of Polish security policy contained in the text of the Republic of Poland’s foreign policy and security strategy of November 1992. NATO membership was identified there as a vital interest of the state. At the same time, the evolving NATO stance towards former Warsaw Pact countries was summarised in the Alliance’s Strategic Concept of November 1991. The document noted the need to develop mutual relationships based on new foundations reflecting the post-Cold War reality. A concrete offer of establishing institutional political collaboration followed. Poland was one of the countries that took up the offer and soon became an active
9 For more about NATO’s post-Cold War transformation, see: R. Kupiecki, Od Londynu do Waszyngtonu. NATO w latach dziewięćdziesiątych, Warsaw, 1998.
member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). In late 1991, NATO also took the step to include collaboration with states outside the North Atlantic area among the organisation’s external
breakdown of the Soviet Union, preceded by the August 1991 Yanayev putsch that attempted to halt the process, did much to accelerate this drive. The nascent Allied partnership policy did not assume at the time that it would result in the enlargement of the organisation. In Poland, circumstances of varying strength (specific for the period only) limited the possibility of credibly and effectively demonstrating the will for NATO membership. The main “hard” obstacles included mostly the presence of Soviet troops in Poland and the uncertainty over their withdrawal conditions, the poor economic situation of the country (inherited from the centrally planned economy), the slow disentanglement from the constraining military and political straitjacket of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon, and the lack of readiness of NATO states to make bold political decisions. Other, “soft” limitations were in turn related to the awareness of elites and the general population, the power and influence of former NATO-related propaganda stereotypes, or the quality of national strategic education. The period was also characteristic because of polarised opinions in Poland and a plenitude of mostly immature foreign policy schemes, expressed in alternative proposals for Polish security, such as the bizarre NATO-bis concept or even neutrality. Accordingly, this was a period of accelerated political maturing where dreams, illusions, and visions clashed with the realities of renascent Polish foreign policy, also echoing the global “end of history” debates based on the famous book by Francis Fukuyama.10 A splinter of these debates in Europe was the then-popular idea of a new collective security system based on promoting the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, New York, 1992.
Europe standards, non-alignment, and harmonious cooperation between international organisations. The second phase of Poland’s road to NATO lasted until the autumn of 1995 and can be described as the stage in which the Atlantic direction in Polish politics matured and state needs and strategic goals were pragmatically defined and translated into specific implementation measures. At that time, most of the limitations mentioned above eroded away, membership aspirations were consolidated and topped the national security agenda, and social support for them was extended, leaving little room for political doubts centring on NATO. In contrast to the previous careful approach to NATO membership, the issue was now boldly and openly promoted. Governments of Allied states were still, however, not ready to discuss membership and had to bring the organisation up to the level of collaboration Warsaw expected. Russian opposition against Central European countries getting closer to NATO was also at full tide. The key event at
that stage was launching the Partnership for Peace initiative that included an offer of military collaboration and the direct, but not yet fleshed out, the promise of enlarging the Alliance without a commitment to automatic application. After the U.S. president declared that the Alliance would accept new members, and it remained to decide how and when this was to be done, the rationale of the enlargement process was broadly explained in the extensive “Study on NATO Enlargement” published in Brussels in September 1995. This period was also conspicuous for alternative (non-Western) proposals for solving the security of Central and Eastern European states and integrating them with Western structures that relegated Alliance membership to the background. The third phase of the accession process was the period in which decisions about the time and manner of NATO enlargement were made. It lasted until the Madrid summit in July 1997, when Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were invited as prospective members. At that time, the then 16 NATO Allies reached a consensus on the political and military justification and legal framework of the accession process. Efforts were also
made to acquaint candidates with membership requirements and an opportunity for individual contacts provided, allowing interested states to present their advantages as future allies. Warsaw fully appreciated the offer, constantly pressing for naming the exact conditions and date of Alliance enlargement. Domestically, public opinion favourable to NATO membership was reflected in the consensus of the main political forces, and the preparatory process for integration became more systematic. Governmental coordinating structures were established to handle pre-accession tasks, and seeing the finish line on the horizon had an accelerating effect on all necessary preparatory efforts. The fourth phase finalised the accession process and was marked by the practical implementation of decisions made at the Madrid summit, including the accession talks with NATO Headquarters and the complicated procedure of ratifying changes to the Washington Treaty (Accession Protocols) in the capitals of the member states while countering the activities of those opposing the enlargement. Poland, on the other hand, had to fulfil accession obligations and achieve the minimum military and legal requirements for membership. This phase was characterised by a Polish diplomatic offensive combined with intense lobbying activities of the U.S.-Polish diaspora and accelerating the pace of internal preparations. The final step was the transfer of documents ratifying the Washington Treaty by Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary on 12 March 1999, and NATO’s Washington summit (April 1999) in which the accession of the new members was confirmed. At this stage, membership in the Alliance ceased to be an objective of Polish policy and became a state security instrument. Poland’s successful return to the West was achieved amid specific activities to develop democracy, the rule of law, and a market economy, foster relations with neighbours based on burying past conflicts and looking forward to a common future, contributing to the stabilisation of post-Cold War Europe, and effectively overcoming the doubts and concerns of Western countries about opening their institutions to the new
Poland’s situation in the early 1990s: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc led to a “security void” as Central Europe countries became non-aligned. The Warsaw Pact broke down since its members saw no value in maintaining it. NATO remained the most important entity influencing and potentially guaranteeing the European security order, with no real alternatives in this respect in the form of potential regional structures, the CSCE, or individual security efforts of former Communist states. A potential NATO membership would not only provide security to states but also stamp them as members of the West (“free world”) and offer them a framework to cooperate with 18NATO countries, including the United States, a factor facilitating the overall political transformation and accession to the European Union.
advances in strategic education that replaced stereotypes with knowledge and understanding of Western policy affected the pace and manner of arriving at detailed expectations towards NATO, the tactics chosen, and the institutional dimension of the process. For some Polish citizens and political forces, the actions of the government in this respect appeared frustratingly slow and even not adequately safeguarding
interests. They involved different views of the decision-making process and the time taken to achieve the objective, appearing, among others, in opinions that an opportunity to do so in the first half of the 1990s was wasted.
The U.S. diplomat Ron Asmus, very well disposed towards Poland, points to the paradox of extreme caution that led Warsaw to be very careful in formulating its initial expectations towards NATO. He notes the concerns about provoking Russia and using its support when looking for guarantees for Western borders and the slow replacement rate of former communist officials in the highest state institutions. While arrangements on that issue (...) were quickly overtaken by events, they nevertheless remained intact and slowed down Poland’s articulation of its desire to build closer ties with NATO (...) Although Wałęsa had replaced Jaruzelski as the elected President of Poland in December 1990, during the spring of 1991, the official Polish position continued to be in favour
of neutrality (...).11 Notably Asmus, whose contribution to Poland’s accession to NATO was significant, while writing about the internal limitations of clearly articulating the stance towards NATO in Polish politics, omits the issue of fulfilling the more bold views that appeared in the spring of 1991 among the political party Porozumienie Centrum, the Atlantic Club, and the government of Jan Olszewski. The issue is therefore complex; reflecting the programmes and ideas discussed in that period, it is enmeshed in political disputes about the form of the state and the beginnings of the Polish transformation, including the “authorship” of the Alliance membership idea and the moment in which it appeared as a foreign policy objective and the object of systematic international endeavours. These issues deserve a detailed study, but as far as the general interest of the state is concerned, it is the end result that matters. The will to throw in Poland’s lot with NATO was not merely an intention to automatically reverse alliances but was a conscious choice of an external relations model that would give the best possible guarantees of security, stable growth, and welfare. In this context, the new orientation of Polish foreign policy was accurately explained by an expert writing in the early 1990s: Our sovereign choice, besides (...) rejecting the past forms of vassalage, also had its positive dimension resulting from favouring democratic and free-market values. The choice also abandoned purely geopolitical considerations (...) Choosing democratic values, therefore, means much more than just shifting the direction of our interests from East to West, but involves our deepest desires to catch up on civilizational growth (...) In this sense, this is not a turn dictated purely by circumstances, understood only by narrow political elites, but a public choice resulting from the most trivial necessities of our everyday life.12
R. Asmus, Opening NATO’s door…, pp. 61–62.
T. Chabiera, “Refleksje nad bezpieczeństwem Polski,” Polska w Europie, vol. 16, December 1994, p. 13.
It would be a simplification to paint Poland’s road to NATO as a process that society and political forces felt had no alternatives from the very start of the transformation. To reach a decision, reading the intentions and actions of the first post-Solidarity governments is of key importance. Another issue is the role of various political forces in achieving this objective, especially with respect to the position, subsequently evolved, of post-communist left-wing parties that in the early 1990s viewed the North Atlantic Alliance with reluctance.13 It was this change that led to successful accession when the left was in power. Even admitting that it was helped by considerable public support for NATO as a real shield for the pro-Western policy course, the chance to improve Poland’s security was not wasted. The list of problems should be extended by an analysis of statements and actions of those political groups that opposed integration with the Alliance. It must be remembered that, while the Washington Treaty ratification act was passed by the Polish parliament with an overwhelming majority of votes, consent was not unanimous. However, results
are what matters in foreign policy, and they were achieved in as short a time as possible, thanks to an agreement maintained in the first post-Cold War decade on the strategic tasks of foreign policy and state transformation. Polish governments did not miss out on the chance to join NATO, unlike Slovakia, whose accession was delayed for five years.
Dismantling Yalta The collaboration between Poland and NATO inevitably had to start with changing the stereotypical view of that organisation imposed in communist countries by propaganda routines cemented after 1949. The beginning of the post-Cold War era fully exposed the difficulties experienced by new thinking about former adversaries—on the Alliance side as well. Even a shadow
13 J. Onyszkiewicz, “Na drodze do NATO. Okruchy wspomnień,” Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe, no. 1, 2014, pp. 28–29. The author recalls a curious publication in Życie Warszawy, January 1990, by Wiesław Górnicki, a Polish People’s Republic propagandist and advisor to Wojciech Jaruzelski, presenting the idea of Poland applying for NATO membership.
of trust could be hard to find. Among 30 high-ranking NATO officers surveyed by a U.S. analyst in the autumn of 1989, only two had already noticed the need to adapt the Alliance’s strategy to the new situation in Europe.14 The others viewed its mission as unchanging. The former Polish ambassador in Brussels and one of the first who liaised with NATO is right in saying that no amount of hand-waving could erase the forty years of hostility (...) imposed by Moscow on its satellites, but still viewed as such in the West.15 The first reactions of Brussels to the ongoing breakdown of communism in Europe viewed the situation through the lens of events in the Soviet Union and their possible influence on the state of dialogue between East and West, including arms limitation negotiations (then conducted by NATO and the Warsaw Pact).16 In general, the direction of the ongoing changes was considered uncertain, which led NATO leaders celebrating the 40th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1989 to confirm that a strategy of maintaining suitable military capacity to deter threats would be maintained, as well as to signal their readiness to enter into a dialogue with Warsaw Pact countries in order to establish a new model of East-West relations.17
14 S. Nelson Drew, “NATO From Berlin to Bosnia. Trans-Atlantic Security in Transition,” McNair Paper, 35, Washington DC, March 1995, footnote 4. 15 A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., p. 30. It reads: “When I came to Brussels in 1992, we were rarely referred to as former enemies, but the term former opponents remained in circulation.”
NATO documents from the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, in detail analyse the weakening of the communist regime, the Round Table Talks, the impact of the opposition, the role of the Catholic Church, the significance of the elections on 4 June 1989, the formation of Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s cabinet and the significance of the transformations for the Alliance. Secret analysis by NATO’s Situation Centre from September 1989 concluded: The Polish Army fulfilled its obligations as a member of the Warsaw Pact (…) it would be unwilling to engage in politics as an independent force (…) if would have doubts were to engage in the imposition of a possible martial law proclaimed by the authorities (…) the Soviet Unit will not use military force to exert pressure on Warsaw’s political decisions (…), NATO Archives, SITCEN, IM (89) 182, www.nato.int/eps/en/natolive/news_117492.htm?selectedLocale=en (accessed 8/1/2019) —further on I refer to documents from this source as: NATO Archives. See also the document: Soviet Reactions to the Polish Development, ibidem; SITCEN, IM (89) 188.
17 Declaration of the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, 29–30 May 1989, in: “Texts of Final Communiques…,” vol. 4, 1986–1990, pp. 32–39.
The first consistent assessment of the situation did not appear until the spring of 1990 when a series of documents issued by the highest decision-making NATO bodies noted a decline in military threats due to changes in the European security environment. It was expected that this situation would stabilise as international cooperation grew and the Alliance adapted to the new circumstances.18 A new feature apparent during the June North Atlantic Council (NAC) session in Turnberry, Scotland, was a political invitation to Warsaw Pact countries to cooperate in the spirit of freedom, democracy, and justice. It was expressed in the rather grandiloquent figure of a hand extended in friendship and collaboration and passed into a document19 attached to a statement issued after the meeting. In July, the heads of state and government of Alliance members offered the countries of the teetering Warsaw Pact to build new partnerships through direct contacts and political dialogue, as well as developing military collaboration oriented on maintaining stability on a panEuropean scale.20 Poland’s reaction to these decisions was read by
NATO as the lack of differences between the objectives of Warsaw and Brussels, the willingness to build a new partnership with the alliance, lack of hostility, approving of the organisation’s military agenda and readiness to establish diplomatic relations.21 The NATO statements came at the height of the political debate on the validity of the continued post-Cold War existence of the Alliance.22 Some of the questions clearly hinted at dealing with 18
Ibidem, pp. 135–137 and 138–143.
The so-called “Message from Turnberry,” ibidem, p. 40.
London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance, Issued by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in London on 5–6 July 1990, ibidem, pp. 41–44.
NATO Archives: Polish Position on NATO, U.S. Delegation, 24 July 1990.
We still remember Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s opinion, expressed 30 years earlier: “NATO is a transitional body, created in the face of the Soviet threat and doomed to extinction once this threat is gone,” quoted from: J. Goulden, “NATO Approaching Two Summits. The UK Perspective,” RUSI Journal, December 1996, p. 29. This argument gave rise to a large number of studies that proclaimed the imminent demise of NATO: M.E. Brown, “The Flawed Logic of NATO Expansion,” Survival, no. 1, 1995, pp. 34–52; J. Clarke, “Replacing NATO,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1993/94, pp. 22–40; F. Heisbourg, “The Future of the Atlantic Alliance. Whither NATO, Whether 22
the Alliance’s ability to maintain further activity without being threatened by a specific enemy and confronted with the prospect of territorial aggression. If so, what would be its purpose? Would the U.S. be willing to maintain Article 5 guarantees? Given the new situation, how could NATO balance its mandated obligation of defending the North Atlantic sphere with the international community’s demands for a wider contribution to building a new international order? At the same time, statements were made that pointed to the need to build a new European security structure centred on the U.S., France, Germany, the UK, and the Soviet Union and using the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Before a final decision could be made, it was proposed the Alliance act as the “manager” of the Cold War “estate” and guarantee Western security should Moscow ever resume its policy of aggression.23 Other influential concepts that ruled out adapting NATO to new circumstances, centred on purely European or pan-European solutions, assumed that the Alliance’s functions would be taken over by countries organised around the European Union and Western European Union, less strict military ties with the American continent, as well as various variants of a continental collective security organisation. This way of thinking also included the idea of developing the military policy of states and alliances mostly as a defensive measure—affecting the adopted strategy and military technologies—supposedly to mitigate the tensions caused by offensive war-fighting capabilities. The final affirmative solution for the dilemma of NATO’s future existence24 was the result of recognising
NATO?,” The Washington Quarterly, no. 2, 1992, pp. 127–139; J.J. Mersheimer, “Back to the Future. Instability in Europe After the Cold War,” International Security, no. 1, 1990, pp. 5–56. See also C.A. Kupchan, “Concerts, Collective Security, and the Future of Europe,” International Security, no. 1, 1991, pp. 153–155 ff. The idea of creating a new security system “where all the countries are on the same side” was raised in many publications from the early 1990s, e.g.: P. Bracken, S.E. Johnson, “Beyond NATO. Complementary Militaries,” Orbis, no. 2, 1993, pp. 205–222; M. Chalmers, “Beyond the Alliance System,” World Policy Journal, no. 2, 1990, pp. 215–250; J. Mueller, “A New Concert of Europe,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1989/1990, pp. 3–16.
R. Kupiecki, NATO a operacje pokojowe. Studium sojuszu w transformacji, WarszawaToruń, 1998, pp. 15–63; J. Kiwerska, Gra o Europę. Bezpieczeństwo europejskie w polityce Stanów Zjednoczonych pod koniec XX wieku, Poznań, 2000, pp. 87–162.
the Alliance as useful for its member states in the long term, primarily due to: • providing a military safeguard against unexpected threats, deterring and defending against the consequences of a sudden revival of authoritarianism in the East, or reforging a bloc hostile to the West; • planning and training member state military forces to allow cooperation in case of defending allied territory or external peacekeeping missions; • stabilising the relations between member countries to defuse rivalry and prevent re-nationalisation of defence policy; • guaranteeing the U.S. presence in Europe as decisive for maintaining the Alliance’s defensive potential; • guaranteeing German security, preventing a unified Germany from going down the nuclear road and persuading it to contribute to constructive policy in European institutions;
• protecting smaller European states against superpower agreements; • supporting growing cooperation with Russia and former Warsaw Pact countries; • providing a key component of the European security system. This phase of existential reflection on the post-Cold War NATO mission and the extent of the necessary transformation was summarised by the Alliance’s “New Strategic Concept” approved in November 1991, almost two years after the Central European Fall of Nations.25 The document authorised the organisation to take action with respect to former adversaries and, during the next few years, blossomed into the institutional form of the NACC, Partnership for Peace, special mechanisms for cooperation
25 “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept Approved by Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Rome on 7–8 November 1991,” in: NATO Handbook. Partnership and Cooperation, Brussels, 1995.
with Russia and Ukraine, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), ultimately leading to enlargement of the Alliance. While 1989 saw Poland regain the ability to make sovereign decisions in state matters, no new revolutionary foreign policy proposal was at hand.26 At that time, the priority was to steady the democratic direction of the Polish transformation, carried out so as to minimise the impact of unfavourable circumstances in the direct neighbourhood. Mazowiecki’s government was conspicuous for adhering to a practice of subdued public statements devoid of flamboyant gestures breaking with the past and quiet diplomatic work (whose effects would become apparent later). The values it championed (democracy, liberal market economy, cooperation with neighbours, complying with international law) unambiguously qualified the new foreign policy and made it naturally gravitate towards a community of states united by the same civilizational code. The retiring Canadian ambassador in Warsaw who talked with PM Mazowiecki on 13 September 1989 reported to his government that (...) Polish foreign policy will continue, and obligations towards the Warsaw Pact and neighbouring nations will be respected. On the other hand, the nomination of Krzysztof Skubiszewski—a non-party figure with ties to the Catholic Church—to the foreign minister post signals new aspects of Polish relations with the West within the previous policy (...) All of this points to Mazowiecki’s prudence and caution, but also his intention to effect a considerable change [in foreign policy - R.K.], given time.27 Analysing the first 100 days of Mazowiecki’s government, NATO Headquarters called this policy a “gradual revolution” and “deconstruction instead of demolition.”28 26 Statement by the Civic Committee (Komitet Obywatelski) attached to the Chairman of NSZZ “Solidarność” of 24 April 1989, stating that the key national goals are “ensuring state sovereignty, expressed by political and economic independence,” ensuring security and preserving international peace, overcoming the Cold War division of Europe, developing inter-state cooperation in line with UN and CSCE principles and ever fuller implementation of human rights,” quoted after: J. Czaputowicz, “Posłowie: Polska droga do NATO i Unii Europejskiej,” in: K. Persak, P. Machcewicz (eds), Polski wiek XX, vol. 4, Warszawa, 2010, p. 366.
NATO Archives: Report from the Canadian Ambassador, Warsaw. Farewell Call on Prime Minister.
NATO Archives: The Mazowiecki Government’s First Hundred Days, 19 January 1990.
In his first speech before the Sejm, the new PM publicly expressed the same thought, saying that: Our opening to Europe does not mean abandoning our former ties and obligations. If today we repeat that the new government will respect Polish obligations under alliances, this is not a reassuring tactical ploy. It flows from our understanding of the Polish national interest and an analysis of the international situation. If the day comes when European security does not require military blocs, we will abandon them without regret. And we believe this will happen. The speech contained a clear reference to a future comprehensive security system that would eliminate the need for military pacts. In parallel, priorities were named by Minister Skubiszewski. They included: respecting the obligations to Warsaw Pact countries, reforming Comecon, and opening to the West.29 At the same time, the head of diplomacy strongly rejected any ideas of foreign policy that would inherently limit the freedom with which it is conducted. When asked a few weeks after his appointment about “Finlandisation” as the way for Poland, he spoke against it, saying: I wish we would avoid this term. It has a negative ring to it (...) Poland is regaining independence in her own way.30 Speaking in public, the minister stressed sovereignty and independence and a vision of peace and freedom while respecting the actual circumstances in the region as the essential foundations of the new Polish foreign policy. These circumstances, based among others on respecting existing treaties, were, however, supposed to serve to maintain local balance, not to self-limit the right to make sovereign political choices. Security issues were also strongly principled. The new Polish government, Skubiszewski declared at the 44th session of the United Nations General Assembly, has no intention to destabilise the existing international order, and especially the mutual strategic security involving the two superpowers. Security areas cannot, however, be equated with spheres of influence.31
For both addresses, see: Rzeczpospolita, 13 September 1989.
Rzeczpospolita, 16 November 1989.
K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna i odzyskanie niepodległości. Przemówienia, oświadczenia, wywiady 1989–1993, Warszawa, 1997, pp. 15–22. 31
During the first months of being in power, the government, however, said little on how to achieve its objectives. In matters of security, it was assumed that membership in the Warsaw Pact would continue, but no doubts were entertained that it would be impossible to keep the organisation unchanged. Already in October 1989, at a meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact Countries, Poland declared that it does not feel threatened by the West. Apart from being interested in the results of inter-bloc negotiations on limiting conventional arms, in which Poland participated (on the Pact’s side), attention was turned to CSCE as the centre of the future collective security system in the region. NATO, on the other hand, was officially viewed as part of a strategic neighbourhood, but not a structure that could, now or in the future, guarantee security to the Polish state. Reminiscing after a couple of years over the 1989 watershed, Professor Skubiszewski states that from the very start, our foreign policy was oriented to link Poland to the West, and also to join organisations which at that time were solely Western.32 This thought, in its general lines, truthfully reflects reality and leaves no doubt from the perspective 10 years later when it was written down. It brings, however, the question about the nature of the institutional aspects of these links, extending beyond relations with European Communities, and especially whether the architects of Poland’s external policy had already recognised NATO membership as a viable solution. Skubiszewski settles these doubts, pointing out that (...) in 1989-1990 and for most of 1991, NATO membership was still a wish and not a real political objective. In other words, he believes that it was an actual political objective, not revealed merely due to existing external limitations.33 That objective was, he says, very remote and indefinite, and failure to pursue it did not rule out other links to the West. At that time (...) joining the Alliance, as a proposed Polish policy, had to be shelved as a possible K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz Atlantycki w latach 1989–1991,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 1, 1999, p. 9.
First of all, membership of the Warsaw Pact and the Comecon, the stationing of Soviet troops in Poland, the existence of the USSR, which cast doubt on the possible reactions to the process of emancipation of states of the former “external empire,” and on the West’s relations with Moscow.
(desirable) scenario but was not part of practical politics. Abroad, we had to act with extreme restraint and caution so as not to cause an indifferent, if not hostile, reaction of the West.34 However, the hindsight on that period by the then secretary of state at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland (and later president himself), Lech Kaczyński, was different. Recollecting the year 1991 and his efforts on promoting the idea of joining NATO, he said he had no support in this matter, and especially that (...) the then foreign minister was no ally of mine. He also noted the reluctance of the armed forces leadership: (...) for them, it was an immense shock. Just a few months before they commanded a Warsaw Pact army, after all.35 The Western option, with its different North Atlantic direction, had its loud critics as well. Apart from voices perceiving these developments as “exchanging Soviet for Western domination,” the idea was also contested by proponents of the “third way,” who favoured (armed) non-alignment. This “way” would consist of
a voluntarily chosen foreign policy direction, without any legally binding obligations but following the practice of staying away from military alliances and the political disputes and military conflicts between other states. Assumptions like these, even if openly expressed in public discourse, were never a serious alternative for the direction that Polish security policy had to adopt.36 Factors like Poland’s geopolitical situation, located on the main axis of European policy (which made the chances of staying on the sidelines of any serious conflict illusory), the threat of marginalisation and objectification resulting from a lack of institutional legitimacy and remaining at the crossroads of 34
K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…,” pp. 10–12.
Quote from: S. Cenckiewicz, A. Chmielecki, J. Kowalski, A.K. Piekarska, Lech Kaczyński. Biografia polityczna 1949–2005, Poznań, 2013, pp. 490–491. 35
In addition to “finlandisation,” “neutrality” was one of the historical demands made by the former opposition to reduce dependence on the USSR. Janusz Onyszkiewicz argued that “after 1989, to talk about neutrality was nonsense (…) History proves that it can only succeed in a peripheral country. Poland is not such a country,” Ze szczytów do NATO. Z Ministrem Obrony Narodowej Januszem Onyszkiewiczem rozmawiają Witold Bereś i Krzysztof Burnetko, Warszawa, 1999, p. 79.
superpower interests,37 as well as internal analysis of costs and benefits made such schemes infeasible. The analysis showed that Poland would be unable to bear the costs of this option, which included ensuring credible deterrents, on its own. Polish security interests could be more effectively and cheaply served by participating in Western institutions.38 Political
from the West strengthened the conviction that dismantling the old order would not be a quick affair. While in the autumn of 1989 the NATO Secretary General stated that windows have opened in the East which the Alliance must not permit to shut down again,39 the July 1989 visit of President George H. W. Bush to Poland and Hungary indicated both sympathy and light doubts
Plans related to a pan-European collective security system were important for Polish policy as well. It was expected that, due to its connections to partner relations between states and international organisations, the system would be able to solve two national security dilemmas: free Poland from the straitjacket of the Warsaw Pact, an alliance that shackled national sovereignty, and ensure a peaceful embedding of the power of unified Germany in European cooperation without prejudice to Polish interests. 29
as to the permanency of the contemporary changes. Likewise, the promised U.S. assistance was out of proportion to the Polish needs resulting from the scale of the planned reforms. Nevertheless, during both the Warsaw visit and a speech in the Sejm (10 July), and an informal meeting with Wojciech Jaruzelski and representatives of the anti-communist opposition forces (who would soon join the government), the U.S. clearly declared its interest in the success of the Polish political transformation. This was especially prominent during the meeting with Polish politicians, mentioned above, where Bush, as reported by an American participant in the meeting, supposedly directly said that “America would
This argument was strongly emphasized by K. Skubiszewski, see “Polska polityka zagraniczna w 1991 roku,” in: Rocznik Polskiej Polityki Zagranicznej 1991, Warszawa, 1993, p. 16.
Z. Najder, Jak widzieć świat, Polska w Europie, folio 2, May 1990, pp. 40–42.
Quoted from: A. Krzeczunowicz, Krok po kroku…, p. 19.
support Poland and had deep sympathy for Solidarity, but we wanted to support a smooth and peaceful, not violent transition from communist Poland to a free Poland.”40 In this view, Poland’s transformation appeared uncertain, annoyed Moscow, and was not helping the cause of German unification and arms limitation. Similarly,
sympathetic towards former freedom movements) were disposed to view the aspirations of Central European states as a hindrance to determining the foundations of a new regional order. The first timorous statements of Czech and Hungarian politicians in 1989 and 1990 on willingness to gain membership in NATO were received coldly among the 16 Allies, making it clear that this issue was not on the agenda of international politics. While during the Cold War permanent Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe was a dogma of Western political thinking, in the new circumstances most doubted that the Central European states would be able to successfully carry out their democratic
transformation without sparking a conflict with the Soviets. The attention of European countries and the U.S. was then focused on finalising the negotiations on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the increasingly realistic option of German unification. NATO was mired in debate on its continued existence in the new circumstances, with many political discussions articulating the opinion that it could be possible to establish a European collective security system that satisfied equally the interests of all states without the need for military alliances. The core of this idea was seen in the CSCE, whose importance grew with the adoption of the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” in November 1990 that proclaimed an “era of 40 D. Fried, The United States and Central Europe in the American Century, Warsaw, 2019, pp. 53–54. Fried rightly calls the conduct of the Polish case by President Bush (Senior) as one of the major foreign policy accomplishments of his presidency. He changed the U.S. perception of changes in Poland after the fall of communism, he sent a signal to Polish politics of interest in cooperation, and he sent a strong message to the Soviets that the U.S. supports the Polish transformation. It took Bush’s successor a longer time to develop new directions of U.S. policy towards Poland. In 1993, when Bill Clinton became president, nothing was yet decided on this matter and NATO’s enlargement was not considered while the dominant policy was “Russia first,” ibidem, pp. 59–61.
democracy, peace, and unity.”41 Looking back, one can, of course, easily criticise these delusions, but this does not deny the fact that a new role was sought for CSCE in Moscow, Washington, and European capitals alike. The CSCE growth vision was also important because of the ongoing superpower talks on German unification (as a form of recompensing the USSR for the loss of influence in East Germany and the future membership of the German state in NATO). Regardless of the fact that attempts to establish a new cooperation structure, or indeed a mechanism to bring all European security organisations under one roof, were relatively short-lived, some elements of that vision stood the test of time, becoming a factor in the later dispute on justifying NATO enlargement. One of the first Polish concepts to reconstruct the institutional foundations of European security involved the evolution from a non-sovereign alliance pact to new solutions backed by the public. The gist of this issue was how to abandon the idea of Moscow as the guarantor of Polish security and cause the withdrawal of its troops from Polish territory. The conditional readiness to abandon military blocs was already hinted at in Mazowiecki’s first speech before the Sejm. Additional details were supplied by Poland’s defence doctrine formulated in February 1990, which recognised Warsaw Pact membership as an important feature of Polish security, with the provision that its role may change as a new, pan-European security system is developed.42 This did not mean that Poland was looking for new potential allies, but working on new foreign policy directions and altering its expectations towards the Pact. Both I and many of my friends from the Mazowiecki government were from the start in favour of dismantling the Warsaw Pact. The question was how to do it in a relatively gentle way, says the former foreign minister.43 Skubiszewski’s first speech before the Sejm in the spring of 41
Paris Charter for a New Europe, www.osce.org.
“Uchwała Komitetu Obrony Kraju z dnia 21 lutego 1990 r. w sprawie doktryny obronnej RP,” Monitor Polski, 19 March 1990.
J. Onyszkiewicz, Ze szczytów…, pp. 114–115.
1990 followed the wording of February’s security doctrine document and sketched the Polish position on the future of the Warsaw Pact. The Pact’s functions were to be limited to external defence tasks and consultations, denying it any influence on the internal affairs of member states. These statements were repeated in the autumn of 1990 during an Eastern policy debate in the Senate. At that time, the minister firmly rejected the idea of renegotiating the Pact, correctly reasoning that this would lead to cementing the organisation, and somewhat exaggeratedly added that the Warsaw Pact is not our main worry. In this context, the attention which the MFA paid to the consistency of public statements of government members should be noted. An example may be the correspondence with the then head of the ministry of defence, Piotr Kołodziejczyk, on his press interviews made in the summer of 1990.44 The minister was charged with inappropriately referring to the USSR as guaranteeing Poland’s independent existence “for the time being”—the statement was understood to fly in the face of one of the main principles of
Polish foreign policy, namely relying on full state sovereignty and independence.45 The Polish position also evolved under the influence of changes occurring in neighbouring countries. Major attention was paid to observing the actions taken by Moscow versus the former Soviet republics, including the use of economic pressure, political threats and open force to strangle independence movements (mostly in the Baltic countries). Already in October, when interviewed by the New York daily Nowy Dziennik, Minister Skubiszewski denied charges that Poland was hindering the Pact’s decomposition and added that it ceased to be a forum of useful cooperation. As an independent state with its own foreign policy, we want to maintain the best possible relations with the Soviet Union, 44
Rzeczpospolita, 8 August 1990 and Gazeta Wyborcza, 9 August 1990.
Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas, critical towards Minister Skubiszewski and his method of conducting foreign policy, recalls an MFA report on relations with the USSR, dated May 1990, which described the USSR’s role as a “guarantor of Poland’s independence.” He also credits himself with deleting such references from the draft document: J. Kurski, P. Semka, Lewy czerwcowy. Mówią Kaczyński, Macierewicz, Parys, Glapiński, Kostrzewa-Zorbas, Warsaw, no year of publication, p. 150. 45
but we do not need the Warsaw Pact for that. One month later, when speaking at the North Atlantic Assembly session, he stated that the Pact does not fulfil its role in the security sphere, since as a product and feature of the past it does not belong to contemporary times, and its decline would not cause a security void in Central and Eastern Europe.46 The same conclusion was made in assessments formulated in other Warsaw Pact member states (especially in Hungary and the Czech Republic). Surrounded by sharp disputes and the growing internal tension in the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact was ultimately disbanded on 1 July 1991, but not without Moscow warning former allies against drifting too close to the North Atlantic side. In consequence of disbanding the Warsaw Pact, following stormy negotiations and the at times dramatic political process, an agreement on withdrawing Russian troops from Poland was reached. Combat units left Polish territory on 28 October 1992, with the last Russian forces crossing the border on 18 September 1993.47 This fact was of “heavyweight importance” in light of Poland’s road to NATO, widening the political leeway and removing a number of obstacles preventing institutional ties with the West. The other Polish security issue discussed above was related to the future place of Germany in the European cooperation and security system. In 1990, the unification of Germany and its new status in the security sphere was in the balance. Polish diplomacy sent a vague hint already in December 1989, noting its lack of concerns due to the increasing probability of a new neighbour, the process being viewed through the logic of European integration. The future unified German state’s membership in the Alliance was, however, viewed “as a large problem of world 46 Fragments of both addresses, see: K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna, pp. 95 and 100–101. 47 For more on this subject, see: G. Kostrzewa-Zorbas, “The Russian Troop Withdrawal from Poland,” in: A.E. Goodman (ed.), The Diplomatic Record 1992–1993, Boulder, 1995, pp. 113–138; M. Tabor, “Wojskowe aspekty środowiska międzynarodowego Polski,” in: R. Kuźniar (ed.), Krajobraz po transformacji. Środowisko międzynarodowe Polski lat 90-tych, Warszawa, 1992, pp. 151–153; J. Ślusarczyk, Układ Warszawski. Działalność polityczna 1955–1991, Warszawa, 1992, J.M. Nowak, Od hegemonii do agonii. Upadek Układu Warszawskiego. Polska perspektywa, Warszawa, 2011.
politics.”48 Minister Skubiszewski argued that he took a position ruling out the non-alignment of unified Germany early and communicated it to other partners via diplomatic channels.49 At the third session of the heads of diplomacy during the “2+4” talks in Paris, which was attended by Poland, the minister openly stated that Poland was not in favour of Germany becoming neutral and that each sovereign state retained the right to choose its own alliance affiliations.50 Germany eventually became a NATO member, and the Soviet Union did not receive any guarantee that this enlargement of the Alliance would be the last. For years, however, debates have raged whether it was truly so and whether the West did not renege on its promises, taking advantage of the USSR’s breakdown and Russia’s long-standing weakness. There are basically two sides to this dispute. The first is the Russian state propaganda that has been playing the “betrayal of the West” card to justify its foreign and security policy for almost 30 years, echoed in a speech by President Vladimir Putin
in the Duma51 on 18 March 2014. At that time, Putin justified the illegal annexation of Crimea by the humiliation Russia suffered as a result of the West breaking its promises, including the pledge not to enlarge NATO towards the East. The other can be found in scientific and journalistic discussion52 and features divergent conclusions formulated on the basis of interpreting the See: Minister Skubiszewski’s address to the Sejm about the unification of Germany and on Polish-German relations (“History (…) has not seen a case of a confederation, much less a federation whose members would be part of separate Alliances and separate military organisations”), K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna…, pp. 29–34.
49 K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…,” p. 17. For an extensive edition of the documents, see: M. Jabłonowski, W. Janowski, G. Sołtysiak (eds.), Konferencja dwa plus cztery 1990. Aspekty polskie, Warszawa, 2018. 50
Text: K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna…, pp. 55–67.
See: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018, p. 449. 51
Main works in this vein: M. Kramer, “The Myth of a No NATO Enlargement Pledge to Russia,” The Washington Quarterly, April 2009, pp. 39–61; idem, “No Such Promise,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2014, pp. 208–208; M.E. Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev and the Origin of Russian Resentment toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History, no. 1, 2010, pp. 119–140; idem, “A Broken Promise? What the West Really told Moscow About NATO Expansion,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014, pp. 90–97; J.R. Itzkovitz Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal? The End of Cold War and the US Offer to 52
minutes of talks between the “Big Four” which have increasingly been coming to light.53 Importantly, the opening of archives relates mostly to Western sources; Moscow does this selectively, consistently treating the knowledge therein as a weapon in the information war against NATO. All this does not, however, change the fact that Western leaders never guaranteed Moscow that the Alliance would not be enlarged to the East. This was, in fact, confirmed in 2014 by none other than Mikhail Gorbachev, who asserted that this issue did not come up in that form in these talks and the context in which Western politicians spoke (such as U.S. Secretary of State George Baker, who affirmed the not an inch to the east policy after German unification) involved only the German question and the limitations of maintaining troops and allied infrastructure in the former East Germany. Resolving the question in this manner was of extreme importance for future NATO enlargement, even if Western policy at that time gave not even a hint that such a scenario was considered. The importance of this was demonstrated a few years later, when the lack of formal commitment of the West to non-enlargement greatly undermined the Russian veto, even if it did not quench the willingness to use it in Russian politics and propaganda. Writes Skubiszewski: When Germany was unified, Poland became the neighbour of a powerful NATO member (...) Geographical proximity almost always matters in politics. Without a unified Germany we simply could not be considered as NATO members.54 Characteristically, in the period discussed here, NATO was mentioned in the programmes and public speeches of Polish government members only in a cursory way. The 1990 security Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security, no. 4, 2016, pp. 7–44. Also memoirs and journalistic writings. Noteworthy are two collections consisting of 55 documents (U.S. and Russian) from 1990–1997 concerning talks about European security. They were made available to researchers as part of a National Security Archive project in two tranches. See: S. Savranskaya, T. Blanton (ed.), NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard?, www.nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansionwhat-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early (accessed 13/12/2017) and NATO Expansion: What Yeltsin Heard?, www.nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russiaprograms/2018-03-16/nato-expansion-what-yeltsin-heard (accessed 21/3/2018). 53
K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…,” p. 19.
doctrine cited earlier mentions it exclusively in the context of the not wholly overcome mistrust between the two alliances. Similarly, in his first speech before the Sejm, the minister of foreign affairs did not list relations with the North Atlantic Alliance among the priorities of Polish foreign policy, even though mention is made of entering into initial contacts with the organisation and the Western European Union in the context of “other relations.” The speech, however, brought a rather consistent vision of Poland’s European policy, based on institutional cooperation with the European Communities and the pan-European security system that supported the CSCE institutionalisation design (suggested by PM Mazowiecki and assuming the establishment of a coordinating structure in the form of a European Cooperation Council). The North American Assembly speech of the minister, made more than six months later, does assign some role for NATO in the planned system: The possibility of NATO playing some role in the future cannot be ruled out. The minister did, however, make the reservation that this
does not mean any revision of the strict geographic borders drawn under the 1949 Treaty, nor does it lead to any actual overstepping of those borders. In this respect, nothing should be done that might cause a feeling of alarm or suspicion in the Soviet Union. The feeling of threat, even if minor, must be replaced by the feeling of security. The North Atlantic Alliance policy towards Central and European states should be heading in this direction.55 It should be added that thoughts about a European collective security system (also encompassing collective defence?!) were not unknown to Polish foreign policy in subsequent years as well. In contrast with the early years of newly independent Poland, they transformed from a priority to the policy’s deep background as a solution that was desirable, if unrealistic in existing circumstances. The full vision of the system evolved in subsequent years, not only with 55 K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna, pp. 102–105. The author explains the reasons why it was premature and unproductive at the time to raise the issue of NATO enlargement. In addition to external conditionalities, whose impact was confirmed by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański’s opinions quoted there, they also lay in Poland’s immediate interests as it began to negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Discouraging Moscow was not advisable, taking into account the implementation by Russia of the CFE Treaty signed a few days earlier.
respect to the CSCE role issue but also as a new approach to its constituent elements and the mutual relations between principal European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Filling the Security Void Until the spring of 1990, no formal contacts between Poland and the Alliance took place. They were initiated by a visit of Minister Skubiszewski to the Brussels headquarters of the organisation on 21 March. The minister was the third head of diplomacy (after his Soviet and Czechoslovak peers) of a Warsaw Pact state to pay a visit to NATO. A conversation with Secretary General Manfred Wörner and the subsequent meeting with the North Atlantic Council gave him the opportunity to present the Polish viewpoint on the principal issues of European security, including the future of the Pact and the German question. The main purpose of the visit, however, was to communicate that Poland was not afraid of NATO, whose existence together with the U.S. presence in Europe was treated as a stabilising factor. The results of the visit should not be measured by specific arrangements or long-range collaboration plans. This could not have been reasonably expected under the prevailing circumstances and the aim was different. Instead, what mattered for both parties was making a significant, practical gesture towards mutual rapprochement. For Poland, it also meant expressly including NATO in the practical dimension of the country’s foreign policy. The bilateral contacts became more institutionalised just a few weeks later. Following the Alliance’s London summit, on 9 August 1990, the Polish embassy in Brussels established a Liaison Office tasked with maintaining working contacts with NATO headquarters. The office was initially headed by Tadeusz Olechowski, then the ambassador in Brussels and a former Polish People’s Republic Minister of Foreign Affairs.56
For Poland’s correspondence with NATO on this matter, see: NATO Archives: Documents (no title) dated 9 August 1990, DPA (90)1121.
