As long ago as the adoption of the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan in 2002, officials and experts noted that by its essence, the document is the Membership Action Plan. Then Secretary of the NSDC Yevhen Marchuk stated, "By its gist, the Action Plan is de facto the Membership Action Plan. It incorporates almost all activities provided for in the MAP"
Research Update. Vol. 14, № 40/558, 28 November 2008
Ukraine's Slow Movement to NATO Is Irrevocable Even without the MAP
By Vitaliy Martynyuk, UCIPR analyst
The issue of Ukraine's joining the Membership Action Plan (MAP) is getting more and more acute on the eve of the important for our country meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels on December 2-3, 2008. Over the period after the Bucharest summit, positions of Member States actually remained the same. The United States, Poland, the Baltic States and some Central European countries support Ukraine on its path to NATO membership, whereas Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Luxemburg are restrained and believe the MAP premature for our country. Given the situation, the Alliance's problem is the absence of unanimity regarding Ukraine's membership provided that a respective obligation undertaken in Bucharest is carried out and that Ukraine determines its further progress towards its Euro-Atlantic integration.
There were statements that Ukraine and Georgia are not ready for the MAP. Yet, it is impossible to be ready or not ready for it because the MAP is neither an attribute nor a guarantee of membership but a mechanism of preparation for membership in the Alliance. Therefore, granting the MAP means a purely political and even geo-political signal. A failure to give the MAP to Ukraine might seem a little strange. Under the Declaration of the Bucharest summit, the political decision that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members has already been made and the MAP is a long-lasting procedure for its implementation. And the beginning of this procedure takes longer than planned.
This week, the USA in the person of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has held a series of consultations with European allies on perspectives for Ukraine and Georgia's MAP in December 2008. On receiving a signal about negative attitude of some EU Member States and a high possibility that these countries, first of all France and Germany, will not support the MAP for Ukraine and Georgia, the USA changed rhetoric a little. Condoleezza Rice said about unreadiness of Ukraine and Georgia for membership and a possibility for their joining the Alliance bypassing current procedures as suggested by the Great Britain.
The USA did not convince the European allies to grant Ukraine the MAP as it happened on the eve of the Bucharest summit. First, the USA is on the verge of the change of Presidents, when political leaders avoid resolute actions. Next American President Barack Obama supports the MAP for both countries but is concerned about the attitude of the European allies and prefers to solve another problem, i.e. the support of NATO's military operation in Afghanistan.
Second, the Alliance, save different views on its further enlargement, has a number of other contradictions, in particular the further role of NATO in Afghanistan and the involvement of ISAF forces in the operation, the insufficient defense funding of some Member States, NATO further expansion and the content of its new Strategic Concept.
Third, NATO Member States, which are simultaneously the EU Members, especially Germany and France, gradually but persistently advocate the priority of developing the EU defense element, which has to become NATO's bulwark in Europe. The increase of pressure on the European allies might lead to the enhancement of the European Defense and Security Policy (EDSP) and the weakening of transatlantic ties. Notwithstanding France's statement that "the Atlantic Alliance play the core role in European security", and "is important for security of France" (see Livre blanc sur la d?fense et la s?curit? nationale), as long ago as 2007, French parliament assumed that the development of the European defense might erode the role of NATO with the lapse of time and, as a result, the gradual liquidation of the Alliance (see Rapport d'information N° 3700 sur les ?volutions des relations transatlantiques en mati?re de d?fense, Assembl?e nationale, France, 14 f?vrier 2007).
Fourth, Western European countries strive to develop stable and predictable relations with Russia. The fact that the EU decided to resume negotiations with Russia on the New Strategic Agreement despite its denial to let the EUMM mission's observers to the territory of the South Ossetia confirms the above. "Old" Europeans are against tension in relations and rapid steps that would irritate Russia, especially after the escalation of tension in the Caucasus this August.
