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Accessions of post-communist countries to the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) represent puzzles. While many such countries were granted a membership or a prospect of membership in these organisations, other European post-communist countries were not offered accession or the prospect of membership in the EU and NATO. The question is which factors account for such significant variation in accession to the EU and NATO among European post-communist countries. This article uses statistical analysis to determine which factors affect the accession of 25 European post-communist states to the EU and NATO in 1997–2010. The study shows that the level of democracy is positively associated with accession to NATO and the EU. Conflicts have a negative impact on the NATO enlargement, while the level of economic development has a positive effect on EU enlargement. Being a post-Soviet country has a negative effect on both NATO and EU accession.
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Puzzles of EU and NATO Accession of
Post-Communist Countries
Ivan Katchanovski
a
a
School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa , Canada
Published online: 27 Sep 2011.
To cite this article: Ivan Katchanovski (2011) Puzzles of EU and NATO Accession of Post-
Communist Countries, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 12:3, 304-319, DOI:
10.1080/15705854.2011.596308
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15705854.2011.596308
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Puzzles of EU and NATO Accession of
Post-Communist Countries
IVAN KATCHANOV SKI
School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada
ABSTRACT Accessions of post-communist countries to the European Union (EU) and the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) represent puzzles. While many such countries were
granted a membership or a prospect of membership in these organisations, other European post-
communist countries were not offered accession or the prospect of membership in the EU and
NATO. The question is which factors account for such significant variation in accession to the EU
and NATO among European post-communist countries. This article uses statistical analysis to
determine which factors affect the accession of 25 European post-communist states to the EU and
NATO in 1997–2010. The study shows that the level of democracy is positively associated with
accession to NATO and the EU. Conflicts have a negative impact on the NATO enlargement,
while the level of economic development has a positive effect on EU enlargement. Being a post-
Soviet country has a negative effect on both NATO and EU accession.
K
EY WORDS: European Union, NATO, enlargement policy, post-communist countries,
post-Soviet countries
Introduction
Enlargements of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation (NATO) present puzzles when it comes to the accession of post-
communist countries. Some European post-communist countries have made
significantly more and faster progress in their accession to these organisations than
other countries. For example, the EU launched membership negotiations with the
Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia in 1998 and with
Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Bulgaria in 1999. These countries, with
the exception of Bulgaria and Romania, were the first group of post-communist
states that joined the Europe an Union in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania followed in
2007. The next wave of EU enlargement focused on the remaining countries of ex-
Yugoslavia and Albania. In a series of official policy documents and public
proclamations since 2000, the EU identified such states as Albania, Croatia, Serbia,
Correspondence Address: Ivan Katchanovski, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier
Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5 Canada.
Email: ikatchan@uottawa.ca; ivan.katchanovski@utoronto.ca
Perspectives on European Politics and Societ y
Vol. 12, No. 3, 304–319, September 2011
ISSN 1570-5854 Print/1568-0258 Online Ó 2011 Taylor & Francis
http://www.tandfonline.com
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15705854.2011.596308
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Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Kosovo as potential candidates or official
candidates for European Union membership (see European Commission, 2011).
Similarly, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were the first pos t-
communist countries that were invited at the NATO Summit in Madrid in 1997 to
start negotiations concerning their membership in the military alliance, and then to
join NATO in 1999. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and
Slovenia became NATO members in 2004. Albania and Croatia achieved the same
status in 2009, while such ex-Yu goslav states as Bosnia, Macedonia, and
Montenegro were offered NATO Membership Action Plans (see NATO, 2011).
In contrast, many other post-communist countries located fully or partly in
Europe, such as Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, were not
even offered the prospect of membership in these organisations in the future if they
were to satisfy all official criteria for joining the EU and NATO. Ukraine and
Georgia were officially recognised as potential members of NATO, but not the
European Union. Such differences are puzzling since all these countries shared
similar communist legacies, and their European Union and NATO accessions
became possible about the same time as a result of a collapse of communism and the
break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia at the end of the
1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.
What factors account for such significant variation in accession to the EU and
NATO among European post-commun ist countries? Previous studies primarily
examined accession or non-accession of individual post-communist countries or
relatively small groups of these countries. The number of quantitative analyses of
determinants of accession for all post-communist states that qualified or can
potentially qualify for EU and NATO membership is limited, and many existing
studies do not take into account important developments since the beginning of the
2000s, in particular, accession progress of such countries of ex-Yugoslavia as
Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia (see, for example, Schimmel-
fennig, 2001; Schimmelfennig & Sedelmeier, 2005).
This paper analyses factors which affect the progress towards access ion to the EU
and NATO of 25 post-communist countries that are considered fully or partly
European. The study first specifies hypotheses concerning determinants of the EU
and NATO enlargements. The next section reviews previous research on the
potential factors of the enlargement. It then proceeds with description of the data
and methodology and results of multiple regression analysis.