A few weeks later (13-16 September), the NATO Secretary General visited Poland for the first time. Speaking before the Sejm, he noted the historical opportunity to build permanent peace and cooperation, which stemmed from the end of the Cold War-era rivalry. He also declared the willingness of the Alliance to share the benefits of common security and cooperation. Official statements on the Polish side pointed to the system of values common to both parties and identification with NATO’s political objectives. The main message Warsaw delivered to Wörner indicated Poland’s interest in the growing presence of the Alliance in the region and treating it as a “common security space.” Visitors were also briefed on Poland’s concerns about security since the state was in a void, without guarantees from allies and between two powerful neighbours.57 As areas of practical cooperation in the near future, the parties named, among others, the exchange of working visits (still in 1990, Brussels was visited by then Deputy Minister of Defence Janusz Onyszkiewicz while Poland hosted Chris Donnelly, special advisor to the Secretary
General for Central and Eastern Europe), working contacts with the Polish Liaison Office, disseminating information, exchanging scholarship holders, cooperation with member states of the Alliance, and expanding contacts with the North American Assembly (now the NATO Parliamentary Assembly). In the latter, Polish members of parliament soon obtained the status of affiliated delegates.58 This informal interparliamentary forum, not being part of the Alliance’s structure, played an important political role as a hotbed of bold ideas met with a reluctant 57 For the NATO note on the visit, see: NATO Archives: Briefing Notes. Secretary General’s Visit to Poland, 14/9/90. The guest, asked by Tygodnik Powszechny about the possibility of former communist bloc countries joining NATO, responded that: “Nothing indicates that such an option was considered,” quoted from: J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 83.
R. Karpiński, Zgromadzenie Północnoatlantyckie i udział Polski w jego pracach 1991–1995, Warszawa, 1995. Krzeczunowicz also recalls Deputy Minister Wojciech Lamentowicz’s arguments presented at the autumn seminar of the Assembly “NATO Transformation: enlargement of NATO security zone through bilateral defense agreement between the Alliance and Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.” The same author also recalls the then long-term scenarios of developments in Central Europe and its relations with NATO (neutralisation of the region, NATO enlargement, or a new regional alliance without the participation of the USSR), see: A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 38–39.
reception within the organisation itself; this was also the case with respect to admitting new members. In subsequent months, the enlargement question was similarly not touched upon in official contacts with NATO and its member states.59 While Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, who visited Washington in September 1991, was the first Polish government member to mention Poland’s membership in NATO, this probe went unnoticed by the hosts. Likewise, no breakthrough was achieved during the numerous visits of Polish government officials in Brussels in 1991, although the visits consistently picked up threads of Polish security in the context of the unstable situation in the Soviet Union and the role of NATO in various scenarios of increasing stability in the region. Thus, a clear position of the Alliance in this matter was called for. For example, during a working conversation with Wörner in Brussels on 3 April, Wałęsa heard a cautious declaration that NATO would surely not stand by if Poland was threatened. This remark was made in passing in a statement by the Secretary General on the growing cooperation between the parties. It denoted a favourable turn in NATO’s position, although its practical importance was close to nil since it was pronounced unofficially, without the formal authorisation of the North Atlantic Council, and without naming any ways in which the declaration was to be acted upon. Undoubtedly, however, it allowed Poland to keep tabs on discussions inside the Alliance, and was also a cue to increase the country’s efforts to make NATO confirm its interest in Central Europe. A similar tone also prevailed during the first Brussels visit of Minister of Defence Kołodziejczyk on 23 May. The essence of the contact with NATO and its member states was at that time to persuade the partners to recognise Central European countries as self-standing entities acting according to their national interests in matters of security, not just buffers between the West and East, or the Soviet sphere of influence. Another thing at stake was to prevent Poland and 59
See: J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 117–118; A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 62–64.
other countries in the region from becoming cards played by the superpowers wrangling over German unification. In the words of Skubiszewski: From early 1990, I kept persuading (...) that security in Central and Eastern Europe, which was undergoing reforms, could not be a neutral matter for the Alliance. I also said that it was in the Alliance’s interest to maintain the independence of young democracies in the region and also to ensure their security. Their feeling of security should be enhanced by the involvement of NATO in stabilising the region—by stabilising, I meant granting NATO support to reforming states should their independence be threatened.60 In this view, the objective was not just to obtain security guarantees in the strict military meaning of the term but also to achieve political declarations of NATO’s interest in the situation of the new democracies. The issue of NATO enlargement was not touched upon, although it was stressed that the organisation could not remain passive if security in Europe was violated, regardless of the location where this might occur (as mentioned
in November 1990 by Minister Skubiszewski in the already quoted North Atlantic Assembly speech). Even with such reduced expectations, NATO’s willingness to make bolder declarations on the issue took a long time to mature. Impeding factors included conflicting positions among the 16 states that prevented agreeing on a common Alliance standpoint, their unwillingness to take responsibility for issues in the region, as well as concerns about rapid NATO advances in an area politically “vacated” by Moscow. With the passage of time, the situation slowly clarified itself, with events like finalising the military status of unified Germany, wrapping up the Vienna disarmament negotiations, breakdown of the Warsaw Pact, and the start of a deeper debate about the Alliance’s strategy in the coming years that followed the London summit. In this respect, several important steps can be named that defined the process in which the 16 Allied states came to
K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…,” p. 19 ff. The author describes in detail his talks on this matter.
recognise Central European countries as policy subjects. The first hints of a breakthrough were the Turnberry and London declarations mentioned above. While a far cry from sketching a cohesive plan of building mutual relations with former adversaries, they did equip NATO with certain instruments in the form of direct partner relations with non-members.61 So far, the only institutional proposal that Brussels offered to them was closer cooperation under the aegis of CSCE. Clear limits were, however, set to mutual contacts, carefully avoiding anything that could suggest a closer association with the Pact. Arguments advanced in this matter relied on formal (no affiliation mechanism being provided for in the Washington Treaty) and political (possible international consequences for NATO, the manner of engaging in a dialogue with the East) issues.62 The time for the next step came, after the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact military structures (31 March 1991), during a NATO ministerial meeting in Copenhagen. There, the Alliance recognised the link between its own security and the security of Central European states, affirming that the consolidation and preservation throughout the continent of democratic societies and their freedom from any form of coercion or intimidation are therefore of direct and material concern to us (...).63 This was certainly the maximum of what the 16 states were disposed to say at that time about relations with their environs without drawing the ire of the Kremlin. The declaration lacked any provisions that would enable it to be interpreted in terms of a security guarantee. At the same time, the purposeful ambiguity of the text left the door
In an interview given to the Polish press, M. Wörner said: “the fate of the Warsaw Pact is uncertain, we propose to each of its member states establishing bilateral relations with NATO (…) These are to be direct political and diplomatic relations, filled with concrete substance, exchange of opinion and information.” Rzeczpospolita, 13 September 1990.
A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 40–41.
Partnership with the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Statements Issued by the NAC Meeting in Ministerial Session, Copenhagen, 6–7 June 1991, in: “Texts of Final Communiques…,” vol. 5, pp. 18–20. However, the announcement of a breakthrough in these matters was Wałęsa’s visit to the U.S. (March 1991), during which U.S. politicians and the Congress made declarations of support for Poland’s independence and interest in cooperating in matters of European security. 63
open to speculation as to the potential directions in which NATO members might act if their security was threatened. The declaration was confirmed in the new “NATO Strategic Concept” of November 1991. The document replaced a previous version in effect at the Alliance since 1967 (!), confirming the organisation’s interest in developing cooperation with states neighbouring the North Atlantic sphere. When assessing possible threats, their unpredictable nature, complexity, and lack of risk of aggression in Europe, their sources were tracked to negative consequences of destabilisation as a side effect of economic, political, and social (including ethnic-based) transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. As later events demonstrated, this was a huge projection mistake in the Alliance’s strategy. The region that raised enormous concerns turned out not only to be stable but also quickly advancing on the political transformation path. A wide approach to the security issue is found in the third part of the concept, which extended the dialogue and defence
formula, inherent in NATO strategy since 1967, and the “Harmel Report,”64 by partnership and cooperation as a tool for developing a new security environment. The provisions of the new strategy therefore coincided with the efforts of Polish diplomacy aimed at obtaining a declaration of involvement in the region from NATO. References to enlarging the organisation were avoided, although the reasons for doing so varied between the parties.65 Rejecting the thesis that Poland’s security was compromised as a result of the Warsaw Pact breakdown, the MFA pointed to rescuing politics from the consequences of participating in a relationship used 64 For more, see: R. Kupiecki, Siła i solidarność. Strategia NATO 1949–1989, Warsaw, 2012, pp. 248–262; R. Kupiecki, “Raport Harmela i lekcje dwutorowości strategii NATO,” Polski Przegląd Dyplomatyczny, no. 1, 2018, pp. 57–71.
The then defence minister said: “We are not seeking NATO membership, but we want it to treat the whole of Europe as an area of its security. For Poland’s security and the security of the countries of our region to be regarded in the Headquarters as a component of the Pact’s security,” Polska Zbrojna, 17 October 1991. The position of the “sixteen” on this matter in turn was rightly assessed by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, by analysing in his articles published in the Polish diaspora press of the U.S. arguments against taking up the issue of NATO enlargement. These are discussed and quoted at length by: K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna, p. 105; ibidem, “Polska i Sojusz…,” p. 50; A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 49–51.
by Moscow to dominate other states, pursue an interventionist policy, and treat the broadly understood West as an enemy. This promoted political autonomy but meant that Poland faced the issue of lacking formal external guarantees,66 not including those resulting from more widely applicable international treaties. This situation was accurately described by Minister Skubiszewski, who likened the post-Cold War security status quo to concentric rings spreading out from the stable centre consisting of the EU, WEU, and NATO to non-stable peripheries67 that had no guarantees from the Alliance and were outside Western political and economic systems. The minister regarded the security void in Central Europe not as a result of breaking down of the military bloc but as a consequence of a new regional order taking shape.68 With matters as they stood, on 3 July 1991, the first visit of the president of the Republic of Poland to NATO headquarters took place, two days after the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact and less than four weeks after the Copenhagen Declaration. Both the Secretary General and ambassadors of the 16 states reiterated their statements about the organisation’s interest in the security of Central European states and not becoming isolated from Poland. Enlargement was not, however, on the agenda.69 The Polish side pursued more vigorous rhetoric that strongly stressed the unity of interests and values, assessed the role of NATO as a permanent feature of the European security architecture, showed interest in maintaining the U.S. presence on the continent 66 J. Prystrom, “Problemy bezpieczeństwa w polityce zagranicznej Polski,” in: Rocznik Polskiej Polityki Zagranicznej 1991,” Warszawa, 1993, p. 28.
K. Skubiszewski, “Pozycja Polski w Europie,” in: D. Popławski (ed.), Pozycja Polski w Europie, Warszawa, 1994, p. 5. See also, NATO analysis of the interpretation of Polish security interests contained in Minister Skubiszewski’s address to the Sejm on 14 February 1991: NATO Archives, Skubiszewski Speech on Poland’s Security Interests, U.S. Delegation, 21 February 1991.
K. Skubiszewski, “Nowe sojusze. System bezpieczeństwa w Europie Środkowo wschodniej,” Tygodnik Powszechny, 17 March 1991.
Denmark’s ambassador pointed out that NATO was not ready to admit new members. An account of Wałęsa’s visit by K. Skubiszewski, Polska i Sojusz…, pp. 30–33. On the matter of deleting references to Poland’s NATO membership from a draft presidential speech, see: S. Cenckiewicz et al., Lech Kaczyński. Biografia polityczna 1949–2005, Poznań, 2013, pp. 496–497.
and the political activity of the Alliance in Central Europe, and the will to become partners.70 While the words spoken by the president did not contain any issues not raised so far, he did present a summary of Poland’s position towards NATO, opening the doors for diplomatic efforts. Shortly after the visit, when asked by a Życie Warszawy journalist about how far the “Polish return to the West” effort had gone, the head of diplomacy said: We passed the point of full involvement long ago. The policy of establishing ties with various European organisations and structures, formerly functioning only within Western Europe, has been clearly set and settled. We are following it step by step now.71 A few months before, when questioned by Trybuna Ludu journalists on playing a double game with NATO, he explained: I am not playing a double game. Poland has not applied to become a NATO member. What we want to achieve are certain contacts and collaboration with the Alliance.72 In the autumn of 1991, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
prepared, for the use of the Council of Ministers, a short summary of key points on national security and relations with the North Atlantic Alliance and the USSR. The arguments advanced by Wałęsa in Brussels were extended by saying that, while retaining the free choice of actions in the security sphere, Poland does not wish to act against anyone. In the short term, this meant that Polish political choices were not directed against Moscow (which was important in the context of the withdrawal of Soviet troops). The wording does, however, show a glimpse of future arguments that the rapprochement with NATO to strengthen Polish and European security is not aimed at any state or group of states. Perusing published documents, I did not find any confirmation that the government actually discussed or adopted such a position, even though its members spoke words “The Republic of Poland shares the credo and the political goals of the North Atlantic Alliance. We want a partnership with the Alliance and assume that our cooperation will develop.” See: Polska Zbrojna, 4 July 1991.
Życie Warszawy, 24 July 1991.
Quote from: K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna, p. 127.
to the effect of these proposals. An attempt was made, however, to coordinate the collaboration between principal national institutions maintaining contacts with NATO. In September, during a conference between the MOD, MFA, National Security Bureau, the Presidential Chancellery, and analyst centres linked to the foreign affairs ministry and the Sejm, a number of proposals was put forward to develop the collaboration and provide for more efficient exchange of information and joint efforts of national institutions in that respect. A special task force was agreed to adequately coordinate undertaken actions, but its activities were not continued. MFA officials who moved to work in the Ministry of National Defence during the tenure of Olszewski as prime minister started to submit the first studies concerning membership in NATO as the prime objective of Polish foreign policy and a solution to Polish security and the geopolitical condition of permanent stability in Europe.73 In late 1991, the then chairman of the presidential National Security Bureau asserted that NATO is not a charity, but a political and military structure established by a number of countries to mutually enhance their security. Therefore, all new members, Poland including, must bring a suitable contribution to be accepted by others. In other words, they must prove to be a valuable ally. So far, NATO has no need of us, in fact, we would be dead weight. It is not necessary to remind us that there is no chance of us joining the Alliance today. We know that full well. The more pressing issue is whether the chance will appear in a few years. I am convinced that it will.74 The first period of formal contacts between Poland and NATO was not marked by either regularity or deeper cooperation. The Alliance left no doubt that a major change would not happen soon. The pace of the process was therefore measured by the exchange
73 The above fragments were written on the basis of talks with the then employees of state institutions. 74
Polska Zbrojna, 20–22 December 1991.
of statements, visits, goodwill gestures, and general probing from both parties. Considering the decades of animosity fuelled by propaganda on both sides of the Iron Curtain, progress in that area was achieved relatively rapidly.
2 Reaching for Destiny
The flaw in NATO’s policy of opening to Central European states since the 1990 London summit was its poor institutional foundation. This state of affairs relegated the cooperation to occasional contacts and hindered the undertaking of more regular activities while depriving them of suitable political weight.
New strategic reality and a time of change For a long time, doubts about the permanency of changes in the region impeded presenting an institutional offer. This involved concern that the democratic tide might turn away, that relations between the West and the Soviet Union could be impacted, and that key issues of European stability needed to be solved. In this state of matters, NATO’s plans relegated the aspirations of the Central European states to the background. In late 1991, the importance of concern-raising issues in Western policy diminished. The unification of Germany (or, rather, the absorption of East Germany into its western counterpart) and its membership in the Alliance as a single state became a fact. The Warsaw Pact formally ceased to exist and its former members entered into negotiations with Moscow to withdraw Soviet troops stationing on their territories. Most of them successfully implemented democratic and market reforms, taking a constructive position in foreign policy and an interest in increasing their contribution to international cooperation. Moreover, since February 1991, the three most transformationally advanced ones—Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary—formed
the Visegrad group to pursue integration with the West jointly. Growing concerns also attended the continued collapse of the Soviet empire. The turning point of assessing the situation in Russia was the failed Yanayev putsch in August, a desperate attempt to force back the inevitable turn of events. The failure of the coup sounded the death knell for the Soviet Union, which dragged on for a few more months. In December 1991, it was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States, consisting of the successors of the former republics with Russia as the “first among equals.” This, apart from the need to establish new relations and solving the issue of nuclear weapons in former Soviet republics (Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan), meant two things of considerable importance for relations between the West and Central Europe. First, the possibility of “worst case” scenarios coming true as a result of destabilising the situation in the East, and second, demonstrating the scale of problems that in practice
prevented Moscow from hindering the full emancipation of its former satellites (regardless of the still unresolved troop withdrawal issue). This opened the chance for a new strategic process where stabilising areas adjacent to the North Atlantic sphere could grow in importance in the Alliance’s policy. Particular attention in this respect was paid to the Visegrad states. The policy was materialised by the NACC, which, besides deeper cooperation, could provide relations between NATO and non-member states with the formerly lacking institutional foundation. Following earlier proposals of U.S. and German heads of diplomacy in October 1991, its establishment was formally announced in the “Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation.”75 Earlier still, the new U.S.-German initiative was greeted with satisfaction and readiness to participate in the new structure by the Visegrad states (in the “Cracow Declaration” of 5 October). Minister Skubiszewski, paying attention to the will
“Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Rome on 7–8 November 1991,” in: NATO Handbook. Partnership and Cooperation, Brussels, 1995.
to form conditions to directly integrate Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary into the Alliance’s activities, saw in these words a clear hint that these three countries “took on the road to membership.”76 The first Polish assessments of the NACC pointed to the consultative nature of the new body and the considerable facilitation of cooperation in emergency matters thereby offered. The positive role that it could play in developing the common European security space was appreciated, but without holding any expectations that the new forum would lead to NATO membership.77 Press comments were dominated by a feeling of insufficiency because no security guarantees were provided. This viewpoint was quite right, especially since the NACC formula with its principle of not discriminating participants (following Wörner’s point that no difference is to be made between states when offering friendship and cooperation), actually made selfdiscrimination according to the willingness to cooperate with NATO more difficult for partners. The establishment of the Council (still in the spirit of Article 2 of the Washington Treaty) meant that a new communication channel was opened and prompted interested states to consider how to take up on the offer and, accordingly, define their objectives, pace, and scope of cooperation, even on terms dictated by the 16. This process was also initiated in Poland and led to the MFA drafting (between the Baker-Genscher statement and NATO’s Rome summit) its own list of possible proposals to the Alliance. They included, among others, a proposal for a NATO declaration that “would not need to express a security guarantee, but would imply one in practice,” more intense contacts with NATO on all possible levels (including military contacts), establishing a non-governmental Polish Atlantic Committee to promote ties with NATO, inviting military K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…,” pp. 34–35. Clarification of the MFA’s doubts about the idea of signing a treaty or a political document on cooperation with NATO was suggested by Prague and Bratislava. Considering the differences in positions taken by the “sixteen,” long-term negotiations of the text would be harmful not only to the idea of the treaty but also cooperation itself. The topic lost its importance when the NACC form was proposed.
Poland’s position on the NACC is discussed in detail: ibidem, pp. 37–39 ff.
and civilian Alliance leaders to cooperate in restructuring of the Polish Armed Forces and the MND and changeover of the Polish defence industry, horizontal cooperation between military units and civilian structures, scientific cooperation, and specialist training. The first NACC meeting took place on 20 December 1991 and was attended by 16 NATO, six Central European, and three Baltic states.78 The new partners were offered regular political consultations, including in matters of carrying out agreements on arms control and planning, and cooperation in peace operations, economy, IT systems, defence industry re-conversion, science and technology, transparency of military budgets and democratic control over armed forces. Since March 1992, NACC activities were based on extensive, annually adopted agendas. Establishing the Council was a clear sign that the Alliance was opening to forms and areas of cooperation not formerly included in its purview. Discriminating between partnering states actually
took place as a result of the varying intensity and value of the cooperation programmes they proposed. Despite the principle of not putting any one of them above others, the Alliance on multiple occasions stressed the specific role of Poland and its intense efforts in all areas of cooperation. Experience gained in UN peacekeeping missions also predestined Poland to be an active participant of the Ad Hoc Group on Cooperation in Peacekeeping.79 The most important effects of Polish efforts in NACC included grounding Poland’s standing in multilateral consultations conducted at this forum, consultations that naturally evolved in scope and intensity. Once the
Independent States was
established, participation in the Council was also offered to 78 “North Atlantic Cooperation Council Statement on Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation, Brussels, 20 December 1991,” Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 2, 1992, pp. 152–157.
Besides participating in the drafting of documents on peacekeeping operations, the so-called Athens Report and its supplement, on several occasions at the NACC forum, Poland presented its experience gained when taking part in UN peacekeeping operations; it also declared its readiness to deploy a military contingent to take part in NATO/NACC operations under UN or CSCE auspices.
members of that bloc. Shortly, this led to dividing NACC members into three groups of states: • states interested in NATO membership (Central European countries); • states ready to enter into cooperation and dialogue without premature declarations about membership (militarily nonaligned states); • other states, usually with no specific expectations as to cooperating with NATO and hindered in one way or another from taking up on the offer (non-European former Soviet states). A sui generis case was Russia, whose objectives with respect to the Alliance ran counter to the interests of its former Central European satellites. One day after the conclusion of the first NACC session, new Polish PM Olszewski made his first speech in front of the Sejm. Speaking about the foreign priorities of his government, he also mentioned cooperation with NATO, saying: As a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, Poland will strengthen the ties with the North Atlantic Alliance. In the current situation, we view the Alliance as a pillar of European security, and the presence of U.S. troops in Europe as a stabilising factor. Therefore, my government will strive to develop our links to NATO in as many dimensions as our participation in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council allows, a policy that contributes to improving our security.80 These words reiterated the previous policy line towards the Alliance but contained no direct intention of applying for membership. In subsequent years, they became, however, the object of disputes and divergent interpretations, and their echoes could be heard eight years later when the Washington Treaty ratification was debated in the Sejm. For some of the commentators, they indicated a critical juncture after which NATO membership was directly put forward as an objective of Polish foreign policy. These
Oświadczenie Prezesa Rady Ministrów w sprawie proponowanego składu i programu prac rządu, stenographic record from Sejm sitting, 21 December 1991, www.sejm.gov.pl.
words, spoken in December 1991, were the result of an internal dispute while the prime minister’s speech was being prepared. Minister Skubiszewski asserted that the first draft of the text was not consulted with the MFA, nor that the relevant passage vaguely suggesting Poland was pursuing an association with the Western European Union and, via this route, “a common platform with NATO.” Criticising this interpretation, the minister, who supposedly was given access to the draft at his own request, proposed a new passage whose tone was similar to what was finally said but with an additional sentence that mentioned “a policy of gradual integration with the Alliance.” For unclear reasons, this sentence was not included in the text actually spoken, which for the author of this account was more proof that Olszewski’s first speech did not herald any breakthrough in relations with NATO, and the sole quotation that allowed deducing membership as a future objective was purposefully omitted.81 Another version of the event is recounted by Grzegorz
Kostrzewa-Zorbas, who asserts that it was Skubiszewski who deleted the pro-NATO passage from the speech’s text and then, until March, opposed any bolder action of the government in this respect.82 Regardless of the assessment of what then happened in the Sejm, in subsequent weeks much bolder assertions as to the nature of further links with NATO and the related government intentions were to appear in Polish security policy. The centre of gravity in formulating these assertions shifted towards the Ministry of National Defence, where a group of civilian officials was particularly active in pursuing this course of action. Already in early 1992, a conceptual breakthrough in this matter took place. In his first press interview, Defence Minister Jan Parys was asked whether he was in favour of seeking security guarantees in ties with NATO and replied that (...) we should be prepared
81 K. Skubiszewski, “Polska i Sojusz…”, pp. 44–46. For a similar assessment of the Olszewski speech, see: J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 139–140. 82
J. Kurski, P. Semka, Lewy czerwcowy…, pp. 180–181.
for the worst case of remaining alone in times of danger (...) I hope that a European defence system will arise, with the Western system as its core (...).83 Although enigmatic, the reply did contain two essential features. First, it pointed to a position, diverging from previously held beliefs, on the security system, giving a leading role to Western institutions (and not the CSCE as before); second, it considered the non-alignment of Poland detrimental to state security. Another step was made on 29 January, at the annual conference of the upper echelons of the Polish Army with the participation of Parys and PM Olszewski. Starting with an assessment of threats, the body formulated a proposal that the security of Poland and abandonment of military isolation requires looking for guarantees in North Atlantic structures, stating that no choice between neutrality and NATO exists anymore.84 A few days later, the die was cast at another press conference of the minister of defence. Poland wants to become a long-term member of the North Atlantic Alliance, said Parys on the occasion, and can be integrated with it gradually, through bilateral contacts with North Atlantic countries and cooperation with Alliance structures.85 The “Parys doctrine,” as it was called those days by media, was justified by the fact that Poland has already switched from East to West economically. This is another reason why we should integrate with the Alliance. The author of the doctrine added, however, that there was no formal initiative in this matter, merely working contacts.86 Indeed, these declarations, even with the support of the prime minister, did not lead to a formal announcement of Poland’s will to become a member while the Olszewski government lasted. The results of probes made in this respect (among others, during Olszewski’s visit to the U.S. on 1316 April) were not encouraging. Parys himself, after he has left the
Polska Zbrojna, 2 January 1992.
Polska Zbrojna, 31 January–2 February 1992.
Quoted after: A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., p. 76.
Polska Zbrojna, 10 February 1992. The monthly’s editorial speculated that the topic remains arguable, and what could perhaps be within reach is the status of France in NATO (without participation in the organisation’s military structure). 86
ministerial post, toned down the urgency with which membership proposals were formulated, stating that they were meant to be implemented in a longer term.87 Considering
government was in power, the importance of new accents in the Polish position towards NATO could be examined both in political language (a view not without some importance) and strategic terms. Taking advantage of the improving international situation, the Olszewski government broke the former political and notional impasse, talking plainly about NATO membership as a future option for Poland and thereby showing the manner in which the country’s security needs could be satisfied.88 The governmental declarations, even though they were not likely to be brought to life soon,89 served to bolster the emphasis put on NATO in foreign policy. They named, described, and to some extent influenced ongoing processes, forcing the successors to clearly present Poland’s position towards projected NATO
membership and establishing a peculiar point of no return. The effects became speedily visible. The new rhetoric was not free from dramatic gestures calculated to show the magnitude of the turn. Yet, during the six months in which the government worked, no quality change in relations with the Alliance and the stances of the 16 states could be achieved. Nor was the cabinet able to rebuild the internal political process to really pick up the pace of events. At that time, a rift developed between the positions articulated by the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces. While Parys announced a turning point in the policy towards NATO, the Deputy Chief of “No one said anything about admitting us to NATO overnight”: J. Kurski, P. Semka, Lewy czerwcowy, p. 71.
D. Fried writes that “in 1991, the centre-right Porozumienie Centrum started calling for Polish entry into NATO. In 1992, the rightist government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski made Polish NATO membership its official policy (…),” D. Fried, The United States…, p. 61.
89 “If someone claims that that Poland could be admitted to NATO within a few months, he is being extremely politically naive (…) Insisting on quick admission is a bad signal that implies we are afraid of something, and this perspective is not accepted by the West,” “Czas zawirowań, Rozmowa z ministrem obrony narodowej Januszem Onyszkiewiczem,” Polityka, 8 August 1992.
Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, Gen. Franciszek Puchała, in an interview published in the prestigious RUSI Journal, firmly stated that Poland is not going to apply for membership in NATO. She is, however, interested in political and military collaboration with NATO and bilateral cooperation with its member states.90 Perhaps it was not so much the effect of the army’s disobedience to civilians in the government (although this cannot be ruled out) than a time shift caused by the journal’s publishing cycle (as the interview was given well in advance) and the change in political language that occurred in Poland in the meantime. Meanwhile, a joint declaration of the Visegrad states of 6 May 1992, announced their efforts for NATO membership and related cooperation between the three governments. The subsequent speech of Minister Skubiszewski summarised the two years of contact between Poland and the Alliance as a time of successfully gaining the organisation’s interest in the security of the neighbouring states. Replying indirectly to charges of delay and understatement in this matter, he spoke about a politics that (...) [is not one] of words, of wishful thinking, but of moving forward step by step, from one stage to another, to counter the Alliance’s indifference towards our region and to convince it about the necessity of acting as a protective force in this part of Europe. He also promised tighter contact and, consequently, for the first time during his tenure, unequivocally said that the objective of such a policy was the gradual and actual inclusion of Poland in the Alliance’s security system. Membership is an objective for the future.91 At the same time, the MFA noted conditions that allowed providing cooperation areas declared by Brussels with
F. Puchała, “Poland and European Security,” RUSI Journal, February 1992, p. 16.
K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna…, pp. 212–213. Deputies engaged in a heated debate parrying arguments presented in the minister’s speech. Left-wing MPs spoke about the need for a more differentiated and multi-optional security policy, the shaky foundations of the post-Cold War existence of the Alliance, and the fact that it is not in a position to ensure Poland’s security, which led to an assessment of the arguable nature of Poland’s willingness to gain membership, see, e.g., Longin Pastusiak’s and Tadeusz Iwiński’s remarks. From other corners of the deputies’ hall came comments about the MFA’s understatements on NATO and the lack of consistency in presenting it, see: Jarosław Kaczyński’s remarks, stenographic record of Sejm sitting, 8 May 1992, www.sejm.gov.pl.
actual filler. Capturing this opportunity was linked to Poland’s own activities and a reasonable approach to the offered terms. Considering the still larger interest of the West in Russia and Ukraine, assessments were equivocal in saying that relations between NATO and Central Europe still had room to evolve. The line sketched in the minister’s speech was reiterated a few weeks later in his press interview.92 Constantly pressing for NATO membership was not easy, also because of the problematic and not infrequent inconsistencies between positions expressed by representatives of various power centres. A model example in this respect was the ephemeral NATO-bis initiative, a kind of a defensive structure of Central and Eastern European states, announced by President Wałęsa in March 1992 during a visit to Germany, already after Olszewski and Parys had made their statements. The circumstances and reasons behind the proposal are not clear, no detailed concept has ever come to light and there is probably no written record
either. The architects of contemporary Polish foreign policy and the government in power denied not only co-authoring but even knowing about the idea at all. The only attempt to publicly explain its nature ex-post was (then) made by a close associate of the president and head of the National Security Bureau, Jerzy Milewski, who clarified it as a temporary security agreement whose objective was to prepare its participants for NATO membership.93 Contemporary political commentaries pointed to three possible sources of the concept: 1) inadequate coordination
92 “One of our strategic security goals is to become a NATO member. It is a long-term goal that is not easy to achieve. It has required a gradual, step by step approach and each one of these steps must be successful,” Polska Zbrojna, 19–21 June 1992.
Rzeczpospolita, 8 September 1992. Ambassador Krzeczunowicz recalls that, without an instruction to present this initiative, he tried to discredit its significance. He describes Brussels’ reactions as discontent “with violating in a way their trademark,” op. cit., pp. 78–79. The “NATO-bis” construction was in line with dilettante opinions formulated by certain columnists. “However, we can speed up, it seems, the decisions to admit us to NATO,” it reads, “[to] create as fast as possible a military alliance with countries of the former Warsaw Pact. And once we do it, we can gain some power. And then we would become partners worthy of NATO’s attention,” J. Wegner, “Partnerzy NATO?,” Polska Zbrojna, 21–23 February 1992. Similar opinions were ridiculed by J. Markowski, “Recepta na NATO,” Polska Zbrojna, 2 March 1992.
of Polish foreign policy,94 2) Wałęsa’s penchant for improvisation and his very specific rhetoric, and 3) a provocative attempt to elicit a more clear declaration of North Atlantic policy. In each case, the initiative missed its mark; not only did it lead to misunderstandings but also it cast doubt on the credibility of the Polish state as a responsible international partner, doing nothing to help cement closer relations with NATO. Nevertheless, for some months the idea tended to surface in the actions of the president and his entourage. The incumbent PM Olszewski, remembering a dramatic episode that took place while negotiating the Polish-Russian treaty in 1992, also mentions the NATO-bis affair, linking it to the president’s reluctance towards his own government and foreign policy line. (...) Let us take the NATO-bis and EEC-bis concepts as an example. The president spoke his mind on this matter just one day before my April visit to the United States, which was very important with respect to our plans and was to feature talks about Poland’s projected membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. By his statement, he disavowed the government’s position.95 Janusz Onyszkiewicz, speaking before the Sejm in November 1992, assessed the concept as a reaction to “a certain need to look after the security of Central and Eastern European states.” A few years later, his appraisal was much harsher, pointing to a possible relationship between NATObis and delaying the efforts to join NATO.96 Minister Skubiszewski mentioned Wałęsa’s initiative as “a total surprise” and the reactions of his German partners, President Richard von Weizsäcker
94 This allegation was presented many times in media reports and Sejm speeches. In the context of “NATO-bis,” J. Kaczyński drew attention to the contradiction between efforts to become a NATO member and proposals to build alternative solutions. See: Stenographic record from Sejm sitting, 30 April 1993, www.sejm.gov.pl. 95 “Jak uniknęliśmy NATO-bis. Fragmenty wspomnień Jana Olszewskiego,” W Sieci Historii, no. 9, 2017 (ed. J. Błażejowska). This testimony, in the context of NATO, also contains assessments by the ex-prime minister concerning disputes around the wording of the Polish-Russian Treaty to transform Soviet bases into economic entities (Soviet troops were still in Poland at the time). If they had entered into force, they would have legitimised Russian penetration, complicating efforts to join NATO. This topic and the relations with the accession process merit a separate study.
For more on this, see: J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 153–154. On “NATO-bis,” ibidem, p. 126.
and head of diplomacy Hans-Dietrich Genscher, as “baffled,” especially since Wałęsa “did not provide any details,” leading to “ambiguity.” In the context of the Russian threads quoted above in Olszewski’s recollections, another view of the former head of diplomacy appears interesting: The place of Russia in these indefinite agreements of Central and Eastern European states was unknown. Were Russia to enter NATO-bis, the alliance would be a repeat of the Warsaw Pact, which was, fortunately, and once for all, disbanded less than a year before. If, on the other hand, the new bloc snubbed Russia (which was quite likely), looking back to the old Intermarium idea, it was quite probable that Moscow would treat the whole affair as antiRussian, which would also have a negative impact on our relations with the West.97 Wałęsa himself, two decades later, explained his initiative as follows: At that time, they [the West – R.K.] had no mind to enlarge NATO at all—they were afraid of the Russian reaction and the like. I wanted to make a push towards the general enlargement
direction, making NATO-bis a holding room. They later invented some transitory forms, like Partnership for Peace, too.98 Leaving this explanation aside, the presidential initiative should be assessed as detrimental to Polish interests. Likewise, it cannot be compared to later forms of partnership proposed by NATO, as they contained specific initiatives to prepare interested states for membership. The lack of clarity over the substance, composition, scope of activities, relations with the West and, last but not least, potential participation of Russia made NATO-bis a flawed concept, leaving no room for any other assessment. In its political aspect, the NATO-bis proposal could be received as Poland abandoning its Western policy direction, switching to a collision course, or attempting to stay away from Brussels, or restoring an Eastern alliance of some kind. In this perspective, 97 K. Skubiszewski, Stosunki między Polską i NATO w latach 1989–1993. Przyczynek do historii dyplomacji w III Rzeczypospolitej, www.skubi.net/nato.html (accessed 30/12/2018). 98 “Wałęsa: wejście Polski do NATO było koniecznością,” www.wprost.pl/155189/ Walesa-wejscie-Polski-do-natobylo-koniecznoscia (accessed 26/2/2018).
however, ascribing to Poland hegemonic motives should be rejected. Since the idea was unrealistic due to the lack of countries actually interested in belonging to the new bloc, it cannot also be considered as a form of pressuring NATO states into expediting their decision. In fact, it could have backfired, delaying more important decisions. Finally, instead of strengthening the North Atlantic cause, it would more firmly anchor Poland in the East, reinforcing the European division into a secure West and a stable, strongly divided East. It might also involve Poland in regional conflicts brought in by potential NATO-bis members and make it more susceptible to Russian influence. In tactical categories, the Atlantic aspirations of Warsaw could be taken hostage by a diverse group of states lying on the outskirts of the West and showing different intentions and orientations in foreign policy. The episodic nature of this initiative means that it should be treated as a onetime “stumble” in Poland’s NATO policy. The statements of some Western politicians and hints appearing in the press in the spring of 1992 could point to a certain re-assessment taking place on the Alliance side. Even earlier, in the autumn of 1991, the international press published a list of criteria that could be met by the new Central European democracies as prerequisites to join NATO (such as the rule of law, waiving of territorial claims, respecting human rights, readiness to participate in a collective defence system)99—it should be noted that these criteria formed the acquis that new members had to adopt a few years later. While visiting Warsaw in March 1992, the NATO Secretary General publicly declared that the organisation was not considering enlargement, but this option could not be ruled out in the future. For the time being, however, he denied extending any security guarantees to Poland, also announcing that different levels of collaboration with individual NACC members would be pursued in practice.100
H. Binnendijk, “NATO Cannot be Vague About Commitment to Eastern Europe,” International Herald Tribune, 8 November 1991.
Speech by the Secretary General of NATO at Seminar on Security in Central Europe, Warsaw, 12 March 1992, NATO Press Service.
The linchpin of the entire process was, however, the evolution in the position taken by the U.S. administration experts. Apart from the cited article by Binnendijk, this was hinted at, among others, by a publication by Stephen Flanagan, then an analyst at the U.S. State Department and soon to become a director with the National Security Council, which contained an open call for deeper reflection on the status of the Central European countries versus NATO and also proposed a number of serious arguments in favour of considering for them a future membership option, and a reliable diagnosis of related concerns faced by the 16 states.101 The text bore proof that the group of U.S. foreign policymakers included some who viewed enlarging the Alliance as a response to the post-Cold War security dilemmas in Europe and challenges in U.S. transatlantic leadership. While not numerous and with limited influence in the administration and in Congress, swimming against the conservative current of American diplomacy, the group included excellent U.S. diplomats and strategists (among them Flanagan, Asmus, Binnendijk, Daniel
Fried, and Alexander Vershbow) who stamped their influence on transatlantic relations for the next three decades. A similar message reached Poland from Zbigniew Brzeziński, an eminent political scientist of Polish ethnicity and the former National Security Council head during the Carter administration. At a meeting in the U.S. Senate, he stated, among others: The changing situation of Poland puts the issue of its someday accession [to NATO—R.K.] directly on the agenda (...) this is an issue which we should start to discuss right now formally.102 In subsequent years, Brzeziński was a major voice of support for Poland’s Atlantic policy, competent advice, and behind-the-stage lobbying at the highest levels of the U.S. government. His steadfast support for the Polish aspirations stemmed from a conviction about the strategic benefits that the U.S. and transatlantic relations could derive from NATO enlargement. His position was shared by one S. Flanagan, “NATO and Central and Eastern Europe. From Liaison to Security Partnership,” The Washington Quarterly, Spring 1992, pp. 141–151.
