This volume is an outgrowth of the international conference which took place at Brdo near Kranj in Slovenia on February 26–27, 2009. Entitled “Young at 60”, it was devoted to NATO's round anniversary. The conference was prepared and carried out by the Euro-Atlantic Council of Slovenia, with the support of the Slovenian government and, as a NATO “flagship event”, also by the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO. Most texts in this volume were based on the conference papers which were subsequently updated and edited. Two official opening speeches by Martin Erdmann, NATO Assistant Secretary General, and Ljubica Jelušič, Slovenian Defence Minister, follow this preface.
Since its inception in the summer of 1948 and during the six decades of its legal existence, the North Atlantic alliance has been expanding in several dimensions: in the number of member states, in the scope and geographic reach of its activities, in its capabilities and organizational complexity both on the civilian political and the military side, in the width of its partnership relations with non-members, in the intensity of co-operation with other international organizations (OUN, OSCE, EU, African Union etc.). The concept of enlargement, however, has mostly been used in the literature narrowly to describe (a) the long-term process of expanding the Alliance's membership and (b) individual steps, stages or rounds in this direction. Most co-authors of this volume use the term in the latter sense referring to several phases in NATO's Eastern enlargement, starting with the absorption of Eastern Germany in 1989–90 and ending with the admission of Croatia and Albania in April 2009.
The Eastward expansion of NATO came about unexpectedly. It followed and was closely related to another development unforeseen by most participants and expert observers – the breakdown of Eastern European communist regimes, the end of Soviet/Russian domination in Eastern Europe, the dissolution of its most visible expression – the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the implosion and breakup of the Soviet Union. A fundamental difference between the Eastern military bloc and NATO was reflected in the facts that two Warsaw Pact members were in the past badly aggressed by their alliance “protector” (1956, 1968) and that in 1990–91 several smaller members demanded the disbandment of the pact and achieved it against the “protector's” resistance. On the other hand, the Western alliance since its inception has not experienced anything comparable and not only survived the “Cold War” power contest, but won it politically without a single shot fired. The next surprise to the members of the Western Alliance was the pleas by Eastern European post-communist regimes for admission into NATO. The Alliance's initial reaction was rather cool. In 1994 NATO attempted to divert the rush into a soft security association called the “Partnership for Peace”. When the Poles refused to take it as a substitute to full-fledged membership, NATO has chosen a delaying tactic. In 1995 for the first time in NATO's institutional history the explicit conditions for admission, called “expectations” were developed. A corresponding elaborate system of qualifying tests especially designed for the Eastern European post-communist states was subsequently upgraded by individually tailored pre-membership preparation programs.
The chapters grouped in the sections II and III present various aspects of the new members' experiences on the way to NATO. In spite of numerous similarities, these experiences have differed very considerably in a number of respects. These included the mixes of motivation, the degree of internal consensus among major national political parties, the level of public opinion support, the sharpness of Russian opposition etc. The next section deals with five states officially aspiring for membership, and also addresses the positions of several other post-communist states which have participated in the “Partnership for Peace”, but the potential membership in the Alliance of which remains a controversial matter. Two experts from Denmark and the Russian Federation present their country's attitude towards NATO's Eastward expansion. Several subsequent contributions analyze the general characteristics and the consequences of this important international development, which so far brought into the Alliance thirteen former Eastern European countries.
During NATO's entire institutional history its policy of enlargement has undergone considerable evolution, although the legal provisions contained in Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty remained unchanged. The geostrategic gains (although still important) ceased to be the overwhelming consideration, while liberal democratic congruence and several other considerations gained in salience. This evolution started surfacing already at the admission of Spain in 1982 and became fully visible and explicit after the end of the “Cold War”. Buttressed in most cases by the expansion of the European Union, the NATO enlargement process has promoted the democratic transition in Southern Europe and strengthened young democracies in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. The Alliance has contributed significantly to the overcoming ideological antagonisms, notably the sharp “East-West” divide. NATO has thus advanced the cause of united, free and democratic Europe. The former “Iron Curtain” had expressed, however, not only the ideological confrontation between liberalism and communism, but also and even more profoundly the power struggle between the West led by the USA and the Russian-dominated USSR. This latter antagonism could not disappear with the fall of communism in Russia, but only took a different, much milder form as a new mixture of cooperation and conflict between the expanded NATO and the Russian Federation. This relationship will largely determine the likelihood and the extent of NATO's further expansion into Russia's “near abroad”, more specifically into Ukraine and Georgia.
The final group of texts dwells on the prospects for NATO's further expansion into the Western Balkans and the post-Soviet space, on the Alliance's current dilemmas, problems and challenges as well as on NATO's future in the XXI century.