This paper tests several hypotheses which are based both on official criteria of the
enlargement of these organisations and on previous studies which identified other
factors of EU and NATO accession. The first hypothesis is that the level of
democracy is a major determinant of the EU and NATO accession of the post-
communist states. Both EU and NATO membership criteria and previous studies
underline the importance of democracy for accession to the European Union and the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The second hypothesis is that cultural affinity of post-communist countries with
the Western countries affects their membership prospects in the EU and NATO.
Cultural affinity is defined in terms of common religious tradition and shared
historical legacy. Both the European Union and NATO are often associated with
Western civilisation since these organisations were founded by Western countries.
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 305
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Western civilisation is frequently equated with Western Christianity (Huntington,
1996). The clash of civilisations theory implies that predominantly Protestant and
Catholic post-communist nations have signi ficantly better prospects for NATO
accession compared to Muslim or Orthodox Chri stian countries.
Similarly, post-communist nations that have shared historical legacies with
Western countries are more likely to be granted EU and NATO membership or the
prospect of such membership. Political values in countries which wholly or
predominantly were parts of the Austrian, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires
for long historical periods are likely to be more pro-Western and closer to political
values of Western members of the EU and NATO, compared with post-communist
countries, which belonged to the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Previous
studies show that post-communist countries that belonged to the Austrian, Austro-
Hungarian, and German empires before World War I have generally been more
democratic, rule-of-law oriented, successful in terms of economic reforms and
economic development, and less corrupt then countries which belonged to the
Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire (see Katchanovski, 2000; Pop-Eleches,
2007). Similar historical legacies are major determinants of pro-Western orientations
and political values in regions of post-Soviet Ukraine. Several western Ukrainian
regions which experienced Austrian rule before World War I are consistently much
more likely to favour the pro-Western orient ation of this post-Soviet country
compared to other regions that experienced Russian or Ottoman rule during the
same historical time period (see, for example, Birch, 2000; Katchanovski, 2006).
Similarly, historical legacies affect institutional government performance in regions
of Italy (Putnam, 1993).
The third hypothesis tested in this study states that Russia and other post-Soviet
countries are discriminated against in terms of EU and NATO accession because of
lingering prejudices in many of their major member states that exercise most
influence on the enlargement process. Perceptions and policies of Western countries
towards the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union historically were often very
negative and irrational compared to Western perceptions and policies towards
similar countries, such as the Ottoman Empire and communist China (see Davis &
Trani, 2009; Malia, 1999). A number of previous studies argue that this bias, which
goes back to the times of the Russian Em pire and the Cold War, manifested itself in
the post-Cold War policy of major Western powers towards Russia, in particular in
lingering perception of Russia as a potential adversary (Lieven, 2000; Tsygankov,
2009). However, this issue is still poorly researched in academic literature in spite of
its political relevance and policy significance.
The anti-Russian bias extends to post-Soviet countries to a significant degree since
they, like the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, are often associated in the West
with Russia. For example, the Soviet Union and its many nationalities, in particular
those that became independent in 1991, such as Ukrainians or Belarusians, were
often referred to by political leaders and mass media in Western countries as ‘Russia’
or ‘Russians’.
1
The Baltic States are exceptions because they were perceived in the
West as distinct from Russia, both at the time of the Soviet Union and in the post-
Soviet period.
Analysis of survey data shows that, on average, EU and NATO accession of post-
Soviet countries, excluding the Baltic States, receives less public support among
306 I. Katchanovski
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leading members of these organisations than the accession of other post-communist
nations. For example, in the 2009 Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project
survey, the unweighted average of 61% and 45% of the respondents in the United
Kingdom, France, and Germany respectively favoured the admittance of Croatia
and Serbia into the Eur opean Union in the next ten years. In comparison, 47% and
42% of the respondents in these three leading EU countries backed the EU
membership of Ukraine and Georgia, respectively (Pew Research Centre, 2009, pp.
145–147). In the TNS Sofres Survey in November 2005, the unweighted average of
46% and 42% of respondents in the UK, France, and Germany, respectively, backed
the EU membership of Ukraine and Russia when they fulfil all conditions for
admission. Similarly, the 1998 Attitudes on Transatlantic Issues Survey showed that
51% and 57% of Americans supported the NATO membership of Russia and
Ukraine, while 41% and 30% opposed it (respectively). In comparison, the
unweighted average of 62% favoured and 26% opposed the admission of Bulgaria,
Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
The European Union is often implicitly or explicitly equated in the West with
Europe. Europe is frequently defined as a continent with no clear eastern borders
(see, for instance, Pagde n, 2002). Such post-Soviet countries as Russia, Ukraine,
Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia are often
regarded as non-European in terms of their location and identity, and consequently
as ineligible for EU and NATO membership. For example, TNS Sofres Survey in
March 2005 showed that only 44% of respondents in the UK, 54% in Germany, and
63% in France consider Ukraine to be a part of Europe geographically, historically,
and culturally, while 27% in the UK, 39% in Germany, and 32% in France regard
Ukraine as non-European.
