American Diplomacy

Highlight map


Support American Diplomacy RSS Mailing-list Subscription Email American Diplomacy Facebook

Part III

The Partnership for Peace

VARIETY OF FACTORS, which included persistent demands by the East Europeans to join the Alliance,57 the unstable situation in Russia, developments in the Yugoslav crisis, as well as personnel changes (especially in the U.S. administration), contributed to the American and German actions in 1993 which envisaged “the birth of a new concept designed to meet the security concerns”58 of the CEE countries and the filling of the security void which had been created in the heart of the continent. Thus, two significant initiatives dominated from that moment NATO’s and Europe’s security agenda: the PFP and NATO’s enlargement.

At the June 1993 meeting of NAC foreign ministers in Athens, Greece, Secretary Warren Christopher said that expanding NATO’s membership was “not now on the agenda.”59 On 21 September 1993, Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s national security adviser, gave a major foreign policy speech in which he argued that “the successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement—enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies.” And he added, “At the NATO summit that [the] president called for this January [1994], we will seek to update NATO, so that there continues behind the enlargement of market democracies an essential collective security.”60

Thus, during the summer and fall of 1993, the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council (NSC) collaborated in Washington regarding the launching of a proposal that would develop and increase military ties between NATO and its former adversaries.61 In September 1993, during the preparations for the announced summit the Americans proposed a solution in the form of a “Partnership for Peace.” “Rapid enlargement was not part of the plan; neither was strengthening of the NACC. This would be seen by the Central and Eastern Europeans as an implausible attempt to postpone their membership debate.”62

Officials at the Pentagon unanimously favored the PFP idea. From their standpoint it “did not make sense to talk about expansion until after NATO had established the type of military-to-military relationships that would enable new countries to integrate effectively into the Alliance.”63 The State Department suggested making the PFP “the centerpiece of our NATO position,”64 while opposing any decision on enlargement.

On 18 October 1993, at the White House, after a meeting with his main foreign policy advisers, President Clinton endorsed the reached consensus that “at the January summit, the alliance should formally present the PFP, and he should announce NATO’s intention eventually to expand.”65 The decision to develop the PFP was, for the moment, the Clinton administration’s NATO outreach policy.

In this context, at the informal meeting of the NATO defense ministers (19-21 October 1993, Travemunde-Germany), Les Aspin, then U.S. secretary of defense, presented for the first time a detailed proposal for PFP.66 He sought to gain Alliance endorsement for the new project, and emphasized that NATO would not enlarge soon.67

From the American perspective the PFP was intended to create the possibility of reacting quickly to potential crises in Europe by means of political consultations based on Article 4 of the Washington Treaty.68 It would also be an agreement between the sixteen NATO countries and each “partner for peace,” and it was meant to offer the possibility of made-to-measure cooperation. It was also sometimes presented as an activity within the NACC, instead of a new form of cooperation.69 Last, but not least, “the partnership was deliberately designed to enable member states to put off questions of formal enlargement and of NATO’s ultimate disposition in post-Cold War Europe.”70

At Travemunde, German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, representing a younger generation of Christian Democratic leaders, and one of the first advocates of NATO’s enlargement,71 received the U.S. initiative positively. The Germans eagerly embraced the PFP, even though their interpretation of its significance differed from that held by the Americans. In a sense it “may come to represent for [the new] Ostpolitik what flexible response once did for collective defence: an agreement to disagree.”72 Ruehe also “maintained that it must be made quite clear that this was not to be regarded as a surrogate NATO membership.”73 At the same time leaders in Bonn understood that this initiative, despite its weaknesses,74 was better than either “participating in central Europe’s local alliances,”75 or reaching a deal with Moscow in order to keep the CEE region under control.76

Under these circumstances, at the Brussels NATO summit (10-11 January 1994) the heads of state and government approved three PFP documents on the first day, namely an invitation to countries wishing to take part in the program, a “framework document” in which the framework of the PFP was sketched, and a “classified ‘Intra Alliance Understanding’ with the interpretation of the allies of the PFP.”77 The PFP would function under the NAC; and Partners were invited to participate in NATO’s political and military institutions so far as these concerned PFP activities.78

During the next few years the PFP won recognition as “without doubt a diplomatic invention of the first order.”79 Some of its most important aspects were as follows: the 16+1 formula allowed each Partner to determine the nature and depth of the cooperation, which meant there was a certain amount of self-differentiation;80 it made it clear to the CEE countries that NATO was concerned about their internal stability and security, without giving them a formal guarantee of security and without Moscow being able to accuse NATO of enticing these countries into the Western camp.81

The activities of the PFP were to be coordinated with those of the NACC, so that maximum effectiveness and minimal duplication of the NACC work plan might be achieved.82 PFP activities in the fields of crisis control and military planning, especially the planning of exercises, would have to be coordinated via the newly established Partnership Coordination Cell at Mons, which was to function under the NAC.