Z. Brzeziński, “USA po wyborach,” Polska w Europie, folio 10, January 1993, p. 9.
of the leaders of the U.S.-Polish diaspora, the former director of Radio Free Europe, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański. However, this was not the only perspective among Polish expatriates in America. Many of them saw their stance evolve in time, and not always towards greeting the opening up to the Alliance with enthusiasm. Extreme positions in this respect were taken by the duo of Richard Pipes, a Kremlinologist and member of the Reagan administration, and Piotr Wandycz, an eminent historian. While both realistically assessed the post-Cold War security situation, they differed in their takes on the enlargement issue. Pipes was against the idea due to a lack of threat from Russia and the risk of fuelling its anti-Western paranoia. Wandycz, conversely, deemed it the best possible safeguard for Central European states against a renewal of Moscow’s hegemony.103 In Poland, new PM Hanna Suchocka’s first speech before the Sejm in July 1992 contained a clear declaration: My government will attempt to bring Polish security on an equal footing with the security of other European states, linking it to the impending prospects of Polish membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.104 On the international stage, the curtain raiser was the PM’s visit to Brussels in October 1992. While talking to the NATO Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council, in addition to the routine summary of previous cooperation, she expressly asserted that NATO membership is the objective of Polish foreign policy, to be achieved in parallel with (but without dependence on) other European institutions like the European Communities and the 103 See: bimonthly Arcana of 1996: www.portal.arcana/pl/Dwuglos-o-nato-richardpipes-i-piotr-wandycz-1996-r.1419.htm (accessed 11/9/2018). 104 Oświadczenie Prezesa Rady Ministrów w sprawie proponowanego składu i programu prac rządu, stenographic record of Sejm sitting, 10 July 1992, www.sejm.gov.pl. During the debate on the policy speech, a charge was laid that the Atlantic direction is subject to relativism, with the observation that there has been a positive “change in the attitude of these communities, which in the past had been exceedingly cautious and unnecessarily so on this issue.” See: speech by MP J. Kaczyński, ibidem. A few months later, MP Andrzej Kostarczyk considered the declarations about NATO to be a detour from “the Helsinki philosophy, which was to seek security guarantees for Poland in the stream of a pan-European security conference in the direction of organizations that can provide such real guarantees.” Minister Skubiszewski in his speeches responded many times to the charges of a lack of will regarding the integration with NATO, such as on 21 January 1993 during a Sejm debate on the Polish raison d’être.
Western European Union. Suchocka’s assurances that when collaborating with other international institutions Poland would do nothing to compromise the Alliance—an allusion to Russian ideas of subordinating the Alliance to the OSCE105—were also well received. NATO’s official reply to the Polish proposals, while kind in tone, did not imply any change of the previous position but stayed true to the course of focusing on cooperation within NACC instead of considering enlargement. During discussions in smaller groups, Wörner noted the resistance of some of the Allied countries (particularly France) to steps leading in that direction. He hinted, however, that the organisation remained open to this option in the future and assured that Poland would belong to the core group of potential members.106 At the same time, Defence Minister Onyszkiewicz paid his first visit to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). A few days later, the government’s line on relations with the Alliance was announced by PM Suchocka to the Polish public
during the opening of the academic year at the Catholic University of Lublin: While taking a realistic approach to obstacles, we are doing everything to tighten the ties that bind us to the Alliance, one step after another. The talks I held recently in Brussels offer a clear prospect of integrating Poland into NATO structures. We must, however, avoid the fatal naivety of putting our connection to NATO above secure relations with neighbours. Poland can be sure of rapid membership in NATO only when she herself can direct her foreign policy to guarantee her own security, and also if (...) she will act as a stabilising force in the region.107 The willingness to become a NATO member as a cornerstone of national security and foreign policy was recorded in documents signed by the president and adopted on 2 November 1992 by the National Defence Council (Komitet Obrony Kraju) following more than 15 months of work
By then, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, formerly CSCE.
Cf. J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 169–171; A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 90–92.
Rocznik Polskiej Polityki Zagranicznej 1992, Warszawa, 1994, p. 16.
by an inter-agency team.108 The document says, among others, that the strategic objective of Poland in the nineties is membership in NATO and the Western European Union as the European pillar of NATO (...) The future membership of Poland in NATO will have a positive effect on her relations with Germany and Russia. This objective was viewed as remaining in an inherent relationship with other strategy assumptions (apart from integration with Western structures, this also included maintaining good relations with neighbours in the region and participation in building a European security system). These three goals of Polish foreign and security policy determined Poland’s diplomatic efforts for the coming decade. In that period, the Atlantic direction began to clearly stand out against the wider Western option background and its constituent Europe-oriented policy. It also relegated to the dustbin the concepts—nowadays smacking of naivety—of transitory (limited) cooperation with NATO. A few such concepts appeared, from the already mentioned idea of Lamentowicz (bilateral treaties between NATO and Visegrad states) through their more advanced version in the form of “treaties for democracy,” Onyszkiewicz’s concept (based on the World War II lend-lease agreement) consisting of negotiating framework agreements that would allow NATO to assist a threatened state, up to the design of Alliance membership limited solely to the political aspect, a kind of affiliation with the first four articles of the Washington Treaty. It also became clear that the Alliance cannot provide credible security guarantees without full membership, including a Polish contribution to joint defence capacities. In late 1992, Polish ambitions in this respect started to surpass NATO readiness to take up the offer, opening a period of very intense diplomatic efforts.
108 “Założenia polskiej polityki zagranicznej i Polityka bezpieczeństwa i strategii obronnej Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej,” in: R. Kupiecki (ed.), Strategia bezpieczeństwa narodowego RP. Pierwsze 25 lat, pp. 219–237.
Polish “tak” and Russian “nyet” Another important process that increased the credibility of Poland’s NATO aspirations took place. It meant grounding this foreign policy direction in an actual consensus of Poland’s most important political forces, founded on support granted to this policy by the public. Consensus in the context of the main foreign policy objectives was one of the most frequently used terms in the last decade of the 20th century, making an appearance already in the first speech of the minister of foreign affairs in 1990, This did not mean, however, that the manner of achieving these objectives was fully agreed, with divergent views manifested in many public debates. Onyszkiewicz also points to the fact that (...) not everyone in Poland was supportive of NATO. Fortunately, after 1993, the group of supporters grew considerably (...).109 The date given by Onyszkiewicz is not particularly exact, as criticism appeared even later, but it is a fact that more serious arguments that cast doubts on the aptness of choosing the North Atlantic option afterwards
declined. Extensive source material in this regard can be found in the records of parliamentary debates. A contemporary analysis of the views of (the then numerous) political parties on Polish membership in NATO singles out the post-Solidarity factions as its main supporters. With their centre-right tendencies, political calculations were believed to take precedence over “the concurrence of beliefs on the state’s strategic objectives.” It was this concurrence that, according to an expert, pushed politicians to criticise the government for the sluggish pace of NATO membership efforts. A particularly notable evolution of the position was, however, noted in the (post-communist) Democratic Left Alliance (DLA), with its core faction descended from the former Polish United Workers’ Party, that had long preferred the CSCE to the North Atlantic Alliance. The discussed study, summarising the early years of the Third J. Onyszkiewicz, “NATO. Deklaracje i rzeczywistość,” Polska w Europie, folio 22, December 1996.
Polish Republic, notes that [i]n matters of state security, the allnational consensus linking Polish security to approaching NATO was relatively limited, not involving several major factions that remained suspicious towards these plans. It was also compromised by the tactics of certain parties that, while interested in Polish membership in NATO, also torpedoed the efforts of state authorities to establish closer relations with the Alliance.110 If these words reflect the early 1990s situation, the change undoubtedly came as a result of two developments: consolidation of the political scene (due to the operation of democratic mechanisms) and the relatively rapid coming of other factions to recognise the importance of joining NATO for national security. This evolution was hastened by the situation in Russia and the recurrence of imperial accents in its policy, as well as the role of affirming pro-Atlantic policy as a means of gaining credibility by the left, which was soon to take power in Poland. The evolution of foreign policy views was an authentic one, writes Dariusz Rosati. After 1993, DLA leaders were much bolder in proclaiming the need to join NATO (...) Decided support for the North Atlantic orientation became one of the main campaign points of Aleksander Kwaśniewski’s presidential run.111 The all-party consensus on efforts leading to NATO membership, supported by both post-Solidarity factions and the post-communists (also visible in the efforts of the Polish parliamentary delegation to the North Atlantic Assembly) became a factor tightening Polish arguments in the pre-accession period.112 Another of these factors was public opinion that likewise affected the evolution of the views of political factions on NATO, as the percentage of citizens J. Stachura, “Partie polityczne a polska polityka zagraniczna,” in: Rocznik Polskiej Polityki Zagranicznej 1992, Warszawa, 1994, pp. 278–280. See also: A. Olechowski, “Europejska opcja polskiej polityki zagranicznej,” in: Rocznik Polskiej polityki Zagranicznej 1995, Warszawa, 1995, p. 29; J. Onyszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 179–184.
D. Rosati, “Powrót Polski do Europy. Refleksje o polityce zagranicznej w latach 1995–1997,” in: Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 1, 1999, p. 54.
112 Some criticism was voiced about our Atlantic option in academic centres, see: R. Zięba, “Współzależność bezpieczeństwa Polski ze środowiskiem międzynaro dowym,” in: E. Haliżak, M. Tabor (eds), Polska w środowisku międzynarodowym. Problemy współzależności, Warszawa, 1993, pp. 215–218.
favouring NATO membership in Poland grew steadily. In the middle of 1992, the supporters, the undecided, and the “neutrals” were distributed almost evenly among the population (35%, 30% and 35% respectively), one year later, the number of supporters grew to 57% while the neutral group melted to a bare 14%. By the middle of 1996, support reached the level of 73% and stayed that way for the rest of the pre-accession period. According to polls, in a hypothetical NATO referendum (with just two choices), 83% of adult citizens would have said “yes.”113 The results of one of the most extensive social studies demonstrated that, since 1993, the general opinion was that joining NATO would be the most optimal solution for Polish security and should occur as soon as possible.114 The first half of this statement became in 1992 a tenet of foreign policy while the other part had to be won by skilful diplomatic efforts towards the elites of NATO states, where promoters of enlargement had to be found. Concerns about Russia’s reactions to NATO activity creeping towards its borders
were still alive, as was the not yet overcome perception of Central Europe as a powder keg and a reluctance to provoke a wave of membership applications as a result of admitting countries that made the most progress towards democratic and market reforms. This was related to concerns about the Alliance’s efficiency following potential enlargement: new members, not familiar with the organisational culture, would complicate decision-making processes, especially during the ongoing phase of internal reform. Fears were expressed about the potential costs of the process and realistic estimates made of the defence resources of the potential candidates and their ability to cooperate with NATO forces. Aspiring members were at that time, especially as the decision deadline approached, the object of many confidential assessments and suggestions. Some of their disadvantages also included the 113 Public opinion poll results discussed by A. Sakson, “Stosunek społeczeństwa polskiego do bezpieczeństwa kraju i przystąpienia do NATO,” in: J. Kiwerska (ed.), Interesy bezpieczeństwa w Europie, Poznań, 1996, pp. 25–32. Also, K. Dziewanowski, “Chcą nas w NATO,” Rzeczpospolita, 23 October 1995. 114
See: discussion of a CBOS poll “Polish society towards NATO,” Warsaw, 1995.
need to submit armed forces to civilian, democratic control and modernise their organisation and doctrine.115 Meanwhile, however, new developments in NATO enlargement took place. In addition to public statements by Wörner, who was sympathetic towards the Polish aspirations, increasingly louder voices could be heard from the U.S. where the issue began to be discussed in the Clinton administration and Congress and was also the object of statements and consultations of the U.S. Secretary of State. At the same time, the NATO enlargement camp gained a new, important ally in the German defence minister, Volker Rühe, who openly articulated the idea of extending the organisation to include the Visegrad states. In parallel with those supporting NATO territorial expansion, the West saw a rise in groups who approached it with scepticism or plain reluctance.116 On the Polish side, too, 1993 was marked by an accelerated pace in dealings with NATO, heralded already by the January debate in the Sejm on the Polish national interests and a speech summarising Polish foreign policy directions made by Minister Skubiszewski in April. The minister noticed the emerging Western discussion on enlargement and promised to make the direction firmer in contacts with NATO representatives. He did so, among others, during roundtable talks with the heads of diplomacy of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, stating that the Alliance should open up to provide support for political transformation in post-Communist countries. Finally, with the triumph of the left in the September parliamentary elections that brought openly demonstrated concerns about the continued Western course of Polish policy, in an interview with Rzeczpospolita, he spoke about NATO membership as an
P. Latawski, “Droga Polski do NATO. Problemy i perspektywy,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 3, 1993, pp. 67–88.
The U.S. background to this process is discussed by: J.M. Goldgeiger, “NATO Expansion. The Anatomy of a Decision,” Washington Quarterly, Winter 1998, pp. 85–102; idem; Not Whether, but When. The US Decision to Enlarge NATO, Washington DC, 1999; R. Asmus, NATO. Otwarcie drzwi, Warszawa, 2002.
issue that was ripe for political decisions.117 The latter interview was a peculiar political testament of the retiring minister, who bequeathed to his successors considerable capital in the form of stable relations with all neighbouring states, well-developed institutional connections to Western structures, and a foreign policy balanced in all directions and grounded on values and norms recognised in international law. The place of the Alliance in this policy was likewise undoubted.
At the same time, the Russian veto towards NATO enlargement was revealed with full force, persisting indefatigably during all stages of the process. An alternative championed by Moscow was a new arrangement of relations between international security structures as the foundation for a future architecture of security. Its actual objective was, however, to push forward a plan that would improve Russia’s position towards the emerging new post-Cold War security order in Europe. The concept also included legitimising the Commonwealth of Independent States as a counterbalance to NATO and subordinating NATO and WEU to the OSCE. In a solution like this, Moscow’s privileged position would automatically be recognised on par with the U.S. and European powers. The dilemma of Central European states’ security would be resolved by “cross guarantees” given by Russia and the West. In NATO’s cooperation proposal addressed to CSCE countries ever since the Turnberry meeting, Moscow held a special place due to its hegemonic position, however, its readiness to cooperate lagged behind the opening of Western structures to collaboration in the sphere of security. Disregarding NATO’s transformation, Russia has since Soviet times persistently viewed the Alliance as a means of U.S. influence on Europe that opposed Russia’s strategic interests,118 the proof being the Alliance’s willingness to admit new members situated in an area it deemed its own sphere of influence. This image was 117 Texts of speeches in: K. Skubiszewski, Polityka zagraniczna…, pp. 321–338, 359–363, and 373–377. 118 For an extensive volume documenting the goals and positions of NATO and the USSR/Russian Federation with respect to mutual cooperation, including visions of security architecture, see: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018.
supplemented by propaganda that put to use the already cited argument about the West’s broken promise not to enlarge NATO that was allegedly given to Gorbachev and Yeltsin. A brief deviation from this position was visible during President Yeltsin’s visit to Warsaw on 25 August 1993. The Russians then assured their hosts of their lack of objection to Poland’s NATO plans. The joint declaration read: The presidents discussed Poland’s intention to join NATO. President Wałęsa explained the known position of Poland in this matter, which was met with understanding by President Yeltsin. Looking forward, such a decision of sovereign Poland, which leads to pan-European integration, is not contrary to the interests of other states, including Russia.119 While the satisfaction lasted for less than a month, Polish diplomacy took advantage of the suddenly favourable conditions and on 1 September addressed a letter to the NATO Secretary General written by none other than the author of the Warsaw reversal. In the letter, Poland’s will to obtain a member status that would remove the invisible barrier still dividing Europe into two zones, with states whose security is fully guaranteed and others who do not enjoy such security, was confirmed. Wałęsa’s declaration left no doubts as to Poland’s intentions. His letter was also important, however, because it contained mature arguments in support of the North Atlantic option. The arguments focused on common values and viewing membership as not a result of concerns about specific threats but the intention to play it safe against unexpected challenges and expanding the sphere of freedom and cooperation. The letter also demonstrated the maturity of the Polish choices, grounded in the will of the public, the successful reforms, stable relations with neighbours that guaranteed that no internal disputes would be brought into the Alliance, and the role of membership as a factor consolidating domestic transformation and cementing foreign policy.120 This repertoire of arguments came to be systematically repeated in later years. Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 3, 1993, pp. 57–64. Behind the scenes of the negotiations described by T. Lis, op. cit., pp. 35–38, and NATO reactions by A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 106–109.
Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 3, 1993, pp. 9–12.
All doubts and hopes as to further evolution of Russia’s position on NATO enlargement were dispelled by Yeltsin’s secret letter sent on 15 September to the leaders of France, Germany, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The letter upheld the previous veto and practically disavowed the contents of the Warsaw Declaration, citing the alleged undertaking not to enlarge the Alliance that was promised to Russia during the German unification talks. The Russian president also called for warmer relations between NATO and Russia than relations between NATO and other states.121 While a heavy blow for the efforts of Polish diplomacy (and a new argument for Western opponents of the enlargement), which had started to take advantage of the lack of Russian opposition to its plans, Warsaw’s reaction to the Russian leader’s letter was calm. In one of his last statements, Minister Skubiszewski declared the unchanging nature of Polish foreign policy and its irreversible course towards NATO membership.122 The contents of this statement were also upheld by the new
government, and the tasks sketched therein taken up by the new head of diplomacy Andrzej Olechowski. On the other hand, vetoing Alliance expansion became doctrinally enshrined as one of the dogmas of the Russian Federation’s international strategy. The short-lived hopes for Russia withdrawing its objections to NATO enlargement, and especially the lack of any political initiative among the 16 states, pointed clearly to more serious concerns about expanding the organisation than merely the potential reactions of the Kremlin. For the Polish side, it was also proof that persistent tactics to more effectively reach opinion-making circles in the West was needed. For the U.S., the linchpin in the process, this activity was concurrent with the new administration forging out a new position on foreign policy and NATO’s role, including the place of Poland and other Central European countries. In this respect, the Polish embassy
121 The (confidential) letter was published thanks to the personal efforts of the then director of SIPRI, Adam D. Rotfeld, see: “Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s Letter to US President Bill Clinton,” in: SIPRI Yearbook 1994, pp. 249–250. 122
Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 4, 1993, pp. 14–17.
in Washington, headed since 1994 by Jerzy Koźmiński, became increasingly more active, efficiently coordinating various means supporting the Polish aspirations in contacts with U.S. authorities, media, opinion-making groups, the Polish diaspora, and the diplomatic corps.
A step in the right direction Faced with the Russian veto and Western concerns about developments in that country (the attempted putsch in Moscow and the success of anti-democratic forces in the December 1993 parliamentary elections), in the autumn of 1993, American diplomacy, supported by Germany, proposed the Partnership for Peace (PfP) scheme. It was announced at the Brussels NATO summit on 10–11 January 1994, where invitations for the programme were sent and a “Framework Document” declaring its principles and objectives revealed.123 PfP was a form of cooperation with NACC members to bring their defence structures closer to Alliance standards with a view to staging future international peacekeeping, humanitarian, and searchand-rescue operations. The programme allowed participants to become familiar with standards in effect in the Alliance, provided for consultations in case of threats (in line with Article 4 of the Washington Treaty), and gave them the ability to choose the areas of collaboration. It also formulated the expectation of transparent defence planning and military budgets and, above all, designing effective procedures for civilian democratic control of military forces (which started to become problematic in Poland as well). The matter at stake was not merely the public perception of conflicts between the Polish Army General Staff and the civilian Ministry of Defence, which were widely reported in the contemporary press,124 the issue also was related to setting W.W. Johnsen, T.-D. Young, Partnership for Peace. Discerning Fact from Fiction, Carlisle Barracks, 1995; G. von Moltke, “Building a Partnership for Peace,” NATO Review, no. 3, 1994, pp. 3–7.
See: “Dzielenie skóry na admirale”, Rzeczpospolita, 6 October 1994, “Otwarty konflikt minister – szef sztabu,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 October 1994; “Dolewanie ognia do Drawska,” Rzeczpospolita, 20 October 1994; M. Wągrowska, “Jedna zasada – różne modele,” Rzeczpospolita, 3 February 1995; T. Wilecki, “Czy wojsko jest przeciwne
up armed forces command-and-control mechanisms and a clear statutory division of competences between state authorities, parliamentary supervision, transparency of the defence budget, defence planning, and legal standards for the use of the armed forces in war and peace. These problems were resolved by the date of accession.125 PfP did not provide the Central European states with security guarantees and was not a step towards gaining NATO membership,126 but did not rule this out in the future. Once again, this deliberate ambiguity was meant to reconcile the interests of NATO enlargement opponents and supporters. For the former, the dilemma was moved into the future and made more technical, by the diverging collaboration, to the practical dimension of security and defence. The latter gained a general recognition of NATO’s openness to new members (pursuant to Article 10 of the Treaty) and making PfP part and parcel of the organisation’s evolutionary expansion process. Immediately after the Brussels
summit, on 12 January, President Bill Clinton set out for Prague where he stated that PfP had changed the entire NATO dialogue so that the question is no longer whether NATO will take on new members but when and how. Regardless, the programme’s general framework was met in Central Europe with considerable moderation. The doubts (articulated especially strongly in
cywilnej kontroli?,” Rzeczpospolita, 12 October 1995; and, “Sztab Generalny WP – relikt przeszłości, czy nowoczesny organ dowodzenia,” Rzeczpospolita, 14 August 1996. For more information about democratic civilian oversight of armed forces in Poland, see: J. Skogan (ed.), Civil-Military Relations in Post-Communist States in Eastern and Central Europe, Oslo, 1993; J. Simon, Central European Civil-Military Relations and NATO Expansion, Washington DC, 1995; idem, Demokratyczna transformacja systemu obronnego Polski a rozszerzenie NATO, Warszawa, 1995; A. Gogolewska, “Problemy cywilnej kontroli nad wojskiem w świetle zmian w ustawodawstwie polskim po 1989 r.,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 1, 1996, pp. 27–46; R. Kupiecki, “Potrzeba demokratycznej kontroli sił zbrojnych,” in: J. Czaputowicz (ed.), Bezpieczeństwo europejskie. Koncepcje, instytucje, implikacje dla Polski, Warszawa, 1997, pp. 225–236. See: a widely circulated MoD study: Report on Poland’s Integration with NATO, Toruń, 1998.
Indirectly, this exact intention of the “sixteen” was confirmed by Manfred Wörner in early 1994, “Shaping the Alliance for the Future,” NATO Review, no. 1, 1994, p. 6. H. Kissinger wrote openly that “Partnership for Peace is not a stage on the path to NATO, but an alternative to NATO,” see: Diplomacy, New York, 1994, p. 823.
Poland) in early 1994 are illustrated by the fact that on the eve of NATO’s January decisions, a high-ranking American delegation had to persuade Central European states to accept the Alliance’s offer. The credibility of the delegation members, besides their professional roles, was to be further bolstered by their birth in the respective states. Thus, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, later Secretary of State) was born in Prague, Gen. John Shalikashvili (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces) in Warsaw, and Charles Gati (then an analyst in the U.S. Department of State) in Budapest.127 The dilemmas that attended the beginnings of PfP were accurately described by Andrzej Karkoszka, who wrote that the Central European states took up the proposal despite their desire to obtain NATO membership as soon as possible, being concerned that any other solution may keep their aspirations in check. On the other hand, the West was forced to expand its offer if it wanted to develop previous collaboration efforts without antagonising Russia. Finally Russia, despite a negative appraisal by NATO, joined the scheme since it could not deny participation to its former satellites.128 Poland had its own special objections to the lack of expected decisions on an invitation to the Alliance as well as directing state efforts to areas only loosely tied to this objective. Undoubtedly, however, Clinton’s declaration was a factor in favour of accepting the Partnership’s offer that, while leaving much to be desired, did allow for positive activities on the fragile foundation of words spoken in Brussels, Warsaw, and Prague. Ultimately, Poland joined the PfP, a decision that proved to be a solid investment in cooperating with NATO. The Polish expectations towards the For the substance and atmosphere of the talks, see: T. Lis, op. cit., pp. 90–95. In a talk with the author, Professor Charles Gati mentioned the tension that accompanied the talks and the strong arguments of the Polish side, which demanded that the membership perspective be included in the PfP documents.
A. Karkoszka, “Dylematy Partnerstwa dla Pokoju,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 2, 1994, p. 24, B. Świetlicki, “Podwójna rola Partnerstwa dla Pokoju,” in: idem (ed.), Rozszerzenie NATO, Warszawa-Toruń, 1995, pp. 43–56; P. Włodarski, Polska wobec Partnerstwa dla Pokoju, Warszawa, 1995.
programme, previously revealed in Washington, were laid out in a letter sent by Minister Olechowski on 22 December 1993, to heads of diplomacy of the 16 states. In the letter, he wrote about Poland’s readiness to support a programme that does not fully meet our aspirations and the sense of urgency: However, to live up to this role, Partnership for Peace will need to contain an obligation to propose membership to those partners that completed their democratic transformation and, sharing NATO values and standards, are willing and able to take up responsibility for their own protection. The lack of a similar obligation could make it difficult to obtain internal political support and the means necessary for the Partnership to succeed.129 A few days later, Poland’s position was presented in an extensive journal article, in which the minister pointed out that the Partnership, by discriminating among its participants, should lead to the gradual enlargement of the Alliance, an objective that was beyond all doubt, supported by specific initial undertakings carried out as part of the programme. Accordingly, Poland expected to be offered specific
requirements and criteria for membership. While carrying out the programme, the political consultations clause should become the foundation of joint action in the face of threats.130 This pragmatic exposition of expectations was rounded out by a critical tone in Wałęsa’s speech at the Prague meeting. Accepting the Partnership idea as a “too short step in the right direction,” he charged its authors with vacillation and a lack of vision of “managing” Central Europe as an adjunct to Western resources. The president then laid out the Polish prerequisites for applying for NATO membership, looking forward to expediting the process.131 The Wałęsa-Olechowski duo was accurately recognised as engaging in a “bad cop, good cop” routine, where the head of diplomacy acted to transform the Partnership formula while the president had sufficient international authority to express Polish 129
Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 4, 1993, pp. 18–20.
“Jak wyjść z szarej strefy bezpieczeństwa?,” Rzeczpospolita, 29 December 1993. Olechowski also spoke about this in his Sejm speech on 21 January 1994: Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 1, 1994, pp. 19–28, and also a few days later during a public conference, ibidem, pp. 29–41.
Ibidem, pp. 9–13.
scepticism towards the programme’s framework, should it fail short of a clear membership prospect.132 The Polish government’s determination to join the plan was also stressed by PM Waldemar Pawlak, who, on 2 February 1994, signed the PfP Framework Document on behalf of Poland. Despite the sceptical reaction of Warsaw to the Partnership’s assumptions, the programme became the most important platform of cooperation between Poland and NATO in the middle of the 1990s. The Polish Liaison Office at the Brussels embassy, which handled day to day contacts with Alliance Headquarters, established a military section at the Partnership Coordination Cell in Mons, gaining fairly regular access to the Alliance’s military structures. Bilateral political and military relations with NATO members picked up the pace. Participation in PfP also brought to the fore the issue of conforming the Polish legal system to the needs of the programme. With PfP announced, in mid-February 1994, working directives for Polish diplomacy were given by Minister Olechowski to the Polish ambassadors to
Andrzej Krzeczunowicz abbreviated them as follows: prepare a Partnership participation plan, promote PfP in the region, and engage in consistent action in support of membership in NATO and WEU.133 This shows the pragmatic approach to participating in the initiative and the focus on “grassroots work,” in vivid contrast to the offensive rhetoric of the minister’s public speeches. Poland’s active approach was also reflected in later documentation that specified the priorities for participating in the programme and the means of putting them into practice. First, among PfP participants, Poland presented its “Participation Document”134 K. Zielke, “Polska droga do NATO,” in: J. Czaputowicz (ed.), Bezpieczeństwo europejskie, p. 199.
133 For Brussel’s perspective of Poland’s participation in PfP, see: A. Krzeczunowicz, op. cit., pp. 137–138 ff. 134 The linguistic imperfection of this document was humorously referred to by Ambassador Krzeczunowicz, who wrote in his diary, “Mickiewicz (a famous poet) did
on 25 April, followed by an Individual Partnership Programme (IPP) agreed with NATO on 5 July and then updated annually. Subsequently adopted amendments to the IPP showed, compared to proposals formulated by other states, the largest number of initiatives (from 41 in 1994 to more than 450 in later years). Apart from activities in PfP, many undertakings “in the spirit of the Partnership” outside of the formal framework were carried out while implementing the programme. It should be noted here that the first military exercises under the aegis of the PfP (codenamed “Cooperative Bridge”) took place in Poland in September 1994. Changes in the Polish armed forces and military cooperation with NATO were important steps on the road to membership. In subsequent years, their scope grew, setting a course for structural, organisational, legal, and personnel changes in the Polish defence management system. An essential factor in this was the Planning and Review Process (PARP) based on features of the Alliance’s defence planning, already indirectly
announced by the PfP Framework Document and translated into a concrete offer in a message issued at the meeting of NATO defence ministers in December 1994. Participating in PARP led to more detailed collaboration with a view to achieving the socalled interoperability goals (the objective being to develop the capability for cooperating with NATO forces). PARP also allowed Poland to present to the Alliance its defence potential and the ability to conform it to the organisation’s standards. Under PARP, selected military units and command and support structures were subjected to especially intensive efforts to bring them in line with standards in effect at NATO, and subsequent regular review by Brussels.135 Once invited to accession negotiations preceding membership, Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were included in NATO’s regular five-year defence planning cycle and in December faced with so-called Target Force Goals, marking
not write this, but at least we are the first ones,” op. cit., p. 142. 135 More on this subject written by: F. Gągor, P. Kłudka, “Wojskowe aspekty współpracy,” in: P. Kłudka (ed.), Polska–NATO. Materiały i dokumenty, Warszawa, 1997, pp. 40–45.
priority defence areas that had to be developed and maintained within the Alliance’s structures. Arrangements in this matter were completed in June 1998, and by the end of July, the three countries submitted to Brussels documents
provided in the previous year. The degree to which Polish units applied the experience gained
operation with NATO was the participation in (Implementation/ Stabilisation
SFOR operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In November 1995, Poland addressed a letter to the Secretary
its willingness to participate in
component of the Dayton Peace Agreement
Herzegovina. This was officially confirmed on 11 December, and a special military contingent consisting of troops from the 6th Airborne Brigade (previously assigned to the Planning and Review Process) was formally
In the mid-1990s, the WEU featured in the “Royal Road” concept, popular in Europe but less well-received in Poland. By positing a sequence of Western institution expansions, Poland’s road to NATO was viewed as the final effect of their evolution. As a controversial measure, the Alliance’s enlargement should be preceded by the accession of Central European states to the European Union, the concept’s proponents said. Only then could the WEU be opened to give these states the guarantees written into Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty. With assumptions like these, NATO enlargement would be relegated to the background (in temporal terms as well) as a possible, but probably 77 unnecessary decision of the West. The exotic nature of this idea was also evident in its antiAmerican bias—the solution was founded on European structures while ignoring U.S. military guarantees and compromising transatlantic cooperation. It is no wonder, therefore, that the concept was jointly and consistently resisted by the Visegrad states until it eventually disappeared from the international scene as the debate on NATO enlargement progressed.
established a few days later. The contingent formed part of the Nordic-Polish brigade and started its service in early February 1996. The Polish unit, with a reduced number of troops, also continued to participate in subsequent phases of NATO operations. Polish officers served as staff
members in the brigade, whose command was taken over in June 1998 by Gen. Mieczysław Bieniek. At the same time, on NATO’s request, an additional unit was formed and equipped at home to act as a strategic SFOR reserve. In 1994, the policy of maintaining ties with Western organisations gained institutional support as Poland became an associated partner of the WEU (one of four levels of participation in WEU activities). The WEU was the first Western security structure that opened to collaboration with Central European states by establishing the “Consultation Forum” already in mid-1992. For Warsaw, the WEU remained an important component of European security cooperation, linking and supplementing the North Atlantic direction of Polish foreign policy with its European aspirations, all the more important since the WEU was simultaneously recognised as the defensive front-end of the EU and the European leg of NATO. Developing institutional relations with that organisation was also viewed
as stressing Poland’s diplomatic activities and showcasing its position to NATO states, all of which (except the U.S. and Canada) had formal ties to the WEU. Capturing the chance to develop closer ties with NATO was given much prominence in Olechowski’s May speech before the Sejm: The most important goal we believe to be establishing conditions for rapid progress in cooperation and the compatibility of the Polish defence system with NATO’s. We must maintain the rapid pace at which we entered the Partnership for Peace. Combining our arguments on benefits of NATO enlargement for Poland and Europe with the matter-of-fact nature of our offer in PfP does bring a good harvest (...) As for NATO, we cannot as yet count on spectacular results (...) The task for today, therefore, is to maintain a debate on what we are doing well.136 These were reasonable tactics considering the feelings in the West and the need to calmly and systematically convince Washington that enlarging the Alliance was not merely a means to solve specific Central European 136
See: Expose ministrów spraw zagranicznych 1990–2013, Warszawa, 2013, p. 82.
security issues but also an unprecedented design to strengthen the Western security and stability zone. Undoubtedly, these tactics were conditioned by the awareness of internal disputes in the U.S. administration as to how to reply to the aspirations of states from Central Europe, considering the need to develop parallel relations with Russia. President Clinton’s July visit to Warsaw (and that of Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott, the principal man behind U.S. Eastern policy and at that time still an opponent of NATO enlargement, a few weeks earlier)137 did not enliven matters much. The president’s declarations remained true in content and tone to the line sketched at the Prague summit.138 The manner in which he was received, and especially Poland’s image as a responsible U.S. partner willing to reason in terms not dictated by impatience, was, however, a good investment for the future, indirectly giving impetus to the pro-enlargement faction in the U.S. administration.139 This group was then working on an enlargement plan combined with a policy of actively involving Moscow in cooperation with the Alliance. Clinton did not, however, come to Poland empty-handed, donating US$25 million in nonrefundable aid, granted under the so-called Warsaw initiative, for modernisation of the defence systems of Central European states. More important, however, than the financial value of the offer was the indication of readiness for bilateral military collaboration. The actions of NATO-enlargement supporters intensified at that time in the Congress as well. The first drafts of bills 137 A change of position on enlargement by this influential politician was a key factor behind the success of the whole process. In 1990, he wrote that it is time to think about “dissolving NATO, with honour naturally, but without nostalgia.” In the best case, he granted the Alliance a transitional role: Rethinking the Red Menace, “Time,” 1 January 1990. The symbolic change of his position is seen in his text published five years later, “Why NATO Should Grow,” New York Review of Books, 10 August 1995. His views evolved, as it is commonly believed, because of President Clinton’s personal decision to engage in favour of NATO enlargement.
“Umacniają się nasze więzi. Przemówienie Prezydenta Stanów Zjednoczonych Ameryki, wygłoszone przed Zgromadzeniem Narodowym RP w Warszawie 7 lipca 1994 r.,” Polska w Europie, vol. 15, 1994.
Its activity is described in detail by J. Goldgeiger, Not Whether, but When. The US Decision to Enlarge NATO, Washington DC, 1999.
supporting this policy started to appear, including the farreaching but ultimately shipwrecked Gilman Act, and the more restrained, but successfully navigated through the Senate in October 1994, NATO Participation Act amendments (the so-called Brown Amendments), which authorised the president to establish a scheme of military aid for Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia as the Central European countries most advanced in terms of democracy and market economy. Another initiative of Senator Brown, with wider scope, was proposed the following year and preceded by a Congressional hearing with opinions on NATO enlargement by eminent U.S. political, military, and scientific figures.140 The U.S. and German pressure exerted on the remaining Allies led the North Atlantic Council to decide on 1 December 1994, that the next year would see the commencement of work on an informal study on the means and principles of NATO enlargement and its implications for European security. It is therefore not an accident that the first foreign visit of
the new Polish prime minister, Józef Oleksy, on 5 April 1995, was to Brussels, including to NATO Headquarters. In contemporary circumstances, it was extremely important for the head of Polish government (coming from a post-communist left-wing party that was remembered for questioning NATO integration in the early 1990s) to confirm Poland’s steady course on internal reforms and integration with Western structures. Oleksy’s speech also included a call to resolve the issue already in 1996. A comprehensive discussion of the problem was also found in a report of the presidential National Security Bureau entitled “Poland and the prospects of participation in the North Atlantic Alliance.” The matter of integration with NATO took central stage in the first speech by the new foreign minister, Władysław Bartoszewski, in May 1995. Actually, Bartoszewski, a figure linked to Catholic circles and the former democratic opposition, was nominated by
140 B. Winid, Rozszerzenie NATO w Kongresie Stanów Zjednoczonych 1993–1998, Warszawa, 1999, pp. 9–24.
President Wałęsa to the left-wing government to guarantee to the West the unchanging nature of Polish Atlantic-oriented foreign policy. Compared to the speeches of his predecessors, his speech was of a special nature. Most importantly, it contained a coherent and until then the most complete set of arguments in support of the Polish Atlantic aspirations. Generally, no subsequent Polish arguments went beyond what was said in the spring of 1995. Bartoszewski’s speech also featured a review of Poland’s participation in the PfP (thanks to the actions we undertook we became one of the most active NATO partners), considering it as a means of becoming ready for membership. The speech also cited the Sejm resolution of 16 February that expressed Poland’s willingness to make a specific contribution to the Alliance’s military resources and mentioned full-fledged membership as an option approved by the government. This stopped the wave of internal speculations on a temporary or partial integration based on Washington Treaty provisions related to military cooperation. The speech declared the expectation to be invited to the Alliance’s debate on enlargement methods and announced the expansion of national diplomatic and military structures in charge of these issues.141 It was at that time that the first, wide-reaching attempt to regulate the means of coordinating NATO collaboration between various ministries was made. Until then, they had the form of ad hoc (mostly high-level) meetings that did not provide for a permanent method to exchange information and arrange actions. Paradoxically, declarations about the willingness to integrate with the Alliance were not accompanied by equally dynamic efforts by ministries that would provide expert cadres to handle the process. In the summer, an interministerial NATO team was finally established, headed by deputy foreign affairs and national defence ministers. The fact that prompted its establishment was the upcoming “Study on NATO Enlargement”
141 Zbiór Dokumentów, no. 2, 1995, pp. 7–33. The catalogue of arguments mentioned here was soon repeated in an article by the then MFA Undersecretary Andrzej Towpik, “NATO z perspektywy Europy Środkowej,” Rzeczpospolita, 27 June 1995.
publication and the need to prepare for talks with Brussels on that document, including an elaboration of the Polish position. The initial stage of the works was still marked by irregularity, but their form and participants guaranteed the necessary continuity. This team was then used to form units that staged direct accession talks. As the announced “Study on NATO Enlargement” loomed on the horizon, the global press was hit by a wave of speculation (and, oftentimes, quite exact information) on its details, with the MFA keeping a close eye on any hints. The long-awaited study was announced in Brussels on 28 September 1995.142 Despite the opinions of enlargement opponents that depreciated its content,143 the document described the general terms and methods to achieve the objective. Candidates were also presented with a set of requirements related to building democracy, a market economy, democratic civilian control over armed forces, and the readiness to fulfil duties resulting from future Alliance
membership. While answering the questions why and how the enlargement should take place, no reference was made to any specific date or country. The study also expressly noted that meeting the membership criteria by candidates would not lead to an automatic invitation. A decision in this respect, taking this factor into account, would retain a political character, reflecting the interests of Alliance members. Given the contemporary situation, the document was the upper limit of political agreement possible among the 16 states and provided a serious forum to discuss NATO enlargement. It was essential also because it noted the need to maintain balance during enlargement and More about the origins of the study and its content analysis: R. Kupiecki, W. Waszczykowski, Studium o rozszerzeniu NATO, Warszawa, 1995.
