The New NATO: A world redrawn in the decade following fall of the Berli n Wall

Christopher Bellamy traces the painstaking but relentless route to expansion

It is less than eight years since the toppling of the Berlin Wall kick-started an astounding transformation of the European and world order. In comparison with the revolutionary changes in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during that time, Nato's move towards enlargement announced on Tuesday appears almost cautious; although many believe it should have been more so.

After an initial period of uncertainty, the newly free democracies of eastern Europe began asking for admission to Nato in 1993-94. Nato leaders did not initially want the Alliance to enlarge, and many senior figures, especially those with Cold War experience, still do not want it to do so. But Tuesday's announcement confirms it is going to happen. As one senior Nato official put it, it was something on which the Alliance was "doomed to agree".

The road to enlargement began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the "two plus four" negotiations between the two Germanys and the four occupying powers - the United States, the then Soviet Union, Britain and France - which led to the reunification of Germany in October 1990. The Warsaw Pact began to break up, a dissolution completed in 1991; the Soviet Union followed in the same year.

Since the beginning of the decade, Nato has had to deal with two big problems in parallel: its own restructuring to reflect a change in the "threats" and risks of a new world order; and how to make enlargement acceptable to those eastern European states which did not want to or could not join Nato, especially Russia and Ukraine.The absorption of eastern Germany, reunified with the West into Nato, was the first step in the Alliance's eastward enlargement. Many people - including senior Russian officials - have since claimed that assurances were given that after subsuming eastern Germany, Nato would expand eastward no further. Nato officials have always denied that. The two plus-four talks, they say, were all about Nato's presence in eastern Germany after reunification.

That may have been true at the time, but it may also have given the Russians the impression Nato had given an undertaking not to enlarge further. It was not until 1993 that the newly free democracies of eastern Europe started clamouring for admission to Nato.

Meanwhile, the Nato London summit of July 1990 began the shift towards a new Nato role, though that process is still incomplete. The summit agreed changes to nuclear strategy until then frozen in the Cold War mould - and "extended the hand of friendship" to Russia, resulting in the creation of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council as a forum for co-operation between Nato - the 16 - and Russia - "plus one".

At the Rome summit the following year, Nato initiated a "new strategic concept", though it differed little from the old one and Nato has only just agreed to revise its strategic orientation to reflect the new world order.

Russia had huge problems with the idea of Nato enlarging. Its senior generals and internationally-minded politicians could see the advantages of a new and friendly relationship with the West. But as Russia's economy continued to crumble, they had to maintain face in front of a domestic audience which had been brought up to see Nato as Napoleon, Hitler, the Teutonic Knights and the grandsons of Genghis Khan (all of whom had invaded Russia) rolled into one.

The door to Nato had to be left open for a second wave of new members, and other agreements had to be made with the states which were unlikely ever to join.

At the Brussels summit in 1994, Nato began the Partnership for Peace programme, which now embraces virtually all Nato and east European states, including Russia.

The final approach to enlargement began with the Berlin summit in June 1996.

The geopolitical and strategic questions of enlargement could not be divorced from the domestic politics of the main players. In the US, powerful constituencies in the mid-West were of Polish or Czech ancestry - and the US was in an election year.

For domestic reasons, Moscow displayed anger in public, acceptance in private. In the end, Russia realised it had no choice but to accept Nato enlargement - it just had to sell it to its own people.

On 27 May, Nato and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Co-operation and Security.

The long road to enlargement is not over: all 16 Nato nations have to ratify the accession of the first three new members to be invited. When they join, in April 1999, the invitations to the next wave will probably be issued.

What matters now is whether the military forces of states which were opponents until 1991 canwork together efficiently.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ICT Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...

DT Design and Technology Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...

Maths Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on