Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

"NATO and Europe in the 21st Century: New Roles for a Changing Partnership"

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

"NATO and Europe in the 21st Century: New Roles for a Changing Partnership"

Article excerpt

A report on a conference, held Apr. 19, 2000, sponsored by the Wilson Center's East European Studies and West European Studies programs

Editor: Sabina A.-M. Crisen

When postcommunist Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic sought membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, they wanted the protection that NATO traditionally had afforded against attack by an outside power. When they became members in 1999, however, they found a changed NATO, with other purposes besides collective defense: crisis management and peacekeeping.

Twelve days after the three Central European countries entered NATO, the war in Kosovo commenced. It was "a rude shock" that "drove home the fact that membership entailed obligations as well as benefits," observed F. Stephen Larrabee, a senior analyst at the RAND Corporation and a speaker at this conference. While Poland gave full support to the NATO effort, "the Czech response was hesitant and ambivalent." Hungary was less ambivalent, allowing NATO to use its airspace and bases. It shares a border with Serbia.

The three new members now face the necessity of modernizing their "under funded and badly equipped" armed forces, so they can be fully integrated into the NATO force, noted Marybeth Peterson Ulrich, a political scientist at the U. …

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