Among others: M. Butcher, T. Kokkinides, D. Plesch, Study on NATO Enlargement. Destabilizing Europe, BASIC Research Report 95.2, Brussels, 1995; M. Butcher, T. Kokkinides, NATO Expansion. Time to Reconsider. A Special Report by BASIC and Centre for European Security and Disarmament, Brussels/New York, 1996. For polemics, see, among others: B. Weinrod, “NATO Expansion. Myths and Realities, A Special Report to the Senate Armed Services Committee and House National Security Committee,” Committee Brief, 23, 3 January 1996; M. Albright, “Enlarging NATO. Why Bigger Is Better,” The Economist, 15 February 1996; Ch. Bertram, “Why NATO Must Enlarge,” NATO Review, no. 2, 1997, pp. 14–17.
improve relations with Russia. The right of Moscow to veto NATO’s future was rejected, stressing the transparency of the process, well summed up in the “no veto, no surprise” formula. On this basis, individual clarification talks were before long staged with interested parties. Accordingly, on 14 and 15 October, a NATO team led by Gebhardt von Moltke, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs at NATO, visited Warsaw. The purpose of the visit was to provide explanations about the document’s contents and to reply to specific questions on issues contained therein. The first reactions of the Polish side were favourable and it was in this spirit that the position was communicated to Moltke’s team. Attention was paid especially to the breakthrough importance of the document’s contents as grounded in the agreement of all 16 states and the convergence between Warsaw’s expectations of focusing on transforming the standards written in the study into a decision about who and when they should become a member. The will to devote the next year to this objective was stressed, and designing Poland’s own integration program announced. More intense efforts were called for by a national report published almost together with the study, forecasting that Poland would become a NATO member in 1999.144
144 A. Ananicz, P. Grudziński, A. Olechowski, J. Onyszkiewicz, K. Skubiszewski, H. Szlajfer, Poland-NATO. Report, Euro-Atlantic Association, Warsaw, 1995. For a review of the report, see: “Przeciw wojskowej i politycznej samotności,” Rzeczpospolita, 23 October 1995.
Triumph of justice over history: Madrid and Independence The
“Study on NATO Enlargement” largely settled the
direction the process would take and its result, even though no specific time frame was given. Designing a consistent set of membership criteria took Alliance members almost six years; specific countries now had to wait for invitations for less than two. Back in the autumn of 1995, the contents of the document did not provide any clues as to the pace at which events would
develop, although it was clear that they would be affected by a number of factors. Internally, these included continued reforms, accelerated modernisation of the defence system and maintaining a nationwide political consensus on membership. Externally, the issue revolved around relations with Russia and the way of implementing the “no veto, no surprise” policy, as well as any political concessions towards Moscow that NATO might decide on. Likewise, the dilemma of guaranteeing security to non-invited states and the scale of NATO’s involvement in peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia that riveted the attention of the international community remained to be resolved.
Individual Dialogue and Clinton in Detroit The expectations of Warsaw were met by a message issued after the meeting of ministers of the North Atlantic Council on 5 December 1995, in which partner countries were encouraged to develop their national NATO collaboration programs and
the possibility of undertaking individual consultations in this respect was sketched.145 At the meeting, Poland submitted, at NATO’s request, the country’s own assessment of cooperation in NACC/PfP. The presentation focused on discussing priority areas of cooperation, notes on the issue of civilian and democratic control over the military, and a review of the “Study on NATO Enlargement.” In the context of the latter document, hopes were expressed that consultations on Alliance enlargement conditions would start soon. Particular attention was paid to the need to provide individual cooperation programmes to interested states depending on their political objectives, needs and capabilities. In late January of the next year, Brussels unveiled the guidelines for individual talks, to be founded on national discussion documents prepared by partners interested in participating in such contacts with the Alliance. Responding to the invitation, on 4 April 1996, Poland submitted its own “NATO Individual Discussion Paper,” which consisted of eight sections and two annexes summarising the Polish participation in international peacekeeping missions and providing a list of clauses on border recognition, respecting territorial integrity, and the rights of minorities under treaties entered into by Poland with its neighbours. The document also contained arguments in favour of NATO enlargement, described the Polish vision of the expanded Alliance and European security architecture, and suggested how Poland could contribute to strengthening the Pact and to what extent it met the membership criteria. Other sections were devoted to a review of military cooperation, NACC, PfP, contacts with the 16 states and a sketch of further integration efforts. The proposed membership model was based on a concept of entering Alliance structures as a full-fledged member. This meant a readiness to accept the Alliance’s strategy, participation in an integrated military structure and defensive planning process in line with Polish constitutional requirements, the potential stationing of Alliance troops on the territory of Poland and Polish forces in NATO member states, expanding and 145
Texts of Statements, vol. 5, pp. 69–78.
modernising infrastructure to obtain the capability of hosting the organisation’s defence resources, and Poland’s participation in new missions. All of this formed a clear hint that the lessons from the previous contact with Brussels had been learned.146 In May, consultations between the Republic of Poland and NATO started, based on a discussion paper that was updated several times during the process. The talks were essentially a continuation of the meeting with Moltke’s team. By the end of 1996, Poland took part in a total of four rounds of individual sessions in which priority areas of mutual cooperation were discussed. Poland’s representatives also participated in joint information sessions for all countries that accepted the invitation for individual dialogue. The NATO side obtained required information on developments in democratic control of armed forces, tendencies in budget spending on defence, and the process of reorganisation and restructuring of the Polish armed forces. Poland, in turn, received a number of answers on detailed
issues related to its internal adjustment efforts. During the meetings, the Polish side provided a number of political reviews of events affecting matters of European security. Even though the information obtained was not always sufficiently detailed, the initiative could be considered useful. Apart from expanding knowledge and the contacts network, Poland had the opportunity to demonstrate its advantages as a future member. It could be expected that, in Poland’s case, this part of the deeper individual dialogue would lead, in the second half of 1997, to talks resulting in agreeing direct NATO membership criteria. The 1995 presidential elections and the resulting replacement of Wałęsa by Kwaśniewski meant that full power was now in the hands of a faction branded home and abroad as the heirs of communism, complicating matters in the accession process. Concerns were raised about Poland leaving the path to reforms For more about the military aspects of the adjustments, see: Z. Wójcik, “Militarne standardy sojuszu północnoatlantyckiego,” in: E. Cziomer (ed.), NATO w systemie bezpieczeństwa europejskiego, Kraków, 1999, pp. 25–35; W. Stepek, Siły Zbrojne RP a interoperacyjność ze strukturami sojuszu północnoatlantyckiego, ibidem, pp. 37–46.
and reneging on its pro-Western According to international commentators, Poland topped the list of potential candidates as the most important piece in the balance of regional security. This was an important hint for other Central European states that probed Western capitals for the possible acceleration of their own accession paths at the expense of Warsaw, believing that Poland would be difficult to accept in NATO due to its size. On the other hand, the impressions given in particular by Washington were clear: the strategic sense of enlarging the organisation started with the candidacy of Poland.
swiftly dispelled as the new government its
NATO membership. During his first meeting with the North Atlantic Council, just a few weeks after being sworn in, President
This visit to NATO Headquarters has a profound political meaning for us. We do not treat it as routine. First, it confirms the constant Polish commitment to
values represented and defended by the North Atlantic Alliance (...) bears proof of our esteem for NATO (...) the visit demonstrates that tightening and developing cooperation with the Alliance and our future membership therein remain Poland’s unceasing desire.147 The long-awaited political spark that fuelled future relations between partner states and the Alliance was the U.S. Secretary of State’s statement in the Stuttgart Speech in September 1996,148 followed by the declaration by President Clinton in Detroit, according to which new NATO members were to be admitted on the 50th anniversary of the Alliance.149 Both brought the long-awaited naming of the time in which conclusions on NATO enlargement would be made, saying that breakthrough decisions would take place in the next year. Further details came
Foreign Minister D. Rosati stated it clearly in his foreign policy speeches to the Sejm in 1996 and 1997, see: Expose ministrów…, pp. 113–152.
148 A New Atlantic Community for the 21st Century, Speech of the US Secretary of State, Stuttgart, Germany, September 6, 1996, a printed copy from the author’s collection. 149 “The Legacy of America’s Leadership as We Enter the 21st Century, Address to the People of Detroit, Michigan, October 22, 1996,” US Department of State Dispatch, vol. 7, no. 43, 21 October 1996, pp. 517–521.
with a message issued after a ministerial session of the North Atlantic Council that ended in Brussels three months later.150 There, it was agreed that on 8 and 9 July 1997, a meeting of heads of state and government of NATO members would take place, with the agenda including an
accession talks to one or more candidates who had gone the farthest on the reform path and showed interest in joining the Alliance. In addition, deeper colla boration with existing partners,
means of military cooperation and a new political structure, was announced. This was to replace
The idea of enlargement was not new for an organisation that from 1949 to 1989 admitted four new members on three occasions. Enlarging the Alliance following the end of the Cold War did not focus merely on quantity, with 13 new states having joined the organisation until now but also on quality as a result of the new situation and new international security needs. Justifications of NATO enlargement made reference to issues such as bolstering democracy and lawfulness in Europe, preventing conflicts, enhancing collective defence and better coordination of joint actions, predictability of the military situation, compensation for Yalta, cementing the participation of new members in the world of Western standards and values, developing new conflict-solving capabilities, and improving the cooperative defence system.
ordinate undertakings formerly implemented via the Council and PfP programmes. Partners were also granted the right to operate their own diplomatic and military delegations in Brussels.151 These decisions meant the actual opening of two parallel paths for partners who wanted to develop their relations with NATO. The first, addressed to a selected group,152 granted the possibility of becoming members while the other, offering more fruitful cooperation, was meant 150 Texts of Statements, vol. 5, pp. 37–48. Outcomes of the meeting are discussed by R. Kupiecki, “Grudniowy szczyt w Brukseli,” Wojsko i Wychowanie, no. 1, 1997, pp. 92–95. 151
The relevant Brussels agreement went into effect on 28 March 1997.
“NATO in 1997. The Moment of Truth for the Alliance,” RUSI Newsbrief, January 1997, no. 1, pp. 1–2.
mostly for countries not invited for membership in the first group,153 as well as those without such aspirations. This was an absolute turning point in the position taken by the 16 states as far as enlargement was concerned.
Opposition to enlargement and NATO-Russia relations In the period now discussed, the pace of events was clearly set by U.S. diplomacy. The United States exerted pressure because of the belief that enlarging and preserving NATO as a factor of democratic development and integration in Europe and a means of involving Washington in European defence was worthwhile.154 The American efforts at that time focused on persuading European allies, especially France (which was afraid that new members would increase U.S. influence and decrease support for autonomous European defence solutions), to accept the organisation’s policy on enlargement.155 In the U.S. itself, a campaign of organised pressure on opinion leaders and senators evolved, since it was the Senate that had the last say on whether NATO should be enlarged. Besides Washington figures who sympathised with Poland, such as Brzeziński or NowakJeziorański, a major role was played by the Polish diaspora, which coordinated its own efforts and support granted by other ethnic groups via the Polish American Congress, as well as the Polish Embassy. This well-organised campaign, leaving room for spontaneous initiatives of local Polish bodies in the form of petitions, letters to U.S. Congress members, and sponsoring resolutions of local legislative and executive bodies,156 was an 153 For an analysis of the implications of NATO enlargement for this group of countries, based on the example of the Baltic States, see: R.D. Asmus, R.C. Nurick, “NATO Enlargement and the Baltics States,” Survival, no. 2, 1996, pp. 121–142. 154 S. Talbott, “Why the Transformed NATO Deserves to Survive and Enlarge,” International Herald Tribune, 19 February 1997.
J. Kiwerska, Gra o Europę, Poznań, 2000, pp. 191–254, impact of the Russian factor, pp. 255–329; J. Hamster, President and Congress. The Making of the US Enlargement Policy, EAPC-NATO Individual Fellowship Report, 1998–2000.
For a comparison of these resolutions, see: B. Winid, Rozszerzenie NATO w Kongresie Stanów Zjednoczonych 1993–1998, Warszawa, 1999, pp. 100–104; see also:
important factor that kept the process running smoothly and garnering the support necessary to guarantee success. This led to the Polish question becoming clearly visible in U.S. policy as well as gaining the interest of a number of prominent members of the administration, Congress and the public, whose careers picked up the pace as the NATO enlargement process progressed. In this context, the evolving position of the centre and left parties that shifted towards acceptance thanks to the involvement of the then U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton was also important.157 The key authority on which the lobbying campaign focused was the Senate as the body authorised to ratify the future presidential decision on NATO enlargement by a two-thirds majority. The Polish efforts focused on all members of the upper house of Congress, particularly those senators who had no opinion on or opposed NATO enlargement. During the campaign, in addition to considerable activity and calm agitation among the undecided, another important
factor was countering voices speaking against Poland, were they coming from those opposing the Alliance on principle, hard-line isolationists, the “Russophile club” that preferred America make deals with Russia, bypassing transatlantic relations, or various interest groups making legal or financial claims against Warsaw. In the first group, particular activity was shown by a temporary anti-enlargement coalition, which on the eve of the Senate ratification debate held a vociferous but ultimately ineffectual nationwide No to NATO Expansion Tour. Equally boisterous (and thwarted) initiatives came from Susan Eisenhower, the former U.S. president’s granddaughter, and her lobbying group known for writing letters to the White House, as well as a former Democratic senator and would-be presidential candidate, Gary Hart, a trio of political scientists (Charles Kupchan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Anatol Lieven) touring the media, the neo-isolationist Washington think-tank Cato Institute, and sporadically other groups. Expansion of NATO. Role of the Polish American Congress, Washington DC, 1999. 157
For more, see: D. Fried, The United States…, pp. 66–68.
An important aspect of the pre-accession debate was comprised of financial issues related to the costs of NATO adaptation to accept new members and spurring military transformation in the aspiring countries. The debate boiled down to political and economic arguments, and especially the material requirements of participating in the Alliance—the West not always willing, and the candidates not always able to meet them. Arguments in this matter, supported as they were by multiple calculations, were meant to justify the voices of either proponents or opponents, which turned them into a political matter. In general, these calculations lacked credible unified methodology. On the NATO side, the starting point was the Cold War military requirements with their high-readiness troops and Western costs of operating armed forces, failing to take into account the strong disparity in this respect on both sides of the former Iron Curtain. The efforts of aspiring states, in turn, were focused on stressing these differences and noting available resources and the willingness to spend them to adapt. Another quandary was that the figures calculated by both sides in reference to their own costs were incomparable. The big picture boiled down to being willing and ready to bear these costs and the conviction that the other side had a similar mindset. Despite differences in approach, methodology, and results, political solutions (correctly) pointed to the process as financially feasible, a conclusion confirmed by post-accession reality. Another important point was that the first post-Cold-War enlargement of NATO occurred during a considerable reduction of military spending in Western countries (the so-called peace dividend), which greatly blunted the force of financial arguments.158 In parallel with getting ready for the Madrid summit, NATO Headquarters held secret talks with Russia on a document stating 158 Especially in 1996–97, its calculations were presented by many non-governmental and governmental centres associated with the U.S. administration. Their key elements and conclusions are discussed by: M. Mróz, Polska a NATO. Wokół dyskursu akcesyjnego i integracyjnego, Warszawa, 2001, pp. 22–81. In Poland, besides government estimates, the best known was a study by Stowarzyszenie Euroatlantyckie, Szacunek kosztów rozszerzenia NATO. Głos w dyskusji, Warszawa, 1997.
mutual relations and institutional Part 4 of the “Founding Act” discussed political and military cooperation and contained the former unilateral NAC declarations of December 1996 and March 1997, which asserted, respectively: • no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy; • no intention to deploy larger forces and NATO’s military infrastructure on the same territory.
entitled a “Founding Act on Mutual Relations,
Security between NATO and the Russian Federation” was signed in Paris on 27 May 1997, establishing the
Joint Council as a forum for consultation and decision-making in
While this did not officially impact the negative position of Moscow on enlargement and activities of
lobby in the United States that defied the actions of the Clinton administration in this respect, it
did help prove that the West was meeting its obligations. These obligations, listed in the “Study on NATO Enlargement,” offered transparency of the process and parallel efforts on NATO enlargement, as well as readiness to establish a solid base for cooperating with Russia. Another political gesture towards Moscow was signing the Founding Act prior to the Madrid summit and formal decisions to commence talks with membership candidates. It also preceded a cooperation agreement signed by the Alliance with Ukraine. The “Founding Act,” besides a wide-ranging offer of consultations and military cooperation, offered Russia a number of unilateral limitations undertaken by NATO states. The most important ones—that also
a pledge that nuclear weapons and conventional forces would “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Russian Federation” Paris, 27 May 1997,” in: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018, pp. 241–252. For more about the Founding Act and its interpretation, see: R. Kupiecki, Organizacja Traktatu Północnoatlantyckiego, Warszawa, 2016, pp. 126–132.
not be stationed or military infrastructure expanded on their territories while retaining all means used to strengthen defence as necessary. These clauses in fact repeated NAC declarations from 1996 and 1997; when inserted into the “Founding Act,” they became an important political obligation of NATO towards Russia. This action, however, was not dictated only by the wish to grant Russia an unreciprocated concession but also to calm those concerned Alliance members that tended to see enlargement decisions as excessively irritating Moscow. The price of lower military protection for the internal compromise of the 16 states had to be paid by future members, though. In later years, states on NATO’s Eastern Flank would take efforts to be treated on par with original NATO members. While not successful in keeping the Alliance within its Cold War limits in the early 1990s, in 1997, Russia did manage to ensure that NATO’s military policy on the Alliance’s new eastern borders would be seriously curtailed. The only advantage of this situation, however, was Brussels’ assertive behaviour in rejecting Moscow’s proposal to make the “Founding Act” a legally binding treaty. It remained merely a political obligation of the parties. The “Founding Act” transformed formerly irregular contacts into a permanent institution that provided both sides with the opportunity for political and military dialogue. The NATO-Russia Council operated independently from the North Atlantic Council and without any formal impact on the latter’s decisions. Moscow was, however, justified in feeling that it could, with time, exert real leverage on the Alliance’s decisions. NATO, on the other hand, could reasonably believe that it had gained an important way of influencing Russia’s position on international security cooperation and, indirectly, its political transformation. Time has shown that both sides were deluded in their expectations.
The Madrid summit and the end of the accession process The process announced in Brussels was continued at another North Atlantic Council session held on 29 May 1997 in the Portuguese town of Sintra. The ministers stressed that NATO remained committed to deeper cooperation with its partners. A step in that direction would be the newly formed EAPC, which replaced the NACC in 1996, that developed the most valuable aspects of the former cooperation. The parallel extension of the PfP offer was presented as a practical update of a new phase of the dialogue with partners. With this, the ground was laid for the Madrid summit. Factors affecting the selection of membership candidates, the organisation’s readiness to integrate new members and a general accession-talks schedule were analysed. Following these arrangements, the ministers offered their suggestions for future decisions of the heads of state and government of the 16 members.160 Many urgent topics discussed
in recent months (for example, naming specific candidates to be invited to accession negotiations) were passed over. From the candidates’ viewpoint, however, the important thing was that the document opened the route to Madrid and also confirmed the validity of the enlargement summit’s agenda. The
announcements. While the interest shown in joining the Alliance by 12 European countries was noted, on 8 July, only three of them (Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary) were invited to direct accession talks.161 NATO leaders simultaneously declared their intention to sign Accession Protocols for membership candidates already at the next ministerial NAC session in December, so that the ratification process would be finished by April 1999, Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Sintra, Portugal, 29 May 1997. Final Communique, NATO Press Release M-NAC-1(97)65, 29 May 1997.
Text of NATO’s invitation to accession talks: Text of NATO’s Invitations, Associated Press, 8 July 1997. Reaction of leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary: Joint Press Statement by Presidents of Czech Republic and Republic of Poland, and Prime Minister of Hungary Following the Madrid Summit, Madrid 8 July 1997.
the 50th anniversary of signing the North Atlantic Treaty. In the interim, candidates were gradually to be introduced to the organisation’s operations. The line-up of invited countries came as no surprise generally, although Romania and Slovenia might have felt slightly disappointed due to the pre-summit backing by France and southern NATO members, respectively. The meeting was, however, a huge diplomatic and political failure for Slovakia, the only Visegrad state excluded from the first enlargement stage due to a negative review of the state of democracy under the Vladimir Mečiar government. As expected, Poland was included among the states invited to talk over membership in the Alliance.162 The fact was greeted by a special Sejm resolution of 1 August that noted it with “extreme satisfaction.” Accession talks started already in September 1997 and lasted for six weeks. While popularly dubbed “negotiations,” there was little formal bargaining involved. Rather, they were a multi-stage process involving the bilateral exchange of information about the terms and expectations related to membership and the last stretch of getting ready for the process. In Poland’s case, all relevant topics were discussed during four sessions of talks (16 and 29 September and 9 and 23 October), plus an additional meeting of experts on information protection. On the NATO side, the talks were conducted by a team consisting of civilian and military Alliance staff, led by the newly appointed Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs KlausPeter Klaiber from Germany. The Polish side was represented by a nine-strong interministerial NATO negotiation team appointed in July 1997, consisting of representatives of the MFA, MND, Ministry of Finance, the Presidential Chancellery, and the State Security Office. On 1 August, the team received authority to commence talks with the Alliance.163 It was led by the then MFA In anticipation of these events, as early as in 1997, by decision of the National Defence Committee, a structure was established to coordinate preparations in the form of a task force for day-to-day coordination of activities leading to Poland’s accession to NATO. Following its establishment, the Government Task Force for Poland’s Membership of NATO was formed.
“Monitor Polski” 1997, no. 50, item 474. Earlier, on 6 January 1997, the National Defence Committee appointed the Task Force of the National Defence Committee
Undersecretary of State Andrzej Towpik (who, once the talks finished, became the Polish ambassador to NATO in November 1997). The four discussion sessions mentioned above had been devoted to talking over specific problem areas related to the accession.164 The first meeting involved the main political obligations resulting from the Washington Treaty. The Polish side declared its willingness to fulfil them in good faith, noting the ongoing preparations in this respect. In particular, the following undertakings were agreed: • acting in compliance with the basic Treaty principles such as democracy, freedom of the individual, and the rule of law; • resolving potential international disputes on a peaceful basis; • refraining from the use or threat of force in any manner contrary to the objectives of the United Nations; • contributing to the development of peaceful international
promoting stability and welfare; • maintaining the Alliance’s effectiveness by participating in the division of roles, responsibilities, costs and benefits resulting from implementation of common goals and interests in the area of security, as well as efforts supporting common defence and maintenance of peace and security, including full participation in the consultation and decisionmaking processes in political and security matters of interest to NATO; • supporting the continued “open door” policy for new future NATO members. for the day-to-day coordination of activities leading to Poland’s accession to NATO, and on 18 February, by the prime minister’s order no. 14, the inter-ministerial Group for Poland’s Membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was set up. It was charged with coordinating and cooperating with state administration agencies in the process of cooperation and subsequent integration with the Alliance. The foreign minister became the group’s chairman. 164
The author participated in these sessions as an MFA expert.
The second meeting covered topics related to defence and military matters. Polish declarations in this area were primarily related to: • understanding of and willingness to take up member duties under the Washington Treaty, as well as supporting and assisting in the implementation of the NATO Strategic Concept, including its nuclear components. Interest was shown in participating in works of the Nuclear Planning Group and subordinated NATO bodies; • supporting PfP and developing security cooperation with OSCE members outside NATO; • supporting NATO partnerships with Russia and Ukraine and showing readiness to develop the Alliance’s cooperation with these countries; • willingness to hand over operative armed forces for NATO disposal as part of various categories of allied forces; • readiness to fully participate in the Alliance’s military structures (including staff delegation) and defence planning; • continued efforts to ensure the fastest possible inter operability of the Polish Armed Forces with NATO forces and to implement NATO standards. The third session was devoted to financial matters, both in the aspect of Poland’s future contribution to NATO financing and ensuring financial resources to improve the interoperability of the national defence system. The Polish side also received exhaustive information on the structure of joint NATO budgets. The declarations made related mainly to: • awareness of the financial consequences of joining the organisation; • understanding of the importance and role of Alliance activities financed from joint resources and the approval of existing rules, procedures and decision mechanisms;
• readiness to participate in joint NATO budgets and investment
procedures stated by the Alliance. The last, fourth meeting165 wrapped up all topical threads from the previous sessions. The most important information Poland received was its future percentage contribution to the NATO budget. The final decision to approve it was left to the new Polish government, which did so on 10 November. On the Polish side, the accession talks, conducted in a good spirit and without controversy, were summarised in a letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bronisław Geremek. It needs to be added that this was one of the first acts of the new head of diplomacy and indeed the post-Solidarity government that found itself back in the driving seat. The letter, handed to the NATO Secretary General on 14 November, was a short formal notice confirming the holding of talks, the willingness to receive an invitation to join the Treaty, and the readiness to assume duties related to NATO membership. One of its important features was the confirmation of the policy
of an open door for states willing to become members that had not yet been invited to conduct accession talks. Less than two weeks later, on 26 November, the independent Republic of Poland delegation to NATO was inaugurated (taking over the role of the Liaison Office, which was part of the Polish embassy in Brussels). Based on the results of the accession talks, the leader of the NATO team drafted a report that positively recommended candidates to the North Atlantic Council. From a procedural point of view, this accession stage was closed by a ministerial session of the Council on 16 December 1997, attended by the heads of diplomacy of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, where ministers of foreign affairs of NATO states signed the Accession Protocols—identical, but separate for each invited country. These short documents of a legal nature formally updated the North Atlantic Treaty with respect to the accession of new members. 165 Before the last session of accession negotiations, a meeting of experts on the protection of information was held on 16 October. NATO reaffirmed Poland’s readiness to ensure secure exchange of classified information with the Alliance.
Each consisted of three articles spelling out the procedure necessary to formalise NATO membership, which would occur when the protocols were ratified by the existing members and notified to the depositary of the Treaty (the United States), the same legal procedure being enacted by invitees.166 Once signed, in 1998 the Accession Protocols were submitted to ratification in the capitals of NATO countries in line with national regulations. The ratification advances were closely tracked in Warsaw, with the Ministry of Defence putting up a large board showing the decision of each of the 16 states. Formally, the process was launched by the Canadian and Danish ratifications on 3 July 1998. The breaking point was, however, the favourable decision of the U.S. Senate on 30 April.167 The Senate vote was preceded by a series of hearings before committees and fact-finding missions of envoys from candidate states (including the very popular Wałęsa, whose task was to win over reluctant senators). A factor that complicated the voting was the U.S. legislative custom of bundling various matters into a single act and a whole host of amendments submitted in the meantime. Some of these amendments involved (failed) attempts to put a stranglehold on subsequent NATO expansions, subjecting Alliance expenditures to stricter Congressional control, limiting the U.S. contribution to the NATO budget to 25%, making consent dependent on candidates reversing World War II expropriations, or starting a debate on suspending members that do not comply with democratic standards. Proposals of this kind were much more numerous, and their discussion and filibustering tactics of opponents greatly tangled up and delayed the final voting. The man who played a major role in clearing the bill through was the Democratic senator from Delaware, Joe Biden (who later became U.S. vice president). The final decision was, however,
166 “Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of the Republic of Poland,” in: Towards the New Strategic Concept. A Selection of Background Documents, Brussels, 2009, p. 11.
Transcripts of hearings: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate, 104th Congress, First Session, October 7, 9, 22, 28, 30, and November 5, 1997, Washington DC, 1998.
very favourable for the NATO The day of the Senate vote had its share of conflict and drama. As the debate dragged on, enlargement proponents risked the support melting away as a group of eight senators (including six supporters) was getting ready to leave for a visit to U.S. troops in Bosnia and Kuwait at 8 p.m. Attempts were therefore made to expedite the ballot, with opponents conversely trying to stall or adjourn it indefinitely. In a dramatic statement, the Republican Jesse Helms said that he was ready to stay overnight on the floor despite being scheduled for surgery on the next day. Finally, the votes were cast at around half past 10. Among Republican senators, 45 voted in favour of NATO 100 enlargement and nine against. For the Democrats, the ratio was 35 to 10. One Republican senator absent from the voting later made a declaration in support of the enlargement.
enlargement camp. It was made by an 80 to 19 majority, much more than the constitutional two-thirds
one senator absent. The NATO enlargement vote by the U.S. Senate was a turning point in the ratification process. Regardless of internal disputes about the reasonableness of this step, many member states held off with their own decisions, awaiting the final outcome in the U.S. The process was finalised by all 16 states in December 1998, with the Dutch parliament the last to vote. Signing
Protocols greatly altered the way in which Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were treated.
became more intense, close and directly oriented on getting ready for membership. Already during the accession talks, on 24 September 1997, the North Atlantic Council decided to admit the three countries chosen in Madrid to attend the meetings of a large number of Alliance bodies since January 1998, with the right to express their own opinions in relevant matters. The privilege did not, however, mean eligibility for voting, which was reserved to the member states. Already on 18 December 1997, the Polish, Czech and Hungarian ambassadors attended the regular Council meeting for the first time. Subsequent months brought a qualitative change in relations with NATO; besides participating in committees and working groups and providing input to the
“Strategic Concept,” relations were most fully strengthened by including Poland in NATO’s defence planning process. Completion of the ratification process by the 16 former members of the Alliance paved the way for a formal invitation to join the Washington Treaty, which was made to Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary on 29 January. Founded on this, work started in the Polish parliament by passing an act authorising the president of the Republic of Poland to sign the Treaty.168 The debate on the act, which took place on 17 February 1999, had a solemn nature, but was not devoid of gravity, pathos, as well as emotions and disputes over the interpretation of the genesis and importance of Poland’s road to NATO. While it reflected the allparty consensus in security matters, the right-wing caucus Nasze Koło leader, Jan Łopuszański, advanced arguments against voting to pass the accession-enabling act. His voice fell to the wayside of the parliamentary debate, giving credit to its democratic nature and vividly contrasting with the support that NATO membership enjoyed among the public and its parliamentary representation. In a retort to the opposing faction, rapporteur for the bill Czesław Bielecki spoke about spinning dramas with no valid reference to real politics.169 Ultimately, the ratification act was passed with 409 votes for, seven against, and four abstaining, with 40 MPs absent. On the same day, it was passed by the Senate without amendments by the house’s own resolution (92 for, two against, and one abstaining). Justifying the need for the act, the minister of foreign affairs, Bronisław Geremek, said: Having joined NATO, Poland will finally put the centuries-long threats to rest. We are turning the dark page of
“Ustawa z dnia 17 lutego 1999 r. o ratyfikacji Traktatu północnoatlantyckiego, sporządzonego w Waszyngtonie dnia 4 kwietnia 1949 r.,” Dziennik Ustaw, 1999, no. 13, item 111, 1999.
169 For more on the debate, see: Sprawozdanie Stenograficzne z 44 posiedzenia Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w dniach 17 i 18 lutego 1999 r., Warszawa, 1999, pp. 26–40. After acceptance by the Senate and ratification by the president, the act entered into force. Following the adoption of the Treaty, Poland ratified the remaining eight documents, which represented NATO’s acquis.
history, closing finally and irreversibly an era marked by the legacy of Yalta. Entering the Alliance enhances our security but also the image of our country as a credible international partner that is actively contributing to the European security scheme.170
Distribution of votes on the North Atlantic Treaty Ratification Act by parliamentary groups1711: Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność (Solidarity Electoral Action): 174 votes for, 0 against/abstaining, 13 absent. Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (Democratic Left Alliance): 146 votes for, 0 against, 3 abstaining, 18 absent. Unia Wolności (Freedom Union): 53 votes for, 0 against/abstaining, 6 absent. Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (Polish Peasant Party): 24 votes for, 0 against, 1 abstaining, 2 absent.
Independent: 7 votes for, 0 against/abstaining, 0 absent. Nasze Koło (Our Parliamentary Group): 7 votes against, 0 for/abstaining/absent. KPN-Ojczyzna (Confederation of Independent Poland): 5 votes for, 0 against/abstaining, 1 absent. Ruch Odbudowy Polski (Polish Restoration Movement): 4 votes for, 0 against/abstaining/absent.
With the necessary formalities completed in Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw, at noon sharp on 12 March, in the Truman Library building in Independence, Missouri, the ministers of foreign affairs of the three countries submitted their acts of accession to the U.S. Secretary of State Albright, the United States being the depositary of the Washington Treaty. With this gesture, the organisation grew to 19 full-fledged members. During the For the record of the Senate debate, see: ww2.senat.pl/K4/DOK.DR/150/191A.HTM (accessed 20/12/2018).
Information based on: orka.sejm.gov.pl/SQL.nsf/glosowania?openAgent&3&44&3 (accessed 20/12/2018).
ceremony, the head of Polish diplomacy spoke about a great As a member of the Polish day for Poland and all Poles delegation, I was greatly im around the world. Poland returns pressed by Col. Ryszard to her rightful place in the free Kukliński. This was not because of seeing a living legend of the world. It is no longer left alone U.S. intelligence service who to defend her freedom. Besides defied the Soviets but also the ceremony itself, conducted realising how complex were in a solemn but friendly fashion the efforts needed to restore with the leading role played by his public rights, withdraw the charges and overturn the heads of diplomacy from the four death penalty to which he was countries, the list of guests and sentenced. Most efforts taken observers was also notable. In by the Polish authorities in Kuk addition to delegation members liński’s case dated to 1996-1997, accompanying the ministers and the decisive moment before NATO enlargement. Dealing journalists, the scene contained honourably with this matter was a large number of U.S. political the request of many U.S. groups figures, those who distinguished (including the Polish diaspora). themselves supporting NATO The highest echelons of the U.S. administration also touched enlargement, and a group of 103 upon this point in talks with historic personalities. For many Polish authorities. participants, the event was strongly emotional as a symbolic closure of Cold War divisions and the real beginning of a new era of security. The last stretch that Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary had to cross on the road to membership was not without its dramatic political tensions, which were not visible on the formal, legal level. Their prospective accession multiplied questions about the degree of readiness to meet member obligations even before the Washington summit, questions that essentially boiled down to the concerns of Brussels about meeting obligations taken up during accession talks in the autumn of 1997, relating primarily to finalising the conformance of a complex confidential information-protection
their strong emphasis on the credibility of new members) and meeting military obligations (agreed for the imaginary day one
of membership). This also intensified public discussion about the impact of enlargement on NATO’s ability to act effectively and the actual value of the contribution of new members to the Alliance’s capabilities.172 It is no accident, therefore, that the last weeks before accession saw a series of serious talks between the civilian and military authorities of the Alliance and the U.S. and highlevel representatives of the three new states. In effect, a certain acceleration of activities in areas covered by the general term “minimum military requirements” could be observed in early 1999. With a positive report of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe on the readiness of new members, the road to the Independence ceremony had finally been cleared. The
Headquarters in Brussels on 16 March 1999. Speaking on the occasion, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana pronounced a triumph of justice over history, symbolised by the first postCold War enlargement of the Alliance. The Washington summit
from 23 to 25 April confirmed the opening of a new chapter in the Alliance’s history as Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary were admitted as members.173 In this respect, it substantiated the validity of assumptions on which enlargement was founded: no destabilisation of Central European conditions and no deterioration of relations with Russia. The latter actually did treat the issue as controversy and proof of NATO’s unfriendly intentions, but this did not alter the fact that this argument was to be used primarily for the Kremlin’s internal purposes. It remains so to this day, featuring in Moscow’s information offensive against the West. In this respect, Russia’s position has been consistent since the 1990s.174 Despite fears of enlargement proponents, 172 See: S. Gorka, “NATO After Enlargement. Is the Alliance Better Off,” NATO Review, no. 3, 1999, pp. 33–35; D. Blinken, “Look, NATO Enlargement Works,” International Herald Tribune, 2 December 1999.
See: Washington Summit Communique, The Reader´s Guide to the NATO Summit in Washington, 23–25 April 1999, p. 14.
Russian strategic and policy documents on foreign policy leave no doubt regarding this matter. See: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018.
moving the Alliance borders eastwards did not mean the 19 members shutting down on issues of other states in the region and showing no willingness for continued collaboration, neither did it mean closing the doors to membership to other aspiring candidates. On the contrary, the process, together with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) established in Brussels for future members, meant that preparations would proceed according to a systematic framework that included necessary areas to be brought into conformity (law, information protection, finances, military matters, foreign policy). Such a framework was strongly missed while Poland was applying for membership. Speaking in the Sejm just after the Independence ceremony, Minister Geremek said: The objective set years ago by heirs of the Solidarity movement was now achieved with the efforts of all political forces and the nation as a whole. We have entered a new era of national security. Today, Poland is an inherent part of the North Atlantic community of democratic states. I believe that all states, organisations, institutions, and people who helped Poland join the North Atlantic Alliance deserve our profound thanks.175
The Challenges of “Day One” Membership of the North Atlantic Alliance radically changed the conditions for Polish security and foreign policy. NATO membership ceased to be a goal and became an instrument to further Polish national interests. It involved certain duties, but the diplomatic potential of the state was mostly discharged from the complex accession efforts. This change of situation was more important because Poland, even while an aspiring member, declared its readiness to bring its own contribution to the organisation. In the epoch’s political language, such aspirations were dubbed as aiming for the “production,” and not just “consumption,” of security and defence. To achieve these goals,
Sprawozdanie stenograficzne z 47 posiedzenia Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w dniu 8 kwietnia 1999 r., Warszawa, 1999.
major adjustments of the defence system to NATO standards had to be continued, and the competences of the national authorities in this respect extended. The process did not end with obtaining membership—at most, it meant fulfilling the basic criteria. It was not, however, about defining the exact maximum and minimum agreed requirements but achieving a state of affairs in which familiarity with the Alliance’s system and necessary national capabilities would promote synergy, with Poland being actually able to influence the organisation’s decisions. From this viewpoint, converting Polish membership in NATO to policy instruments required three assumptions: • first, from the accession date, the Alliance became the most important international forum supporting Poland’s security interests. Capitalising on this new strategic situation required the synchronisation of strategic and defence planning processes, while Polish diplomacy, administration, and military had to rapidly learn how to operate within the
Alliance. The first dimension was to increase the state’s defence potential and capabilities as a result of its own efforts to develop its domestic potential combined with participation in multilateral cooperation to improve the collective
discussed in Articles 3 and 5 of the Treaty, both issues being therefore inseparable. The other dimension was concerned with developing the capability of professionally handling the Polish presence in NATO and analysing its credibility, as well as enhancing state institutions to serve national interest and Alliance missions (Article 2). • second, being a NATO member determined not just the national security policy but also the position taken by Poland on other multilateral international forums. The crux of the matter did not lie in any predetermined limitations (which the Alliance does not expect from members), but a clear view of foreign policy priorities (Article 8). To achieve these, the Alliance was not the only option, but obligations
to the Alliance necessarily had to be present in Poland’s international plans and activities. • third, the new alliance in which Poland found itself allowed national defence and security efforts to rely on a system that was more effective (in every cost/benefit dimension) than any programmes implemented on one’s own. This applies to defence spending, obtaining military capabilities, reducing operational costs, and shielding sovereignty guaranteed by NATO decision mechanisms (Article 9). Despite operating for 70 years, NATO did not manage to replace the decision-making structures and national interest centres and did not provide any strategies to satisfy them. It became, however, an important forum for exchanging information, developing good defence practices, and agreeing activities for the benefit of member states. This feature was what, at least from the Polish point of view, contrasted NATO with the Warsaw pact the most. The Washington Treaty assumes that the organisation, with the whole gamut of its functions, is founded on collaboration between sovereign governments. Member states do not delegate to their common bodies any rights that exceed their national prerogatives. Each decision is taken unanimously and needs to be accepted by all members in order to be implemented. This is supported by institutional means to agree with member positions and remove inconsistencies. Simply, this means that on the level of joint activities there are no military, political or financial issues important for NATO that would not be ultimately viewed by each national capital in this light. Poland became part of these collaboration routines with full rights and duties resulting from participation in the Alliance’s structures. Therefore, formalising the status and acquiring the rights as a member due to accession did not mean the full and immediate capacity to participate in all undertakings.176 With accession tasks
176 A. Towpik, “Polska w NATO. Rok pierwszy,” in: Rocznik Polskiej Polityki Zagranicznej 2000, Warszawa, 2000, pp. 20–32.
completed, new ones appeared as a result of full integration with the Alliance. Accession turned out to be a not overly long, politically challenging, technically complex, but legally not too complicated process, in which a successful bid for membership depended on meeting certain criteria. Its milestones were marked by events like the individual dialogue between Poland and NATO from the spring of 1996 to the autumn of 1997, the decisions of the Madrid summit in July 1997, accession talks in the autumn of 1997, signing the Accession Protocols in December 1997 and their ratification by the 16 states from January to December 1999, and finally by the Secretary General’s invitation to join the Treaty in January 1999 and the accession ceremony itself on 12 March 1999. Integration with the Alliance started even before entering the accession path, though it turned out to be much more complicated and longer. It commenced in the early 1990s with Poland’s efforts to build an actual foundation for collaboration with NATO. In the initial stage, the basic measures were
provided by efforts to conform within the framework of the NACC, EACP, and PfP. Engaging most spheres of state activity, this process lasted from 1995 in parallel with accession and was not completed until long after membership was achieved. This was not an issue limited to the single dimension of building the capacity to collaborate with the Alliance in the military area. Integration with NATO was a task for the state as a whole, first and foremost requiring the conformity of structures responsible for meeting the obligations of a prospective member. In practice, however, barely any state institution and major area of activity can be named that escaped being involved in the integration process, whose implementation required regularity, correct allocation of financial resources, maintaining public support, political consensus, and close coordination between government structures. The complexity of the process can be clearly seen in the area of necessary legal conformity, both concerning internal regulations to allow collaboration and resulting from adopting the
organisation’s legal acquis. These regulations had to be conformed to Poland’s prospective situation as a NATO member as quickly as possible. This also applied to situations in which the Alliance would operate on the territory of Poland, or when Polish troops were to be sent abroad. The difficulty can be imagined not only by the number of legal acts that had to be reviewed in order to conform them to everyday reality as an Alliance member but also involved the need to negotiate with NATO and draw up a legal framework for arrangements on how Poland’s defence system was to operate within the Alliance’s structures, systems, and obligations. Another example can be the issue of developing and accommodating the state’s crisis-management system and the equally complex and multi-tiered subject of building so-called host-nation support to allow hosting allied forces and resources in Poland when necessary. The work done at that time can be seen today, with allied troops stationing in Poland. As regards the last issue, the complexity included, among others, implementing NATO standards in very disparate areas such as medical infrastructure, food and fuel reserves, warehousing, transport, movement of troops, and many others. All of them required the coordinated efforts of multiple institutions and specific organisational and legal activities. A very specific dimension of the integration process, of key importance to its overall success but not affecting the material resources of the state, was the general efficiency of decisionmaking systems and the thinking, analysis, and informationprocessing mindset common to the majority of Alliance members despite the existing differences. The task facing Poland in this respect was therefore equally relevant to the necessary transformation of the mentality of civilian and military elites and the development of intellectual and material background. This guaranteed that, ultimately, the potential of NATO membership could be realised in full. Adapting to function within the organisation is actually an ongoing challenge for state authorities. Its initial phase took place while the state and its international aspirations, such as joining the European Union, were still in
flux. This caused a collision of priorities—natural in democratic countries—and peculiar competition for financial resources, attention, and interest of power centres.
