Partnership For Peace

NATO's Partnership for Peace program seeks to encourage eligible states, above all the states of the former Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union, to build democracy and undertake greater responsibilities in international security. The program could open the door to, but does not promise, NATO membership. U.S. and NATO relations with Russia are likely to be the determining factor in deciding whether states move from Partnership to NATO membership. The Partnership program, established at NATO's summit of January 10-11, 1994, does not extend the Alliance's mutual security commitment to members. The program requires that member states take steps towards an open defense budget and civilian control of the military, and urges them to join with NATO in future peacekeeping efforts. It establishes an institutional structure in Brussels for consultation with NATO states. As of August 3, 1994, 22 states had joined. The Clinton Administration and NATO's initially stated intent was that Partnership members would bear the brunt of the program's costs, with Alliance members contributing little. President Clinton may alter this course, however, as he has said he would seek $100 million for the program in the FY1996 budget. Russia will likely play a pivotal role in the program's success or failure. Russia, a Partnership adherent, could use its membership as a step to strengthen cooperation with the Alliance and former members of the Warsaw Pact by joining in peacekeeping operations and encouraging diplomatic settlements of international disputes. Some observers, however, believe that the program opens the door to Moscow's interference in the affairs of other Partnership states. Several east European governments express concern that NATO, by allowing Russia into the Partnership for Peace, has established a "soft Yalta", in which Moscow can influence their future. They believe that the United States and its allies may wish above all to avoid tension with Russia and accede, for example, to Russian efforts to dissuade the Alliance from ever allowing their entry into NATO. Some critics of the Partnership program believe that it may deflect the effort to build a European security apparatus, by providing Moscow with opportunities to influence NATO decisionmaking more directly than in the past, and by diverting European states from developing new security institutions at a moment when the United States is reducing its military presence on the continent. In response, the Administration contends that the end of the Cold War presents an historic opportunity to include Russia in building a democratic Europe in which major security decisions are made in concert, rather than across ideological or battle lines, and that the Partnership for Peace is a vehicle for such decisionmaking. They also point out that no credible alternative institution to NATO exists to insure European security.