The Open Door to NATO Enlargement

NATO’s enlargement to the east and south of Europe has been a “historic success,” transforming the continent and contributing to stability in the region, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a May 27 event in Washington D.C. Despite Russian rhetoric, Stoltenberg said every nation has a “sovereign right” to decide its own path and its alliances, and no other country can veto that decision. This year, NATO will make a decision on the admission of Montenegro, but Stoltenberg would not speculate on the path forward for NATO membership for Georgia—a close NATO partner, with whom NATO has cooperated in capacity building enterprises and whose forces contribute to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Stoltenberg also refused to speculate on whether or not Sweden or Finland will move forward with expanded cooperation, even though both countries have expressed concern about rising Russian activity in the Arctic and around the Baltics. “There is a debate now in those countries, and they will decide whether or not they would like to apply,” he said. NATO has partnerships with both Sweden and Finland, and the Alliance has “expanded that relationship.” NATO also regularly exercises together with their armed forces and shares intelligence and information, he noted. (For more coverage of the speech, see also Stoltenberg Slams “Dangerous” Russian Activity and Collective Defense and Transparency.)