NATO’s legal heritage that had to be adopted by new member states is often referred to by the legal term acquis. The heritage included two categories of obligations—the so-called soft obligations resulting from political decisions of the Alliance that have not been given legal form (such as the “Founding Act” signed in 1997 between NATO and Russia), and treaty-based obligations derived from the North Atlantic Treaty and other international treaties that regulate various aspects of cooperation between the Allies. Subsequent modifications notwithstanding, at the moment of accession they included the following agreements: Agreement on the status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, national representatives and international staff (1951) Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the status of their forces (1951)
Protocol on the status of international military headquarters set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty (1952) Agreement for the mutual safeguarding of secrecy of inventions relating to defence and for which applications for patents have been made (1960) Agreement between the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty for cooperation regarding atomic information (1964) Agreement on the communication of technical information for defence purposes (1970) Agreement between the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty for the security of information (1998) Agreement on the status of missions and representatives of third states to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1994)
Poland’s contribution to NATO in terms of territory and armed forces was larger than the contribution of one-half of the previous members. Other advantages included the largest potential among all states that joined the organisation since 1999,
the willingness to collaborate with allies to uphold international peace and stability and strong public support for the NATO mission and cementing transatlantic relations. What Poland expected from Brussels was improving the national security potential. On the eve of joining the Alliance, Nowak-Jeziorański, whose efforts greatly aided in the process, pointedly said: The North Atlantic Alliance can aid us greatly. It cannot, however, do our work for us. If we want to hit the jackpot of permanent security, we must trust fate and fill out the lottery ticket.177 After 1999, Poland took up that challenge.
J. Nowak-Jeziorański, “Ameryka, Europa, Polska,” Polska Zbrojna, no. 26, June 2000.
polaND IN nato
Polish Priorities in NATO 1999-2019 During
the Cold War years, the North Atlantic Alliance
provided its member states with security guarantees based on a combination of deterrence and readiness to react to possible military aggression by communist states. Because most of the costs of collective defence were borne by the United States, the development and closer integration of Western European countries was facilitated and accelerated. The North Atlantic community and the European political identity emerging within it derived its power from both the aggregation of economic potential and military capacity as well as readiness to act together in the face of threats. Another factor was extending the notion of security to non-military areas, avoiding major (visible) conflicts between NATO states and the significant denationalisation of defence policies. The latter concept strongly stressed the principles of unanimity, consultation, and multi-nationality in the organisational framework in which the Alliance was managed. In the telling words of a former Belgian ambassador to the North Atlantic Council, it was “an incomparable instrument in which member states can demonstrate their solidarity without sacrificing their sovereignty.”178 This prompted countries to look for achieving their interests within and not at the cost of the Alliance. Non-members were also given an attractive collaboration option, with some of them later revealing membership aspirations.
Quote from: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization 1949–1989. Facts and Figures, NATO Information Service, 1989, p. 18.
Accordingly, a specific NATO strategic culture can be distinguished, consisting of the Washington Treaty and allied acquis, strategic concepts, and ongoing decisions of the North Atlantic Council in reaction to external stimuli and the dynamics of member policies, and finally the tradition of joint action and supporting principles that contribute to what it means to be an alliance member. An important source of this identity is derived from being the most long-lasting political and military alliance in the contemporary world and the ability to quickly adapt to a changing environment, the logic of repeated action in decision-making and crisis management, ability to live with the consequences of an imbalance of power between member states, the continuity of structures, aspirations to become a political community and the ability to affect member behaviours. Also included should be the practice of consultations and the resulting transparency, legitimisation of politics, the flexibility of behaviour, acceptance for pluralist thinking, as well as the trust between allies. This concerns not only issues related to
getting ready to or actually using military force for the purposes of deterrence and defence but also other matters that affect the security of the organisation and the stability of its environment. NATO’s strategic culture should also involve member states recognising their joint organisation as a full-fledged participant in international relations, the sole limiting factors being the unanimity of members and international law in general. In this sense, culture becomes the common property of the entire community.179
Poland and the Key Aspects of NATO Transformation In 1999, Poland became a member of an organisation with solid collaboration practices, expecting primarily to improve its defence potential and obtain security guarantees. In exchange for this, it was ready to contribute to and become involved in 179 R. Kupiecki, “Kultura strategiczna podmiotów zbiorowych. Przypadek NATO,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 4, 2017, pp. 7–26.
the full spectrum of NATO missions, which clearly points to the distribution of needs and priorities that led Poland to choose the Alliance over other possible options. This has been actually confirmed by official governmental
in the last 20 years, as well as successive editions of the
Since accession, Poland supported the primacy of collective defence yet did not reject the wider functions that the organisation cultivated after the Cold War ended (in cooperative security and crisismanagement areas). It treated the latter, however, as building on the collective defence potential.
“Republic of Poland national security strategy.”180 In turn, by contributing to work on Alliance strategy, Poland was able to shape its formulation. Poland’s status as a member also affected the direction in which the armed forces and the entire national system developed. Another permanent feature of Polish activity in NATO was the effort to increase the U.S. presence in Europe and to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation. Even before the first enlargement in 1999, Brussels imposed limitations on the stationing of allied troops and infrastructure on new member territories. This resulted in the exposure of the Alliance’s Eastern Flank, which lacked military solutions typical for its Western part. This situation started to be reversed with decisions made at the 2014 Newport summit under the pressure of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the “creeping” conflict in eastern Ukraine as well as instability among the Alliance’s southern neighbours. With events like these multiplying in the 2010s, the end of the post-Cold War “strategic pause” can be announced. This means the return of traditional military threats, now multiplied by the hybrid nature of warfare, where the non-military rivalry between states (culture, economy, legal systems, election cycles) and civilizational advances in transmitting information and influencing the public now have become weaponised.
180 R. Kupiecki (ed.), Strategia bezpieczeństwa narodowego RP. Pierwsze 25 lat, Warszawa, 2015.
Entering NATO in 1999, Poland faced challenges related to the organisation’s attempts to adjust to the effects of changes in the post-Cold War security environment that have been ongoing since the early 1990s. As a non-member, Poland could not impact them in a major way, but analysing the pending changes showed that not all of them were for the better (such as weakening the military potential and overvaluing expeditionary forces at the expense of collective defence). Most importantly, however, the organisation survived the first rocky post-Cold War years. Member states spoke in favour of its continued existence without putting a burden on Allied strategy and pending debates. A few issues did, however, retain their long-term nature, resulting in permanently antithetical positions being retained by member states while the Alliance fine-tuning continued. • First, it was necessary to redefine the threats and maintain the consent of all members on remedial actions. For the first 40 years of NATO’s existence, the situation was clear: the
threat was the Soviet Union and communist bloc policy—the main reason for collective defence and the related financial and military efforts by Western states. With this danger gone, the risk of a conflict being sparked somewhere in Europe was minimised. On the other hand, however, this spelt the end of a bipolar world that kept many domestic, international, and “intermestic” destabilising factors at bay, whether in the West, the East or the developing world. The Alliance was thus forced to define its own legal, military and financial responsibility, political will and degree of the organisation’s readiness to actions other than classical collective defence. Last but not least, the process inevitably led to tensions and competition for assets and resources between NATO’s new and original mission (collective defence, now appearing remote in the contemporary situation), especially when the Alliance decided to become involved in peacekeeping and stabilising operations outside its territory. The tensions, in turn, pressured the decision-making processes and defence resources of each ally. The sloping towards stabilisation
missions outside the North Atlantic area came to a halt in 2014 as a result of the increased Russian threat and the need to bolster the Alliance’s Eastern Flank. • Second, rapid changes in countries to the east of the North Atlantic area, which refocused their policy on integration with Western structures, forced the organisation to define its own response to the new situation. This did not come quickly, but eventually various cooperation offers (“open door”) were proposed to four groups of states: i) membership for the most committed new democracies, ii) close partnership for militarily non-aligned European states, iii) a special approach to Russia and individual policy towards Ukraine and Georgia, and iv) various proposals for partners from the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Asia, Oceania, or the former Soviet republics. This multi-faceted partnership policy also meant becoming involved in institutional collaboration with a number of international organisations working on their own security agenda. The common objective of these initiatives was stabilising the NATO neighbourhood and, further away, developing the means of cooperating in emergencies and peacekeeping missions, which turned out to have considerable development potential and are defining the Alliance’s external agenda to this day. • Third, among the entire gamut of institutional relations, special attention was given to relations between NATO and the European Union. This was especially important for Poland since following the 1999 accession it did not join the EU for another five years. During that time, the relations between both organisations became realigned. In a strategic sense, discussions from the 1990s about whether European identity should be located within NATO or gain its own autonomous institutional framework, and how should transatlantic relations be managed, came to an end. The resulting answers clearly pointed to the willingness of Europe becoming partially independent in military matters. This independence was to be achieved gradually, so as not to compromise NATO
but to simultaneously develop EU capabilities and structures. The treaty foundation (in the form of the Lisbon Treaty) did not limit such European ambitions, prompting continuous discussion about the EU’s need for and scope of autonomy. On the other hand, budget and operational considerations such
capabilities and modern equipment invited military synergy between both organisations. In the background, there was the U.S. factor in transatlantic relations and American expectations as to collaboration with European allies. Until Trump’s presidency, American discourse was focused on two main issues: i) an expectation of increased military spending in Europe, which would re-balance payments for NATO costs; ii) maintaining the development of the EU’s security dimension oriented on improving capabilities and modernising armed forces and not duplicating the Alliance’s structures. • Fourth, because of the broadening scope of Alliance
activities, the problem of internal conformity arose, which encompassed adjusting decision-making and consultation structures, maintaining of resources (including budget resources) on appropriate levels, and working on directions of change in the military and the underlying strategic and doctrinal considerations. Making decisions fraught with arduous debate and inevitable clashes was far from easy, however. That a compromise could be reached was evident in modifications of NATO’s strategic concept that occurred in 1991, 1999, and 2010. The new, post-Cold War functions of the organisation, while retaining collective defence, focused more strongly on resolving conflicts outside the treaty area and on cooperative security. • Fifth, the collective defence was faced with the challenge of continued financial backing. Generally, this issue should be assigned to the internal adaptation and transatlantic relations category, but its strategic importance and multithreaded nature suggest that it was a separate source of
dispute between the Allies. The issue involved three main components. The first was maintaining the original NATO mission as a justification for national military spending. Doing this under pressure to reduce defence budgets was very important for the organisation’s credibility and capability to carry out the entire range of missions provided for in strategic concepts. The second concerned the longterm consequences of the so-called peace dividend, understood as financial savings due to slashing military expenses which governments could divert for non-military purposes. These ledger-like consequences were felt on several occasions, especially immediately after 1989 and during the early 21st-century financial crisis. In 1990, the 16 NATO members were spending $314 billion on defence; 20 years later, with the line-up grown to 28, expenditures fell to $275 billion. In 2014, they reached the nadir of $250 billion, with just five Allied nations, Poland among them, allocating to defence at least 2% of GDP.181 This downward trend was stopped in recent years, with 2017 military spending of European states reaching recent highs and with pronounced growth of about 10% per year.182 The financial challenge in collective defence applies to both defining the scope of the defence and taking up the challenge by member states that understand the connections between Article 3 obligations (self-help) and Article 5 guarantees (collective defence). The third was the issue of dividing the burden of maintaining the Alliance between the United States (bearing about two-thirds of the costs) and its European allies, and more precisely the American proposal to increase the share of the latter in joint spending.
181 In 2015, the best year in terms of budget indicators, Poland’s defence spending amounted to 2.22% of GDP (compared to the NATO average of 1.42%), of which 35.2% was allocated to modernisation. In 2014–2018, the latter indicator remained in Poland above the 20% expected by NATO.
For a discussion of NATO budget trends, see: The Secretary General’s Annual Report 2017, www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_152773.htm?selectedLocale=en (accessed 17/1/2019). 182
This was the range of issues that member states, including Poland, had to face in everyday NATO activities. Being part of that process, Poland was undergoing a very complex domestic adaptation that would allow it to take full advantage of the security offered by the Alliance. This meant the need to coordinate four processes: • internal modernisation and enhancement of the state’s defence system and adopting NATO standards to guarantee the full political and military interoperability, • assigning assets and capabilities to improve the competences of its own systems to handle the country’s participation in decision-making processes properly and contributing to NATO policy in line with national interests and the organisation’s needs to enhance the collective defence mission, • contributing personal, financial, political and military
resources (also for the needs of joint exercises and operations) to ensure that the Alliance is operationally capable, as a gesture of solidarity and in carrying the burdens of the cost share, • coordinating national planning processes with the Alliance’s needs and, conversely, using NATO plans to enhance domestic defence efforts. While integrating with NATO, Poland had to work out its own means of representing national interests. This applied, though to a lesser degree, to institutional forms of diplomatic presence which are similar for all members of the organisation. This is ensured by the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Poland at NATO Headquarters, using its own military counselling, and the Military Delegation representing the Polish Armed Forces General Staff. It was much more important for Polish diplomats and officers to learn how the Alliance operates and to use this knowledge to hone the skill to act efficiently within its structures. Another objective was to develop a form of “institutional memory”
in state institutions to ensure the continuity of Poland’s presence in the organisation and handling state security policy in the right way. It should be stressed that, like all other member states, Poland delegates its representatives to international civilian and military structures, as well as military personnel to allied headquarters. The NATO transformation triggered by the London summit of July 1990, the refocusing of its military strategy, the reduction of conventional and nuclear forces and the intention to collaborate with neighbouring states were well received by Poland, which saw them as stabilising Europe and calming Moscow, without provoking it to aggressive actions against Central Europe, a position notified to Alliance bodies. Their cumulative effect meant fewer troops, longer time to achieve readiness and less chance of unexpected territorial aggression, new defence plans and pressure on reducing budgets and the number of military headquarters, counterbalanced by the development of multinational military structures. Warsaw did at that time limit itself to political statements and military analyses, understanding the importance of ongoing changes but unable to affect the course of events in any major way. Declarations about the reduction of NATO’s nuclear potential in Europe and decreasing the importance of this kind of weaponry in the Alliance’s deterrence and defence assumptions, with stocks of tactical nuclear arms held by the organisation to be cut down by 80%, were deemed especially beneficial at that time. Through this, NATO achieved three objectives: demonstrating its assessment of threats and responding to similar initiatives by Moscow, reducing the costs of maintaining nuclear weaponry in Europe, and removing most concerns of the European public. The situation at that time was, objectively speaking, favourable to the Polish interests. The scope of internal changes in NATO and the role of relations with non-members were laid out in the November
1991 Rome Strategic Concept,183 which stated that the international situation allows new courses of action, hinting at the promise of a new Alliance policy and the expectation that reforms in former communist states would conform to it. The so-called broader approach to security was envisaged to encompass not only non-military components but also dialogue, collaboration, and efforts to prevent conflicts. This was only one step away from joining those processes under the umbrella of institutionalised cooperation with partners who were not NATO members. From 1991/92, this was achieved through the NACC and from 1994 also by the Partnership for Peace. During all these years, Poland used the above offers as a means to learn about the politics and decisionmaking practices of the Alliance and also to advance the country’s own political agenda, which from 1992 onwards was directly geared towards NATO membership. Poland also demonstrated its solidarity with NATO states and readiness to be a “producer” and not a “consumer” of security by participating in the IFOR/SFOR peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina even before
accession. The rapidly advancing democratisation and economic transformation of Central European states that accelerated their collaboration with NATO showed the myopic nature of the Rome Strategy, which saw developments in this region as a threat. With the aggravation of ethnic and national conflict in the Balkans in the mid-1990s, the organisation faced the need to support the stabilising efforts of the international community. Poland’s accession to NATO was concurrent with a number of decisions of importance to the Alliance. The first was to modify its strategy under the pressure of the Balkan conflicts and Allied interventions. The new strategy wording was approved in Washington in April 1999.184 Second, the strategy reflected the new NATO core functions listed in chapter 10. Besides traditional deterrence and collective defence tasks, they included crisis“The Alliance’s Strategic Concept Approved by Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Rome on 7–8 November 1991,” in: NATO Handbook. Partnership and Cooperation, Brussels, 1995.
Text, see: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018, pp. 285–307.
management missions and partnerships with non-member states. This meant a peculiar compromise where the traditional military tasks of the organisation were retained as a matter of priority, but crisis management activities outside the Treaty area as decided by the North Atlantic Council also gained legitimacy. Poland participated in work on the new strategy, first as an observer, and then as a full-fledged member as the accession process advanced, contributing especially to defence issues, cooperative security, and transatlantic relations. While not involved in the NATO air strikes against the former Yugoslavia, Poland nevertheless supported them politically. With the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the NATO transformation, while retaining former strategic directions, put more emphasis on fighting terrorism by military means and expanding non-military preventive actions. This process was driven by three factors: i) the first invocation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty made after the 9/11 events and siding with the U.S. in the “global war on terrorism.” The needs this involved made the Alliance prioritise the development of military capacity, defence spending, and non-military measures again. This was essential, especially due to commencing demanding military operations, including the ISAF mission in Afghanistan; ii) continued stabilisation efforts in Southern Europe and extending them with various forms of support for regional organisations and partners in Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Together with the necessity of anti-terrorist operations, this forced a shift in attention and financial resources to satisfying military and civilian needs of expeditionary efforts that clashed with collective defence needs; iii) obtaining the support of partners able and willing to provide (financial and military) contributions to joint operations. A feature of this was the growing U.S. pressure on European allies to increase their military efforts and an attempt to arrange collaboration between NATO and the EU through the division of operating tasks and avoiding the doubling of defensive capacity development efforts. This complex situation made it necessary
Main tasks (point 4 of the 2010 NATO Lisbon Strategy)
NATO members will always assist each other against attack, in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. That commitment remains firm and binding. NATO will deter and defend against any threat of aggression, and against emerging security challenges where they threaten the fundamental security of individual member states or the Alliance as a whole.
NATO has a unique and robust set of political and military capabilities to address the full spectrum of crises—before, during, and after conflicts. NATO will actively employ an appropriate mix of those political and military tools to help manage developing crises that have the potential to affect Alliance security before they escalate into conflicts; to stop ongoing conflicts where they affect Alliance security; and, to help consolidate stability in post-conflict situations where that contributes to Euro-Atlantic security.
The Alliance is affected by, and can affect, political and security developments beyond its borders. The Alliance will engage actively to enhance international security, through a partnership with relevant countries and other international organisations; by contributing actively to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament; and by keeping the door to membership in the Alliance open to all European democracies that meet NATO’s standards.
for Poland to act flexibly, giving unanimous support to meeting the needs of collective defence while stressing, in particular, the flaws on NATO’s Eastern Flank. At the same time, Poland participated in most expeditionary forces that the Alliance sent to the Balkans, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as in air and sea operations. Poland also contributed to the compromise nature of the NATO strategy adopted in November 2010 in Lisbon.185 The Polish representative, Professor Adam D. Rotfeld, participated in the work of a group of wise men led by former U.S. Secretary of State Albright, which drafted the narration of the new strategy.186 The updated list of threats and Alliance responses was sustained by the three NATO missions defined as deterrence and defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. The provisions of the Lisbon strategy on collective defence therefore upheld its traditional understanding involving aggression against NATO members, extending the context by the challenge of terrorism, energy security, or cyberthreats. Credibility factors of this mission included conventional and nuclear capacity, the latter deemed necessary for the NATO deterrence and defence arsenal as long as it has not been effectively dismantled by all owners. Involvement in operations outside the North Atlantic area was justified by possible consequences of the related crises for the Alliance. The manner of carrying out cooperative security tasks was tied to shaping the international environment and the proper choice of collaboration objectives, tools, and partners.
Collective Defence —the Polish Approach For Poland, the political sense of efforts in the first post-Cold War decade focused on gaining a place in NATO as a credible
Text: ibidem, pp. 419–430.
NATO 2020. Zapewnione bezpieczeństwo. Dynamiczne zaangażowanie. Raport Albright, Warszawa, 2010. Professor Rotfeld’s afterthoughts: “NATO 2020. Nowa koncepcja strategiczna Sojuszu,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 4, 2010, pp. 5–26.
defensive alliance. Collective defence (with deterrence as the preventive component), treated as a primary and irrevocable task, was to remain NATO’s most important mission. This had to be carried out effectively and with the proper financial and military backing of the member states. Poland was willing to subordinate its national adaptation efforts to this mission with the understanding that it served to enhance its own defence potential and strengthen the Alliance as a whole. Showing an interest in all Alliance functions developed after 1989, Poland made a joint contribution to crisis-management efforts and cooperation with non-members. The foundation was, however, deemed to be the organisation’s capability to credibly fulfil its collective defence tasks and transatlantic collaboration in this respect. The ability and political determination to perform this task is not only the foundation of NATO’s image and its deterring power but also a factor that mobilises the efforts and resources of its member states. Defence planning is an exceptional collection of
measures that combines the common needs of the organisation with national capabilities and the division of defence tasks among members. Such a framework and assumption of NATO’s readiness to act enhances the credibility of Article 5 provisions, in which the notion of armed attack, the manner of providing mutual assistance by allies and the obligation of specific actions if an attack is announced are variously interpreted. These various interpretations are meant to guarantee that decision-making remains in the hands of member states, which the Treaty cannot force to go to war, while enabling them to establish conditions for joint and responsible behaviour and foreseeing different scenarios in which potential conflicts may evolve (for example, giving assistance at a specific time, form, or only by some of the Allies at one time). The very structure of Article 5 contains words that limit the ambiguity of interpretation, such as the assumption that the means used will be sufficient “to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” and proportional to the threat caused by the attack and the defence capacities of each state.
Formally speaking, Article 5 does not apply to internal conflicts in NATO states. But other inter pretations may be derived from Cold War-period military documents of the Alliance, especially if such scenarios involved external (hostile) inspiration and assistance granted to the agents directly, or if they were
While this form of warfare could not have been foreseen in 1949, the adequacy of Article 5’s wording to similar situations (including hybrid conflicts) suggests viewing the document with still more respect. By establishing deeper political and defensive cooperation and removing the threat of internal conflicts, the Allies gained the ability
whenever they were a threat and where a joint decision was made to face them. This perhaps was the reason for which renegotiating the North Atlantic Treaty clauses was
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty: The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and127 all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security
not necessary for 70 years. In Poland, this strengthens the conviction that collective defence takes priority over other tasks subsequently included in the organisation’s purview. It is defence and the related military capacity that serves as a starting point for considering the roles of the Allies in collective and cooperative security. The resources aggregated by NATO for collective defence purposes can, of course, be used by other tasks that are currently more important. 187 On collective defence in the context of cyberthreats, see: Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations, Cambridge, 2017.
Without this overarching function, the necessary mobilisation of member states probably could not have been upheld. This is because no ready alternative exists for this specific Alliance mission in the form of other international organisations dealing with security. For all others (dealing with cooperative security, prevention or conflict prevention), international organisations could replace NATO’s non-defence functions. In other words, without collective defence, the viability of the Alliance’s financial, military, and human efforts could be questioned. It was collective defence that drove NATO’s response to the 9/11 attacks, and its wider definition persuaded the Alliance to stage, among others, the demanding out-of-Treaty-area Afghanistan mission, which NATO has been conducting under various organisational forms since 2001, making it the second-longest (after Kosovo) and the largest Alliance operation in history. In turn, new contexts of collective defence arose as a result of energy security, cyberspace threats, and hybrid conflicts.
The priority of collective defence in Allied efforts was additionally undermined by the pressure of ongoing crisis contexts that required looking for effective solutions and adapting the Alliance’s civil and military capacities to them at the cost of traditional missions. This led some experts to prematurely claim that NATO would transform from a defensive alliance into a collective security organisation or even an international regime. With the Cold War ended, NATO did not have too many reasons to stress traditional military operations in its military activities. The organisation’s interaction with its environment was based on prioritising dialogue and collaboration and on inclusive forms of cooperation instead of exclusive defence roles limited to the group of member states. This approach justified, among others, the organisation’s enlargement process motivated by values such as expanding the European cooperative sphere instead of maximising the Alliance’s own military security. The collective security attributes accepted by NATO, while important for its current strategy, were an extension of its fundamental mission of collective defence. The latter was also to provide the sources of political and military capacities for new missions.
However, looking at “old” and “new” NATO missions in this context, the fundamental importance of collective defence for all tasks of the Alliance is even more apparent. The enlargement and partnership policy pursued by the organisation since the 1990s, besides providing “soft benefits” (cooperation, stabilisation, and democratisation), also improved its international power to make things happen. New members enhanced collective defence while partnerships intensified political and military collaboration with neighbouring states. The powers and capacities developed for collective defence were the foundation of military potential while crisis management limited the risk of aggression, and thereby other threats for the North Atlantic area, also safeguarding peace by supporting international law and principles of international relations. The Alliance’s participation in various forms of stabilising missions forced the expansion of collective military capacities and initiating cooperation with international organisations and other partners to react to new operating requirements. The support granted to civilian and military European Union missions was not merely an attempt to build an important (while still fragile) political partnership but also greatly helped avoid the duplication of military structures and capacities in countries belonging to both organisations that would compromise NATO’s collective defence. The new type of missions forced military structures to adapt, abandoning static defence in favour of mobility and reducing large-scale operational capacity in favour of lighter solutions for low-intensity conflicts with complex operational characteristics. The background of these changes was laid by financial analyses that noted the possibility of savings on traditional military capacities. This caused tension in debates between Allies on the division of resources between collective defence and new missions. The practical consequence of this situation was the gradually increasing “free-rider effect” in the defence planning process. It was characterised, on the one hand, by the lower national level of ambition as regards resources and assets assigned for Alliance needs and, on the other, by the growing gap between NATO’s military requirements, state declarations, and their practical implementation in successive planning cycles. In recent years, the difference amounted to as much as 50%.
The permission to use NATO’s military capacity (for example, as regards defence against weapons of mass destruction, air reconnaissance, and mitigating the consequences of natural disasters) for purposes not directly related to collective defence showed that military means developed within the organisation could be useful for broader purposes. This improved the organisation’s standing in the international security cooperation system and made its efforts more flexible, as involvement did not have to be binding for all member states as long as they jointly agreed to use their common capacities. The original context of collective defence in which these capacities functioned was not changed, however. Such a flexible approach to the Alliance’s military capacities after the 9/11 attacks meant a new challenge for the decision-making groups, especially since the Bush administration preferred to treat NATO as a supply of resources and means (the toolbox concept) for the needs of the “coalition of willing states.” This solved the problem of no consensus in military actions of the entire organisation but weakened its image
as one achieving its martial mission by joint effort. Almost 60 years ago, R.E. Osgood accurately recognised the primacy of military and defensive NATO functions which must be fulfilled for all other non-military roles of the Alliance to operate. If NATO’s inner core of mutual interests loses its vitality, its non-military roles will suffer correspondingly; and no extension of political consultation or economic cooperation within the organisation will bring about its regeneration. If NATO fails to perform its security function, its other functions will not matter.188 This was because these “other tasks,” viewed differently by each of the Allies, could not serve as the sufficient ground for joint action. From Poland’s point of view, the most important dilemma is not which of the Alliance’s missions is the most important (even though Warsaw has no doubts about it), but whether NATO’s roles in terms of developed capabilities and used resources do R.E. Osgood, “NATO. Problems of Security and Collaboration,” The American Political Science Review, no. 1, 1960, p. 106.
not compromise the organisation’s effectiveness in fulfilling its core tasks as stipulated in the Washington Treaty. The emphasis put by the Alliance on its fundamental mission while faced with Russian aggression in Ukraine definitely settles the debate on the place of collective defence among Allied tasks. Its contents must be richer than in times of simple Cold War threats, traditionally covering the protection of territory, but also the population and troops found in various locations against a wide range of perils. While collective defence starts at this point, it is not limited today to actions resulting from territorial aggression against one or more Allies. Losing the capacity to implement collective defence and thereby acting as a credible deterrent would spell the end of the organisation. Depreciating its original function compared to other Allied missions would be a fundamental error in perception or a strategic error in real politics. The position of Warsaw regarding NATO collective defence was characterised by continuity and consistency, even though, in the initial phase, circumstances focusing on out-of-area operations (stabilising missions and combating terrorism) or relations with Russia based on the 1997 self-limitations mentioned earlier did not operate to Poland’s advantage. They blunted the arguments about the need for extra political and financial investments in infrastructure and military capacity on the organisation’s eastern borders, as well as getting the Alliance ready for the consequences of non-traditional threats that might lead to the invocation of Article 5. In the contemporary world, the notion of armed conflict and armed attack may not involve the traditional land, sea, and air clash between two armies using conventional and nuclear weapons. In the context of NATO, a broader view is also required with respect to the North Atlantic area as a sphere included in Allied guarantees. For example, attacks on Estonian computers from Russia in 2007 led to cyberspace issues being included in the joint activities of NATO states. Similarly, the trans-border consequences of nonmilitary pressure such as the intentional disruption of deliveries
or transit of resources of key economic importance,189 aggressive information activities or a combination of these means in the so-called hybrid war extend the contemporary context of collective defence considerations. In discussions among the Allies, Poland always favoured a solidarity-driven, joint, and prudent approach of the organisation to such situations. This was especially important because the detailed Allied views, due to the divergent geographical location or threat intensity, did not have to be identical. From the Polish point of view, doctrinal order and planning for unexpected situations were as important as solidarity, the threshold condition of a credible collective defence. There were also times when Poland’s efforts to balance NATO missions clashed with the West’s stereotypical perception of the country’s position as motivated by allegedly anti-Russian prejudice or as arguing for the unreasonableness of specific actions in the collective defence area. The most important Polish effort in this respect concerned the Alliance’s operational
planning, and especially contingency planning which slowly disappeared after the end of the Cold War.190 The planning answered the fundamental questions of what situations would cause NATO and its member states to react and grant mutual assistance, and consequently what permanent readiness such a reaction would require. With an approach that made NATO’s defensive capacity wane since 1990, there was a risk that similar plans would not be developed for new member states. This would be another circumstance, in addition to a ban on stationing troops and infrastructure, which weakened the Eastern Flank. Poland’s efforts, lasting for the entire first decade of its NATO membership, were successful in greatly consolidating the foundations of collective defence.191 189 For example, cutting off gas deliveries through Ukraine by Russia leading to shortages in supplies of this raw material in Romania and Bulgaria. This reinvigorated NATO’s work in the area of energy security.
For examples of plans from this period addressing the defence of one of the hottest potential trouble spots, see: NATO Archives: Contingency Plan for Berlin—List of Declassified NATO Documents.
For commentaries and documents concerning this subject matter, see: ww.natowatch.org/newsbriefs/2010/wikileaks-reveal-article-5-contingency-
A radical change in the collective defence perception did not occur, however, until Russia’s annexation of Crimea, followed by attacks on eastern Ukraine. This restored the Alliance’s attention to these issues but did not mean turning its back on a wider range of threats in the Middle East and Northern Africa or in Southern Europe. A decision package developed at three successive NATO summits in Newport (2014), Warsaw (2016), and Brussels (2017) was the result. Their cumulative effect meant commencing renewed military adaptation of the Alliance to new threats. The driving force is the aggressive Russian policy in Ukraine, flaunting contempt for international law, intrusive political influence on Western societies and opinion-making circles, and hundreds of provocations in the vicinity of Allied air and naval space that involve army movements under the guise of exercises. The most serious tensions on the Alliance’s borders since the end of the Cold War are the result. The breakthrough nature of this process results from the unequivocal naming of the threat coming from the East that translates to clear guidelines to plan actions. Their essence is to restore the right priorities to the organisation so that its statute-based defensive actions are not taken hostage by the distant hope of Russian self-corrected international behaviour. Consequently, they answer to specific problems and are not a bargaining card in mutual relations. This applies first and foremost to re-balancing the military status of countries located on NATO’s Eastern Flank, which requires erasing the limitations unilaterally imposed by the Alliance in 1996-97 that had been declared to result from the intention to: (…) implement collective defence rather by ensuring necessary interoperability, integration and follow-on capacity than by permanently stationing considerable armed forces. This declaration had also been extended to cover military infrastructure and jointly inserted in the “NATO-Russia Founding Act.” With this, for almost two
plans-defend-baltics-and-poland (accessed 4/1/2019). Similar sources are quoted in academic circulation and publicist writing. Their credibility has never been confirmed by the U.S.
decades new members were subject to considerable asymmetry in collective defence. Disregarding the background of these declarations—possibly their absence would make an agreement of the former 16 states on enlargement more difficult—and the military logic of removing these capabilities from a frontier facing a potential adversary, no sufficient efforts were made to properly prepare the conditions to implement collective defence in the region; instead, the task was shifted to followon forces that would arrive to react to an imminent threat. For many years, the number of military exercises was greatly reduced, with out-of-area operations engaging the majority of NATO operating forces. In the new situation, the key issue for Alliance credibility is the actual ability to, and the third party understanding of, defending its member states. Nowadays, one of the important components of the renewed collective defence is the genuine military strengthening of states on the NATO Eastern flank. This relates to supporting
their national military efforts, increasing the presence of Allied forces, and developing infrastructure to host and move troops sent from elsewhere in the North Atlantic area. On the entire NATO territory, legal regulations are also required to facilitate troop movements and lighten the bureaucratic load related to their appearance and operation on the territory of other states. In peacetime, they are used to protect sovereignty, but during crises and war, they do not improve the organisation’s military efficiency. The same category of activities includes continued air policing missions over Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia done by augmented Allied forces, as well as naval patrols in the Baltic. The 2014 NATO summit in Wales saw the passing of the first package of measures responding to the new defence needs of Eastern Flank countries, the Readiness Action Plan (RAP). The plan mentioned developing command structures, military infrastructure, and forces permanently stationed on the Eastern Flank and able to move wherever required by circumstances. These decisions were mostly related to the reassurance of states
in the region that the remaining members are willing and able to provide effective support as necessary: • improving the capability of the NATO Response Force (NRF) to act under Article 5 of the Treaty and establishing the brigade-size Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) consisting of a ground component with required air and naval force support, subordinated to a NATO operational commander, • establishing multinational command structures on the Eastern flank to coordinate collective defence actions, • improving the capability (and increasing the readiness) of the command of the Multinational Corps North-East in Szczecin to run operations of NATO Response Forces on the Eastern Flank, followed by large-scale Allied operations in the longer term whenever the need arises; • improving defence capacity in the region by, among others, permanent deposition of military equipment and ordinance, preparing the infrastructure for the needs of follow-on forces, and designating specific commands and bases for the purpose; • enhancing the NATO Standing Naval Forces and increasing their capability for performing the full spectrum of naval operations; • enhancing the NATO command structure to enable it to implement the full spectrum of the missions and force structure, including the readiness of the Szczecin Corps; • adjusting and intensifying the exercise programme to respond to challenges caused by the hybrid war model; • reviewing planning processes to better guide NATO military activities;192
192 For more, see: S. Koziej, P. Pietrzak, “Szczyt NATO w Newport,” Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe, no. 31, 2014, pp. 11–29.
The sum of these activities meant that NATO took an important step to change the defence policy that arose due to a rosy view of the future shape that security environment would take, with the threat from the East disappearing entirely. Another, more decisive move was made two years later during the Warsaw NATO summit in July 2016. The choice of the summit’s location, one situated on the Eastern Flank and which the summit’s decisions were to affect, was no accident. It was the first NATO meeting on this level hosted on Polish territory. Out of 28 summits held in the 70 years of NATO’s existence, nine were hosted in Belgium (at NATO HQ in Brussels), three each in the United Kingdom and France (including one hosted jointly by France and Germany), two each in Germany, the U.S., and Italy, and one each in Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Romania, Portugal, and Poland.193
At the same time, between the Newport and Warsaw summits, the unfriendly activities of Russia enhanced the requirements of
collective defence and deterrence. It was especially a question of permanent stationing of Allied forces and the underlying command, infrastructure, and support network. This meant a shift from the strategy of assuring Eastern Flank Allies to the more visible involvement of the Alliance in this potential theatre of operations, in proportion to the scale of the threat. A decision like this was expected from the Warsaw summit and it is for this purpose that Poland made overtures long before the meeting. Already in the spring of 2015, it submitted to the Alliance authorities and member states a sketch, drafted by the Ministry of National Defence, of decisions expected to be made at the summit, in the form of the Warsaw Strategic Adaptation Initiative. Accordingly, issues related to the summit were present in political and diplomatic consultations.194 The purpose was to cause an actual increase in the military presence of NATO
List of key decisions taken at summits: R. Kupiecki, Organizacja Traktatu Północnoatlantyckiego, Warszawa, 2016, pp. 214–219.
P. Soloch, P. Pietrzak, “Szczyt NATO w Warszawie. Uwarunkowania, rezultaty, wnioski dla Polski,” Bezpieczeństwo Narodowe, no. 1–4, 2016, pp. 22–24.
in Eastern Flank countries, develop infrastructure allowing the storage of significant amounts of military equipment and materiel, moving troops for long-term stationing, and also linking these undertakings to suitable financial guarantees and plans for defence exercises and operations, including their augmentation as necessary. The final decisions of the Warsaw summit, besides confirming that the 2014 decisions would be implemented, meant enhancing the Alliance’s deterrence and defence policy and, on the part of the United States, declarations of increasing the persistent rotational presence in Poland by a mechanised infantry brigade since 2017.195 The Alliance decided to create four battalionsized (multinational) task forces in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and to maintain a more tailored military presence in Romania. Poland, in turn, declared it would send troops to Romania and Latvia. The Polish proposal to create on its territory an Allied division-level command to better coordinate multinational military operations was accepted. In addition, preliminary
system, tighter operational cooperation with the European Union and recognising cyberspace as a potential theatre of military operations was declared. Other decisions also related to developing other NATO missions: in the crisis-management sphere, the Allied operation in Afghanistan was extended and naval activities in the Mediterranean (Sea Guardian) commenced. All NATO members also joined the anti-ISIL (“Islamic State of Iraq and Levant”) coalition. In the cooperative defence sphere, military cooperation with Iraq, Tunisia and Jordan was tightened, aid to Ukraine increased, and the will to develop cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia confirmed.196
For current information about the U.S. presence in Poland and the region as part of the mission to enhance the defence of NATO’s Eastern Flank and proposals for its further development, see: P. Breedlove, A. Vershbow, Permanent Deterrence: Enhancement to the US Military Presence in North Central Europe, ACUS, Washington DC, December 2018.
