BULGARIA AND ROMANIA
61. Bulgaria and Romania are regarded as the back-markers
of the seven most likely candidates for accession. They are both
large countries with huge armed forces. Political, economic and
defence reform are taking longer in these two countries than in
the smaller NATO applicant countries. On the other hand, their
geographical location offers value in promoting stability in the
Balkans; in combating potential terrorist activities in the Black
Sea area; and in providing a bridge between central Europe and
Greece and Turkey, as well as assisting in the difficult relationship
between those two NATO members. The Secretary of State for Defence
visited Bulgaria and Romania last month and was reported as being
positive about their membership of NATO, without giving a categorical
commitment of UK support.
62. Progress on military reform in Bulgaria has been
slow to date, largely due to frequent changes of government and
defence ministers, and a long-running dispute between the General
Staff and the government over political control of the military.
A study of civilian control of the military and the integration
of the MoD and the General Staff had reported shortly before our
visit; at least one of the problems in implementing it was the
need to provide more training for civilians in defence administration.
63. Bulgaria retains the legacy of large, conscript
armed forces from its Warsaw Pact days. As a result of a recent
force structure review, it is planned to reduce the armed forces
to 45,000 by 2004 (from a total of 120,000 in 1989) and the first
stage of compulsory discharges, involving 7,000 personnel will
take place this year, with a similar number in each of the next
two years. Bulgaria has small contingents working with SFOR and
KFOR, and has deployed a 40-strong NBC (nuclear, biological and
chemical) decontamination unit in support of the ISAF in Afghanistan,
with the possibility of further deployments, dependent on funding
being available from the UN. There is one brigade which is currently
deployable for NATO operations. 5,500 military personnel will
be trained for peace-keeping missions.
64. Disposal of obsolete equipment is also one of
the priorities under the MAP; shortly after our visit, Bulgaria
signed an agreement with the USA to destroy about 100 SS-23 surface-to-surface
missiles by November, at a cost of several million pounds. Bulgaria
also intends to destroy 352 battle tanks, 324 armoured personnel
carriers, 405 artillery systems and seven ships. The number of
combat aircraft will also be reduced by almost half; four of Bulgaria's
20 MiG-29s are to be upgraded at a cost of $14 million.
The airbase at Graf Ignatievo, which we visited, was upgraded
last year to NATO standards at a cost of $25 million.
65. Support amongst political parties for NATO membership
is almost universal; public support is high, ranging between 65
and 70 per cent. The defence budget is just over 3 per cent of
GDP, the highest of any of the applicants; it has been at this
level for five years and no change is likely in the next 10 years.
During our visit, Romania and Bulgaria issued a joint declaration
establishing a co-operative relationship towards NATO membership.
66. Romania was a candidate for membership in the
last round of enlargement, before the Madrid Summit in 1997, and
there was great disappointment that no invitation was forthcoming
then. Public support for NATO membership runs at about 80 per
cent. Romania has plans for military reform which are assessed
as being realistic but there is still work to do in a number of
areas. The defence budget is 2.38 per cent of GDP, fixed for three
years, which is regarded as sustainable. Reform of the armed forces
has really only got properly under way in the last two years,
with a focus on producing mobile, deployable units, reducing the
number of conscripts, and building up a professional NCO cadre.
The armed forces number 98,000, with a plan to reduce them to
75,000; the number of senior officers needs to be substantially
reduced. English language training is a particular strength (see
paragraph 46). Civilian control of the military is an accepted
principle, but civil service salaries are low and it is sometimes
difficult to retain high quality staff.
67. Romanian personnel serve with KFOR and SFOR;
and the US uses the Romanian port of Constanta for its Kosovo
deployment. The point was made to us that Romania is already a
far bigger contributor to NATO missions than some existing members.