However, Turkey, which has a small fraction of its territory and population in
Europe, was accepted into NATO, and it was granted official candidate status by the
EU in contrast to Russia and Kazakhstan, which are also located partly in Europe.
The European Union accepted Greek-populated Cyprus as its member although
Cyprus is often located in Asia and not Europe. Likewise, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and
Georgia are variously included geographically into Europe or Asia or, in the case of
Georgia and Azerbaijan, a small part of their territory is often located in Europe.
In addition, the post-Soviet states are already members of other European
organisations. Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are
members of the Council of Europe, and the right of Kazakhstan as a partly European
country to join the Council of Europe is officially recognised by this organisation. All
of these post-Soviet countries, along with Belarus, are also participating states of the
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. As noted, the issue of the
European or non-European location of Georgia did not prevent NATO from officially
recognising this post-Soviet state as its potential member.
The lack of a European identity argument cannot explain the EU and NATO
enlargement puzzles. Survey data show that European identity is embraced by a
significant percentage of people in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. For
example, the proportion of the respondents who thought of themselves to at least
some extent as European ranged in the 2000s between one-quarter and one-half in
Russia, between one-third and one-half in Belarus, and between one-quarter and
one-third in Ukraine (White et al., 2010). The levels of European self-identification
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 307
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in these post-Soviet nations are comparable to many EU members (see Pilcher,
2008). For example, the 2009 Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project survey
demonstrates that the proportion of people in Russia (4%) and Ukraine (6%) who
think of themselves first as European is not radically different from such EU
members as Hungary (4%), the Czech Republic and Lithuania (6%), the United
Kingdom (7%), and Bulgaria and Poland (8%) (Pew Research Centre, 2009, p. 145).
Another hypothesis tested in this study is that the level of economic development
is a significant predictor of both EU and NATO enlargement among post-
communist countries. Potential members with high levels of GDP per capita requ ire
less economic aid from the European Union. Similarly, post-communist countries
with a higher level of economic development are more likely to satisfy the NATO
condition of being able to contribute militarily.
Other factors that are considered in this study are specific to the particular
organisation. Violent unsettled internal and external conflicts after the collapse of
communism are expected to negatively affect accession to NATO. Population size is
likely to be a negative factor in EU enlargement since the EU system of governance
partly weights the power of its member states according to their population size.
Because of their rational self-interest, existing EU members would be much more
reluctant to support accession of countries with a large population than countries with
a small population. Transition to a market economy is likely to affect positively EU
accession.
Previous Studies
Researchers and policy-makers explained the exclusion of certain countries, in
particular Turkey and post-communist states, by their failure to meet such formal
and informal EU membership criteria as having a liberal democracy, a high level of
economic development, a European location and identity, a Western Christian
religion, a relatively small population size, and popular support as well as
government support from the EU’s prospective and most influential existing
members (see, for example, Dimitrovova, 2010; Fierke & Wiener, 1999; Grabbe &
Hughes, 1998; Schimmelfennig & Sedelmeier, 2002). Similarly, NATO accession
studies considered such criteria as democracy, Western Christianity, peaceful
resolution of violent internal ethnic conflicts or territorial disputes, and the level
of economic development (see Fierke & Wiener, 1999; Schimmelfennig, 2001).
Large-N statistical analyses found that democracy was the most important factor of
the EU and NATO enlargements. In contrast, effects of economic and cultural
factors, and European identity and location were insignificant or mixed (see Mattli &
Plumper, 2001; Schimmelfennig, 2001).
The Maastricht Treaty, adopted in 1992, specifies that any European country
which respects principles set by the EU may apply to become its member.
2
In 1993,
the European Council adopted the ‘Copenhagen criteria’. To gain an EU
membership, candidates are requir ed to satisfy the following criteria:
stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights
and respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning
market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and
308 I. Katchanovski
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market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate’s
ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the
aims of political, economic and monetary union. The Union’s capacity to
absorb new members, while maintaining the momentum of European
integration, is also an important consideration in the general interest of both
the Union and the candidate countries.
3
Similarly, the Washington Treaty, which was adopted by founding members of
NATO in 1949, states that ‘the Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any
other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to
contribute to the securi ty of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty’.
4
In
1995, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation specified in the ‘Study on NATO
Enlargement’ that aspiring members of the alliance must be democracies, peacefully
settle ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes, and be able to contribute militarily to
NATO.
5
The ‘Copenhagen criteria’ and the ‘Study on NATO Enlargement’ were
issued primarily to formalise accession of potential members among post-communist
states in Central and Eastern Europe.