196 Communique from the NATO summit issued by heads of state and government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw on 8 and
These decisions were consoli International commentators were right in noting the breakthrough character of the Warsaw summit for the future directions of Alliance development. Especially accurate was the diagnosis of UK journalist Edward Lucas, who said that the Warsaw summit was the best NATO summit since the end of the Cold War, as serious people made serious decisions about serious problems.
dated and extended at the Brussels summit in July 2018, where the long-awaited increase in military spending at the NATO level (by $41 million in two years) was stressed, a decision on enhancing the command structure made,197 a new armed forces readiness initiative (popularly called “4x30”)198 implemented,
combat hybrid threats launched, and a package of other solutions not directly related to collective defence adopted. Priority issues now facing the Allied countries, including Poland, include the following: further augmentation of conventional forces on the Eastern Flank, updated strategic plans to better identify and satisfy the military needs of the organisation, and also enhancing the ability to combat hybrid
threats and resist cyberattacks on critical infrastructure of NATO and member states.199 Underlying this are also efforts necessary to implement the decisions of recent summits, especially as regards the increase of budget spending, faster modernisation of armed forces and legislation facilitating the movement of troops around member territories. In Poland, this also required adapting military infrastructure to accept rotating NATO and American units and their equipment, making decisions on making Polish units present in other states as part of follow-on forces, and using Alliance programmes to implement the state’s resistance 9 July 2016, in: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018, pp. 500–546. By establishing two new commands—Joint Forces in Norfolk and Support in Ulm. For more about the summit decision, see: Brussels Summit Key Decisions 11–12 July 2018, www.nato.int/../20118105_factsheet_key_decisions_summit_en.pdf (accessed 12/1/2019).
198 It is assumed that by 2020, Allied states will be in a position to have 30 mechanised battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 combat vessels ready to use within 30 days or less.
F.D. Kramer, H. Binnendijk, L.M. Speranza, NATO Priorities after the Brussels Summit, Washington DC, 2018.
to hybrid threats. Likewise, the activity of Poland among Alliance members to ensure the stable continuation of collective defence enhancement processes started at the Newport, Warsaw, and Brussels summits is also important. This applies to both implementing previously made decisions and turning attention to details that guarantee suitable logistical or informational support to exercising or operating NATO troops. In aÂ wider strategic plan, this also means correct synchronisation of various crisismanagement measures undertaken by NATO in the East and South (fighting terrorism).
Transatlantic Relations â€”Challenges and Opportunities Post-Cold War defensive collaboration debates focused mostly on issues of American security guarantees, the share of related costs that fall more heavily on European Allies (shifting their military ambitions to building military capacity instead of developing institutions) and collaboration to solve regional and global crises. The U.S. had its regular share of voices urging it to abandon NATO since its role has become limited due to new security threats arising in Asia and the need to cut down related costs. The saved means and troops withdrawn from Europe should be moved to other locations as required by U.S. global strategy and internal policy objectives. The consequences of the early 21st-century economic crisis and the pileup of costs of U.S. military intervention in the last 20Â years have strongly dented the American budget. Such thinking in Washington after 1989, besides own needs or traditional neo-isolationist beliefs, was justified by the economic success of European countries that allowed them to increase military expenditures and lessen the burden on the U.S. This is why, since the 1990s, Washington repeatedly called to increase the share of European states in collective defence, allocate 2% of GDP for military purposes, and improve collaboration in modernising the armed forces. Quality development was the most important in order to match the needs of contemporary battlefields and protect the lives of soldiers and
civilians alike. This trend was to be supported by a more serious involvement of European states in solving global issues together with the U.S.—by this, I mean not only the willingness to become involved in the most demanding mission locations but also the ability of European states to handle operations on their own and for longer times with limited U.S. engagement. This doctrine, demonstrated in the Libyan operation of 2011, revealed major military shortcomings on the European side, especially as regards technologically advanced battlefield assets. It was clear, therefore, that military efforts in Europe needed to be increased along with the scale of challenges and costs of possible military autonomy.200 More intense debate on transatlantic relations is always the effect of important changes on the political scene of member states. One such event was undoubtedly the presidency of Donald Trump and the uncertainty as to NATO’s role in the proposed American foreign and security policy. This was hinted at already in the campaign declarations of developing relations with
the Alliance on a transactional basis, the distancing from the allegedly “obsolete” NATO formula and the unconditional nature of U.S. guarantees, a more liberal and non-sanction approach to relations with Russia, the openly manifested dislike of the crisisswamped EU, and the brutally clear, though not too detailed, exposition of the “America first” principle in the president’s inaugural speech,201 subsequently raised to the level of a doctrine in the 2017 “National Security Strategy.”202 The reception of such a U.S. stance worldwide varied from the thinly veiled, but then shifting enthusiasm of Moscow that was awaiting American conciliatory gestures through concerns about the course of mutual relations in Beijing to the confusion of many European capitals with respect to future transatlantic relations ranging from trade to security. This was matched by the tone of expert 200 S. Biscop, “European Strategic Autonomy and the Use of Force,” Egmont Paper, 103, January 2019. 201 The Inaugural Address. Remarks of President Donald J. Trump, January 20, 2017, Washington DC, www.whitehouse.gov/inaugural-address (accessed 3/1/2019).
National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Washington, December 2017.
voices and the polarisation of stances taken by opinion leaders and various currents of European politics, with the general tendency of the right, Eurosceptic side of the political scene to show less reservation in affirming the statements of the new U.S. president. The EU, whose values, principles, solidarity, and cohesion are being put to the test now, has enough potential to become an active partner of the U.S. in the sphere of security. To make this happen, it cannot remain stagnant or succumb to the temptation of internally dividing its Member States along the “two speeds” idea that would enhance integration efforts for the time being but waste the chance for wide legitimisation and bear the risk of recreating previous divisions on the continent. The EU must, conversely, take up the political challenge offered internally by tight nationalisms concealed behind various programme platforms and carelessly treating the future of the European project and its foreign affairs and security aspect. As far as transatlantic relations are concerned, the EU must gain a clear understanding of the sources of its strength and identity, treating Trump’s programme not just as an opportunity to criticise the U.S. but also to formulate its own offer, especially as regards economy and security (a new transatlantic bargain). A solid political offer backed by an increase in defence spending and more active U.S. support in fighting terrorism would be a serious argument in favour of cementing transatlantic relations. The flamboyant, media-attracting activity of the White House and the personal presence of President Trump on social media, combining the brevity and bluntness of tweets, contrasted with the actions of the presidential “security team,” particularly the former Secretary of Defence James Mattis.203 His professional “quiet diplomacy” towards European capitals and the NATO HQ undoubtedly served to tone down the concerns of U.S. allies.
Among the new U.S. administration’s highest officials, James Mattis—a man of excellent military reputation and intellectual qualifications—received the highest credit of trust from international public opinion. See: Message of the Department of Defense from Secretary of Defense James Mattis, 20/1/2017, www.defense.gov (accessed: 20.01.2017).
In this context, the Brussels In contrast to the rhetoric, U.S. activities within the two last years have greatly augmented NATO in military terms and re-balanced the share of burdens in favour of the United States. Trump’s administration maintained the undertaking of its predecessors to bolster the Alliance’s Eastern Flank. This meant stationing additional American troops and weaponry in Europe, increasing the financing of the European Deterrence Initiative by a few billion dollars, convincing European states to augment the NATO command structure, stronger support for antiterrorist operations in the South, and participation in multinational units stationing in Eastern Flank countries or naval forces managed by the naval 142 component command directed by the UK. The EU, in turn, provided assurances that troop mobility and their movement between states will be made easier and more efficient.
NATO summit of 2017 was the first opportunity for working contacts between the new president, and the
focused future, defence,
and securing the Eastern Flank, fighting
spending, the conflict in Ukraine, and relations with Russia. The summit’s decisions revealed that NATO’s policy declared at the Newport and Warsaw summit would be continued. Hints from the
showed, however, that Trump does not rate the Alliance as valuable for the United States.204 This even elicited a reaction from Congress, where initiatives limiting
to leave NATO were introduced.205 In this sense, as noted by many experts on transatlantic relations,
the current U.S. foreign policy is full of paradoxes, with the White House’s reluctance for multilateral structures opposed by American actions within the Alliance. The former NATO Deputy Secretary General is basically right in writing that: the president should take a well-deserved victory lap rather than threatening to withdraw from an Alliance that has been the foundation of U.S. and transatlantic security for the past seventy years.206 See: “Trump Discussed Pulling US from NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia,” The New York Times, 14 January 2019.
See: NATO Support Act, 116th Congress, 1st Session HR, www.congress.gov/ bill/116th-congress/house-bill/676 (accessed 21/1/2019).
206 A. Vershbow, “Can NATO Survive Two More Years of Donald Trump?,” The Hill, 21 January 2019.
In political terms, the decisions of recent NATO summits meant much for restoring the military credibility of the Alliance and breaking the two-decade slumber on the Eastern Flank, a posture once willingly entered into in different security conditions. This meant the reversal of a long-term negative trend based on an optimistic projection of evolving threats but was merely the first step in restoring the proper hierarchy of operational priorities. The responses generated in the process should precede (deter) threats, not follow them. Its role is both to improve NATO’s political and military credibility and to ensure sufficient capability in the face of emerging threats. An actual strengthening of member security cannot result only from diligent implementation of the decisions made at the Newport, Warsaw, and Brussels summits but must be an ongoing process in which expectations that the organisation will do more for collective defence rest on the foundation of national efforts (budgets, modernisation of armed forces and willingness to support other allies). This is not just a dictate of the moment but also the Alliance mechanism written in the Washington Treaty (Article 3). The credibility of collective defence is today tested from various directions. Some of these include: • the aggressive policy of Russia orchestrating conflicts in southeastern Ukraine and in Syria and engaging in hybrid sabotage of the international order and its Western foundations in the form of institutions (NATO and EU), principles (democracy and liberal economy), and norms (international law). Successfully questioning the integrity of both organisations and destroying their legitimacy in the eyes of the public would create conditions for implementing Moscow’s strategic design, ongoing since 1949, namely removal of the North Atlantic Alliance and paving the way to bilateral relations in European security; • a range of threats arriving from the South that divert political attention and Alliance resources from collective defence
activities and drive a wedge between the Allies as regards the necessary involvement of the organisation and its forms; • the internal politics of the organisation that faces the restoration of military capability and procedures for planning, directing, and commanding and must be provided with stable financial backing based on an increase in military spending of member states. An increase is not, however, merely about spending more, but actually using these means to develop military capacity. After two decades of developing the Alliance’s political dimension, reducing the defences of many states and diverting their attention to expeditionary missions (which focus on light and mobile forces), the process of NATO remilitarisation must mean “going back to the basics” by appropriately combining various types of forces that are adequately armed, capable of dislocation and equipped with modern battlefield systems to obtain an advantage and protect the life of soldiers. No less
important for the credible deterrence of threats is the political determination of member states, both as regards continued enhancement of collective defence and showcasing its advantages to potential opponents. There can be no doubt that NATO’s existing conventional and nuclear capacities and the will to act are sufficient to make any aggressive external design quite unprofitable in strategic terms and bringing no real advantages. In this context, the political realism and pragmatism of the West should be tightly integrated with unequivocal support for international law and responsible state behaviour. These issues do not oppose each other, and politically it is possible to formulate and implement a programme that is both rational and principle-based in dealings with Russia. With such a foundation, the Alliance’s efficiency will increase, while openness to (or, in light of global problems, the necessity of) dialogue with Russia will be correctly understood at Moscow. Such an approach to NATO-Russia relations is favoured by Poland.
A number of issues should be prioritised in the Alliance’s activities: 1. It is necessary to make a joint assessment of threats and order them into a hierarchy so that they can serve as clear prerequisites for using defensive resources, impacting the organisation’s operational priorities and underpinning the solidarity of Allies. The task will not be easy due to the scale and range of challenges, from the Russian threat in the East to the political and religious extremism in the South. In addition, matters will certainly be complicated by the divergent viewpoints of Allies located in various parts of the North Atlantic area. In this context, pressing challenges and issues of a global (Iran, China, North Korea) and sectoral (security of maritime areas, economic security, fighting cyberspace threats) nature affect the national policies of the member states and the role of the Alliance in resolving these issues. Undoubtedly, in all dimensions of Allied policy, the essential role is played by U.S. strategy, in which Europe is merely a regional factor (and currently perhaps not even the most important one). Thus, the strategic behaviours of European allies are all the more important, both as regards their defence efforts, transatlantic collaboration, and global engagement demonstrating solidarity with Washington’s involvement in Europe. Due to the effects of developing military technology and the ways in which conflicts evolve, NATO must see the issue of potential aggression in wider terms than just the threat of a conventional invasion by ground, sea and air forces backed by nuclear weapons. Additional threats include transborder cyberattacks, for example, affecting the movements of raw materials with key economic importance (whose disruption might compromise the defence systems of member states or operational capabilities of Allied forces), or the complex means of waging a hybrid war, blurring the view of aggression as defined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. 2. NATO must maintain a flexible strategy to match the specific nature of threats coming from different locations. The
aggressive behaviour of Russia, a state with considerable conventional and nuclear potential, is a vital issue for the whole organisation. It does not, however, lessen the need for preventive and crisis-management activities resulting from the more complex context of collective defence (whose contributing factors include developments in the Middle East, North Africa, or Afghanistan). In these activities, the Alliance should cooperate closely with the European Union. Its strategic attention must, however, be permanently focused on credible deterrence, founded on the political solidarity of member states. The complex nature of threat scenarios appears today a real challenge for military processes, their financial backing, continued solidarity of Allies and the efficiency of decision-making mechanisms based on the correct diagnosis of circumstances. This is all the more essential because clear assessments made by Eastern Flank countries may vary from those done in the South, West, or beyond the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to preventive
scenarios, the concerted action of allies is equally important. 3. Collective defence and its materiel and military needs remain the sole and indispensable mission of the organisation. This mission constitutes the principal means of the Alliance’s security polity, both to deter aggression and ensure readiness for active defence. It is also the only indisputable common ground for transatlantic collaboration and the coordination of national defence policies. All other NATO missions related to collective and cooperative security must commence with collective defence and its associated military capabilities in mind. Other roles evolved by the Alliance after the Cold War (peacekeeping operations, stabilisation and training missions, supporting democracy, or mitigating the impact of natural disasters) can be to a large extent replaced by international organisations or coalitions of states. 4. Military power and the political determination of NATO members are the foundations of a credible deterrence policy, whose shortcomings were accurately diagnosed during the
Warsaw summit, and the adopted solutions took a step in the right direction. This means primarily the presence of Allied forces on the Eastern Flank and the ability to augment them as necessary, the readiness of command structures and their ability to collect and process knowledge on NATO surroundings, as well as increased efficiency of the defence planning process (increased implementation of obligations concerning the most important defence needs by member states). As regards the last issue, national defence efforts must be coupled with NATO-wide activity to improve jointly financed military capabilities (such as broadly understood command systems or anti-missile defence). 5. In light of doctrinal changes (monitoring the nature of conflicts and pursuing de-escalation activities) and Russia’s public announcements to lower nuclear weapons use thresholds, nuclear policy comes back to the foreground of NATO’s deterrence policy. In the public component of its doctrine,207 the Alliance maintains a clear narrative concerning the strategic environment and readiness to adequately respond to threats. The organisation must, however, make essential decisions concerning the nuclear component of its own deterrence policy. This applies to both infrastructure and weapon delivery systems, planning processes and consultations between Allies, wider participation of member states in (conventional) tasks related to nuclear policy and exercises, and bringing the policies of NATO states with nuclear weapons in line. First and foremost, however, it is the U.S. that must decide the future of its nuclear arsenal. 6. Effective defence preparations require suitable financial resources.
financial involvement in NATO) remains a challenge, as does Washington’s increasing pressure on raising defence budgets by European allies. The commitment to spend 2% of GDP
See: NATO Nuclear Deterrence Policy and Forces, www.nato.int/cps/em/natohq/ topics_50068.htm (accessed 2/1/2019).
for defence purposes made at the Newport summit (and repeated in Warsaw) still remains a mid-term goal. This goal has not been achieved by some two-thirds of NATO members, although efforts to do so, especially among the Eastern Flank states, cannot be depreciated since their defence expenditures consistently grow. It is, however, the largest European states (most notably Germany) that will make the initiative succeed or fail since their budgets can reverse the clear trend of dwindling military spending in the last decade. It may prove necessary to put these processes in a tighter political and planning framework. The role of national efforts in this respect, beyond their net defence value, includes also preventing the perennial “free-rider effect” that has historically plagued many an alliance, and also serving as a forceful example that restricts the possibilities of other allies to ignore or limit their obligations. President Trump, acting under the pressure of the U.S.
domestic problems that secured his election and focusing his foreign policy primarily on Asia, has set a tough and high but realistic bar for Europe as regards balancing the Allied contributions to collective defence. This involves not only a challenge but also a huge opportunity to strengthen its own defence identity, founded better than ever on capabilities, institutional mechanisms, procedures, and division of burdens. The most desirable solution appears to be the necessity of close collaboration between NATO and the European Union.
Poland and NATO Crisis Management As a new NATO member, Poland set for itself an ambitious objective of contributing to the organisation’s joint activities according to the country’s current abilities and needs. This reservation is important, since in terms of aggregated defence resources Poland ranks high among all members, having more potential than any other Central European state.
Poland as Security Producer in NATO In contemporary political rhetoric, this was called being a “producer” of security, a role of the type that, while undoubtedly using the advantages of a joint organisation, does not limit itself to it and is not a free rider. In international alliances whose members differ widely in potential, the free-rider effect is the tendency of some members—whether due to the paucity of resources or reluctance to use them—to shift the costs of the joint organisation to stronger or more determined ones.208 Poland decided to balance the costs and benefits of its participation in NATO, seeing the organisation as a factor enhancing its own security that is well worth the expense. Implementing this plan required, however, achieving the aforesaid capacity/ readiness to act in concert with others and, domestically, making suitable adjustments to the defence system that would
For a new take on this issue, see: T. Plumper, E. Neumayer, “Free-Riding in Alliances: Testing an Old Theory with New Method,” Conflict Management and Peace Science, no. 3, 2015, pp. 247–268. Classic approach: M. Olson, R. Zeckhauser, An Economic Theory of Alliances, RAND, Santa Monica, October 1966.
result in predictable national behaviours and contributions to the Alliance, an aspect of most importance for a state aiming to be a “producer” of security. To describe Poland’s position as a security producer, the British researcher Kerry Longhurst uses the notion of a good international citizen that participates in community activities and speaks with a meaningful voice.209 An important aspect of the Polish presence in NATO has always been ensuring the correct balance between collective defence and new (stabilising) missions undertaken by the Alliance after the Cold War ended. Transforming the organisation with the feeling that the old threat of territorial aggression had receded in favour of others has led many member states to believe that budget cuts could be made in the most ambitious (and costexpensive) defence capabilities and by rebuilding the structures and training processes of their own armed forces. While such behaviour has historically been quite normal following large conflicts, its short-sighted nature became apparent already
during the Afghanistan and Libya operations due to shortages of personnel, transport capabilities, command systems, and advanced battlefield systems. But it was Russia’s aggression in Ukraine that has made the necessity of readjusting the military side of NATO painfully obvious. The priority which Poland gave to collective defence and the need to support NATO expeditionary missions dictated the necessity to adapt the Polish armed forces. Participation in the Alliance’s defence planning process turned out to be especially advantageous for improving the efficiency of national planning and programming procedures, also contributing to an actual increase of the Polish military budget. Thanks to the right decisions of the Polish authorities, the budget was permanently 209 K. Longhurst, “Od roli konsumenta do producenta. Polska a bezpieczeństwo euroatlantyckie w XXI wieku,” in: M. Zaborowski, O. Osica (eds), Nowy członek starego sojuszu. Polska jako nowy aktor w euroatlantyckiej polityce bezpieczeństwa, Warszawa, 2002, pp. 63–82. The concept of good international citizenship assumes actions (by medium-sized states) to consolidate principles of international cooperation (practice) and (idealistic objectives) accounting for the moral element in foreign policy ascribed, among others, to: G. Evans, “Australian Foreign Policy. Priorities in a Changing World,” Australian Outlook, no. 2, 1989, p. 12.
fixed by a statutory provision mandating the spending of 2% of annual GDP for defence-related purposes. At that time, this exceeded the political requirements of the Alliance. Given Poland’s constant economic growth, this means more resources are available to spend on defence each year.210 At the same time, in the 2010s, the internal structure of this budget was greatly improved, with more than one third used to develop and modernise the armed forces. Such solutions serve today as a good example in NATO, providing conditions for the development and modernisation of armed forces. As a NATO member fulfilling its obligations, Poland, as a rule, did not demand from its allies anything that it did not contribute itself. A good example in this respect may be the long-lasting Polish military involvement (by contributing aircraft, pilots and ground crew) in the Alliance’s mission to protect the airspace of the Baltic countries. By this, Poland actively supported its firm strategic position on the need for safeguarding a single defence standard over the entire North Atlantic area, especially in the context of the prolonged exposure of the Eastern Flank. Where Allies lack the capability, they can count on the assistance of others. Poland is in favour of deeper security consultations and collaboration between NATO and its Eastern neighbours. Additionally, it supports multinational efforts to develop military capacity, for example, as regards anti-military defence, reconnaissance or defending against cyberthreats. With the amount of its defence budget, Poland gives a good example of supporting Allied activities provided for in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty with national efforts mentioned in Article 3. Poland also values the idea of solidarity between Allies, preferring it to narrower coalitions that use NATO’s resources and capabilities as a “toolbox.” Even if the organisation (as was
210 Let us note that Poland’s defence spending today is close to the sum of the defence budgets of all the other NATO countries that acceded to it after 1999. A good source of defence data about contemporary states are the annual reports by NATO Secretary General and for many years now, the unchanging Military Balance, an annual publication of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
the case with the air strikes in the former Yugoslavia in 1999) or its member states (a coalition of the United States and others, including Poland, during the Iraq War) happened to act more flexibly, this did not alter Polish preferences for joint NATO operations founded on international law. This position resulted from the fact that the Alliance, when credibly performing its collective defence mission by the efforts of all members, has always been a factor that multiplied the Polish national defence potential. Of particular value in this respect are transatlantic relations, ardently championed by Poland, who believes that harmonious collaboration between the U.S. and European states guarantees the credibility of joint defence solutions. To increase the power and operational capacity, there are huge reserves lying dormant in the possibilities of collaboration between NATO and the European Union. I mean here both the possible division of civilian and military tasks, working on mutually complementary solutions to stage operations, and avoiding the duplication of structures while relying on the capabilities of both sides. Poland
is interested in improving transatlantic relations by increasing the permanent presence of the U.S. in Europe. It is in this light that the bilateral Polish-American military collaboration in developing forces, technologies, military equipment and exercises should be viewed. A case in point is the lease of territory for the U.S. anti-missile defence base located in Redzikowo near Słupsk (with a clearly set NATO role). This involves developing national capabilities in this segment of air defence in order to increase Polish participation in Allied programmes. For the time being, Poland also contributes reconnaissance in the form of radar systems. Another factor that vindicates this direction as the right one is that the U.S., noticing the worsening security climate in Europe, was the first member state to augment the “visible presence” of its forces in Poland, converting it into a persistent rotational presence. The U.S. also decided to invest its own funds in developing Polish military infrastructure and open equipment storage locations there. There are also interesting prospects for developing this collaboration in the future.
For the last 20 years, Poland has invariably supported harmonious collaboration between Europe and the U.S. It was a loyal supporter of the U.S. in crisis situations of importance to America and was not disposed to back radical ideas that would separate defence mechanisms from NATO’s potential and decision-making processes, seeing this not only as compromising joint security and a temptation for potential opponents but also unnecessary splitting of meagre defence budgets by member states. This position did not, however, prevent Poland from engaging in processes to develop actual operational capabilities for the European Union (such as EU Battlegroups). The country consistently attempted to act as the voice of reason in disputes between European and North American NATO members, resisting the (ostensible from Poland’s viewpoint) dilemma of choosing between the “European” or “Atlantic” option in security policy development. The ostensible nature of the disputes, as seen from a Central European perspective, consisted in the conviction that Poland and Europe need both a reliable NATO (in the political and military sense) and an EU that needs to astutely extend its unprecedented integration project to include security and defence issues. Although both processes do not need to be fundamentally opposed, a great deal of political and institutional issues remain to be settled, with the potential for collaboration between the two organisations, despite efforts from both sides and the decisions of NATO summits in 2014-2018, far from being fully exploited.211 The final aspect that characterises Polish efforts to “produce” security on the NATO scale is its open position on continuing the “open door” policy and extending collaboration to non-members. Since 1999, Poland has invariably been in favour of continued enlargement of the Alliance by adding other partners able to fulfil membership duties because of the advantage resulting from applying common political and defence standards to successive
211 H. Kissinger, “Why Europe Must Not Divorce Itself from NATO,” Daily Telegraph, 16 August 1999. This appeal by the great U.S. strategist remains topical today, also with respect to the U.S.
European states. During previous accession rounds, Poland shared its own experience in this respect with candidates and provided them with expert advice. This policy also included supporting states that aspired to become members or come into close contact without being considered as candidates for various reasons, the latter case especially applicable to Ukraine and Georgia. The logic of cooperative security as a means to stabilise NATO’s international environment also underpinned the support that Poland gave to the Alliance’s partnership programmes, being especially interested in its eastern neighbourhood. As to dealings with Russia, Poland’s stance was pragmatic, with far-reaching readiness to extend collaboration contingent on complying with joint standards and respecting mutual obligations. NATO’s collective defence is also an important political and economic hint for potential investors that their operations in state members will be safe, a fact of considerable importance, although not always quantifiable in financial terms. Undoubtedly, however,
this involves improving the image of Poland as a stable and secure country due to military guarantees and mechanisms of political collaboration. For investors that analyse business security and profits, this may come as an important factor in making economic decisions. Participation in collective defence also means financial advantages for the Polish military. For example, the sums contributed to the NATO investment budget (NSIP) are clearly lower compared to the value of Allied investments in Polish military infrastructure which picked up additional pace after 2014, also due to U.S. investments in Polish infrastructure to be used by American forces. In Poland, NATO is financing, among others, the construction of airfields and military equipment storage facilities, as well as solutions supporting command and reconnaissance systems. These investments, together with the economic effect consequent on their implementation (services) and handling, provide additional advantages to the host country. As an Alliance member, Poland can, on equal footing with entities from other member states, access the external military services market and Polish companies have the opportunity to compete for
foreign defence contracts financed from the joint NATO budget. The standards required in such contracts make them improve their offer, maintain the confidentiality of secrets and ensure the quality of performed work. Finally, Poland uses services offered by specialised Allied agencies that provide services and deliver defence-related materiel at prices lower than those on the free market, which decreases the day-to-day costs of armed forces activities and foreign operations.
NATO and Crisis-management Operations The end of the Cold War, while decreasing the threat of territorial aggression against the North Atlantic area, also revealed simmering conflicts previously kept in check by superpower rivalry. This was a peculiar paradox caused by the fall of communism, so ardently longed for by the oppressed Central and Eastern European nations and fuelled by NATO activities. The minimised risk of a nuclear conflict and a great war between superpowers was to be accompanied by a state of heightened doubt and lowered predictability of developments in security. In NATO’s peculiar military situation, the Alliance was, on one hand, the trustee of massive military power and culture of collaboration as well as support systems allowing the conduct of complex, large-scale military operations. On the other, however, Allied armies were trained for traditional tasks in collective defence of the Treaty territory against external aggression and potential counter-offensive if required to restore peace. For forty Cold War years, the conventional and nuclear potential of the West and means of threat identification were subordinated to this objective. With a new era dawning, the probability of a scenario that would cause Article 5 to be invoked decreased with each year. New security issues arose, not susceptible to the deterrent power of NATO’s conventional and nuclear arsenal. This increased the pressure on reforming Allied military structures and cutting down on related spending. The “less for
more” catchphrase popular in those days—assuming that less numerous armed forces with smaller defence budgets would be able to fulfil traditional defence tasks and take on new challenges of the post-Cold War period—sounded neat but was poorly reflected in reality. Such an approach matched contemporary political needs that stressed peaceful collaboration, the socalled new security paradigm, giving more value to its nonmilitary aspects and a change in international rhetoric. Threats were renamed risks and challenges, and military diplomacy, a traditional instrument of foreign policy, was replaced by defence diplomacy, which stressed the “non-kinetic” applications of armed forces, peaceful interactions between national defence sectors and their tighter subordination to civilian authorities in democratic states.212 These processes were supported in the 1990s by the efficient reduction of a large number of conventional weapons under the CFE Treaty of November 1990,213 which saw over 59,000 military equipment units, including tanks, APCs, military aircraft, attack helicopters, and large calibre
artillery, destroyed or repurposed for civilian applications, an effort subsequently verified by thousands of inspections.214 The treaty, aiming to bring parity between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, considerably reduced the technical possibilities of staging unexpected military aggression. These effects were cemented by trust-building agreements such as the Vienna Document and the Treaty on Open Skies that allowed for air inspections of the military situation. The CFE Treaty began to be renegotiated in the late 1990s. The decision was also driven by the strategic logic in Europe, where former Warsaw Pact countries have aspired en masse to join NATO, which spelt the end of calculating military potential R. Kupiecki, “Dyplomacja obronna – próba konceptualizacji,” Dyplomacja i Bezpieczeństwo, no. 1, 2016, pp. 17–32. For more, see: L. Drab, Dyplomacja obronna w procesie kształtowania bezpieczeństwa RP, Warszawa, 2018.
J. Goldblat, Arms Control. The New Guide to Negotiations and Agreements, London, 2002, pp. 220–230.
Z. Lachowski, “Kontrola zbrojeń konwencjonalnych w Europie,” in: A.D. Rotfeld (ed.), Kontrola zbrojeń i rozbrojenie u progu XXI wieku, Warszawa, 2002, pp. 30–74.
in terms of blocs. The so-called Adapted CFE Treaty was signed by 30 states in November 1999 during the OSCE summit in Istanbul215 but never came into force due to Russia reneging on its obligations to withdraw troops from Georgia and Moldova. In response, NATO members suspended the ratification procedure. The frozen document did carry some weight, however, forcing Russia to discuss and enter into an alliance in, among others the maximum permitted level of temporary augmentation of Allied forces near Russian borders, the conditions for bringing the Treaty back into force, or the admission of new NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia), issues that ultimately were not formally settled. From the viewpoint of Poland, conventional arms reduction and trust-building measures worked to improve its security, decreasing tensions near its borders and stabilising the military situation on a lower military potential level. These processes also committed the Soviet Union/Russia to work with the West. Another advantage for Poland resulted from Moscow’s loosening grip and subjecting the military situation on the continent to international law standards. Favourable circumstances were present to stage more intense military dialogue with NATO members and, as the accession process progressed, to work out a common approach to adopting and implementing the CFE Treaty. The essence of the Polish position was to remove all vestiges and military implications of Soviet bloc membership. Another objective was to prevent changes caused by the Treaty from delaying the enlargement process (for example, due to prolonged negotiations or unfavourable provisions) or impose extra limitations on the military status of new allies.216
Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, www.osce.org/library/14108 (accessed 30/12/2018), The Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty at a Glance, Arms Control Association, January 2003, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/adaptcfe.asp (accessed 15/12/2018).
A. Kobieracki, “Problematyka rozbrojeniowa w polskiej polityce bezpieczeństwa w latach 1989–2000,” in: R. Kuźniar (ed.), Polska polityka bezpieczeństwa 1989–2000, Warszawa, 2000, pp. 389–422.
All in all, for almost two decades these processes had a twofold impact on the situation of NATO members. First, in their relations with Russia, they served as a common ground for dialogue and increasing the transparency of the military situation through information exchange and inspections. However, the gradual withdrawal of Moscow from the CFE and limitations imposed on developing trust-building measures destroyed any hopes put in the treaty. Secondly, equipment reductions made under the treaty reduced NATO’s military potential, triggering significant cuts in military budgets and transforming it with a view to new operating needs. Its Cold War variant, based on large numbers of static heavy troops with territorially assigned tasks and utilising the support of air force, naval units and nuclear weapons, did not have deterring potential or provide adequate measures for military activities (such as peacekeeping operations) versus new, non-traditional threats. Paradoxically, Poland’s experience derived from decades of
participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions proved useful for getting NATO ready for new peace-related tasks whose concepts had yet to be defined. At the NACC forum, besides participating (from 1993 to 1995) in drafting doctrine documents for the Alliance’s peacekeeping missions, the “Athens Report,” and its supplement,217 Poland has on several occasions tendered its own experience and conclusions. It also declared readiness to appoint a military contingent for NATO/NACC operations conducted under the aegis of the UN or OSCE. Both the U.S. and North Atlantic Alliance states as a whole did not have such experience, as for the first 40 years they were focused on ensuring deterrence and collective defence of the North Atlantic area and developed their military solutions accordingly. Likewise, NATO never participated in UN peacekeeping operations in its entirety, being concerned about possible incidents and provocations involving communist forces, which might spark a conflict between the East and West. Therefore, Poland’s experience in this respect,
See: Texts of Statements…, vol. 5, pp. 123–134 and 271–277.
combined with the practice of individual NATO countries, could be used to support the Allied crisis-management doctrine. Faced with new threats resulting from the increasingly international
neighbouring states and the possible spreading of their consequences to the North Atlantic area, the Alliance felt the need to take a position towards them. On the other hand, however, the international community viewed NATO as the sole organisation with a suitable materiel base and forces able to tackle the new challenge. Accordingly, pressure on NATO states to take on solving conflicts outside the Treaty area grew. In the legal sense, the way was cleared by provisions of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, but this did not mean that members would take on the task unanimously, especially since the organisation lacked experience and methods of conducting peacekeeping operations. The Alliance was therefore faced with a serious problem that boiled down to the question about the will to view the organisation’s mandate as narrowly defined defence tasks or, conversely, extend the scope of missions by active support for global peace. The first solution, with the former adversary gone, might have led to a gradual decay of internal agreement between the member states as to bearing the costs of military preparations for events that seemed increasingly more distant. The other option, which meant that NATO activities would go beyond Article 5, would force the organisation to undergo a deep internal transformation as to its strategy, adaptation of military capabilities, amending expense priorities and choosing partners and methods of action. The choice was popularised by the dramatic out of area or out of business slogan, reportedly coined by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar. The decision to extend the interpretation of missions was reflected in post-Cold War NATO documents. While the 1991 Rome strategy, written before the era of out-of-area operations, cautiously mentioned possible support for UN peacekeeping operations by member states, the 1999 Washington document (affected by the Balkan operation) directly named participation
in crisis-management operations as one of the organisation’s tasks. The issue was even more forcefully summarised in the 2010 Lisbon Concept, which made NATO a participant of stabilisation efforts of the international community without laying down any geographical limitations, noting instead the need to improve partner relations with other states and international organisations.218 The first theatre of operations where NATO began to implement its strategic assumptions was the Balkans,219 a hotbed of ethnic conflict that erupted in the 1990s following the breakdown of Yugoslavia. The Alliance’s reaction to the violence in this area was relatively late because of a number of factors: • lack of readiness to act, • discussions about the legal framework, • initial reluctance of the U.S. to engage militarily, leaving the solution to European Allies, • disputes between the Allies themselves as to acting through
the Alliance, WEU, or UN. Ultimately, however, following a decision of the North Atlantic Council, NATO gradually increased its involvement in the Balkans, taking the following steps: 1) in July 1992, the Maritime Monitor operation in the Adriatic Sea to supervise the international embargo on weapons delivery to former Yugoslavia started. The operation lasted until mid-1996, with the scope of tasks changed several times and efforts combined with the parallel WEU mission; 2) in October 1992, the Sky Monitor operation to observe the airspace over Bosnia and Herzegovina where a no-fly zone was established. In April 1995, the mandate was extended by For more about how NATO arrived at the decision to engage in missions outside its own borders, see: R. Kupiecki, NATO a operacje pokojowe. Studium sojuszu w transformacji, Warszawa-Toruń, 1998.
219 Earlier, NATO conducted other military operations associated with actions taken by the international community: the Anchor Guard (1991–92) and Ace Guard (1991) operations related to protecting Turkey during the first Gulf War and the Agile Genie (1992) operation—supervising the air space in the neighbourhood of Libya in connection with UN Security Council sanctions. Humanitarian assistance and training operations for the CIS countries were conducted (1992).
the authority to enforce compliance with the no-fly prohibitions and air support for UN units operating in the area. The operation lasted until the end of 1996 and saw the first ever use of force by NATO for military purposes when on 28 February 1994, four Serbian planes that breached the no-fly zone were shot down. Additionally, during its activities, NATO on multiple occasions intervened to enforce compliance with UN decisions in various parts of Bosnia. The mission was not without its dramatic moments, such as protecting civilians or forcing Serbia to withdraw equipment and cease military action. The Alliance also reacted politically to the use of UN soldiers as hostages to shield Serbian military facilities and to the war crimes in Srebrenica. A new age of NATO’s Balkan operations dawned with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995. Together with the respective UN Security Council resolution, the Alliance gained the authority to implement the military part of the agreement. This was the origin of the IFOR (Implementation Force) operation (codename Joint Endeavour) started by 60,000 soldiers on the cusp of 1995 and 1996 to enforce the peace agreement, effective separation of the sides in the conflict and ensuring safe conditions for the activity of other international organisations responsible for post-war reconstruction. After one year, the operation was transformed into SFOR (Stabilisation Force) under codename Joint Guard and later Joint Forge, lasting until the end of 2004, when it was taken over by the European Union, which still conducts it under the codename Althea. For many reasons, these operations were a watershed for NATO, as the Alliance not only entered a new area of international activity but also initiated collaboration on a partnership basis with other states and international organisations. It must be remembered that, besides soldiers from NATO member states, IFOR/SFOR forces featured military personnel from 17 non-members (including Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, which at that time was applying for membership). The peacekeeping forces operating under the NATO flag managed to enforce a ceasefire and have the sides retreat to designated positions, destroy tonnes of ammunition and military equipment, bring back refugees, start
reconstructing destroyed infrastructure and community life, and reconcile the feuding ethnic groups.
From early 1998, regardless of the tense situation in other regions, the brunt of the Balkan conflict started to move to Kosovo. Long-lasting ethnic tensions erupted in open warfare between FRY (Yugoslav) state forces and the local Kosovo Liberation Army which demanded independence for the region, the historic cradle of Serbian statehood. In addition to mass acts of violence and the surging wave of refugees, the conflict might have easily spread to neighbouring Albania and Macedonia. This time, however, there was no repeat of the omissions and delays that attended the Bosnian crisis. Already in the spring of 1998, activities under the PfP programme were intensified in Albania and Macedonia, aiming to stabilise the situation through the gentle increase of international presence and using military exercises as psychological pressure on the sides in the conflict. In the early phase, it might have appeared that initiatives like these, with a view to demonstrating the Alliance’s power, would be sufficient to fan down the Kosovar flames, safeguard neighbouring states and pave the way for UN and OSCE peacekeeping and humanitarian actions. The prospect of NATO’s active military involvement in Kosovo sparked considerable controversy among member states and elsewhere from the beginning due to the local terrain that hindered military operations and posed the risk of high losses. In parallel, legal controversies abounded concerning the Alliance’s ability to use force while Russia, staunchly opposing the intervention, was vetoing the UN mandate. The failure of diplomatic negotiations between Serbians and Kosovars in Rambouillet did, however, force the Alliance to intervene to stop the bloodshed. NATO’s military operations in Kosovo were limited to air strikes on Serbian military targets. The operation itself, codenamed Allied Force, lasted from March to June 1999 and brought an end to fighting in the province. Yet, as it was undertaken without the relevant UN Security Council resolution, its legality in light of international law has been debated to this day. For NATO, the decision was difficult but
guided by humanitarian considerations and consistent in the sense of the organisation maturing to take action in response to serious violations of international law. Ending the air force operation in June 1999 paved the way to NATO’s involvement in rebuilding peace in the province. Already in June, the first KFOR units conducting the Joint Guardian operation entered Kosovo220 to ensure safe conditions for the return of refugees, restore public order, protect all ethnic groups and enable the activities of other international organisations. In addition to tasks with a purely military character, due to the paralysis and permanent underfunding of international organisations responsible for handling the civilian side of the process (including the UNMIK mission), the Alliance was confronted with more extensive duties such as actually safeguarding public order, border control, and supervising the demilitarisation and transformation of armed Albanian groups. NATO’s mission in Kosovo lasts to this day, being the longest continuously conducted in the organisation’s history. For many reasons, the Kosovo air force operation and subsequent KFOR mission were a political and military breakthrough in discussions about whether NATO should become involved in missions abroad, and on what principles. The importance of the decision to proceed with air strikes in Yugoslavia without the UN Security Council mandate did not become a precedent for other Allied operations but signalled the readiness to act even in such difficult legal circumstances. The operation tested the organisation’s military capacity, for the first time clearly demonstrating the weakness of the European Allies and boosting American pressure on redoubling their efforts in this respect. This made the EU press forward with its decision on its Common Security and Defence Policy. The NATO operation and subsequent peacekeeping activity in Kosovo also showed the full scale of civilian and military challenges involved in conflictsolving activities, namely narrowing down the military objectives, limiting the political decisions of field commanders, and Concurrently, NATO conducted a number of small-scale operations in Albania (Allied Harbour) and Macedonia (Essential Harvest, Amber Fox, Allied Harmony). Their objective was to destroy illegal arms and ammunition and to support the governments of these countries in security operations.
combining military activities with humanitarian aid and building a framework for post-war reconstruction. For the Alliance, this meant faster adaptation of its military potential to such tasks, later done at the expense of collective defence. NATO’s missions in the Balkans had a civilian and military character similar to typical UN peacekeeping operations while more strongly accentuating the protection of troops and enforcement of international agreements. The Alliance engaged its own potential to enforce the decisions made by the United Nations (with the exception of the spring 1999 air force operation), linking its activities to wider, mainly humanitarian, reasons underlying the peace-making efforts of the international community. These activities were compliant with the then-extended approach of the organisation to security, however without any declared references to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This new definition of security, reflected in subsequent decisions of the North Atlantic Council, was both the result of situational needs and experiences derived from Balkan operations.
