This is an essay that I wrote in response to one of the essay questions listed to participate in Model NATO: choose one post-Soviet country and list why, or why not, NATO membership would be beneficial to them.
Topic Option Number Two: NATO expanded in the second post-cold war in 2004. Explain how participation in the alliance has helped or hindered one of these countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, Albania or Croatia.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s expansion after the second post-cold war in 2004 prompted Romania’s economic and military growth by its participation in NATO. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the ex-communist country transformed at an exponential rate in an effort to match its fellow European countries in the West. Additionally, Romania desired to be considered an active participant in the growth of democracy. As early as March of 1998, Romania held two referendums to decide whether admission into NATO was in the best interest of the country. The referendums showed that Romanians who favored admission held 82% of the votes, but by December, that number had declined to 67% (Falls). The decline in votes demonstrates that Romanians felt that the increasing economic, military, and publicity efforts being enacted for entrance into NATO were superfluous.
Romania was the first country to sign the framework document for the Partnership for Peace (PFP) in 1994 before entering NATO in 2004 (Falls). Even after having taken part in 58 PFP related activities and 4 NATO/PFP exercises; Romania was placed on the waiting list (Falls). The western NATO members pointed out that the military forces of Romania would be incapable of handling the military requirements of NATO missions. As a result of having left the Soviet sphere of influence, the focus of Romania had shifted to new weapons acquisition programs in order to enhance the capability of their military (Berdila). Individuals from the Romanian military felt that they had already proven themselves to NATO and were worthy through participation in the Desert Storm peacekeeping mission, for example, and began to see their western neighbors with contempt (Falls). The reconstruction of Romania’s military before its entrance into NATO hindered the country when negative attitudes began to rise from the false hopes created during joint exercises between NATO and Romania. Romanians felt that they deserved membership, and the fact that they didn’t make the first cut hurt their image of reform. The inability to make the cut, however, also fueled their desire for membership even more.
In 2002 the U.S. Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen had stated that Romania needed to show that “it can offer security, not just consume it” (Falls). The quote demonstrates the second condition set by NATO; Romania needed to reform its economy as well. The economic reform, however, was encumbered by the first requirement set by NATO of reforming the military. In 2002 when the Secretary of Defense commented on Romania’s consumption of money, the country was putting $3,491,000,000 into military expenditure (Romania). In 2004, the year of Romania’s acceptance into NATO, their military expenditure was at $4,994,000,000, and in 2010 it increased to $7,001,000,000 (Romania). This increase in expenditure reflects the number of military reforms Romania has gone through, and the number of economic reforms the country went through in order to provide for its military prior the 2004 admission to NATO. The western members of NATO saw a spark in Romania that would help create a military center in Eastern Europe, but the methods NATO used to fuel the spark hindered the country (Shelley). The economic reform that NATO hoped to see in Romania, a country previously under communist control, could only have transpired with the support of Western Europe directing Romania to stability and security in preparation for participation in peace keeping efforts.
When Romania did not make NATO’s cut in 1997, President Clinton remarked that the “door to NATO is open. It will stay open, and we will help you walk through it….Romania is one of the strongest candidates” (Falls). The Romanians saw the announcement by President Clinton as a sacred trust that would formalize once all of the reforms had been met within the country. The publicity efforts of the West did not help the country’s hope rise significantly; the bruit of the acceptance of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic caused Romania to doubt its reform efforts when Romanians felt a previous “sacred trust” had been broken as well.
After Romania underwent the Membership Action Plan, the country still needed to prepare for future military transformation requirements, NATO enlargement approaches, and Romania’s future relations with the West (Berdila). NATO has helped Romania gain confidence in its new foundations and progress towards democracy after the country had been initially hindered by the requirements for entrance into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Berdila, Iulian. “Romania’s NATO Membership.” http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-
bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ada437456. Romanian Army, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ada437456>.
Falls, Donald R. “NATO Enlargement: Is Romania Ready to Join the
Alliance?”Web.mit.edu/ssp/publications/working_papers/wp_00-3.pdf. Air Force National Defense Fellowship, May 2000. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://web.mit.edu/ssp/publications/working_papers/wp_00-3.pdf>.
“Romania – Military Expenditure.” Romania. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
Shelley, Captain Marke R., and Lieutenant Commander John P. Norris. “USNI
Logo.” NATO Enlargement: The Case for Romania. N.p., Mar. 1997. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/1997-03/nato-enlargement-case-romania>.