Moldova for first time at NATO Summit: motives and effects. IPN debate

A week ago, Bucharest hosted the meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs to which the Republic of Moldova was invited as a non-NATO member. Moreover, the Republic of Moldova is mentioned in the final document of the meeting – the Joint Declaration of NATO ministers of foreign affairs, which is also important news. The reasons and effects of this news for the Moldovan state and society whose security has been seriously affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine were among the issues discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Moldova for the first time at NATO Summit: motives and effects”.

According to the permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan, NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance that involves 30 states - 28 European and two North-American ones. It was founded after World War II based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on April 4, 1949 in Washington. NATO is a collective security system and its member states are independent, but commit themselves to defend each other from the attacks of third parties. “When they say that NATO expands, this thing should be treated very specifically. Not NATO expands, but the countries that feel threatened want to join NATO as they meet with difficulties,” stated the expert.

Igor Boțan noted that initially NATO worked as an organization whose purpose was to respond to an eventual attack of the Soviet Union. But after the Soviet Union dismembered, NATO continued to work, but went through different periods. The Alliance was involved in military operations in the Balkans, Middle East, South Asia, Africa. ”The foundation stone of NATO is surely Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked. This article was applied only once, after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.,” explained Igor Boțan.

He noted that the North Atlantic Council is NATO’s principal political decision-making body. It consists of permanent representatives of the member states. The Council meets at least once a week and its meetings are chaired by the Secretary General. There is no voting or decision by majority. This means that policies decided upon by the NAC are supported by and are the expression of the collective will of all the sovereign states that are members of the Alliance. The meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs represents the highest decision-making level of the Alliance.

Military Academy lecturer Natalia Albu, executive director of the Platform for Security and Defense Initiatives, said the Republic of Moldova was invited to the NASTO ministerial meeting for the first time. The Summit in Bucharest pursued primarily the goal of strengthening and developing a roadmap for implementing the decisions adopted at the NATO Summit held in June in Madrid. Another goal was to see how NATO deals with the security situation in the Black Sea Region.

“The summit held in summer in Madrid adopted a new strategic document of the North Atlantic Alliance, which outlines the Alliance’s medium-term priorities in strengthening security not only inside the organization, but also at regional and international levels, from the perspective of cooperative security. But the range of problems is so specific in the context of the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine, the war existing on the European continent, that a separate meeting was needed to more efficiently implement these provisions. That’s why the Bucharest Summit, which is actually considered the fifth meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs, which was hosted by Romania for the first time, marks the inviting of countries that are partners – Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were also invited the countries that applied to join the North Atlantic Alliance, namely Sweden and Finland. The goal was to strengthen communication through the angle of partnerships, beyond the internal agenda of the North Atlantic Alliance, in the context of the war that is being waged on the European continent,” stated Natalia Albu.

According to her, an agenda was adopted and this includes the issues referring to the Black Sea and the summit this time discussed concrete support packages that directly or indirectly affect the Republic of Moldova. Beyond the method of ensuring a safer security environment in the given context, the ministers also discussed cooperation and security through the angle of cooperation with China. There was also debated the package on the Western Balkans. That’s why Bosnia and Herzegovina was also invited. Among the discussed issues was the method of coordinating the mechanisms for managing the support for critical infrastructure. This can imply efficient support for the Republic of Moldova as it goes to Ukraine’ energy infrastructure on which Moldova depends.

Political commentator Ion Tăbârță said Ukraine was the key subject at the NATO Bucharest Summit. Together with this meeting, the North Atlantic Alliance started to implement the strategic concept agreed at the Madrid Summit. “In 2022, after 12 years, the North Atlantic Alliance reviewed is security strategy and adopted a document based on the new context, in which the Russian Federation is the main threat to European and not only European security. That’s why the Russian invasion issue was devoted major attention,” stated the commentator.

The commentator noted that besides the way in which Ukraine is to be helped, the ministers discussed the air defense system and how NATO should strengthen its eastern flank. It was agreed that the eastern flank should be balanced in the Black Sea Region.

According to him, namely for these reasons the summit was held in Bucharest. This also shows the new strategic role played by Romania. “There is a symbolic tie. In 2008, in Bucharest they discussed Georgia’s and Ukraine’s prospects of joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Now they reiterated those principles of the Bucharest Declaration of 2008. Then, Ukraine and Georgia were invited to the accession negotiations and were offered this perspective. There is also a historic tie with the Madrid Summit. In 1997, in Madrid, it was decided to expand NATO to the East. In fact, the new post-Cold War realities began. Three post-Communist states were invited to the negotiations in Madrid in 1997 – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In 25 years, in 2022, NATO reviewed its approach to the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance. Surely, this ministerial meeting took into account the realities, the current challenges to the European and international security,” stated Ion Tăbârță.

The public debate entitled “Moldova for the first time at NATO Summit: motives and effects” was the 269th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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