Between Peacekeeping Missions and Collective Defence Other tasks awaited the Alliance as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. A mere 28 hours later, in a gesture of solidarity, the North Atlantic Council invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty for the first (and so far the only) time in its history.221 While mentioned earlier in Allied strategies and political documents, terrorism was treated as a non-military threat, being either an internal question for member states or emerging outside the treaty area. The exceptional character of the new circumstances was the combination of several matters of crucial importance to NATO security: • first, Article 5 was invoked to defend the U.S. in a peculiar reversal of the original context of Allied obligations; See: G. Robertson, “Being NATO’s Secretary General on 9/11,” NATO Review, no. 11, 2011; E. Buckley, “Invoking Article 5,” NATO Review, no. 5, 2006.
• second, the quick reaction to the events of 9/11 improved the credibility of Allied guarantees; • third, the NATO activities that followed the decision broke away from the traditional visions of what must happen if Article 5 was invoked. No worldwide armed (nuclear) conflict broke out despite the U.S. and its allies, and later NATO, undertaking military operations; • fourth, such action paved the way to subsequent discussions about types of aggression covered by Article 5, which involved issues such as cybersecurity, energy security, or lowthreshold conflicts.222 The U.S. decided to shoulder the burden of responding to the terrorist attacks on its own but did not entirely renounce Allied assistance in certain designated areas of action. Besides denouncing terrorism in all its forms, in October 2001 NATO launched the operation Eagle Assist, which consisted of directing a fleet of AWACS reconnaissance planes to defend U.S. air space, lasting until mid-2002. In parallel, NATO ships in mission Active Endeavour started to patrol the Strait of Gibraltar and the Eastern Mediterranean and in subsequent months extended the theatre of operations to the entire sea area. From 2004 to 2011, the Alliance also saw limited involvement in Iraq where the U.S. operation in spring 2003 toppled the regime and incited a civil war. As part of the operation, NATO provided air security to Turkey as a country exposed to neighbour reprisals. The Alliance also decided to start training Iraqi security forces, a project that despite some breaks continues to this day at a smaller scale. The cornerstone of NATO’s involvement in fighting terrorism was, however, operation ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). This was the Alliance’s first ground-based mission outside Europe, taken over from the UN in 2003 and preceded by considerable military support. The operation’s initial purpose was to support local authorities and keep a thumb on the situation in Kabul. In subsequent years, NATO’s presence in the
222 R. Kupiecki, “NATO a terroryzm. Nowy etap transformacji sojuszu,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 3, 2001, pp. 5–23.
operations gradually spread to all Afghan provinces. In addition to stabilisation tasks, including fighting terrorist groups, the Alliance staged wide-ranging training of Afghan army and police units and other undertakings (including civilian ones) to support the reconstruction of state institutions and local government, the school network, and the rights of women. The ISAF operation lasted until the end of 2014, becoming the Alliance’s largest military operation in history. At its peak, it involved more than 130,000 soldiers from NATO and partner states. Once ended, NATO’s military presence in Afghanistan, put into the framework of the new Resolute Support mission, was stripped of most former combat tasks. Its main objective is collaboration with local authorities and especially training security forces. Although initially assumed to last no more than two years, today the termination date cannot be known with any certainty.
An important episode in the history of NATO operations were the actions in Libya undertaken at the request of the UN to protect the country’s citizens against attacks from their own government. In the air and naval operation Unified Protector, NATO forces ensured the integrity of the no-fly zone over Libya, protected population centres against attacks by Gaddafi regime forces, supported anti-government insurgents, and enforced the arms embargo. The actions lasted from March to October 2011, ending after the fall of the Libyan regime. They demonstrated NATO’s ability to react quickly and achieve complex military objectives, once again showing the technological superiority of the U.S. and the shortcomings of other Allies in advanced weapons systems allowing precise strikes with limited collateral damage. It was also an operation involving the least number of member states—actually limiting participation to those disposing of advanced battlefield systems and precise ammunition. It showed clearly the directions and needs concerning NATO military adaptation and the prospects of multinational military capability development programmes. The chaos, instability and actual split of the country that resulted from the civil war and fall of the government also pose questions about the correct strategy to be applied by the international community that takes up the
responsibility for solving conflicts, as achieving NATO’s military objectives did not increase regional stability. In a strategic sense, there is the pertinent question about the bottom line of post-Cold War Western military interventions and how they contributed to sustainable improvements in locations where they took place. 223 In addition to complex, large-scale military operations, a whole range of other, related NATO activities that use military capabilities or are conducted as part of civilian crisis management exists.224 In this respect, during the last two decades the Alliance was involved in four separate types of activities: • protecting the airspace of those NATO countries that do not have their own capability to do so (Albania, Iceland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia), a task that shows most similarity to collective defence; • supporting other international organisations in their statutory activities (without launching Allied operations). Examples include aid granted to the African Union in its activities in the Sudanese region of Darfur, where NATO provided military transport and training assistance. Of a similar nature was also the support for the UN to combat maritime piracy and protect ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa. • various forms of aid related to mitigating the effects of disastrous floods (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine), earthquakes (Pakistan, Turkey), wildfires (Macedonia, Portugal), weather anomalies, and safeguarding critical infrastructure installations (Moldova, Ukraine); • participation on safeguarding large political and mass sports events (like the Olympic Games) by air monitoring,
223 For an extensive analysis of this issue, see: M. Madej (ed.), Western Military Interventions after the Cold War. Evaluating the Wars of the West, Abingdon, 2017. 224 NATO has been developing such capabilities since the 1950s, initially to protect the civilian population against possible outcomes of nuclear contamination. Over time, they began to include other areas of civilian defence.
identification of threats and protecting against weapons of mass destruction.
One of the most important aspects of the Allied debate on outof-area operations was the issue of correlating NATO missions with EU ambitions. U.S. activities had the clear motive of directing the attention of European Allies who declared global ambitions for the EU (and its institutional predecessors) in developing and relying on military capabilities instead of building independent institutions with aspirations in international politics. Once the Western European Union was reactivated in the late 1980s as the first centre consolidating European efforts to achieve autonomy in matters of security and defence, the U.S. aimed to link these activities to NATO as closely as possible. The French idea of developing European military capacity independently of the Alliance was opposed by the UK, which considered that the WEU as proposed by Paris would be toothless. The problem was, however, not so much focused on permanently replacing the Alliance with a European solution, but to more strongly define the role of Europeans in the decision-making process so that it would lead to the emergence and operation of a continental security system. This main axis of the debate was overlaid by the issue of non-symmetric NATO and EU membership (with 22 countries currently belonging to both), especially the Greek/Cypriot-Turkish conflict that has been preventing bolder institutional solutions for years. The U.S. objective, in turn, was to make Europe strengthen its defensive potential by developing and rationally using the related capabilities instead of obtaining them at the expense of contributions and obligations to the Alliance. Metaphorically, this was called the European pillar of NATO, and also the WEU’s armed wing. The essence was to base collaboration on a rational division of costs of joint defence, without duplicating institutions but with a common strategy and consultation mechanisms. This also applied to the dialogue between NATO and the WEU/EU. Initially, the key issue was developing the capability to participate in peacekeeping missions. The official objective was stated in the WEU Petersburg Declaration of June 1992, where it
was considered that the Union is prepared to support, on a case-bycase basis and in accordance with our own procedures, the effective implementation of conflict-prevention and crisis-management measures, including peacekeeping activities of the CSCE or the United Nations Security Council. Military units of WEU member states, acting under its authority, could be employed for humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making. For its part, the Alliance has already (in the Rome Strategy) expressed support for developing European identity in security and defence, without settling, however, whether it will be built as NATO’s European pillar, or outside of it. A compromise was reached in the form of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF), in development since 1994, with units operating under its aegis put at the disposal of European structures225 by the NAC at their request. It was not until the June 1996 meeting of the NAC ministers in Berlin that a decision was made to develop the European Security and Defence Identity within the Alliance’s framework, allowing forces to be formed to operate under the political and military command of the WEU and ensuring that European capabilities will not compete with NATO’s. It was also assumed that preparations (planning and exercises of forces and staffs) for CTJF operations under the authority of the WEU would be conducted within the Alliance with the participation of all European Allies (including France, which at that time was not a member of its integrated military structure). Since 2001, contacts between NATO and the EU have had a regular character, with representatives of both organisations involved in selected work of their structures. Today, the main areas of collaboration between the organisations include: • regular political and military consultations in various security matters (such as weapons of mass destruction, fighting terrorism, regional crises and conflicts), exchange of liaison missions and efforts to synergise the development of military capabilities (with the EU Smart Defence being equivalent to NATO’s Pooling and Sharing). Since December 1999, the process of developing European defence capabilities has accelerated as a result of the St. Malo Declaration issued by the European Council.
• the so-called Berlin Plus mechanism of 2003 that guarantees EU access to Allied forces and military means for the purposes of its own operations. Accordingly, in 2003 the EU replaced NATO in the Concordia–Allied Harmony operation in Macedonia; • objectives achieved due to collaboration in other Balkan missions. Accordingly, in 2004 the EU took over the SFOR operation (today known as Althea) in Bosnia and Herzegovina; • collaboration during the Kosovo operation, with both organisations responsible for their own areas of activity and coordinating their own actions; • collaboration in Afghanistan, operations on Somalian shores;
• developments in a collaboration of both organisations in preventing so-called hybrid conflicts and coordinating troop mobility activities are also promising.
During the last 20 years, the NATO-EU collaboration has undoubtedly made a huge step forward but still does not use the full potential of both organisations. From the viewpoint of the Alliance, it is of particular importance since it integrates all three missions defined in the organisation’s Strategic Concept and can substantially improve the potential of member states concerning collective defence. It is undoubtedly of key importance for the global community’s ability to solve international crises. Finally, it is one of the most important directions of NATO activities in the area of cooperative security. Undoubtedly, political differences between some members of both organisations can pose future problems. Yet, since the organisations refer to the same set of values and defence resources and have a similar view of threats to international security, they are able to supplement their mutual anti-crisis potential whenever operations are conducted, which promotes collaborative thinking.
Poland in NATO missions An inventory of NATO’s operational involvement, especially with regard to the longest and most complex conflicts in the
Balkans and Afghanistan, is not easy to make. The Alliance has, without doubt, become a stabilising factor thereby providing foundations on which state institutions could be rebuilt. By guaranteeing a relatively safe environment, it enabled the operation of other international organisations. All of this was done at an enormous expense not just in financial, but also human terms. Combined with the long-lasting nature of NATO military involvement, this contributed to activities of this kind being viewed with growing reluctance by the public in member states, a trend that decreases the likelihood of carrying out future stabilisation operations at a similar scale. In the political sense, the outcome of these operations appears ambiguous. The threats NATO countered in these states, even when removed, mutated into problems of another nature that decreased the stability of post-crisis areas, causing the effects of former wars to spread. Europe experiences them today as mass migration, a new generation of terrorism in its own backyard, or as the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) as an ideological, religious, and criminal facade for contemporary terrorism that aspires to build a new world order. However, blaming NATO for this state of affairs, even partially, would be a misunderstanding—the means to improve the current situation must be sought in the correct strategy of the international community. Its purpose must be not just to eradicate the wrongs but prevent their reappearance on economic, religious, or ethnic grounds. Poland treated participation in NATO stabilisation operations as an expression of solidarity with other Allies and a specific cost (obligation) of membership. In some sense, it might be said that such activities were not the objective for why it sought membership. For the majority of the accession process, Poland admitted that the leading role in missions should be played by the UN and OSCE/CSCE. However, international developments and NATO’s evolving stance on expeditionary missions caused Warsaw to re-evaluate its position. The military and decisionmaking indolence of the UN in the face of multiplying crises, some of which took place on the periphery of the North Atlantic area, tended to increase the expectations of the international
community towards the Alliance as the sole structure with the potential to handle such activities. On the other hand, the Alliance felt the need to react, spurred by the concern that the effects of such conflicts might penetrate North Atlantic area borders. This meant that Polish interests were now at stake, caused not so much by the low scale of the threats but the need to retain unity among the Allies. In Europe, there was no institutional alternative for these activities, as OSCE quickly abandoned plans to create military crisis-management structures and the EU was just taking the first steps to do so. Warsaw was not ignorant of this.
Domestically, decisions about civil and military involvement abroad were justified by the joint responsibility of an international community member for matters of peace that required active efforts under the umbrella of the organisation. The experience of several decades of participation in UN peacekeeping missions was also cited, as was the fact that as a state with considerable military potential, Poland was the focus of expectations in international relations. The foremost position was, however, occupied by other political logic, dominated by the correlation between Poland’s behaviour and its contribution to Allied strategy with expectations of reciprocity on the part of other member states should their assistance be required. It was the needs of NATO collective defence that were treated as prime challenges in the Polish calculations. Poland’s commitment to the Allied mission could not, however, mean abandoning the solidarity-based participation in joint missions conducted outside the Treaty area. The Polish Armed Forces took part in these missions even before Poland joined NATO, from 1995/96 in the IFOR/SFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The purpose of the participation was both to test the ability to collaborate with Allied forces and Poland’s political readiness for membership. At the same time, the missions provided a number of lessons for the military that helped streamline the conformance of the Polish Armed Forces to standards of collaboration with the Alliance. Other Balkan operations involving Poland took place in Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. In addition, units from other partner states (for example, Lithuania and Ukraine) served in the
Polish KFOR contingent. Reviewing Poland’s position towards the Kosovar operation, serious observers noted that the way it was carried out pointed towards a genuine appreciation of Allied duties.226 In the 21st century, the most complex Polish military missions conducted outside Europe as part of Allied forces took place in Afghanistan and Iraq. Polish soldiers and mariners also took part in operations in the Mediterranean or mitigating the effects of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Poland did not, however, get involved in the NATO-led Libya operation in 2011, preferring to focus on efforts in Afghanistan. The Polish approach to Allied operations was grounded in the conviction that they are not separate tasks detached from the main NATO mission, but given their circumstances can be seen as an extension of collective defence ability. In this sense, the Alliance’s mission, based on the relevant military capabilities, joint defence resources and planning procedures, was treated as unified at the strategic level but requiring more varied action at the operational level. On occasion, this involved difficult choices dictated by reality when, for example, the scale of involvement of NATO states in operations outside the North Atlantic area has for years prevented them from conducting military exercises to provide for other potential situations. At all times, Polish priorities in the Alliance and efforts to persuade member states not to neglect their fundamental mission remained unchanged. Poland saw its role as bringing the political position of other Eastern European countries into line, perceiving the need to balance the viewpoints of Eastern and Southern Flank countries in assessing threats. The balance became the starting point for developing the Alliance’s plans and visions of operational involvement following the 2013/2014 reality. Another important issue for Poland was redistributing the presence of Alliance structures in different areas of the North Atlantic sphere. Hence, in addition to military units of member states and infrastructure components used for bolstering the
226 R.C. Hendrickson, “NATO’s Visegrad Allies. The First Test in Kosovo,” The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, no. 2, 2000, pp. 25–38.
Eastern Flank, Poland is hosting a number of NATO-related structures whose activity is closely related to supporting and safeguarding the full range of Alliance operations. These include: • Multinational Corps Northeast Command (Szczecin), • Multinational Division Northeast Command (Elbląg), • Joint Force Training Centre (Bydgoszcz), • NATO’s 3rd Communications Battalion Command (Bydgoszcz), • NATO Force Integration Unit (Bydgoszcz), • Military Police Centre of Excellence (Bydgoszcz), • Counter-Intelligence Centre of Excellence (Warsaw).
Case study: Polish Army mission in Afghanistan (Enduring Freedom and ISAF) – basic data227: Duration
Number of personnel involved
2002–2014 over 28,000 people
43 soldiers and 2 auxiliary army personnel killed, 361 wounded
194 aid projects worth over PLN 80 million
Locally trained Afghan personnel
Training in Poland
over 1,000 people
over 267 tonnes
Total cost of operation
over PLN 6.06 billion
These structures conduct various tasks on behalf of NATO: being part of the Allied command structure ( JTFC), Allied forces (the Szczecin corps and the Bydgoszcz battalion), Eastern Flank defence mission (NFIU, Elbląg division), or sectoral collaboration (centres of excellence). Polish forces in the form of a tank company and logistics resources also participate in the NATO Battle Group 227 See: Podsumowanie polskiego udziału w misji ISAF, Dowództwo Operacyjne Rodzajów Sił Zbrojnych, www.wp.mil.pl/artykuły/aktualności/2015-01-05-podsumowaniepolskiego-udziału-w-misji-ISAF (accessed 4/1/2019).
in Latvia, part of the so-called NATO enhanced forward presence on the Eastern Flank. In addition, a 230-strong contingent is also forming part of the battalion-level battle group in Romania.228 POLAND’S PARTICIPATION IN NATO OPERATIONS229
Name and location
Years of Polish involvement
Maximum number of Polish soldiers
Implementation Force (IFOR), later Stabilisation Force (SFOR) – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Kosovo Force (KFOR) – Kosovo
Albanian Force (AFOR) – Albania
Amber Fox – Macedonia
Allied Harmony – Macedonia
Swift Relief – Pakistan
NATO Training Mission – Iraq231
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – Afghanistan
Resolute Support – Afghanistan
Active Endeavour – Mediterranean Sea
Baltic Air Policing – Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia
Periodically planes and more than 100 people
228 For updated information about the Polish Armed Forces’ operational engagement beyond the country’s borders, including its legal basis, see: www.mon.gov.pl/sily_ zbrojne (accessed 20/1/2019).
The table covers larger-scale and ongoing military operations. Poland also participated in a number of ad hoc operations, like chemical protection of the summer Olympics in Athens (2004) and the NATO summit in Riga (2006).
Does not apply to other forms of Polish military engagement in Iraq.
Units under NATO flag (including Polish soldiers) in other organisational forms were engaged in Afghanistan since 2001. They became integrated after NATO took over ISAF missions from the UN.
The participation of the Polish Armed Forces in international stabilisation missions and peacekeeping operations under the aegis of NATO, in addition to contributing to Allied crisismanagement policy even before Poland’s accession, had a major influence on the quality of equipment and training of Polish soldiers and their ability to cooperate (interoperate) with forces of other member states. This also applies to the capability for coordinating foreign contingents commanded by Polish officers.232 Participation in missions allowed testing in practice and adjusting for the future the standards of ordnance, equipment, doctrines, logistics, support, command, and soldier training. As regards the last of these, combat experience has led to particularly important mentality changes that supported conforming procedures and behaviours to actual battlefield rigours. The multiplicity of Allied operations in the last two decades, their long-lasting nature, and large scale led to a considerable number of Polish officers and soldiers (28,000 of those serving in Afghanistan alone) gaining such combat experience and becoming the source of innovation and changes in the armed forces. Experience derived from participating in international military operations has indeed altered many issues in this respect. Largely thanks to NATO membership and collaboration with the U.S., new military capabilities were developed, and a new kind of special forces established. Recent years saw their impressive development and level of integration with other formations within the Alliance, both as regards soldier training and certification of commanding NATO special operations. Finally, for the first time since World War II, Poland could rightly hold up its group of veterans of military operations, including invalids and those who paid the highest price of supporting international peacekeeping: soldiers killed in action. The total loss of life of Polish contingents serving in NATO missions was 63 people.
232 For more on this, see: D.S. Kozerawski (ed.), Międzynarodowe operacje pokojowe i stabilizacyjne w polskiej polityce bezpieczeństwa w XX i XXI wieku, Warszawa, 2016.
Poland and NATO Cooperative Security The
internationally in the closing years of the Cold War. It resulted from the need to name the new relations between superpowers in a way that would be less dependent on military rivalry and political measures used to ease tensions but more strongly express the need to introduce collaboration mechanisms based on joint objectives, principles, trust-building measures, and action transparency.233 In this form, the term appeared relatively quickly in the context of transforming the Alliance and its new missions extending beyond collective defence. NATO was therefore tasked with the important mission of bolstering this trend (using augmentation measures) in international relations and extending it to civilian dimensions.234 The gist of related activities was an attempt to define an international security standard that would be expressed in the scope of common interests as well as courses of action and partners (states and international organisations) selected with a view to this. Harmonious collaboration in such a framework, supported by a system to disclose and verify state behaviours, would guarantee conflict mitigation, tension easement, a possible division of tasks, and mutual advantages. Wishing to bring this state of affairs to life, NATO was faced with two directions in which cooperative security structures could be developed under its own aegis:
233 A.B. Carter, W.J. Perry, J.D. Steinbruner, A New Concept of Cooperative Security, Washington DC, 1992.
Flockhart T. (ed.), Cooperative Security. NATO’s Partnership Policy in a Changing World, Copenhagen, 2014.
• first, regionalising institutional mechanisms to facilitate the formulation of joint security interests and correlate them with Alliance policy, • second, a possibly broad geographical approach to such structures as a method to popularise the principles of collaboration. The structures were extended gradually, as the scope of Allied operations actually became global. The policy of partnership with non-members and institutional cooperation with other international security organisations became one of the most important dimensions of post-Cold War NATO transformation and the evolution of its core mission written down in the strategic concept. The various forms of contacts that expressed the partnership were combined into a joint positive agenda (and the idealistic design of “mutually interlocking institutions,” as they were then called). Such convergence was assumed to be more important than factors that naturally staked out the competition and rivalry areas.
The organisational forms of the partnership policy were built gradually, first involving NATO’s nearest neighbours, former USSR republics and Russia itself, providing them with a common political formula: the NACC (later the EAPC) and the military PfP programme, allowing the invited states to have different aspirations with respect to the Alliance. Thirteen of the most ambitious among them eventually became members (with the Republic of North Macedonia235 on the cusp of accession). This was consistently opposed by Russia, formally a NATO partner (in both collective and individual forms). It has used an array of arguments, from a “betrayal of the West” and a broken promise not to expand NATO, allegedly given in the early 1990s when German unification was discussed, to the threat of destabilising the situation in Europe as Western structures and military potential crept towards Russian borders. Russia, as well as
This country operated in international relations under the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In NATO, Turkey recognised it under its earlier constitutional name of Macedonia, which was always emphasized in official Allied documents in a special footnote next to this country’s name. 235
Ukraine and Georgia, received independent institutions to handle their partnership policy with NATO. Extending the group of partner states collaborating with NATO and the regional forms of collaboration was due to a number of factors. First, it was a reaction to the global presence of NATO and the needs of its out-of-area mission. In this configuration, partnerships with states from different geographies became in themselves the means to preserve and strengthen peace. Second, they allowed introducing the involved states to the Alliance’s crisis-management efforts. This was important as a source of the legal and political authority of NATO actions and the sharing of associated financial and military burdens. With their efforts shared by Alliance actions, interested countries had an easier time making decisions about the involvement of their personnel and resources, since this decreased their operational costs and improved the security of actions. Today, the partnership mechanisms include a variety of organisational forms and a network of 50 countries (about one-fourth of all states worldwide) involved in institutional collaboration with the pact. In addition, the Alliance regularly extended its regular interinstitutional collaboration with international organisations. Three of them—the UN, EU, and the OSCE—already had regular forms of contact and multiple examples of long-lasting collaboration in civilian and military operations in recent decades. In addition to these, NATO also collaborates with the African Union, League of Arab States, International Red Cross Committee, World Bank, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, International Migration Organisation, and the International Air Transport Organisation. The special nature of these international organisations is a precise indication of the areas in which the North Atlantic Alliance expects support during the peacekeeping tasks it conducts. This collaboration is also designed to eliminate competition in stabilisation efforts between various institutions, maintain their involvement at all stages of crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction, establish
rules to divide tasks within an operation and gain broad authority for joint efforts. The last issue is of special importance whenever NATO operates outside of Western civilization. Since the early 1990s, Poland benefited from the cooperative security mechanisms developed by the Alliance. Despite initially treating them with suspicion as the West’s method of hindering post-communist countries from joining NATO, Poland was nevertheless able to take advantage of the offered benefits. Cooperative security was thus used to achieve several objectives: • to become familiar with the North Atlantic Treaty as a genuine security organisation and not a product of communist propaganda; • to learn about the directions of ongoing changes, which facilitated designing a domestic policy to support those processes; • to loosen the ties with the Soviet Union and, following its
breakdown, to prevent the restoration of the Russian sphere of influence in Central Europe; • as a method to engage in constructive collaboration concerning security with Western European countries, U.S., and Canada; • to maintain stable relations with neighbours, which also served to demonstrate that Poland could be a potential “producer” of regional stability and participant of wideranging efforts in this respect. In the late 1990s, when Poland became a member of the Alliance, the partnership policy mechanisms changed its instrumental nature, ceasing to support the accession process and becoming a factor in domestic security policy correlated with the organisation’s strategic agenda. Within this framework, Polish priorities were related to two areas of partnership: the institutional aspect of transatlantic relations and the eastern dimension of NATO partnerships policy. In a general sense,
Poland supported the opening of Allied policy to collaboration with non-European states. In many places around the world, Poland served as a NATO contact point (under a scheme in which local embassies were used for contact with hosting countries), provided consultations and advice, and implemented training, educational and humanitarian programmes in locations in which Poland participated in Allied stabilisation operations.
The European partnerships and NATO enlargement In the first post-Cold War decade, NATO’s opening to collaboration with the outside world applied in the first place to direct neighbours of the North Atlantic sphere. Building relations with former Warsaw Pact adversaries, however, began with mutual distrust and uncertainty as to where developments in Eastern Europe were headed. It was therefore not an accident that carefully formulated contact proposals were attended by concerns, found in the Rome Strategic Concept of November 1991, about threats and instabilities that may appear as a result of the political transformation of post-communist countries. In subsequent years, however, complex means of political and military cooperation were established in areas related to defining a wide material scope of security, bridging former divisions. Their institutional expression was the NACC (later the EAPC) and its military offshoot in the form of the 1994 PfP program. NATO founded its partnership policy in Europe (and in the former Soviet bloc) based on these institutions and the action programmes they developed. Participating states, in turn, were allowed to demonstrate different aspirations, since not all of them were interested in membership, nor would the Alliance be willing to admit each one as a member, for various reasons. In 1999, Poland joined the former group and has since then supported NATO activities focused at three widely varying groups of European states:
1. European states belonging to the EU but not to NATO, where the challenge was to formulate an offer allowing them the widest possible access to Allied planning structures. The intention was to involve them in crisis-management activities, support military reforms with a view of achieving NATO standards, and promote the conviction of the need for synergy in NATO and EU military capability development processes. The most intense engagement in this respect consistently came from Finland and Sweden,
2. Russia, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, to which (regardless of multilateral form) NATO was willing to offer tailored cooperation mechanisms that varied according to their intensity, purpose, and circumstances, but were essentially different from jointly offered historical forms of partnerships (EAPC and PfP). While within this group priority was given to relations with Russia, the Alliance took considerable efforts to ensure that the forms of cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia would bring them closer to NATO standards, leaving open the door to membership (in the indefinite future) and basically do not deviate from what was offered to Moscow. In the case of Russia, the offer had the most potential to openly influence its relations with NATO. The policy of pretended cooperation for 20 years meant that the offer was not actually taken advantage of, a strategic Russian choice that was barely concealed. This is evidenced by multiple policy documents drafted in Moscow.236 NATO policy has, in a sense, ignored or disavowed this knowledge in an attempt to maintain the dialogue, and, 3. the former Soviet republics (including Belarus) that were hardly able to develop cooperation with NATO beyond gaining some immediate benefits, or demonstrated minimal interest in so doing.
236 For a systematic review of them, see: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018. A NATO study summing up projects implemented together with Russia in 2002–2013 is also interesting. It shows their wide scope resulting from signed policy documents but also their shallowness, the lack of Russian initiative, slowness of development, and coverage of the larger part of the costs by the Allied side, ibidem, pp. 558–567.
To this day, EAPC supervises the collective political and military cooperation between the Alliance and various groups of European states. While its general objectives have not changed, it has gradually been extended to new subjects of consultations related to evolving threats and cooperation in Allied stabilisation missions, with partner states providing materiel, political, and military support (plus a total of several thousand soldiers that participated in allied operations). These subjects included, among others, fighting terrorism, reforming the defence system, military education, transformation of the armed forces, mitigating the consequences of natural disasters, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Advances in NATO enlargement did, however, weaken the pace of cooperation with partners, since they shifted the attention of formerly the most ambitious states to fulfilling their member duties. In turn, for states such as Finland or Sweden, the EAPC formula felt overly restrictive, especially as regards military issues, out of touch with their ambitions and scale of engagement in Allied operations. Accordingly, they expect to be directly involved in the work of the Alliance’s committees.237 The process has been slow, but its natural boundaries are the duties underlying the rights of member states (as regards collective defence). For these states and for NATO, the best solution would be joining the organisation. The matter is starting to be debated and, with the Russian threat, the position of political elites and the public, which for decades has been leaning towards non-alignment, is changing. Some importance is also attached to the fact that Finland and Sweden participate in the military structures and operations of the European Union. The first NATO enlargement phase since the end of the Cold War was closed in March 1999 with the accession of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. At the same time, new candidates for membership received a valuable resource that would support and
Poland is engaged in the process of forging closer relations between these countries and the Allied structures and both have participated since 2014/15 in the work of the Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin.
organise their preparations, namely the MAP. MAP, however, was not without its limitations: i) participation of a candidate was not tantamount to a formal invitation to membership, ii) declaring the will to join the organisation did not always result in receiving a MAP (for Georgia), iii) the expression of willingness to obtain candidate status led in itself to further political problems (for Ukraine). Each time, the decision had to be made unanimously by all North Atlantic Council members. MAP provided for an individual approach to each state both as regards its needs and NATO’s own priorities and reservations as to the pace of achieving membership standards. Participation was ensured by intense expert and political contacts and regular assessment of the progress of the road to membership. The assessment was made with respect to main thematic areas covered by accession readiness, such as legal adjustments, state of democracy, military reforms, political reforms or protection of information. MAP was obligatory for all states given the opportunity to join after 1999. The subsequent enlargement was done in stages, with Bulgaria,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joining in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009, and Montenegro in 2017. The Republic of North Macedonia (previously the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) is on the cusp of accession after resolving the dispute with Greece, which vetoed accession until the name of the country was changed.238 A MAP invitation was also sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina while Georgia has been striving to obtain one for years. In the latter case, the main obstacle is the opposition of Russia, which was in armed conflict with Georgia in 2008. Likewise, several NATO countries are reluctant to make decisions in this matter, wishing not to exacerbate their relations with Moscow. For this reason, the Alliance, since the 2008 Bucharest summit, has been recognizing the aspirations of Georgia (and Ukraine)
The compendium of knowledge about the development and technical aspects of NATO’s partnership programmes contains a periodically updated report by NATO Headquarters known as NATO Encyclopaedia, and in the form of a concise compendium, its latest edition: NATO Summit Guide, Brussels 11–12 July 2018, www.nato.int (accessed 18/1/2019).
for membership but denying formal candidate status and participation in MAP to both. Instead, individual cooperation in the NATO-Georgia Commission, established as a political support gesture after the Georgia-Russia war of 2008, is being developed. The cooperation involves a number of technical programmes to reform the domestic security sector, develop defence capabilities and improve interoperability. Georgia has for years been especially active in support of Allied operations. Her military involvement, measured in absolute terms, is larger than the participation of some member states. With intense reforms, Georgia is developing a professional military and other state structures and NATO membership is supported by the local public. Poland favours the rapprochement between Georgia and the Alliance, providing expert aid in training special forces and military police. Internships and courses for officers and civilian experts in Polish institutions are also available.
NATO Relations with Russia and Ukraine Poland’s
natural for NATO to expect the country’s involvement in the organisation’s Eastern policy, including the promotion of democratic and free-market values and open collaboration in the region as contributing to a stable environment in the North Atlantic area. This also includes interest in Polish opinions and expertise that support better adjustment of the Allied cooperation offer to Eastern European states. The level of aspiration in this respect was named by the then Polish deputy minister of foreign affairs at the end of the accession process: With us, NATO will gain a distinct Central and Eastern European component, with Poland contributing to Brussels’ new mode of thinking about relations, not just with the East but also the Baltic rim, the belt between the Baltic and Black Seas, and Transcaucasia.239 Undoubtedly, therefore, one
“Średnia potęga. Rozmowa z P. Grudzińskim, wiceministrem spraw zagranicz nych,” Polska Zbrojna, 6–7 February 1999.
of the most important issues that affected the Alliance’s strategy and political thinking was the manner of settling relations with Russia and Ukraine. Considering the Cold War baggage of the past, expectations concerning this cooperation have from the beginning been focused not on rapid outcomes, but gradual improvements. The effects were supposed to appear as democracy solidified and civic structures and market economy in these countries
with Moscow and Kyiv, NATO is seen to demonstrate different
aspirations, with Russia playing a strategic
a partner in the organisation’s full range of activities if the collaboration succeeded or as a competitor able to successfully hinder them if it failed. For countries that joined the
The Russian and NATO sides might want to arrange their mutual relations into periods differently, but four stages can clearly be distinguished. The first was the prolonged transformation from the Cold War situation to Western relations with the USSR and then Russia and other states that began to build their independence following the Soviet Union’s breakdown. In this period, contacts were formalised and Moscow’s position cemented as a special NATO partner, the first among the USSR successors participating in the NACC, and then the EAPC and PfP. In 1997, there was a fluid transition to the second phase, in which principles of cooperation were defined and the Permanent Joint Council established as a joint institution. The Council met until 2002 when it was replaced by the NATO-Russia Council, leading to the third stage of mutual relations. Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, followed by aggression in Donbas, Ukraine, and suspending cooperation with the Alliance meant progressing to the fourth and current stage.
the attention paid to collective defence was also the result of uncertainty as to how the situation in Russia would develop, which oftentimes clashed with the official optimism of the “old” NATO members. Both groups were, however, unanimous in believing that the lack of declared hostility entailed a genuine willingness to build partner relations with Moscow and observing reciprocity in complying with set standards and obligations. The essence of the debate inside NATO
was rather maintaining the Harmel Report logic (preserving power and the parallel development of cooperation) than flamboyant gestures in relations with Russia. For some of the Allies, including Poland, the concessions to Russia were a mistake that compromised NATO’s might and military credibility, especially since Russian reciprocity was at least debatable. The Alliance expected it to appear as cooperation developed. The RussiaGeorgia war of 2008, Moscow’s support for local separatists at the expense of Georgian territorial integrity, aggressive anti-Western propaganda, turning its back on conventional disarmament inspection obligations, sustaining so-called frozen conflicts in former Soviet republics, intense military exercises with provocative scenarios and the exponential increase of incidents near NATO states’ airspace gradually altered the cooperative mood. A permanent change in this respect only occurred, however, after the Russian annexation of Crimea and fuelling of open conflict in eastern Ukraine. Following the end of the Cold War, the relations between NATO and Russia expressed the (unrealised) idea of a partnership between the former Western and Eastern blocs based on respect for law and promoting the values of democracy, individual liberty, and a liberal economy. The latter was underpinned by the recently revived Samuel Huntington’s 20-years-old projection— logical, as it turned out—of an intra-civilization alliance against the pressure coming from Asia. This was surely the plan of the West, whose objectives as to partnership with Moscow included support for modernisation
a predictable participant in international relations that would take responsibility for them in proportion to the role played. To make this a reality, the Alliance was willing to go far, offering serious cooperation, self-limiting its power and abandoning many attributes that have for decades been taken as granted in collective defence and deterrence. Proof of this was NATO’s military presence (or rather, lack thereof) on the Eastern Flank, recently extended with the accession of new member states.
The course of history has not confirmed these expectations, but the fact remains that for more than 20 years it was always the Alliance that initiated efforts to develop and institutionalise its cooperation with Russia. The other side did not, however, appear ready to reply to the offer and make any gestures devoid of aggressive intentions. While Russian motivations in relations with NATO evolved— stated simply, their assertiveness was directly proportional to Russian power—they never strayed far from the geopolitical imperatives of Russian national strategy, which included stopping NATO enlargement and minimising the “losses” in the sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe, retaining hegemony over former Soviet republics, and a policy of no tolerance towards critics of Russian actions in the area (for example, in the Chechnya war). As an alternative for NATO enlargement, Russia has—intermittently but regularly since the 1990s—promoted various concepts of settling relations between international
security structures or replacing them with new institutions. Its actual objective has been, however, to deliver a solution that would grant Russia the privilege of being one of the decisionmakers in the post-Cold War European security order. This also involved recognising the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Tashkent Pact as NATO partners and subordinating them to some form of external supervision by a structure in which Moscow would play a prime role, effectively paralysing the Alliance’s activities. Another objective was pushing the U.S. out of Europe, a key component of which was driving a wedge between the Allies with the hope of rupturing NATO solidarity. For this purpose, contacts were made to compromise its internal cohesion by engaging in bilateral relations with member states and, where possible, obtaining influence on Allied decision-making processes. Hence, for the entire post-Cold War era, Russia has both cooperated tactically but asserted its will strategically. Moscow eventually, although reluctantly, joined the NACC and PfP, also taking part
(but with its own chain of command) in the IFOR/SFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russian elites saw the Alliance’s willingness to accept Central European states—considered as within Russia’s sphere of interests—as members to be the ultimate proof of NATO’s expansionist and aggressive character. The consistent nature of Russia’s policy, regardless of any periods of detente or cooperation forced by Russian weakness in the late 1990s, can be used as a starting point to discuss its strategy, which many analysts are apt to deny (instead, seeing Russia’s behaviour as reactive). NATO-Russia relations after the Cold War developed at an uneven pace. While occasionally optimistic (as in the 1990s), but likewise dramatic and crisis-ridden (with cooperation suspended a few times), their total outcome is heavily affected by the events of the last three years following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Moscow’s violation of international law and its political obligations towards foreign partners, as well as the fullscale information war directed against the West, together with provocative military gestures near the land, sea, and air borders of NATO states, has led to practical cooperation with Brussels being suspended again. Such a state of affairs in Moscow’s information war waged against the West may vindicate any number of narratives, from historic and strategic determinism that makes it impossible to settle mutual relations permanently and
imperial policy coupled with Western naivety in proposing open collaboration and making concessions to achieve it, or perhaps prudence in attempting to base the relations on the foundation of law, liberty, and democracy. One of the most contentious issues in NATO-Russia relations has been the successive enlargement of the organisation. Brussels has, however, taken a clear position that the process is not targeted against any state and in 1995 affirmed that Moscow will be given no power to block the process, but neither will it be taken by surprise with its progress. This declaration was
supposed to form a starting point for talks about a mutual partnership. Russian elites saw the Alliance’s willingness to accept Central European states as members as the ultimate proof of NATO’s expansionist and aggressive character. Soon after the “Study on NATO Enlargement” was published, the West was warned that if the enlargement process continued, Moscow may use measures to balance the unfavourable consequences of having the Alliance at its own doorstep. For a long time, all proposals for a more detailed form of cooperation were rejected. Concessions offered by the West were considered second-rate and a major decision-making role in the Alliance’s policy was demanded instead. A compromise loomed when in 1996 negotiations started on a document that would settle mutual relations on a new basis, yet both sides held different views of its form and legal status from the very start. Russia demanded an international and legally binding treaty that would guarantee NATO would not deploy nuclear weapons, garrison foreign troops and equipment, or develop Allied infrastructure on the territories
of the new member states. Russia’s negotiating position was intended to force NATO to ditch its plans to admit new members or, at the very least, wring a concession that the enlargement would be limited to a narrow group of Central European states, one that ever considered the Baltic countries and Ukraine. This intransigent façade concealed, however, actual resignation to the inevitability of the process with respect to Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, as well as seeing some benefits in a compromise. Ultimately, the text of the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation” was initialled on 14 May 1997, and signed at a ceremony held 13 days later in Paris. It should be added that both sides considered the Act’s contents their own triumph and diverged in the interpretation of individual clauses. The Act was ultimately not cast in the form of a treaty, but merely bilateral political obligations.