Some studies argue that there is a reverse causation in the relationship between the
level of democracy and European Union accession. Prospects of EU membership
promote democratisation of post-communist countries because existence of
democratic institutions is a precondition for joining the Eur opean Union (see
Pevehouse, 2005; Schimmelfennig & Scholtz, 2010; Way & Levitsky, 2007).
However, these studies fail to explain why the market economy conditionality in
European Union accession did not have a similar effect. All European post-
communist countries, both EU aspirants and countries that are not recognised as
potential candidates, mostly transformed their state-controlled centrally planned
economies into market economies. Other studies show that NATO accession does
not promote democratisation. In spite of similar democracy conditionality in joining
this organisation, it was not emphasised or strictly enforced, for instance, in the case
of Portugal (see, for example, Pevehouse, 2005; Reiter, 2001).
In addition, weak support among the public and the ruling elite in such post-
communist countries as Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine is often cited by scholars and
policy-makers as another factor hindering their EU and NATO accession (see, for
example, White et al., 2002). However, survey data show that the absolute
majorities, excluding the undecided, of Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians
consistently and by wide margins supported EU membership of their countries in the
2000s (White et al., 2010). Popular opinion concerning NATO membership in
Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine varie d significantly after the collapse of communism.
Public opposition to NATO membership in Russia and Belarus following the
NATO-led war in Kosovo and in Ukraine since the US-led war in Iraq 2003
outweighed support for joining the alliance, but public opinion on this issue in these
post-Soviet states following 9/11 was in many cases split or relatively favourable (see
McAllister & White, 2002; White et al., 2010).
Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1991 and President Vladimir Putin in 2000 both
voiced their desire to join NATO. Belarus, Armenia, and Kazakhstan were likely to
follow Russia in joining NATO since they were Russia’s allies. Even thou gh the
Russian government did not express interest in becoming a member of the European
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 309
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Union, President Putin stated that he would have be en pleased if Russia were to get
an invitation to join this organisation since he considered Russians to be culturally
and mentally European.
6
EU membership was backed by the last three presidents of
Ukraine. While Viktor Yanukovych officially renounced President Yushchenko’s
goal of joining NATO after becoming President of Ukraine in 2010, Yanukovych
and his Party of Regions supported President Kuchma’s declaration to seek such a
membership in 2002.
The Georgian government after the ‘Rose Revolution’ in 2003 made EU and
NATO membership one of its major foreign policy priorities, and the majority of the
public supported this goal. In Moldova, excluding the secessionist Transdniestrian
Republic, EU and NATO membership was backed by the absolute majority of
people (McAllister & White, 2002; White et al., 2002 ). The ruling coalition, which
came to power in Moldova after the July 2009 parliamentary elections, called itself
the Alliance for European Integration to emphasise its foreign policy priorities.
Kazakhstan and Armenian officials expressed potential interest in EU membership
for their countries. Polls show that the Armenian public supported EU integration.
7
These survey data and statements by government leaders provide an empirical
basis for an assumption that there was demand for European Union integration and
NATO membership among governments or/and populations of all post-communist
countries, including the post-Soviet stat es, even though this demand was not always
explicitly voiced. However, the European Union, and most leaders of its major
member countries, opposed not only membership of these post-Soviet states, but
also even formal recognition of the right of these countries to join this organisation
in the future when they would fulfil all formal requirements for membership (see, for
instance, Svyetl ov, 2007).
8
For example, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs
Commissioner Javier Solana stated in 2009 that Ukraine would not become an EU
member in the foreseeable future, in contrast to Albania.
9
Similarly, NATO refused
to acknowledge the right of Russia and other post-Soviet states, with the exceptions
of the Baltic States and Ukraine and Georgia, to join this organisation.
Such arguments as EU and NATO enlargement fatigue and geopolitical
considerations are often cited as reasons for the exclusion of the post-Soviet
countries. However, these arguments need to explain why during all enlargement
waves since the second half of the 1990s, the excluded category was predominantly
comprised of the post-Soviet states, with the exception of the Baltic States.
Such a policy of exclusion of certain post-communist countries and integration of
other post-communi st states represents a major puzzle for other reasons. EU and
NATO membership for the post-Soviet countries would have not only offered
economic, political, and security benefits to these countries, but also to members of
the European Union and NATO. Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union
and popular movements in its republics that later became independent states played
crucial roles in the mostly peaceful end of the Cold War and the collapse of
communism in the Soviet Union and Central-Eastern Europe (see, for example,
Brown, 2009). In addition, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced
the nuclear weapons that were left after the collapse of the Soviet Union, while
Russia significantly reduced its nuclear arsenal. The ongoing economic and security
benefits to EU and NATO members from these developments outweigh potential
future costs of accession of the European post-Soviet states. Moreover, the exclusion
310 I. Katchanovski
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of these states from the EU and NATO enlargement creates an economically,
politically, and militarily divided Europe.