By the end of 1994, with the introduction of the Planning and Review Process (PARP) for the interested Partners, the emphasis within the PFP shifted from peacekeeping exercises to planning.83 A Political-Military Steering Committee (PMSC) under the chairmanship of the Deputy Secretary-General was established and became the most active PFP forum.84 The NACC and the PFP were formally complementary. The PFP concentrated on practical defense-related and military cooperation activities, while the NACC was the forum for broad consultations on security issues, including security-related economic issues.85 Furthermore, the activities of the NACC and the PFP were being increasingly combined.

Despite the fact that “the PFP was very successful in bringing NATO and the Central and Eastern European countries closer together in the short term,”86 the PFP aroused ambivalent feelings in some partners, especially the Czech Republic and Poland.87 “On the one hand NATO seemed to have given the impression that the accession to NATO was imminent; on the other the PFP could be interpreted as an activity aimed at shelving membership.”88

The East Europeans nonetheless welcomed the fact that, unlike the procedures in NACC, the PFP plan envisaged from the start a process of self-differentiation, since cooperation agreements were signed between NATO and individual countries. But there were suspicions about its long-term implications; it was feared that NATO might not honor the expectations regarding accession that had been raised in these dedicated PFP members.89 Worried about potential embarrassment, before the January 1994 NATO summit to be held in Brussels, the U.S. administration dispatched senior officials to all CEE capitals in order to explain this concept.90

The result was a subtle shift in emphasis: having been created as an instrument for avoiding a discussion about NATO’s enlargement, PFP was suddenly presented as a structure which 'neither promises NATO membership, nor precludes this membership'. And once PFP was in full swing, the same concept was presented as the road to NATO membership. Interestingly, however, it was not PFP which dictated either the pace of NATO’s enlargement or the timing of the process; PFP remained the necessary smoke-screen for an essentially political debate which was conducted within the alliance.91

For Germany, the PFP was an excellent opportunity to work for the integration of the CEE countries into both NATO and the EU, not only to ensure security in the heart of Europe, “but also in order to spare the Germans themselves any new historic choices between East and West.”92 Moreover, as a supplement to NATO’s PFP, Germany established close ties of military cooperation with its CEE neighbors on a bilateral and, in some cases, trilateral basis.93 “Germany’s noises were heard, particularly in Washington, where the argument on NATO initially proceeded on a different route, only to reach the same conclusion.”94

Finally, with the decision on enlargement ready to be taken at the July 1997 summit meeting in Madrid, the Alliance was preparing solutions to prevent the emergence of new “dividing lines” in Europe after enlargement. In order to give the cooperation with “non-Allies” a new and more profound meaning, NATO’s September 1995 Study on NATO Enlargement announced that PFP would become a more significant institution for strengthening security in Europe after NATO enlargement.95

After a similar statement by NATO’s Defense Ministers in June 1996,96 in April 1997 U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen underscored the need for the enhancement of the PFP, highlighting the central question of its purposes, including the types of “military contingencies” for which it should be prepared.97 Thus, several measures to enhance PFP were announced in May 1997 at Sintra and approved in July at the NATO summit in Madrid.98

Thus, while there will inevitably be a distinction between Allies protected by Article 5 and partner countries that do not enjoy this type of commitment, even in an enhanced PFP, NATO allies—the United States and Germany in particular—might give the PFP significantly greater substance and different form in the future.99 This is a necessary step, because otherwise the decline of the PFP into a marginal role would be inevitable and its role as an instrument for reducing the security differences between Allies and Partners the might be compromised.100



57. In late April 1993, at the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., President Clinton met one-on-one with a series of CEE leaders, including the highly regarded leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel. Each delivered the same message to Clinton: their top priority was NATO membership.

58. de Wijk, p. 74.

59. James M. Goldgeier, “NATO Expansion: The Anatomy of a Decision,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1 (Winter 1998), p. 87.

60. Anthony Lake, “From Containment to Enlargement,” Lecture at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C., U.S. Policy Information and Text, no. 97 (23 October 1993), pp. 6-12.

61. Goldgeier, p. 86.

62. de Wijk, p. 74.

63. Goldgeier, pp. 87-88. The PFP proposal was developed largely through the efforts of Gen. Shalikashvili and his staff, first as SACEUR and then as chairman of the JCS. Shalikashvili and Les Aspin, then Secretary of Defense, opposed expansion and, in particular, feared diluting the effectiveness of NATO. The Pentagon appeared to support a sequential approach toward enlargement: countries would participate in the PFP for a number of years and then the Alliance might start addressing the issue of expansion.

64. Ibid., p. 90.

65. Ibid., p. 91. Among Clinton’s top foreign-policy advisers, Lake sought to push ahead with expansion, Aspin and Shalikashvili sought to delay consideration of expansion and instead supported the PFP, and Christopher fell somewhere in between, open to gradual expansion but concerned about Russia’s reaction.

