Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paying for NATO Expansion

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paying for NATO Expansion

Article excerpt

What does NATO enlargement cost, and how will the money be provided? Given the tight schedule NATO has imposed on itself for reaching a consensus on the "whos" of enlargement, it is all the more astounding that the question of financial implications has hardly played a role. Up to now NATO has not presented any cost estimate, nor have there been any statements by the European alliance partners on that topic - at least not publicly.

Meanwhile, however, the first cost analyses have come to the fore. According to a calculation published by the United States Congressional Budget Office, NATO enlargement by the four Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland - would cost between $60 billion and $124 billion, and NATO's new members would have to contribute between $42 billion and $52 billion. The Rand Corporation came to a different result. According to its calculations, NATO enlargement would carry a price tag of about $42 billion, $8 billion of which should come from the new member states.

In light of these figures, one thing seems clear: There is not the slightest chance for an increase in the defense budgets of any major NATO country. On the contrary, more painful cuts are looming on the horizon. Slicing pieces from NATO's common budgets to finance enlargement wouldn't work either. The alliance's budgets are not very high to begin with, and they are already earmarked for agreed infrastructure work. Nor can those countries that are likely to join NATO be expected to bear the brunt. The annual defense budget of the Czech Republic totals just $1.1 billion. Hungary spends $600 million per year for defense. Some observers now call for a postponement of NATO enlargement. But this cannot be the answer. The process of enlargement is far too advanced. It is also worth noting that cost calculations made by the applicant countries show quite different results. …

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