In addition, prospective members of the European Union and NATO could have
promoted the peaceful resolution of conflicts involving the secessionist states of
Chechnya in Russia, Transdniestria in Moldova, South Ossetia and Abkhazia in
Georgia, and Nagorno Karabakh in Azerbaijan. Conflict resolution considerations
were offered as a rationale for EU and NATO accession of the Balkan states, such as
Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. For example, the European Union
declared Kosovo its potential member even though this secessionist state was not
recognised by some EU members, such as Spain and Romania. In contrast, the EU
did not offer such a prospect to similar secessionist states of Transdniestria, South
Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno Karabakh.
Lasas (2010) argues that EU and NATO integration of post-communist countries
was ideologically driven and presented restitution to these countries for the 1938
Munich Agreemen t, the 1939 Soviet–Nazi pact, and the 1945 Yalta–Potsdam
conferences. However, this theory cannot explain the exclusion of such post-
communist countries as Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus from the same waves of EU
and NATO enlargement since these post-Soviet countries were also affected by the
Soviet–Nazi pact. In addition, the historical restitution theory fails to explain why
the restitution centres on these particular World War II-related agreements and
ignores World War II itself. It is puzzling that major powers of NATO and/or the
EU, such as the US, the UK, and France, were reluctant to encourage NATO or EU
membership of successor countries of the Soviet Union, which was allied with them
during the war, and instead would reward countries, such as Hungary, Romania,
Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Croatia, that were allies of Nazi Germany during the war.
Data and Methodology
Accession to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a
lengthy process involving various steps. Therefore, the integration of post-
communist countries into these organisations is measured with the help of indexes
that reflect each major step of the accession in each year from 1997 to 2010. The EU
accession index and the NATO accession index are derived from the status of each
country as a member, an official candidate, an official potential candidate, and non-
member/not potential candidate from 1997 to 2010. The NATO accession index
ranges from 0 (non-member and not officially recognised by NATO as a potential
candidate) to 3 (member country). A country which is formally recognised as a
potential future member of NATO or offered an ‘Intensified Dialogue’ is given a
score of 1. An official candidate country that was offered a ‘Membership Action
Plan’ has a score of 2 in the NATO accession index. Similarly, the EU accession
index measures the status of each post-communist country as a ‘non-member/not
potential candidate’ (0), a ‘potential candidate recogni sed by the European
Commission’ (1), an ‘official candidate’ (2), and a ‘member of the European Union’
(3) in each year from 1997 to 2010 (see Table 1).
The EU Accession Index and the NATO Accession Index are the dependent
variables in a multiple regression analysis of the determinants of integration of
European post-communist countries into these organisations from 1997 to 2010. The
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 311
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cross-sectional time-series data define dependent and independent variables for each
of the 25 post-communist countries for each year from 1997 to 2010.
Only countries that are regarded as fully or partially European are included in the
analysis since the official criteria of both EU and NATO enlargements refer to
European countries. Therefore, such Asian post-communist countries as Kyrgyz-
stan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia are excluded.
The starting date for the analysis is selected because 1997 heralded the beginning
of the significant variation in the accession of post-communist countries to the
European Union and NATO. The Luxembourg Summit of the EU in 1997 decided
to launch in 1998 membership negotiations with the first group of candidates among
post-communist countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and
Slovenia). Similarly, the NATO Summit in Madrid in 1997 invited the first post-
communist countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) to begin
negotiations concerning their membership in NATO.
Since the data are a combinat ion of cross-sectional and time-series, panel
regressions are used to test the hypotheses identified in the first section. The NATO
and EU accession indexes, the dependent variables, are assumed to be interval-level
variables. Separate regression models for the Freedom House and Polity measures of
democracy are estimated. Pooled ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions and
random effects regression models (RE) are employed in the analysis. Since Breusch–
Pagan/Cook–Weisberg tests indicated heteroscedasticity in some of the regression
models, regressions were run with robust heteroscedasticity-consistent standard
errors.
The independent variables include the following: the Freedom House Democracy
Index, the Polity Democracy Index, the GDP per capita (purchasing power parity),
the EBRD Transition Index, religious composition of the population, Western
historical legacy dummy, the post-Soviet region dummy variable, the Baltic States
dummy variable, the population size, unsettled conflicts dummy, and lagged
dependent variables (see Table 2). The Freedom House Democracy Index is the main
measure of the level of democracy in each country for each year from 1997 to 2010.
It combines political rights and civil liberties scores which are reversed so that higher
value means greater level of democracy. The index ranges from 1 to 14. A linear
relationship of democracy with NATO and EU enlarg ements is assumed.
The Polity Democracy Index is another measure of the level of democracy. The
annual index ranges from –10 (most autocratic) to 10 (most democratic). This index
Table 1. Dependent variables and data sources of EU and NATO accession
Variable Description Source
EU Accession
Index
Non-member/not potential candidate of EU ¼ 0,
potential EU member ¼ 1, official EU
candidate ¼ 2, and EU member ¼ 3 in each year
from 1997 to 2010
European Commission
(2011) and
Drautzburg et al.
