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International experts on the security of Republic of Moldova. Today: Lyudmila Movchanyuk


NATO membership as an effective instrument of ensuring of the countrys national interests

After break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 the former USSR republics faced a lot of problems and challenges both in their internal and foreign policies. At that crucial time they had to exactly determine a set of necessary internal reforms for their future successful development and to define their future foreign policy choice.
The EU and NATO membership had a very important meaning in this process. Most of the former Soviet Union republics declared the European and Euro-Atlantic integration as their main foreign policy priorities and ultimate goals, and launched fulfillment of reforms that were necessary for accession to the North-Atlantic Alliance and the European Union. In this case it is necessary to recall successful examples of the Central and Eastern European countries and Baltic States. For these countries the institutional format of - coming back to Europe" was the process of gaining NATO and EU membership by them.

The followers of state neutrality consider that it is possible to successfully practice the policy of neutrality instead of efforts directed to gaining membership in some military and political unions. In their opinion, such policy is more beneficial for the country and may ensure the countrys defense and security to the full extent. Their main argument is that in case of the countrys accession to any military alliance it can be easily involved into military conflicts that do not present any danger for it.

In fact, there is no real example when refusal from participation in the system of collective security would help any country in ensuring its territorial integrity and resolving the conflicts. During the World War II proclamation of neutrality did not defend such countries as Belgium, Netherlands and Norway -“ and these countries were occupied by Nazis. This is explained by the fact that nobody will defend the neutral country in case of the conflict. So the statement that neutrality is a better way of avoiding the conflicts and ensuring of sovereignty and territorial integrity than membership in the collective security system is absolutely false.

It should also be taken into consideration that in case of proclamation of neutrality there should not be any military forces and bases on the territory of this country. If the country proclaims neutrality in such conditions, it is not recognized by the United Nations and other international organizations, and as a result, the countrys international reputation considerably suffers. Unrecognized neutrality only deteriorates the countrys security status. Besides this, proclamation of neutrality may intensify potential appetites of the neighbours concerning the countrys territories as it will not be defended by anybody in case of the conflict. In this context we can recollect the case of Tuzla Island over the ownership of which there was a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia in October 2003. If Ukraine were a NATO member, Russia would not afford itself to launch building of the dam to Tuzla Island in the Strait of Kerch.

In case of a transition society striving to strengthen its democratic institutions and aspiring for EU membership refusal from the Euro-Atlantic integration component (NATO) in practice can signify not concentrating on the European component (EU), as the followers of neutrality like to say, but their simultaneous braking and real refusal from reforms that leads to preservation of the post-Soviet practices of political, economical and social life.

Today the North-Atlantic Alliance is the only organization that is able to ensure common security in the region and to represent security interests and demands of the member countries at this moment. Gaining NATO membership envisages implementation of system reforms in the security sphere, armed forces, secret services and law enforcement bodies, establishment of the effective public control system and, as in the case of EU, strengthening of democracy institutes, ensuring the rule of law and competitiveness of economy. As a result, all abovementioned reforms may provide a fundamental basis for gaining EU membership and may considerably accelerate this process.

If we recall successful integration examples of the Central and Eastern European countries and Baltic States, we will see that they did not separate the processes of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. There is no formally binding connection between the accession to NATO and EU, but in practice system security decisions (accession to the Alliance) precede system social and economic decisions (accession to the EU), because effective security formula creates reliable basis that ensures stability and reliability of the further (or simultaneous) social and economic processes.

Analysis of the documents that define the content of reforms directed to gaining NATO and EU membership shows that they are characterized by complexity and are able to direct modernization process of the countries to the achievement of the standards typical for democratic highly developed countries that have highly organized markets, the highest social standards and security guarantees. Thus, we can make the conclusion that countries either integrate into NATO and EU, or do not integrate into any of these organizations remaining backward in the political, economical, social and cultural spheres.

Lyudmila Movchanyuk is Project Manager at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation (Kiev, Ukraine).

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