NATO Enlargement and Russian Concerns
Delivered in Plenary - March 29th 2004
Today marks the official enlargement of NATO from 19 to 26 members as the 3 Baltic Republics join with Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. In effect all the current EU candidates for May 1st bar Malta and Cyprus.
Last week I was in Austria where there is considerable political presuure for it to abandon its cherished neutrality and also join NATO. It is essential we support the ongoing stability of NATO which is active in the fight against terrorism as evidenced by its out of area action in theatres as far afield as Afghanistan.
We must not let the ESDP undermine our alliance with the USA, the only military power spending serious money on defence whilst all of the EU is cutting expenditute. We must also avoid duplication of effort with the separate planning and command and control structures for the ESDP.
Lastly we must reassure our Russian neighbour that NATO enlargement particularly to the Baltics is no threat to their security and I think that the rapid ratification by these states of the CFE Treaty would go a long way to calming Russian fears.