(2008)
NATO Accession
Index
Non-member/not potential candidate of NATO ¼ 0,
potential NATO member or an ‘Intensified
Dialogue’ with NATO ¼ 1, official NATO
candidate/‘Membership Action Plan’ ¼ 2, and
NATO member ¼ 3 in each year from 1997 to 2010
NATO (2011) and
Drautzburg et al.
(2008)
312 I. Katchanovski
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is used to check the robustness of the results. The Polity index is available for a
shorter time period and for a smaller number of countries compared to the Freedom
House index. The Polity Democracy Index covers the years from 1997 to 2009. In
contrast to the Freedom House Democracy index, it is not available for 2010 and for
Bosnia and Kosovo for all years.
The Western Christianity variable denotes combined percentages of Catholics and
Protestants in the population. It is a measure of the Western civilisati on, as defined
by Huntington (1996). The Western historical legacy variable is a measure of
political culture/cultural affinity. Its value is 1 for countries which were ruled by the
Austrian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the German Empire for at
least 100 years (see Table 2 and Katchanovski, 2000).
Table 2. Independent variables and data sources of EU and NATO accession
Variable Description Source
Freedom House
Democracy Index
Political rights and civil liberties scores for each year
in 1997–2010 (reversed)
Freedom House
(2011)
Polity Democracy
Index
Democracy and autocracy scores from Polity IV
Project, political regime characteristics and
transitions for each year in 1997–2009
Polity IV (2011)
GDP per capita
(ppp), thousand $
Gross domestic product per capita, purchasing
power parity
IMF (2011)
EBRD Transition
Index
A composite index derived from annual scores of
large scale privatisation, small scale privatisation,
governance and enterprise restructuring, price
liberalisation, trade and foreign exchange system,
competition policy, banking reform and interest
rate, liberalisation, securities markets and non-
bank financial institutions, and overall
infrastructure reform
EBRD (2010)
Western Christians,
%
Combined percentages of Catholics and Protestants
in country’s population
La Porta et al. (1999)
Western historical
legacy
Dummy variable equals 1 to countries which were
ruled by the Austrian Empire, the Austro-
Hungarian Empire and the German Empire for at
least 100 years: Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and 0
for all other countries
Barraclough (1998),
Katchanovski
(2000)
Post-Soviet state Dummy variable equals 1 for a European post-
communist country that belonged to the Soviet
Union, with the exception of the Baltic States
(Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine) and
0 for all other countries
Barraclough (1998)
Baltic State Dummy variable equals 1 for Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania and 0 for all other countries
Barraclough (1998)
Unsettled conflicts Dummy variable equals 1 for countries with violent
conflicts which were not settled peacefully in each
year in 1997–2010, and 0 otherwise
Uppsala Conflict
Data Program
(2011)
Population, million Population size in each year from 1997 to 2010 IMF (2011)
Lagged EU
Accession Index
One-year lag of the EU Accession Index
Lagged NATO
Accession Index
One-year lag of the NATO Accession Index
Note: GDP and population data for Kosovo are estimated from the CIA’s World Factbook (2010).
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 313
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The Post-Soviet state dummy variable designates European post-communist
countries that wholly or partly belonged to the Soviet Union from the date of its
official establishment in 1922 to the date of its break-up in 1991. It comprises of states
that were often and still are frequently associated with Russia in the West. The Baltic
States dummy variable identifies three countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) that
were incorporated into the Soviet Union as a result of World War II. The Baltic States
were independent in the period from World War I to World War II, an d their
incorporation into the Soviet Union was not recognised by many Western countries.
The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita expressed at purchasing power
parity is an annual measure of the level of economic de velopment of each country in
1997–2010. The EBRD Transition Index is an annual indicator of a progress of a
transition of each post-communist country to a market economy. It is the average of
annual scores given by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to
a post-communist country to assess the following elements of an economic
transition: large scale privatisation, small scale privatisation, governance and enter-
prise restructur ing, price liberalisation, trade and foreign exchange system,
competition policy, banking reform and interest rate, liberalisation, securities
markets and non-bank financial institutions, and overall infrastructure reform. The
index ranges from 1 to 4.3. Higher values indicate a more market economy. The
EBRD index and the total population size of each country in each year from 1997 to
2010 represent factors that are regarded as specific to the EU enlargement (Table 2).
Unsettled conflicts dummy variable reflects one of the official criteria of NATO
accession. It denotes for each year from 1997 to 2010 countries with violent conflicts,
which took place since 1991 and which were not settled peacefully. The lagged EU
Accession Index and the lagged NATO Accession Index are included in the
regression analysis since the accession status during each year is likely to be affected
by the accession status during the previous years (see Table 2).