An infantry battalion has been deployed to Afghanistan; a platoon
of military police is serving with the ISAF; and a C-130 transport
aircraft has also been sent and is being heavily used by coalition
forces. Romanians have also assisted with the training of the
Afghan National Guard. A further deployment of a 400-strong motorised
infantry battalion, as front-line fighting troops, a 70-strong
NBC company and 10 staff officers to Afghanistan has been approved,
with the intention of self-deploying, in contrast to most other
coalition members who have relied on the US for transport.
68. On the equipment side, there are plans to upgrade
Romania's MiG-21s; but limited resources currently mean that flying
hours for crew are extremely limited. Romania has also agreed
to buy two UK Type-22 frigates (HMS Coventry and HMS London) to
improve the capabilities of its Black Sea fleet in monitoring
and intercepting illegal traffic.
69. The country's defence industry needs to be restructuredduring
the Cold War it employed hundreds of thousands of people and over-produced
by about 75 per cent. An assessment of the armed forces' specific
needs has been made and the industry will be scaled down to reflect
70. Slovakia is regarded as a strong candidate for
NATO membership, on the basis of its military and other reforms,
but the caveat has to be the outcome of the country's general
election in September. Former prime minister Meciar, who was in
power from 1994-98, turned the country away from democratic principles
and the rule of law and allowed the economy to stagnate. The current
coalition government is experiencing problems in retaining popular
support and Meciar's HZDS party may well emerge from the election
as the largest single party, although it will need the support
of other parties to form a government. NATO is very unlikely to
agree to admit Slovakia if Meciar is involved in any way in the
government. Another political problem is the dispute with Hungary
over its claims to represent the 10 per cent of Slovakia's population
who are ethnic Hungarians (about half a million people). Tension
increased during Hungary's recent election campaign but, now that
the election is over, it is hoped that Hungarian political representatives
will now be less provocative.
71. Public support for NATO membership is around
60 per cent and support in the parliament is about 85 per cent.
Following adverse NATO progress reports on defence reform last
year, a Comprehensive Defence Review was undertaken, much of it
with UK assistance, which resulted in more realistic planning
and budget systems being put in place. The aim is fundamentally
to overhaul the forces by ending conscription and reducing numbers
from 41,500 to 24,500 by 2006; closing down 75 per cent of military
bases; and modernising or disposing of out of date equipmentfor
example, two-thirds of Slovakia's 272 tanks will be decommissioned.
Defence expenditure is planned to remain at 1.9 per cent of GDP
until 2006, followed by a very modest increase to 2.0 per cent.
Slovakian forces are deployed as part of KFOR and there are plans
to send an engineering unit to Afghanistan.
72. Slovenia is regarded as a front-runner for NATO
membership and was very disappointed not to be invited in the
last round of enlargement. It has the healthiest economy of the
applicant countries and is regarded as a 'model state' in terms
of its internal cohesion and its adherence to democratic principles
and the rule of law. But there are some problems. Perhaps unsurprisingly
in a country which sees no obvious military threat, defence comes
low down the priority list for public spending, and is currently
at 1.51 per cent of GDP (increased from 1.46 per cent last year)
with a planned increase to only 1.6 per cent by 2007. Public support
for NATO membership, which was strong during the last enlargement
round, is now down to around 40 per cent, and it is far from clear
if a referendum would receive the positive vote for membership
which was previously considered to be assured. In contrast, support
among parliamentarians is around 90 per cent.
73. Slovenia's progress on defence reform has been
disappointing: the proposals are realistic but implementation
has been slow. There is agreement that conscription should be
abolished, with a suggested date of 2004, and a professional NCO
cadre established. Armed forces are planned to reduce from 74,000
(which includes a large reserve force) to 26,000, which will be
all-professional but only 8,000 of whom will be full-time. It
has not yet been made clear how this policy will be taken forward
as the armed forces are not an obvious career choice for young
people at present. Some question whether such a professional force,
even at this greatly reduced level, will be financially sustainable.
There is a deliberate policy of focussing the increase in the
defence budget on providing usable and effective personnel, rather
than on any modernisation of equipment. The reformed military
is intended to be more mobile and to have better command and control
infrastructure. A small contingent is deployed to SFOR, including
a support helicopter force.