As is evident, Ukraine just like Georgia shall not hope to get the MAP this December. The NATO anniversary summit is unlikely to result in the long-expected Plan as well. In Strasburg and Cologne, the allies will celebrate the anniversary, assess achievements over six decades and discuss plans for the future in the context of the new Strategic Concept. To make the ceremony more solemn, they might officially declare Croatia and Albania members of NATO, which has to demonstrate the progress in the enlargement process. The issues of Ukraine and Georgia will be considered though rather as a confirmation of the Bucharest obligations and opportunities for their implementation.
Should Ukraine speed up events and emphasize the need to get the MAP as soon as possible? Given the current situation, when Allied States are not unanimous, it should not. The allies will not yield unity, which serves as a basis for their collective security, for the sake of any other country. Neither will they want to sharpen the situation in Europe and in its eastern part, since the enlargement process must strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security and not generate challenges for it. Russia still views NATO eastward expansion as a threat to its national interests.
This is mirrored in the New Foreign Policy Concept of Russia reading, "Russia retains the negative attitude to NATO enlargement, especially as regards plans for membership of Ukraine and Georgia in the Alliance" (see the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, July 12, 2008).
And the Alliance itself will not take such a rapid step. NATO strives to keep up the dialogue with Russia without sacrificing its values. At the 54th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on November 11, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said, "After all, NATO enlargement was never a goal in itself. It was, and remains, a means to an end: a stable Europe at peace with itself; a Europe in which all countries feel at home and secure. Achieving this end required a three-track strategy: a broad cooperative framework embracing virtually all the countries on our continent; a specific policy for those countries interested in joining NATO; and a determined attempt to draw Russia closer to the Alliance" (see Keynote address by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the 54th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 18.11.2008). Though participants in the Parliamentary Assembly stated that Ukraine's joining the MAP this December could signal the priority of East European Security for the Alliance, the support to Ukraine's integration movement and the inability of any third party to affect NATO decisions (see 164 PC 08 E rev. 1- NATO's Future Political Agenda).
So, what shall Ukraine do in this situation? Our country should rather count on NATO membership in the long-term perspective. After the Alliance passes the new Strategic Concept, a clear mechanism for coordination of the ESDP and NATO will be worked out and a clear and unanimous attitude of the Alliance Member States to Russia will be assumed with regard to NATO eastward expansion.
As it has been mentioned, Ukraine has to continue Euro-Atlantic integration whether it is granted the MAP this December or not. At the same time, it is necessary to proceed with democratization of the country, carry out reforms in all spheres to meet membership criteria, inform Ukrainian population about the Alliance in order to increase the support level and depoliticize the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. If the above conditions are fulfilled, in two years Ukraine might embark on the path ending in NATO membership.
As long ago as the adoption of the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan in 2002, officials and experts noted that by its essence, the document is the Membership Action Plan. Then Secretary of the NSDC Yevhen Marchuk stated, "By its gist, the Action Plan is de facto the Membership Action Plan. It incorporates almost all activities provided for in the MAP" (see "The Course of Geo-Politics", the "Day" newspaper, No. 86, May 22, 2003). Ukraine still holds the same position. Specifically, on November 27, 2008, ex-Foreign Minister of Ukraine Hennadiy Udovenko underscored that the MAP is not fundamental but rather moral aspect for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration. The Defense Ministry of Ukraine also stated about a possibility to join NATO without the MAP. On November 24, 2008, Chief of the General Staff Department for Euro-Atlantic Integration Major General Borys Kremenetsky pointed out that Ukraine could pass this way due to the active involvement in activities of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
In fact, there is no difference whether Ukraine will comply with the MAP to be a member of the Alliance or will implement any other procedure, e.g. a new NATO-Ukraine Action Plan and activities in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. The latter could be a body coordinating the implementation of needed reforms in Ukraine and the achievement of membership criteria or, in other words, a joint body responsible for the process of Ukraine's preparations for NATO membership. The main thing is to attain the ultimate goal that is guarantees of collective security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Ukraine.
The Research Update bulletin is published in English and Ukrainian by the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) in assistance with the National Endowment for Democracy since December 1995.
From December 2006, the Research Update is published in English in the framework of the "Increasing Institutional and Program Capacity/2006-2008" Project of the Open Society Institute Zug Foundation. Distribution of the bulletin is free.