Multivariate Analysis
The multiple regression analysis using pooled OLS and random effects mod els
produces similar results (Table 3). It shows that the level of democrac y is positively
associated with the NATO accession of the 25 post-communist countries. Both the
Freedom House Democracy Index and the Polity Democracy Index have a positive
effect on NATO enlargement in separate regression models. A 1 unit increase in
the Freedom House democracy measure raises the accession level by 0.04 units on
the scale from 0 to 3. This variable is statistically significant at the 5% level,
while the Polity Democracy Index is statistically significant at the 0.1% level.
European post-Soviet countries, excluding the Baltic States, have made
significantly less progress in terms of NATO accession compared to other post-
communist countries when the other relevant factors, such as the level of democracy
and the level of economic development, are held constant. The average post-Soviet
state scores about 0.22 or 0.27 units lower than the average other country on the
NATO Accession Index. The relationship is statistically significant at the 1% level in
Model 1 and the 0.1% level in Model 2 (Table 3).
10
Violent conflict s that are not settled peacefully negatively affect NATO
enlargement. The lagged NATO Accession Index is positively associated with the
314 I. Katchanovski
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enlargement. These two variables are statistically significant in all versions of the
regression models at the 1% or the 0.1% levels. Predominantly Western Christian
countries do not differ significantly from other post-communist countries in their
NATO accession. Similarly, the historical legacy variable is statistically insignificant
in all specifications of the regression models. The level of economic development also
does not have a statistically significant effect on NATO accession (see Table 3).
The Freedom House Democracy Index is positively associated with the EU
accession of the European post-communist states. This variable is statistically
significant at the 5% level. However, the Polity Democracy Index is statistically
insignificant. Similarly, the level of GDP per capita, measured in purchasing power
Table 3. Determinants of NATO accession of European post-communist countries, regression
coefficients
Model 1 Model 2
Pooled OLS Random Effects Pooled OLS Random Effects
Freedom House Democracy Index 0.038* 0.038*
Polity Democracy Index 0.018*** 0.018***
GDP per capita 70.001 70.001 0.001 0.001
Proportion of Western Christians 70.001 70.001 0.000 0.000
Western historical legacy 0.288 0.288 0.235 0.235
Post-Soviet country 70.216** 70.216** 70.274*** 70.274***
Baltic State 0.204 0.204 0.183 0.183
Unsettled conflict 70.189** 70.189** 70.255*** 70.255***
Lagged NATO accession index 0.755*** 0.755*** 0.741*** 0.741***
Constant 0.741*** 0.741*** 0.446*** 0.446***
R squared 0.91 0.91 0.91 0.91
N 327 327 289 289
Notes: Estimated using heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors.
*** Statistically significant at the 0.001 level; ** statistically significant at the 0.01 level; * statistically
significant at the 0.05 level; two-tailed tests.
Table 4. Determinants of EU accession of European post-communist countries, regression
coefficients
Model 1 Model 2
Pooled OLS Pooled RE Pooled OLS Pooled RE
Freedom House Democracy Index 0.026* 0.030*
Polity Democracy Index 0.001 0.001
GDP per capita 0.012* 0.015** 0.010 0.010
EBRD Transition Index 0.038 0.040 0.087 0.087
Proportion of Western Christians 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
Western historical legacy 0.050 0.041 0.063 0.063
Post-Soviet country 70.322*** 70.356*** 70.401*** 70.401***
Baltic State 0.122 0.132 0.127 0.127
Population size 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
Lagged EU accession index 0.748*** 0.706*** 0.756*** 0.756***
Constant 0.399* 0.449* 0.119 0.119
R squared 0.95 0.95 0.95 0.95
N 315 315 279 279
Notes: Estimated using heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors.
*** Statistically significant at the 0.001 level; ** statistically significant at the 0.01 level; * statistically
significant at the 0.05 level; two-tailed tests.
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 315
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parity, has a positive effect on EU integration in Model 1, while this factor is
statistically insignificant in Model 2 (Table 4).
11
Being a post-Soviet state, with the exception of the Baltic State s, has a negative
effect on European Union accession. The average post-Soviet country scores
between 0.32 and 0.40 units lower on this index than the average other post-
communist country. This variable is statistically significant at the 0.1% level in all
specifications of the regression model (see Table 4).
With the exceptions of the lagged EU Accession Index, other determinants of
European Union enlargement that are included in the regression models are
statistically insignificant. Percentages of Western Christians, Western historical
legacy, the population size, and the economic transition measure do not affect the
European Union enlargement (Table 4).