74. The organisation and democratic control of the
internal, external and military intelligence services is a challenge
which confronts many of the current members of the Alliance. Without
doubt, however, the problem for applicant countries is more acute
and these issues remain controversial, particularly in south-eastern
Europe. One issue is the continued employment of intelligence
officers who worked for the former communist regimes. This fact
alone should not act as a bar to these countries' future membership
of the Alliance, any more than it presented an obstacle when the
first three former communist countries joined the Alliance in
1997. Nevertheless, the integrity of the security services in
the candidate countries and their credibility as efficient, democratic
organisations is inextricably linked to their reputation at home.
It is clear that on this score much more remains to be done.
75. Furthermore, there are serious questions about
the lines of accountability of these services. In Romania, the
internal and external security services are not responsible to
ministers or the Prime Minister but directly to the President,
through the Supreme Council of National Defence, an arrangement
which is acknowledged as unsatisfactory by most of the country's
politicians. The heads of the services are alsoand overtlypolitical
appointees, and parliamentary control is almost non-existent.
The situation is better in Bulgaria but even there disputes over
the control of the intelligence services continue between individual
ministers, as well as the government and the presidency. In Slovakia,
parliamentary committees have been set up to scrutinise the military
intelligence and security services, but their position is currently
weakened by the refusal of HZDS deputies to take part in or to
76. The elaboration of a true 'defence community',
which coordinates the activities of the various agencies defending
the state, allocates tasks and ensures a steady flow of information
to the government is still a serious task which all the candidate
countries need to consider tackling urgently.
Prospects for enlargement
77. It now seems to be generally agreed that the
most likely outcome of the enlargement process will be that between
five and seven countries will be invited to join NATO at the Prague
Summit. The MoD told
There has been no Alliance agreement on how many
invitations should be issued at Prague, or to whomthough
there is a current of opinion within the Alliance favouring a
Our academic witnesses took the view that decisions
about NATO enlargement will be primarily political rather than
military. The principal objective would be to demonstrate that
the countries are regarded as part of the West; to encourage them
to continue liberal democratic reform; and to promote stability
both within the countries and regionally.
Professor Beatrice Heuser of the Department of War Studies, King's
College London, believed that decisions about NATO membership
had always been based on political and not military standards.
Charles Grant's view was that this reflected the fact that NATO
was itself becoming a more political organisation
It is obvious that it is becoming more political,
that enlargement, taking in countries that have got ineffective
armed forces, makes it more of a political organisation ...
The Secretary of State believed that the military
considerations were as important as the political
We have any number of very effective international
organisations where we can exchange political views and political
ideas, and this is the one organisation where its raison d'être
is its effective military operation ...We want to see a robust
round of enlargement, we want to see new Member States in NATO
some time after Prague, but we equally want to see NATO preserved
as an effective military alliance and those countries making an
effective military contribution.
NATO intends to carry out 'country-specific military
analyses of the Alliance's ability to conduct its missions after
enlargement' in advance of the Prague Summit.
78. All of the applicants have strengths and weaknesses.
There are strong geopolitical reasons for admitting Bulgaria and
Romania: they have made significant progress, which should be
encouraged, despite the fact that their political, economic and
military reform programmes have a long way to go. The Baltic States,
Slovakia and Slovenia are less
problematic because of their size, but Slovakia should
not be admitted if Meciar is involved in its government after
the September elections.
79. We recognise that enlargement will be a political
decision, but we wish to see an assurance that none of the seven
applicants will weaken NATO militarilyalthough we accept
that they may not strengthen it very much either, at least initially.
We believe that NATO should be a tough organisation to be a
member of. The UK government has a strong belief in NATO and in
the need to retain the Alliance's role as a capable military alliance,
and it is therefore prepared to push for high standards for new
entrants, even when this makes it unpopular. We wholeheartedly
support this approach. On the other hand, there is an argument
that progress already achieved by the applicant countries will
be encouraged and sustained by allowing them to continue to reform
within, rather than outside, NATO, with the possible disincentives
that rejection might create. On this basis, we see no obstacle
in principle to the issuing of invitations to each of these seven
applicants (although in Slovakia's case this must be with the
caveat of the outcome of the September elections) with the proviso
that applicants continue to work hard on defence and political
reforms up to and beyond any invitation issued at Prague.
