NATO: History without propaganda. IPN debate

Moldovan society has differing opinions about a number of problems that are essential for life, including those related to the method of ensuring own security. The attitude to Moldova’s eventual accession to NATO as one of the possible solutions is relevant in this regard. Moreover, a large part of the population is against joining NATO even if there is a cruel war of aggression close to our country’s borders. Experts invited to IPN’s public debate “NATO: History without propaganda” discussed this “Moldovan dilemma”, making reference to the founding and development of this security alliance.

The permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a political and military alliance that brings together 31 countries of Europe and North America. It was formed on April 4, 1949 with the aim of protecting Europe from the possible threat of Soviet expansion. Initially, 12 countries became NATO members: the U.S., Canada, Iceland, the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Portugal.

“NATO is a transatlantic organization in which the allied states can consult each other about any problem that affects the vital interests of its members, including possible threats. NATO’s declared objective is to discourage and defend against aggression or attack on any NATO member state,” explained the expert.

According to him, NATO witnessed nine enlargement waves. Finland is the last member state that joined NATO, on April 4, 2023. At present, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Ukraine and Sweden aspire to become member states of NATO.  Another 19 states take part in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program, while another 15 countries take part in an institutionalized dialogue. “The total military costs of NATO the previous years represented approximately 57% of the global total. The members of the organization are obliged to use 2% of their annual GDP for defense problems,” noted Igor Boțan.

The expert also said that the NATO founding agreement has a key article – article 5 – which provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will come to the aid of this. NATO aims to strengthen stability and to improve prosperity in the North Atlantic Region. The participating states combined forces to ensure collective defense and to maintain peace and security.

“NATO was founded to “to reject the Soviet threat”. This vision was modified in 2010, when the experience of involvement in international missions was witnessed. Since then, the active participation with modern defense has been the main concept, as well as three key missions of NATO – collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. After the annexation of Crimea, NATO also made particular changes in its strategy, making it clear that the goal earlier was to discourage the Soviet aggression, while after the annexation of Crimea, the goal is to prevent “surprises” on behalf of Russia, which then announced its enlargement intention,” stated Igor Boțan

Victor Juc, director of the Institute of Legal, Political and Sociological Research of the Moldova State University, a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, said that in the context of the ending of World War II in Europe, it seemed that peace and democracy would be established. “Fifty-seven wining states, plus another three, on April 25 founded the United National Organization and on April 26, 1945 adopted the United Nations Charter in which the opportunity for ensuring security, maintaining peace, democratization and development were stipulated expressly. But the bases for the partition of Europe were laid in Yalta and the former allies in World War II already became rivals,” stated Victor Juc.

According to him, the period of democratic cooperation lasted for less than two years and this made primarily the states of Western Europe to fear for their security as, in those times, the Red Army numbered about 8.3 million soldiers and was well equipped. This way, the Western Union Defense Organization was founded in 1948 as a political and military organization designed to ensure the security of European states. But those countries realized that without a partnership with the U.S., it was impossible to ensure their security.

“In that context, seven countries, mostly from the North Atlantic Region, formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is an intergovernmental organization anchored in the democratic principles of the rule of law and individual liberties, peace and security, which are considered very important values. Not at all accidentally, the Individual Partnership Action Plan with the Republic of Moldova also contains a lot of aspects regarding the democratic functioning of the state institutions,” noted the expert.

He also said that Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which is often mentioned, is not less important. This refers to consultations between the member states. “From the start, the statutes of the North Atlantic Alliance stipulated that this will abide primarily by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which envisions the right to individual or collective self-defense of the states subject to aggression. So, from the beginning, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization declared its adherence to the principles of the United Nations Organization. However, in time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization became much more efficient than the United Nations Organizations,” stated Victor Juc.

Ex-secretary of state of the Ministry of Defense Radu Burduja, director of the Euro-Atlantic Institute for Building Resilience, said NATO was founded to prevent the expansion of the Soviet Union. At a certain moment, the European countries were confronted with a serious danger to which they could not find a military and defense response.

“That’s why they decided to form this security bloc. After this bloc was founded, it was surely extended. Turkey and Greece and later Spain joined it. There were incidents related to France, which decided to withdraw from the NATO military bodies and then returned. These internal conflicts, misunderstandings were resolved. Yes, in principle, the Alliance fulfilled its main goal of isolating the Soviet expansion. Several international incidents made so that the leaders of the free world realized that the Soviet Union indeed pursued expansionist goals. We can name here also the coup staged in Czechoslovakia. We can also speak about the Soviet Union’s very brutal interference in Hungary, when the rebellion there was suppressed. The Soviet Union’s very firm tendency to impose its influence through the Communist, Socialist parties in European countries, to install governments close to Moscow was obvious during the postwar years,” explained Radu Burduja.

According to him, those actions were accompanied by the use of force, which is against the NATO founding principles. “It goes to a direct conflict between democracy and autocracy. A government regime that was absolutely foreign to the democratic values to which the free countries tended was imposed. This fact led to several incidents in that period. In time, it was proven historically already that the concept of the Alliance since then up to now has been a correct one, based on correct principles and, owing to this, the longest and most successful Alliance has resisted,” noted the expert.

The public debate entitled “NATO: History without propaganda” was the 19th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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