Conclusion
The enlarg ements of the Europ ean Union and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation produced major puzzles that are examined in this paper. While many
post-communist countries were granted membership or the prospect of membership
in these organisations, many other European post-communist countries were not
offered EU and NATO membership or the prospect of membership even when they
satisfied official criteria for joining these organisations. Previous studies explained
the exclusion of certain post-communist countries by their failure to meet such
formal and informal EU and NATO membership criteria of having a democracy, a
market economy, a European location or identity, Western Christianity, a high level
of economic development, popular and government support of prospective members
and major existing members, a small population size in the case of EU accession, a
peaceful resolution of internal ethnic conflicts or territorial disputes in case of NATO
accession, and other factors.
The analysis of survey data indicates that popular opinion in major EU and
NATO members is, on average, less supportive of admitting the post-Soviet
countries compared to oth er post-communist countries. In contrast, the majorities of
the respondents and governments in the post-Soviet nations back the EU
membership of their countries. The support for NATO accession among the public
and the governments of the post-Soviet states was generally lower and less stable.
However, these factors of the EU and NATO enlargements cannot be readily
included in the regression analysis.
The multivariate statistical analysis shows that level of democracy is positively
associated with the EU and NATO accession of 25 European post-communist
countries. The regression model which uses the Polity Index of Democracy instead of
the Freedom House Democracy Index does not produce statistically significant
results for the democrac y measure in the case of EU enlargement. However, the
Polity-based model relies on a more limited time-frame and cross-section of
countries. In addition, the regression analysis cannot rule out reverse causation
between EU membership and democratisation.
Being a post-So viet country, excluding the Baltic States, has a negative effe ct on
both European Union and NATO accessions when all other factors are held
constant. However, the post-Soviet states are generally also less democratic com-
316 I. Katchanovski
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pared to other European post-communist countries. The unsettled conflicts have a
negative impact on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation enlargement. The level of
economic development positively affects EU integration, but this variable becomes
statistically insignificant in the Polity-based model. Other factors, such as Western
Christianity and the Western historical legacy in both the EU and NATO cases, and
population size and transition progress to a market economy in the case of the
European Union, are not statistically significant predictors of accession.
This study implies that in contrast to other post-communist countries in Europe,
post-Soviet nations, with the exception of the Baltic States, face bleak prospects for
European Union and NATO integration even when they satisfy all official criteria
for EU and NATO accession. A bias against post-Soviet countries indicates that
such criteria, which are identified in official policies and in previous studies as the
levels of democracy, are not the only important factors of the enlargement. This
paper underscores the significance of the political factor that has not yet been
sufficiently recognised. The study implies that Europe is likely to remain divided in
the foreseeable future, in part because of the barriers that hinder accession of the
post-Soviet countries to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation. In addition, more research is needed to explore this issue in greater
depth and to examine the specifics of different stages of the EU and NATO
integration of post-communist cou ntries.
Acknowledgements
An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the
American Political Science Association in Washington, DC, 2–5 Se ptember 2010. I
am thankful to anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions and to the
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University for hosting
me during my research on this project.
Notes
1
With exceptions of such post-Soviet countries as Kazakhstan and Russia, geography is unlikely to be a
major factor since such countries as Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova have common borders with the
existing NATO and EU members, e.g. Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. In
addition, the NATO recognition of Georgia as a likely member of NATO implies that its geographic
location and that of neighbouring countries, such as Azerbaijan and Armenia, is not a major factor.
2
Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union. Available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/
treaties/dat/12002M/htm/C_2002325EN.000501.html (accessed 22 March 2010).
3
European Council in Copenhagen, 21–22 June 1993, Conclusions of the Presidency. Available at http://
europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference¼DOC/93/3&format¼HTML&aged¼1&language¼
EN&guiLanguage¼en (accessed 22 March 2010).
4
The North Atlantic Treaty. Available at http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm
(accessed 26 March 2010).
5
Study on NATO Enlargement. Available at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/enl-9501.htm (accessed
19 March 2010).
6
Putin byl by schastliv, esli Rossiia poluchit priglashenie v ES. Available at: http://www.gazeta.ru/lenta/
2005/10/31/news_466019.shtml (accessed 2 May 2010).
7
Caucasus Report, 7 January, 2005. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1341705.html
(accessed 28 March 2010).
EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries 317
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8
In its resolution in 2010, the European Parliament recognised the right of Ukraine to potential
membership in the European Union but this resolution was non-binding. See European Parliament
resolution of 25 February 2010 on the situation in Ukraine. Available at http://www.europarl.europa.
eu (accessed 14 May 2010).
9
Javier Solana’s speach at Harvard University, 17 September 2009.
10
Partial correlations of the post-Soviet dummy variable and the Freedom House Democracy Index
(70.66) and the GDP per capita (–0.11) are statistically significant, respectively, at the 0.1% level and
the 5% percent level. Partial correlations of the Post-Soviet variable with the Polity Democracy Index
and GDP per capita produce similar results.
11
The main determinants of EU and NATO accession remain the same when the log of GDP per capita is
used as a measure of economic development.
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