66. de Wijk, p. 75.

67. Goldgeier, pp. 91-92.

68. The launching of the PFP program was also coupled with an increased U.S. involvement in the handling of the war in the former Yugoslavia, which ultimately led to a major U.S. and NATO engagement in the region.

69. de Wijk, pp. 74-75.

70. Charles A. Kupchan, “Strategic Visions,” World Policy Journal (vol. XI, no. 3, Fall 1994), p. 113. Whether the PFP should focus on each partner’s individual relationship to NATO or evolve as a broader multilateral undertaking in which partners would also build new ties with each other triggered US interagency debate during the planning process. The DOD, in contrast to the NSC and the State Department, was initially intent on restricting the PFP to a series of bilateral agreements between individual states and NATO. The Pentagon was seeking to ensure that NATO would retain complete control over the evolution of the PFP and feared that institutionalizing a multilateral framework might jeopardize this objective. All agencies eventually agreed that the PFP should be a multilateral undertaking. However, the Pentagon’s concerns continue to be reflected in the PFP’s focus on developing security cooperation primarily between NATO and individual partners.

71. His early public remarks about NATO enlargement created quite a stir. Ruehe’s Alastair Buchan Memorial Lecture in London, on 26 March 1993, is usually cited in this regard: Volker Ruehe, “Shaping Euro-Atlantic policies: A Grand Strategy for a New Era,” Survival, vol. XXXV (Summer 1993), pp. 129-137.

72. David Haglund, “Germany’s Central European Conundrum,” European Security, vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995), p. 35.

73. de Wijk, p. 75.

74. The weaknesses included the following points: no relationship was established with NACC; PFP’s focus on military cooperation implied inadequate opportunities for broad-based political cooperation; PFP was insufficiently focused on intra-regional military cooperation; there was continuing ambiguity within NATO about how and to what degree to include Russia in partnership activities; and, PFP enabled NATO to put off difficult decisions about its future.

75. Eyal, p. 703.

76. William E. Odom, “NATO’s Expansion: Why the Critics Are Wrong,” The National Interest (Spring 1995), p. 41.

77. de Wijk, p. 79.

78. Partnership for Peace, Framework Document, Brussels, 11 January 1994, Sect. 3.

79. de Wijk, p. 82.

80. This differed greatly from the NACC, whose work plan applied to every one.

81. After all, PFP applied to the Russian Federation too.

82. In practice it was at first unclear how the relationship between NACC and PFP should evolve.

83. The PARP was introduced in January 1995. It was based on a two-year planning cycle and was intended to increase interoperability between the partners. Cooperation was limited to humanitarian aid, search and rescue, and peacekeeping.

84. This could meet, depending on the subject, in various combinations: the 16, the 16+1, the 16+several partners, or in a full NACC combination. Later it merged with the NACC Ad Hoc Group on Cooperation in Peacekeeping and formed the PMSC Ad Hoc Group.

85. See North Atlantic Cooperation Council, Work Plan for Dialogue, Partnership and Cooperation 1994/1995, Brussels, 2 December 1994.

86. de Wijk, p. 88.

87. Ibid., pp. 85-86.

88. Ibid., p. 89.

89. Goldgeier, p. 92.

90. This came as a reaction to President Lech Walesa’s threats, which commanded attention in the West, to reject the PFP agreement. Just prior to his trip to Brussels, Clinton sent Polish-born General Shalikashvili, Czech-born U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, and Hungarian-born State Department adviser Charles Gati to explain the administration’s policy and to quell criticism stemming from this region prior to the summit.

91. Eyal, pp. 702-703.

92. Ibid., p. 703.

93. The Visegrad countries, the Baltic States and Slovenia were in particular offered military personnel exchange programs and military training and education programs, in addition to arms transfer arrangements. For example, the 1996 German defense budget allocated about 11 million-DM for such undertakings. See Kamp and Weilemann, p. 5.

94. Eyal, p. 704.

95. See Study on NATO Enlargement (Brussels: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 1995), par. 34 and 36.

96. See North Atlantic Council in Defense Ministers session, 13 June 1996, par. 22.

97. See Prepared Statement by William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, 23 April 1997, p. 8.

98. See NATO Press Release, “The Enhanced Partnership for Peace Program,” Madrid, 8 July 1997.

99. At a minimum, according to some experts, “peace enforcement” should be added to the list of specified PFP activities. See, for example, Vernon Penner, “Partnership for Peace,” Strategic Forum, no. 97 (December 1996), Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University.

100. For a comprehensive analysis see Michael Ruehle and Nick Williams, “Partnership for Peace after NATO Enlargement,” European Security, vol. 5 (Winter 1996).



white starAmerican Diplomacy white star
Copyright © 2012 American Diplomacy Publishers Chapel Hill NC