The preamble of the “Founding Act” cites the reasons for cooperation, declares the lack of hostility, and stresses the changes in Russia and ongoing NATO transformation as the background of closer cooperation. Section I lists the principles on which the partnership was to be founded: indivisible security and respect for general principles of international law. Among the detailed principles of cooperation, a prominent place was given to respect for democracy, political pluralism, human rights and civil liberties, market economy, respect for the sovereignty of other states, the inherent right to choose the means to ensure one’s own security, as well as peaceful settlement of disputes and refraining from the use of force or threat of force. Section II was devoted to mechanisms of consultation and cooperation, establishing the new NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) as a method of achieving agreement in areas of mutual interest for joint decisions and joint action with respect to security issues of common concern. Neither side was given the right to veto any matters reserved for the sovereign decision of its partner. Section III lists the scope of Council activities, noting areas of common interest related to stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area, preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, safety of nuclear installations, arms control, conversion of defence industries, planning in states of emergency, environmental protection, fighting organised crime, information exchange, and improving the partners’ image among members of the public. Section IV applies to political and military matters, repeating the unilateral NAC declarations of December 1996 and March 1997 about having no intention, plan, or reason for deploying or storing nuclear weapons, as well as major forces or military infrastructure, on the territories of new member states, and no need to change its nuclear policy.
The PJC’s activities were conducted separately from the NAC and without any formal influence on its decisions. In essence, Russia gained a foundation to express non-binding opinions that would be considered in decision-making among the member states, and therefore could still hope to achieve some sort of “backstage” influence on these decisions, given time. NATO, in turn, was entitled to believe that it gained an important means of influencing Russia’s position on international cooperation in security and, indirectly, its political transformation. Time has shown that the expectations of both sides were illusory.
The first serious crisis in mutual relations took place in 1999 after the Alliance commenced air strikes in the former Yugoslavia. In response, Russia suspended cooperation with NATO, accusing the Alliance of violating international law. The tense mood was exacerbated by incidents like Russian units taking over Pristina airport before the arrival of Allied troops. The contacts resumed in July when the air strikes ceased. On Russia’s request, all discussions at the PJC forum were limited to the Kosovo question, with subsequent meetings revealing differences in views on how to carry out the KFOR operation, which also involved a Russian contingent, in practice. NATO’s attempts to extend the discussion to topics mentioned in the previously agreed working plan were rebuffed by Moscow. The Chechnya war brought another cold spell in talks but was not discussed at the PJC forum due to Moscow’s dogged opposition. The willingness to return to dialogue and the need for Russia’s cooperation for the efficient stabilisation of the Balkan cauldron were complicated by NATO’s increasingly hard-line stance towards events in the
Caucasus. This played into the hands of Russia, prompting it to believe that continued pressure on the Alliance would be to Russia’s advantage. The mood took a turn after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., buoyed by emerging U.S.-Russia cooperation to fight terrorism that moved to the Alliance forum. This “thaw” led to a change in the institutional foundations in NATO-Russia relations, which took place during a meeting in Rome in May 2002 in which the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was established to succeed the former PJC. Renaming the joint decision-making body was not, however, the sole change. Its working mode was to be altered as well to ensure that Russia would contribute more to meetings and would not be confronted with a predetermined NATO position. For several years, mutual cooperation blossomed even though the Russian stance on NATO was unchanged. Notable events in this context included Moscow’s consent to transit supplies to ISAF forces in Afghanistan, exchange of intelligence information in anti-terrorist operations, exchanging data on
air traffic, fighting maritime piracy as well as drug production and trafficking, training Afghan security forces, destroying excess ammunition, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, undertaking conventional disarmament and transforming defence sectors. Consultations were also held concerning international crises, from the Balkans through Northern Africa and the Caucasus to Afghanistan, as was collaboration in air-defence systems. The first serious crisis in NATO-Russia relations in this period came in August 2008 during the Russia-Georgia war. As a result, the Alliance suspended NRC meetings until March 2009. A more negative event, however, was Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. In April 2014, the Alliance condemned this move and the accompanying Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine, considering that it violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and was a breach of international law principles and Russia’s obligations under the “Founding Act.” In consequence, all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia was stopped (although diplomatic communication channels were preserved). This state of affairs lasts to this day, with subsequent Russian actions not affording much room for hoping that it might change soon. In its strategic documents, Russia considers NATO as an enemy, and the numerous military provocations (exercises with scenarios depicting aggression on member states and their partners, and dangerous naval and air manoeuvres) only serve to strengthen the feeling of endangerment. These changes are stressed in Russian strategic documents.240 In reply, NATO has been augmenting forces on the Eastern Flank, perceiving that Russia has shed the guise of a constructive partner of the West and chosen to engage in unpredictable behaviours calculated according to its own particular costs and benefits. This seems to preclude returning to the former means of cooperation. The new starting point in this respect depends largely on how Moscow will behave. 240 Namely, Military Doctrine of 2014, National Security Strategy of 2015, and the Concept of Foreign Policy of 2016. For texts, see: R. Kupiecki, M. Menkiszak (eds), Stosunki NATO – Federacja Rosyjska w świetle dokumentów, Warszawa, 2018, pp. 492–500 and 551–556.
The Polish position on improvement in NATO-Russia relations has steadily emphasised that they must be founded on reciprocity and not imposing on the Alliance any limitations that would compromise its capability to perform its Treaty-based mission. Poland favours consistent action based on agreements reached at the Warsaw and Brussels summits, replying to Moscow’s reneging on its obligations and undermining the foundations of the international order with refusal to recognise territorial annexations, a strategy combining deterrence with defence, and readiness for dialogue if Russia reverts to civilised behaviour approved by the international community. *** NATO’s
of Ukraine as a state located at the confluence of three geopolitical spheres—Central Europe, Southern Europe, and the Commonwealth of Independent States—were slow to result in specific forms of cooperation. On the Brussels side, these
efforts were hampered by treating relations with Russia as more important. In September 1995, mutual dialogue domains grounded in the general topic of NACC and PfP works were agreed. Later, it was decided that mutual relations should be set forth in a special document mimicking the “NATO-Russia Founding Act.” Mutual relations started off on the right foot due to the following: • Ukraine was not opposed to NATO enlargement, • while making no official declarations, Ukraine did not rule out membership for itself in the future, • Ukraine was an active participant in the PfP, • Ukraine rejected the negative opinions on the Alliance suggested by Russia and ruled out any hierarchy of security institutions, • Ukraine previously peacefully disposed of its nuclear arsenal and obtained guarantees of sovereignty and territorial integrity from the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and the U.S.
The NATO-Ukraine Charter consists of 19 points divided into five sections. Section I describes the purpose of mutual relations: strengthening cooperation, security, and stability in Europe. Section II describes the principles of cooperation, founded on international law, such as: recognising that the security of all states in the OSCE area is indivisible, that no state should pursue its security at the expense of another state, refrain from the threat or use of force against any state in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter or Helsinki Final Act, the inherent right of all states to choose and to implement freely their own security arrangements, including Alliance treaties, respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of all other states, for the inviolability of frontiers, and the development of good-neighbourly relations, the rule of law, the fostering of democracy, political pluralism and a market economy, respect for human rights and the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, and the prevention of conflicts and settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with UN and OSCE principles. Ukraine reaffirmed its determination to carry forward with defence reforms, to strengthen democratic and civilian control of the armed forces, and to increase interoperability with NATO while the Alliance declared support for these undertakings. Section III defines the areas of consultation and cooperation, such as political and security-related subjects, in particular the development of Euro-Atlantic security and stability, including the security of Ukraine, conflict prevention, crisis management, peace support, conflict resolution and humanitarian operations, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating organised crime and terrorism, civil emergency planning, and disaster preparedness, civil-military relations, budgeting, defence planning, strategy and national security concepts, defence industry conversion and economic aspects of security, environmental issues, including the safety of nuclear installations, airspace usage, scientific and technical research, cooperation between arms industries, military training, promotion of cooperation with neighbours. These areas of cooperation were assigned to specific forms of contacts listed in Section IV: reciprocal high-level visits, meetings with specialised NATO committees, periodic meetings of Ukraine representatives with NAC and defence ministers, activities within the framework of the PfP, exchange of military liaison missions, interparliamentary contacts. The last part of the document consists of declarations and expresses, among others, the interest the Alliance takes in strengthening Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.
Despite official declarations about the separate nature of the processes, relations with Ukraine evolved in the shadow of relations with Russia and which actually dictated the pace of work and, more importantly, the scope of agreements with Kyiv. An unwritten rule was shared by all Alliance members that, except for provisions resulting from specific Ukrainian circumstances, the contents of the future NATO–Ukraine Charter would be of lesser quality compared to the NATO-Russia document. Formal talks in this matter did not begin until late March 1997, when negotiations with Moscow had reached critical mass. In line with expectations, following a number of short and relatively uncomplicated exchanges, the bilateral agreement text was initiated at the end of May and signed during the Madrid summit. Officially called the “Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Ukraine,” it was a short and relatively simple document. Despite a generally positive mood, in subsequent years
little progress was made in cooperation. Ukraine lacked the consistency and funds to stage reforms while the Alliance was not determined enough to implement the cooperation vision.241 The Polish voice, calling for more intense NATO engagement with Kyiv, was drowned in the Alliance’s critical outlook of the Ukrainian reality, with its corruption, slow pace of modernisation, and deep differences in defence systems in comparison with Western standards. Hence, the repeated calls to “strategic patience” in mutual relations, which meant waiting until Ukraine carried out the announced reforms and annual working plans with the actual (including materiel) help of NATO. Similarly to contacts with Russia, cooperation with Ukraine picked up pace due to the global war with terrorism. One of the consequences was the participation of Ukrainian soldiers in most ground and naval operations conducted by NATO and focusing joint military programs on interoperability of troops and command structures. In addition, unnecessary ammunition and ordnance stores were M. Pietraś, “Ukraina i NATO w pozimnowojennym środowisku bezpieczeństwa,” Sprawy Międzynarodowe, no. 4, 2006, pp. 43–61.
systematically destroyed. Another important aspect of NATO activities in Ukraine was public diplomacy on the security and mission of the Alliance, which, however, failed to significantly improve NATO’s popularity among the locals. This stance began to change only after the Russian annexation of Crimea and attacks on Donbas. Faced with them, the Alliance supported Ukrainian territorial integrity and independence. Structural assistance for the defence sector and advice on hybrid threats were also offered. The background of Ukraine-NATO relations was naturally dominated by the membership question. Ukrainian membership was supported by a minor faction among the Allies, among which Poland played a prominent role for years. Until 2017, Kyiv did not make any definite declarations in this respect, realising its
membership, lack of readiness on the part of the West and the hostile reaction of Russia, which affected the position of Ukrainian elites and some of the allies. On the level of political
2014, Ukraine emphasised its non-alignment and willingness to cooperate with NATO. The closest the country ever came to candidate status and a place in the MAP was following the so-called Orange Revolution. Ukraine
itself through then PM Viktor Yanukovych, preferring to wait for membership in the EU. NATO, on its part, made an important declaration during the 2008 Bucharest summit, where
Poland has been supporting the development of NATOUkraine relations, recognising the transatlantic aspirations of the latter, for years. It upheld197 the position of respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemned Russia’s illegal activity in Crimea and Donbas. It also cooperated to reform the Ukrainian defence sector (including logistics) and military education (in line with NATO standards). Ukrainian units served in its contingents in international operations, and joint military exercises were conducted. Drawing on the experience of a joint Polish-Ukrainian battalion previously formed with Canadian participation, in 2015, a multinational PolishLithuanian-Ukrainian brigade, with its headquarters in Lublin, was established, with Poland providing the largest share of means and efforts.
for Ukraine was hinted at (but not scheduled). The declaration, however, changed little in mutual relations and only caused aÂ spate of hostile reactions from Moscow. For various reasons, Ukraineâ€™s membership in NATO appears quite unfeasible today due to the lack of structural readiness to take the step, the unresolved conflict with Russia (with the Alliance insisting that new members should be free of any internal problems), and difficult bilateral relations with some members that are not conducive to dialogue and cooperation.
NATO partnerships beyond Europe: Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Global Partnership Historically, the first form of NATO partnership with states outside the North Atlantic area was the Mediterranean Dialogue. This topic was put on the NAC agenda by Southern
Flank states concerned about alarming events in the region that might evolve into future crises. Already in 1993, the Alliance held discussions on the matter that resulted in the Dialogue initiative being announced one year later. Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia, later joined by Algeria, were among the countries that responded to the call, each receiving equal access to the political dialogue and other forms of cooperation with NATO. They were also able to develop their own courses of action with the possibility of regular contacts in matters of security and proposing joint undertakings. The Mediterranean partners also participate in scientific collaboration programmes and can access various training sessions and seminary meetings in areas such as civil emergency, arms control and different aspects of international peacekeeping. Over time, the importance of military cooperation that involved not only educational and training activities but also joint participation in peacekeeping operations (since the Bosnia and Herzegovina mission) increased. While it must be recognised that the dialogue has had limited effects, it should be noted that it is generally aÂ long-term investment
in common security. The intention of the pact is to promote cooperation and use it to break down cultural stereotypes. Any improvement in standards is, however, hindered by the internal differences between participants, with Israel directly opposed to Islamic countries. Their mutual relations, therefore, set the lowest common denominator for this form of NATO partnership. The Alliance deliberately refuses to favour countries that are better prepared to cooperate, concerned about the effects of possible destabilisation in the region and a surge of anti-Western sentiment. The road along which the Dialogue should develop therefore leads to gradually approaching contact forms to those that previously evolved in the PfP and EAPC. Their importance is highlighted by the unstable nature of the North African-Middle Eastern region as an area rife with crises and threatened by terrorism. This strengthens NATO’s interest in supporting the state structures of the Mediterranean partners and cooperating to dig up the roots and branches of terrorism. A similar set of motives was demonstrated by the Alliance when it expanded the geographical boundaries of its partnership offer. The offer, unveiled during the 2004 Istanbul summit, was aimed at states in the region and came to be called the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). It was joined by four Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates), with Saudi Arabia and Oman having more distanced political contacts. This form of cooperation remains open to other countries from the “extended” Middle East region, but development proceeds slowly and in proportion to the interest shown by participants, who build their action programme selectively by choosing undertakings from those offered by the Alliance. These undertakings involve areas such as the transformation of the defence sector and military budgeting, limited
information, fighting terrorism, and mitigating the effects of natural disasters. The ICI countries participated in NATO’s 2011 Libyan operation, a fact that prevented perceiving it as a confrontation between Islam and the West. It should be noted
that ICI did not produce any permanent dialogue structures. Any actual dialogue takes place through bilateral contacts with NATO and occasional meetings of all members. In turn, NATO’s Global Partnership (GP) was conceived as an informal web of contacts with states not involved in any other form of cooperation. In fact, it brings together bilateral contacts established by the organisation, some of which have a long history (such as cooperation with Japan). The GP has two main underlying motives. The first is staging intense operations on territories located near these states. The second is the economic and military potential offered by some of them, which can be used to support Allied activities. The GP currently includes Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and South Korea. Cooperation in this form goes back to 2011 and has been of value primarily due to the contributions made by partners to NATO global operations, especially the ISAF mission in Afghanistan (and its successor).
In all states involved in the various forms of partnership, the Alliance has contact points, a role exercised on a rotational basis by the diplomatic missions of NATO states. The missions provide advice in mutual contacts and support Alliance Headquarters in organising joint undertakings. Over time, the different forms of partnership begin to use similar measures and forms of cooperation and draw from the same resource pool offered by NATO. Potential differences are, therefore, the result of the ambitions of the participants and their capability to take advantage of the offer. Without doubt, this is also the outcome of a large number of separate institutional forms of cooperation and the involved countries, close to the limits in which Alliance’s structures can handle them. Thus, in the future, NATO partnerships should perhaps be categorised and their forms assigned priorities according to the criteria of operational usefulness and benefits derived by the organisation. Poland has a favourable opinion on developing forms of NATO partnerships beyond Europe, seeing them as both
politically valuable to stabilise relations with Western countries and militarily advantageous to increase trust and augment the capabilities of participating states to fulfil their national defence tasks and selective participation in the Alliance’s missions. Considering that the majority of partnering countries is located in areas of asymmetric conflicts or threatened by terrorism, NATO activities have the additional value of keeping these issues far from its own borders. In this perspective, the situation of economically stable Asian countries is different, since they treat relations with NATO as just another dimension of cooperating with member states, a fact not without importance for Poland.
Cooperative security, which includes various forms of partnership policies, is one of the three strategic NATO tasks (besides collective defence and crisis management). The Alliance offers cooperation programmes, and partners select the undertakings of interest of them, which define the level of their involvement. The purpose of the policy is to cement cooperation in the vicinity of the North Atlantic sphere. Currently, various partnership institutions involve 41 states—50 if irregular cooperation is included—namely 22 EAPC and PfP states (including individual cooperation with Russia, Ukraine and Georgia), seven Mediterranean Dialogue states, four ICI states, eight GP states, and a not yet named network of irregular partners, ranging from India and China to Malaysia and Tonga. This is supported by institutional partnerships with the EU, UN, OSCE, the African Union, and specialised international organisations. The intensity of the interaction and individual aspiration of the participants in each form vary. What unites them are the positive objectives of international stability and peace, regional security, cooperation in areas of common interest, familiarising interested countries with NATO standards, promoting democratic values and reforms, gaining support and reasonable authority for international operations, education for security, and early warnings. Forms of cooperation include, among others, political consultation, crisis prevention, joint civilian and military missions, defence reforms, interoperability, fighting terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, in the area of new threats, energy issues and cyberdefence.
The NATO That Poland Needs Twenty years after joining NATO, Poland approaches changes pending in the organisation in a mature manner, understanding and participating in the related processes, and continuously striving to maintain the organisation’s credibility and operational efficiency. The reasons for which Poland undertook difficult reforms and solicited membership in the Alliance for almost 10 years after the end of the Cold War have not changed. They are related to strengthening the Polish defensive potential and deterrence credibility, and on a wider political plane, cementing
the presence of the Polish state in the Western world and indissoluble economic, political, and military relations with the West. Doing away with 20th-century Western tendencies to design the principles of the international order at the expense of the interests of Poland and neighbouring countries (the Yalta syndrome) was the essence of these endeavours. Achieving Polish strategic interests does, of course, require a comprehensive security policy that does is not limited solely to military (defensive) aspects or preventing aggression. This is the threshold condition, where NATO and cooperation with the U.S. play an especially important role. The policy must, however, include achieving the capability to participate in actively contributing to the European security order, which is founded on a state’s own might and its foreign policy instruments (including institutional ones). All of this should be based on a clear, consensually executed and adroitly managed security strategy.
Poland has earned a high place as regards cooperation between the Allies, having shown solidarity in times of trial and paid for its stance with the lives of its soldiers carrying out the Alliance’s missions abroad. While not having the potential and aspiration to become a superpower, Poland is large and affluent enough to push for an ambitious Allied agenda and influence NATO decisions and the behaviour of its most potent actors. Poland’s position involves a certain paradox: on one hand, it is too large a state to be relegated to the role of enforcing the policies of others, with no interest in the full range of organisation activities. On the other hand, it does not have enough potential to continuously fulfil these roles on its own. With respect to current activities, therefore, three areas are pertinent: • first, assigning correct priorities to NATO issues from the viewpoint of Polish interests and the organisation’s total power compared to available capacities and resources, as well as consistently impacting suitable decisions and solutions. This does not mean that NATO’s agenda should be cherrypicked since its integrity must be preserved while reflecting the wide-ranging views of its member states on security issues. The objective is to keep tabs on the most important issues in the Alliance and ensure they are reflected in decision-making processes. • second, ensuring efficient executive powers (both civilian and military) to carry out this policy, correctly formulate tasks and translate them into specific actions. • third, building an efficient and modern domestic defence system that uses NATO to multiply its own power and provide sources for good planning and executive practices. The 30 years that have elapsed since the end of the Cold War and the 70 years since the Alliance’s establishment have greatly changed the face of the organisation. Today, the Alliance is not only a sign of former Western triumph over an oppressive totalitarian system that threatened the freedoms of millions
worldwide but also an example of successful transformation that allows it to play an important role in international cooperation to ensure security and peace. The threats facing NATO have changed and the spectrum of tasks, measures used, and the group of states that treat the organisation as a source of good solutions to security issues through the cooperation of interested parties has grown larger. The so-called “strategic holiday” has ended, and the throes of Russia’s neo-imperial policy threaten today not just its direct neighbours, but the foundations of the international order based on the respect of law, sovereignty, and the territorial integrity of other states. Sources of conflicts also appear inside NATO due to political changes in member states and, in a general sense, the pace of transformation of the international order. The organisation’s success is invariably based on its capacity to adapt, the power to carry out the full range of missions, and the solidarity of member states, without which NATO would not be credible. From the Polish point of view, collective defence
is of key importance as the foundation for other tasks which the Alliance may undertake in the future. Alliance members will always have a single defence budget, a single set of forces, and a single organisation that brings together their national military resources. The various organisations that NATO states belong to may generate different operational and political needs; nevertheless, the priority granted to the Alliance’s mission guarantees not only its vitality, and hence, the safety of allies, but also the proper and rational distribution of available resources. The Polish viewpoint of the organisation and the strategic sense of membership remain consistent with this. As when joining NATO 20 years ago, today Poland likewise perceives NATO as an unprecedented reservoir of security based on the foundation of transatlantic cooperation. It should be protected as a joint strategic resource, both against external foes and internal short-sightedness. The latter now takes many forms: the American critique of NATO’s alleged uselessness for the U.S., Europe’s flippant attitude to the proper amount and quality of
contributions to collective defence, and national sectionalism that wants to enjoy the benefits of stability produced by the organisation without making sufficient efforts on its own. The issue is not about criticising the policy of member states, which analysts say has taken its peculiar turns during the last 70Â years, but making an honest assessment of the benefits derived from aÂ common structure. For each current NATO member, the profit and loss account is positive, which is especially favourable for small and medium states in the contemporary world of complex threats, unstable political systems, and resurgent acute rivalry between superpowers. None of the alternatives for NATO sought in the renationalisation of security policies, borderline egoist U.S. policy, new European regionalism, European defence of different velocities, or enforced bandwagoning, can guarantee long-lasting security benefits at least similar to those which the North Atlantic Alliance provides. The fact that security is not given forever and proven collective defence mechanisms are the easiest to apply in times of crisis is one of the elementary truths of security theory and policy.
The Polish road to NATO —a short timeline
8 October 1989
For the first time, a delegation from a Warsaw Pact member state is invited to a meeting of the Political Commission, this time of the 35th Session of the North Atlantic Assembly in Rome. The delegation of Polish MPs consists of Krzysztof Komornicki and Jan Maria Rokita.
21 March 1990
The Republic of Poland Minister of Foreign Affairs visits NATO Headquarters in Brussels, holding talks with Secretary General Manfred Wörner and permanent representatives of member states in the North American Council. Official start of contacts between Poland and the North Atlantic Alliance.
7-8 June 1990
At a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Turnberry, Scotland, the ministers of foreign affairs of NATO member states announce the “Message from Turnberry” in which the wish to undertake cooperation with the USSR and Central and Eastern European states is expressed.
6 July 1990
The NATO Summit in London issues a “Declaration on reforming the North Atlantic Alliance,” which also contains proposals for developing multilateral- cooperation with Central and Eastern European states and establishing diplomatic contacts.
8 July 1990
U.S. President George H. W. Bush addresses a letter to Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, extending an invitation to Poland and other Central European countries to establish permanent contacts with the Alliance.
9 August 1990
The Republic of Poland embassy in Brussels establishes permanent contacts with NATO Headquarters, with Tadeusz Olechowski designated ambassador.
13-15 September 1990
NATO Secretary General Wörner visits Poland. In a speech before the Sejm, he points to the historic opportunity of building a new era of peace and welfare in Europe, based on friendship and cooperation.
31 March 1991
Formal dissolution of the Warsaw Pact’s military structures. The organisation is ultimately disbanded on 1 July 1991.
3 July 1991
President of the Republic of Poland Lech Wałęsa visits Brussels. During a meeting at NATO Headquarters, he expresses support for the Alliance’s political objectives.
6 October 1991
During a meeting in Kraków, the presidents of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary express on behalf of their respective countries the wish to participate in NATO activities.
20 December 1991
The inaugural meeting of the North American Cooperation Council (NACC) with the participation of ministers of foreign affairs and representatives of the 16 NATO and nine Central European states (including Poland); on the same day, events in Moscow lead to the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union.
21 December 1991
In a speech before the Sejm, Prime Minister Jan Olszewski announces that Poland will tighten relations with NATO. In subsequent weeks, the will to obtain membership in the Alliance is publicly declared.
10 April 1992
The first meeting of the NATO Military Committee, in what is called a collaboration session, is held; ministers of foreign affairs and chiefs of the general staff of Central and Eastern European countries also attend.
10 July 1992
In her first speech before the Sejm, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka declares the intention to gradually move towards Polish membership in NATO.
7 October 1992
Prime Minister Suchocka visits NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
15 October 1992
NSC Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia David Gompert says that the U.S. does not rule out Polish membership in the Alliance in the long term
2 November 1992
The National Defence Committee adopts the Republic of Poland Security Strategy document. Economic integration with the West and joining NATO is recognised as an objective of state security policy.
25 August 1993
During an official visit to Poland, President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin declares he does not object to Poland’s accession to NATO.
1 September 1993
In a letter to NATO Secretary General, President Wałęsa confirms the main principles of Polish security policy, naming membership in the Alliance as one of the main foreign policy objectives.
21 September 1993
During a visit to Warsaw, Czech President Vaclav Havel and Polish politicians declare that the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary want to become full-fledged NATO members.
29 September 1993
German National Defence Minister Volker Rühe says that the doors to NATO should be opened for Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. While accession will not be immediate, each country will be given an opportunity to conclude affiliation agreements.
30 September 1993
President Yeltsin sends a letter to the leaders of Western countries warning them that admitting Central and Eastern European countries to NATO may isolate Moscow and that Russia will not agree to the membership of Poland and other European countries in the Alliance. The letter rectifies Yeltsin’s position declared during his August visit to Warsaw.
20-21 October 1993
During an informal meeting of NATO national defence ministers in Travemünde, Germany, U.S. Defence Secretary Lee Aspin proposes to establish a scheme of military cooperation with Central and Eastern European states called the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
15-17 December 1993
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrzej Olechowski pays an official visit to Washington and receives assurance that Russia will not be allowed to veto Poland’s accession to NATO.
7 January 1994
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, and Professor Charles Gati pay a visit to Poland. During a meeting with President Wałęsa, they talk, among other things, about the PfP programme.
10-11 January 1994
The Partnership for Peace is officially inaugurated at the NATO Summit in Brussels.
2 February 1994
Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak signs the PfP Framework Document at NATO Headquarters on behalf of the government of the Republic of Poland.
11 April 1994
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott pays a visit to Poland. Meeting with leading politicians, he confirms the connection between participation in the PfP and NATO membership for European countries.
25 April 1994
Polish Minister of National Defence Piotr Kołodziejczyk submits the PfP Presentation Document at NATO Headquarters on behalf of Poland.
5 July 1994
Poland is the first PfP participant to agree an Individual Partnership Programme (IPP) with the Alliance in Brussels. The document provides for joint military exercises, building a communications network, and exchange of lecturers in military academies and NATO headquarters.
7-9 July 1994
17-19 July 1994
The commander of NATO forces in Europe, Gen. George A. Joulwan, pays a visit to Poland and discusses readiness for joint exercises of Polish and NATO forces. A meeting of the defence ministers of France, Germany, and Poland takes place in Warsaw, dealing with issues related to cooperation under the PfP.
In Biedrusko near Poznań, the first PfP joint military exercises, codenamed Cooperative 12-16 September Bridge, take place with the participation of units 1994 from 13 NATO and partner countries. The Polish unit consisted of 280 soldiers, a battalion-level staff and five helicopters.
8 October 1994
The U.S. Congress passes the Brown Amendments to the NATO Participation Act that authorises the president to extend the benefits of military cooperation with NATO on an allied footing to the four Visegrad countries. The next amendment of the Act contained facilitation measures for admitting these countries to NATO.
16 February 1995
The U.S. House of Representatives passes the National Security Revitalisation Act, which provides admission to NATO for Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
5 April 1995
During a visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Prime Minister Józef Oleksy confirmed Poland’s intention to obtain membership as soon as possible.
16-17 August 1995
On the Danish island of Årø, the defence ministers of Poland, Germany, and Denmark— Zbigniew Wojciech Okoński, Volker Rühe, and Hans Hækkerup, respectively—discuss developments in the Baltic and former Yugoslavia, NATO enlargement, and future joint military exercises.
28 September 1995
The 26 NATO partners are presented with the “Study on NATO Enlargement.” Deputy Minister stresses the favourable Polish view of the security vision and Alliance enlargement process found in the document.
14-15 October 1995
A team of experts from NATO Headquarters, led by Gebhardt von Moltke, pays a visit to Warsaw to discuss the “Study on NATO Enlargement” on an individual basis.
3 November 1995
In Brussels, Poland signs the agreement among the States Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty and the other states participating in the PfP regarding the Status of their Forces (SOFA-PfP).
6 November 1995
The Polish side submits to Ambassador Sergio Balanzino, the acting NATO Secretary General, a letter showing interest in the future participation of a Polish Army contingent in multinational military forces supervising compliance with the Bosnia and Herzegovina peace agreement (IFOR).
5 December 1995
The Polish Council of Ministers adopts a resolution to “form a Polish military contingent participating in the Implementation Force in Bosnia.” NATO’s invitation to participate in the IFOR operation is officially accepted on 11 December. It is decided that the contingent will consist of a unit formed on the basis of the 670-strong (including 10 military police) 16th battalion, 6th airborne brigade proposed for participation in the PfP Planning and Review process. Polish soldiers are posted with the Nordic Brigade, part of the U.S. 1st mechanised infantry division, with a Polish officer becoming the brigade’s deputy commander.
5 December 1995
At a meeting in Brussels, the foreign ministers of NATO states make the decision to move to the “second stage of enlargement,” that is, to “intense consultations” with interested countries to strengthen the PfP and facilitate their ability to take up membership duties. NATO solves the issue of internal adaptation and other steps necessary to ensure that the enlargement preserves Alliance integrity.
17-18 January 1996
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski pays a visit to NATO Headquarters. While meeting with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and the North Atlantic Council, he declares the immutability of strategic objectives of Polish foreign policy. He also calls for commencing pre-accession talks for Polish membership in the “16+1” formula and supports reforms in NATO that have the potential to become “the new foundation of European security architecture.”
Polish soldiers taking part in the IFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina begin their service.
8 February 1996
Foreign affairs and national defence ministers send an official letter to the NATO Secretary General, accepting the invitation to individual consultations with the Alliance, offered to partner states on 29 January.
4 April 1996
Poland submits to NATO Headquarters in Brussels its Individual Discussion Document on NATO enlargement to initiate deeper dialogue based on the September 1995 study, declaring its willingness to fully integrate with the Alliance.
17-18 April 1996
NATO Secretary General Solana pays a visit to Poland. While meeting with government officials, he assures that Alliance enlargement is inevitable.
25 July 1996
The U.S. Senate passes the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act granting military assistance to Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia as the countries most suitable to join the Alliance.
26 August 1996
The NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act is passed by both chambers of the U.S. Congress. The act states that Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary have made the most progress in meeting membership criteria and will be granted $60 million in military assistance in 1997. The funds will be used primarily to adapt the armed forces of the candidate countries.
6 September 1996
In Stuttgart, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher asserts that NATO will make a decision on accepting new members in the first half of 1997. Enlarging the Alliance is considered one of the most important features of the U.S. presence in Europe.
22 October 1996
In a speech in Detroit, President Bill Clinton names a specific date for NATO enlargement for the first time, stating that the first new members from among Central and Eastern European countries should be admitted to the Alliance in 1999 at the latest, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the organisation’s founding.
10 December 1996
A meeting of foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Council is held in Brussels. In the final communique, the Council sets the date for the next year’s NATO summit in Madrid as 8-9 July and declares that the first group of membership candidates will be invited to undertake accession negotiations. Further work on developing NATO collaboration with partner states, for example, through increased PfP efforts and establishing the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), is announced. EAPC is supposed to combine the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and PfP, offering a new system of political consultations and advanced forms of military collaboration.
17 December 1996
The Polish Council of Ministers adopts Resolution no. 146/96, which formally authorises the participation of the Polish contingent “with up to 500 members” in the Stabilisation Forces (SFOR) mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
6 January 1997
4 February 1997
18 February 1997
The National Defence Committee establishes an NDC team to coordinate ongoing activities related to Poland’s NATO accession. Appearing before both chambers of Congress, U.S. President Clinton, in his State of the Union address, declares that NATO will be enlarged by 1999. Ordinance no. 14 of the president of the Council of Ministers establishes an interministerial team to oversee Poland’s membership in NATO. The team, led by the minister of foreign affairs, is tasked with ensuring the coordination and collaboration of all governmental bodies in the process of cooperating and integrating with NATO. At a meeting of foreign affairs ministers of NATO member states in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Albright declares that membership negotiations with the first group of Central and Eastern European states selected at the Madrid summit should be completed by the end of 1997 so that parliaments have the time to ratify them until 1999.
14 March 1997
A statement by North Atlantic Council members reads that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.
12 June 1997
President Clinton declares that the three Central European states of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary should join NATO first. On the same day, U.S. Secretary of Defence William Cohen notifies Washington’s decision at the meeting of ministers of defence of NATO states.
8 July 1997
At an extraordinary summit of NATO members is held in Madrid. Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary are invited to commence talks on their accession to the Alliance.
10 July 1997
During a visit in Warsaw, U.S. President Bill Clinton says “nic o was bez was” [nothing about you without you] in Polish, adding that Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary will become full-fledged members of the Alliance and the community of democratic states.
11 July 1997
An inter-ministerial team to negotiate with NATO, led by MFA Undersecretary of State Andrzej Towpik, is established.
17 July 1997
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dariusz Rosati receives a letter from NATO Secretary General Solana that formally confirms the Madrid summit’s decision on the intended enlargement of the Alliance to include Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, and invites Poland to commence accession talks.
25 July 1997
The representatives of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary visit NATO Headquarters to participate in the first informational meeting devoted to the mode of holding formal membership talks.
16 September 1997
The first round of Poland-NATO accession talks, led by Minister Towpik and NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs KlausPeter Klaiber, takes place. The round deals with the legal and political obligations resulting from membership.
24 September 1997
The North Atlantic Alliance decides to allow Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary to participate in the work of selected NATO structures even before officially admitting these countries as members.
29 September 1997
During the second round of accession talks, Poland submits a completed defence planning questionnaire to Brussels. The document contains information on the status and plans of the Polish Army’s development and will be used as the foundation for designing plans of gradual integration of the Polish defence system with the Alliance’s system.
9 October 1997
The third round of Poland’s accession talks, devoted to financial issues, takes place in Brussels. NATO is briefed on the framework of Poland’s defence budget and readiness to bear the costs of membership.
16 October 1997
Following a meeting with Polish national defence experts, NATO decides that Poland meets the basic requirements for protecting secrets and is ready to be admitted to the exchange of classified information between allies.
23 October 1997
The Polish delegation stages the fourth and last round of formal accession talks with NATO in Brussels.
11 November 1997
Poland formally accepts the results of NATO accession talks, including the amount of member contribution set at 2.48% of the joint Alliance budget.
14 November 1997
In a special letter to the Secretary General, Poland confirms the arrangements made during accession talks, declaring its readiness to fulfil membership obligations. The letter, which marks the end of membership negotiations, becomes the bedrock for the admission protocol signed by the foreign affairs ministers of the 16 states.
26 November 1997
The Republic of Poland Mission to NATO, led by Ambassador Towpik, is launched.
28 November 1997
The governments of NATO states approve the accession protocols of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
2 December 1997
At NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the ministers of defence of NATO member states approve a report, drafted on the basis the completed defence planning questionnaires, on the capability of the Polish, Czech, and Hungarian armed forces to fulfil membership duties.
16 December 1997
In Brussels, the foreign affairs ministers of NATO states, in the presence of the foreign affairs ministers of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, sign the protocols of accession of these states to the North Atlantic Treaty.
18 December 1997
Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary participate in a NATO Council meeting at the ambassadorial level for the first time.
13 January 1998
Secretary Albright calls on the U.S. Senate to ratify the accession documents for Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Speaking about the objectives of U.S. foreign policy for 1998, she says that the prospect of joining the North Atlantic Alliance has contributed to mitigating long-standing conflicts between Central and Eastern European countries.
30 April 1998
The U.S. Senate ratifies the accession protocols with a decisive majority of votes. This practically made Poland’s admission to NATO a foregone conclusion. On 20 August, the ratification documents were filed with the Department of State.
18 May 1998
Gen. Mieczysław Bieniek takes over command of the Nordic-Polish brigade serving in the SFOR forces in Bosnia. He is the first non-NATO officer to command the Alliance’s forces.
15 July 1998
Poland opens a Military Representative Office, led by Brig. Gen. Henryk Tacik, at the NATO Military Committee in Brussels.
29 January 1999
NATO Secretary General Solana addresses a letter to Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Bronisław Geremek inviting Poland to join the North Atlantic Treaty. Similar letters are received by the heads of Czech and Hungarian diplomacy. No specific date is named; instead, accession is to take place when ratification instruments are submitted to the U.S. government as the Treaty’s depositary.
17 February 1999
The Sejm, with 409 votes for, seven against, and four abstaining, passes an act authorising the president to ratify the North Atlantic Treaty. On the same day, the act is passed by the Senate.
18 February 1999
The President of the Republic of Poland and head of armed forces Aleksander Kwaśniewski signs an act authorising him to ratify the North Atlantic Treaty.
23 February 1999
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek countersigns the North Atlantic Treaty Accession Act.
26 February 1999
The Polish and Czech presidents, Kwaśniewski and Havel, sign the North Atlantic Treaty ratification act together.
12 March 1999
Poland formally becomes a full-fledged member of the North Atlantic Alliance. At a ceremony in Independence, Missouri, the ministers of foreign affairs of Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary submit the accession documents to U.S. Secretary of State Albright.
16 March 1999
A ceremony of welcoming the three new member states, with their prime ministers in attendance, takes place at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The flags of the new Allies are hoisted next to the flags of the other member states.
218 23-25 April 1999
A NATO summit convened on the 50th anniversary of establishing the organisation takes place in Washington. The celebrations are attended by 42 delegations from states belonging to NATO and the EAPC. Russia and Belarus refuse to participate. The summit’s participants adopt the following documents: “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept,” “Washington Declaration,” “Membership Action Plan,” “Defence Capabilities Initiative” and “Political and Military Framework for NATO-led PfP Operations.” The summit is dominated by the situation in Kosovo. A statement on developments in the Kosovo crisis is issued.
SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY Archival materials and published documents The
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POLAND AND NATO AFTER THE COLD WAR
AFTER THE COLD WAR ROBERT KUPIECKI
Book written by Robert Kupiecki, published by Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Polish Institute of International Affairs on the occass...
Published on May 22, 2019
Book written by Robert Kupiecki, published by Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Polish Institute of International Affairs on the occass...