April 22, 2019

70 Years of NATO, 15 Years of Estonian Membership

Reuters/Scanpix

NATO turned 70 this month—the founding members of the Alliance signed the Washington Treaty on 4 April 1949. Estonia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 15 years ago in March. The April issue of Diplomaatia is entirely dedicated to Estonia’s membership, the Alliance’s future and potential issues.

Jüri Luik writes about Estonia’s journey to NATO. Diplomaatia’s interview with Camille Grand, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, focuses on the Alliance’s problems and prospects. Grand is optimistic about the European Allies’ willingness to increase defence expenditure.

“Since 2016, European Allies and Canada have spent an extra 41 billion US dollars on defence, and we expect that figure to rise to 100 billion by the end of next year,” says Grand.

Analyst Sergei Sukhankin writes about Ukraine’s complicated relationship with NATO. “Under current circumstances Ukraine’s prospects of joining NATO seem much bleaker than a decade ago. For now, we should accept that the period (1991–2004) when Ukraine’s membership would have caused nothing but fighting rhetoric from Moscow has passed,” he states.

Diplomaatia also explores Finland’s and Sweden’s relationship with NATO. Pauli Järvenpää, the ICDS senior research fellow, considers Finland’s views. “According to the assessment, Finland would most likely face a strong, perhaps even violent, reaction from Russia if it sought membership of NATO. This is a risk the Finnish political leadership has not wanted to take,” writes Järvenpää. Riina Kaljurand of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explores Sweden’s position.

Grzegorz Kozłowski, the Polish ambassador to Estonia, recalls how Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO 20 years ago but also looks to the future, which he considers unpredictable. He thinks this is also true of tomorrow’s security environment in the transatlantic area. “We have to admit that in the last several years we have observed the same risks—an aggressive and intransigent Russia—evolving and growing to encompass more dimensions of our security, from military threats to hybrid, cyber and information warfare. Coupled with this is the new range of non-military threats we see on NATO’s southern flank, where instability fuels radicalisation, terrorism and unprecedented pressure from migration towards southern Europe and beyond,” he writes.

Filed under: Paper issue