2023 - REPORT - THE FUTURE OF NATO’S OPEN DOOR POLICY

Audronius AZUBALIS (Lithuania) - REPORT

07 October 2023

The accession of new members since the end of the Cold War reinforced NATO as the world’s most successful military alliance and the pillar of transatlantic security. The future membership of current NATO aspirants – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Sweden and Ukraine – would further expand the area of democracy and stability in Europe. The Rapporteur notes that NATO’s Open Door policy is a flexible, political instrument and urges the Allies, in the context of Russia’s paradigm-changing full-scale war against Ukraine, to demonstrate resolve to make bold strategic decisions.

In particular, the Rapporteur highlights the importance of the membership of Finland and Sweden in NATO and urges the relevant Allies to finalise Sweden’s accession process without delay. The Rapporteur stresses that for the future European security framework to be robust and sustainable, Ukraine must become a member of NATO. At the Vilnius Summit, Allies committed to providing long-term practical support to Ukraine. Progress has also been made on the political track of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, albeit the debate continues on the conditions to be met for Ukraine to become a full-fledged member.

The report argues that the Allies should be in a position to invite Ukraine to become a full-fledged member when security conditions allow and when realistic and clearly spelled out reform objectives are implemented. NATO-Ukraine cooperation mechanisms should be used proactively to help Ukraine reach those clearly defined objectives. NATO should also continue keeping Georgia, a valued partner in the Black Sea region, high on its agenda, offering enhanced practical support. At the same time, Georgia is also urged to stay the course of reforms, to prevent democratic backsliding as well as to show more support and solidarity with Ukraine. Regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Rapporteur urges to continue offering additional tailored support to this vulnerable partner. However, it is ultimately up to Bosnian politicians to strengthen the country’s internal cohesion and to advance reforms if this country’s NATO and EU aspiration is to become a reality.


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