Yesterday, a meeting of the heads of the Central-Eastern European NATO member states has come to an end. Besides Andrzej Duda, the meeting also involved the Presidents of Romania – Klaus Ioannis, Bulgaria – Rosen Plevneliyev, Estonia – Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvia – Raimonds Vejonis, Lithuania – Dalia Grybauskaite, Slovakia – Andrej Kiska, Hungary – Janos Ader, along with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, Jan Hamacek.
The talks were concluded with adoption of a joint declarations of the participants, made before the Warsaw summit, which is scheduled to take place next year. The document included declarations related to reinforcement of the Eastern NATO flank and to fully implement the Readiness Action Plan, the purpose of which is to, inter alia, bolster the NATO Response Force strength. The leaders also expect that, during the 2016 Summit in Warsaw, decisions are going to be made, with regards to the new security guarantees and adaptation process between the commitments and procedures, structures, forces and the defensive infrastructure of the NATO alliance.
In a joint declaration, the leaders stress the fact that the decisions are going to tailor the NATO defence and deterrence system, so that it is properly customized in order to function in the light of a fundamental change of the security environment in Europe. This shall be interpreted as a signal, driving the NATO members towards taking a series of decisive steps, the aim of which is to reinforce the general level of defence capabilities of the organization. At the same time, the leaders declared that involvement of the member states of the region in the process of acting against the “rising” threats is going to be increased, particularly when it comes to hybrid war or attacks in the cyberspace.
It was also noted that there is a great need to achieve a proper level of funding, when it comes to defence expenditure, within the scope of realizing the NATO goal of maintaining the level of spending equivalent to 2% of GDP. So far, only Poland and Estonia have been acting in compliance with that commitment, in the region of Central Europe. Moreover, it was stressed that cooperation with the NATO partner nations is very important. The leaders gathered in Bucharest endorsed expansion of cooperation between NATO and the European Union as well.
Heads of states and governments of the nine NATO member states additionally noted that there is a need of establishing a strong and credible NATO presence in the region, where such presence is required – most probably in the states located at the border of the NATO territory. According to Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, the above means that more armed forces, more infrastructure and more joint exercises are going to be present in the public sphere, in order to perfect the cooperation between the armed forces of the member states.
The aforementioned initiatives are required in order to create a strategic response to long-term threats, emerging in the eastern part of Europe. Within that context, the politicians also recalled the “serious concern” related to the aggressive stance taken by Russia. They also stated that Moscow should respect the international law.
In the eyes of the leaders of the Central-Eastern European states, NATO Open-door policy shall still be pursued.
The results of the summit, after a plenary session, were commented on by Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland:
Above all, we have shown unity, decisiveness, and we have made a serious contribution for the subsequent decisions, which are to be taken during the NATO summit in Warsaw. I am telling you that with incredible satisfaction as joy, as a co-host for this meeting, but also as a host of the prospective summit in Warsaw, which - as I am deeply convinced - is going to be a decisive summit, showing unity and decisiveness, and showing that, in today’s dangerous context, NATO is still alive.
The arrangements made during the Bucharest summit constitute an important step on the way to determining a joint NATO policy in the light of the threats caused by the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The stance, also related to most of the NATO’s military presence in the Central and Eastern Europe, has a significant value before the decisions that are to be made with regards to this matter next year in Warsaw. The position is a symptom of unity of the region, amplifying the message. Declarations related to increase of the NATO general defensive capabilities are at least equally important, also within the scope of the system, the aim of which is to realize deterrence. These declarations are already being confirmed by the first actions and decisions, taken in the respective NATO member states. Moreover, emphasis placed on increase of the defence capabilities of the states in the region is also notable.
The stance taken by the presidents also confirms the NATO open-door policy, assuming that expansion of NATO and inclusion of the Balkans, former Soviet Union or Caucasus states is also being considered. Declaration made by 9 countries in Bucharest is open – it may be joined and endorsed by a larger number of NATO member states.