Continuation of the open door policy
80. We have focused on the seven countries which
we believe are the most likely candidates for invitations at Prague.
It was made clear at the Reykjavik Summit that NATO will retain
an open door policy. Croatia was singled out, in the final communiqué,
for commendation on its progress to date; however, the intention
is to review its MAP progress next spring, rather than there being
any prospect of an invitation at Prague. Albania and Macedonia
are also expected to continue in the MAP process, rather than
the accession process, after Prague.
81. NATO should maintain its support and encouragement
of all applicants, both those who are invited to become members
at Prague and those who are not. This is crucial to ensuring that
the countries which are invited to join are not tempted to slow
or halt the considerable progress they have made to date and that
they come into NATO as planned in 2004 with the maximum achieved.
It is equally important that those who are disappointed at Prague
are not left with any sense of having been abandoned and that
NATO continues to work with them to ensure that they develop into
suitable candidates in the medium term.
82. There is also the question of possible NATO membership
for three countries which are members of the European Union and
therefore part of the European Security and Defence PolicyAustria,
Finland and Sweden. All are members of NATO's Partnership for
Peace. William Hopkinson believed that Sweden and Finland may
be less likely to wish to join NATO now than five years ago and
that the admission of the Baltic States would be more important
to them than their own membership because of the increased stability
it would bring to the region.
We were told by NATO officials that Finland may reconsider a possible
membership application after its next general election. There
is also the possibility that a decision will be taken at Prague
to include Yugoslavia in a membership dialogue with the Alliance.
This will of course depend on the country's democratic progress
and its continued co-operation with the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
83. The United Kingdom has been providing military
assistance to all of the applicant countries which we visited
for a number of years and continues to do so, in the form of both
military and civilian defence advisers. In Bulgaria, for example,
a UK MoD civilian works with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence,
providing advice on programming, planning, budgeting and management
issues; and a UK military adviser (a colonel) advises the General
Staff on force planning, reform of the armed forces, and related
issues. In Romania, two defence advisers (one a brigadier) provide
advice at the highest levels of the government and the armed forces.
Slovakia has one UK military adviser in place (a brigadier) and
has requested a second to assist on armed forces' personnel and
condition of service issues. A UK civilian defence adviser took
up post in Slovenia in September 2000 and, at the country's request,
has been extended in post until June 2003. In Latvia, the UK has
a civilian military adviser who provides expertise in defence
planning, programming and expenditure, and in personnel management.
Her knowledge of NATO systems and practices was regarded as particularly
helpful. The high regard for MoD advisers was repeated in Estonia
84. The UK is providing assistance in a number of
other ways, including English language and NCO training. There
are plans to establish a Junior Staff Officers Course in Slovakia,
which will provide staff training for military personnel from
central and eastern Europe, with a view to increasing the capacity
for participation in peace support operations.
In Bulgaria, the FCO is providing financial assistance for training
military personnel as part of the planned resettlement programme.
In Bucharest, a British officer (a lieutenant colonel) advises
the Regional Training Centre, which provides training, in English,
on UK military models.
85. We heard universal praise in the applicant
countries for the assistance which UK defence advisers are providing,
and for the range of other activities which the UK is funding
and contributing to. There were many requests for this assistance
to carry on after the Prague Summit and we strongly support this.
The suggestion has been made that the UK might act as a 'mentor'
to one of the countries invited to join NATO at Prague, building
on the work done to date by our defence advisers in assisting
the invited country in continuing its reforms towards the MAP
and accession goals. We believe that this would be a very worthwhile
use of resources and would provide an opportunity for the UK to
demonstrate its positive attitude to NATO enlargement.