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Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 12, Nº. 1 (May-October 2021)
Research and Development Centre of the Military University Institute (Portugal)
NATO is going through a time of high complexity, resulting largely from the deep internal
divisions that limit its ability to deal with the various strategic challenges. Based on the
recently published document “NATO 2030: United for a new era”, which analyses the strategic
environment and recommends a set of lines of action for the organization over the next ten
years, this article argues that most of the proposed measures to strengthen the Alliance's
political cohesion can only be successfully implemented if two essential measures are taken:
rapprochement with Turkey and strengthening cooperation with the EU. The survival of NATO
is also dependent on the identification of a common threat, fundamental to this type of
community, a condition that currently does not exist, especially in relation to the two identified
systemic adversaries: Russia and China.
Kwy words
NATO 2030, European Union, Turkey, systemic rivals, political cohesion, strategic
How to cite this article
Cruz, Marco António Ferreira da (2021). “NATO 2030”: survival in a new era., e-
journal of international relations. Vol12, Nº. 1, May-October 2021. Consulted [online] at date
of last visit,
Article received on January 18, 2021 and accepted for publication on March 7, 2021
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e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 12, Nº. 1 (May-October 2021), pp. 13-30
“NATO 2030”: survival in a new era
Marco António Ferreira da Cruz
On 25 November 2020, a report was presented listing the main strategic lines of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for the next 10 years. The document is called
“NATO 2030: United for a new era” (NATO, 2020) and was prepared by a group of ten
experts from different backgrounds, from academics to politicians, invited and nominated
by the NATO Secretary-General himself, Jens Stoltenberg. Although the reasons for
choosing each member have not been presented, it is important to highlight the absence
of Portugal and Spain from this forum for reflection.
Although the group works autonomously from the NATO structure, Jens Stoltenberg
made three guiding recommendations for the reflections to be made, namely:
i) reinforcing Allied unity, solidarity and cohesion, including to cement the centrality of
the transatlantic bond;
ii) increasing political consultation and coordination among Allies in NATO;
iii) strengthening NATO’s political role and relevant instruments to address current and
future threats and challenges to Alliance security, emanating from all strategic
directions (NATO, 2020: 3)
Two main ideas stand out in the document. The first concerns the global repositioning of
NATO. It is recognized that in the current context the challenges and threats are of a
global nature. In order to address them, a broad approach is necessary.
Conceptually, the idea is that NATO should remain a Regional Organization. However, it
must be closer to the network of indispensable global partners (such as Australia, Japan,
South Korea and India) so that together they can address challenges that affect everyone
and surpass the isolated capacities of single countries, including the greatest world
power, the United States of America (USA). Thus, cooperation with the allies has become
a fundamental requirement.
The second idea is the intention to strengthen its political capacity. The last few years
have highlighted the permanence of risks and challenges and the increase in their
complexity. They have shown a public mismatch in the transatlantic partnership and the
emergence of internal democratic issues in relation to Alliance countries, as well as
unthinkable strategic attitudes and military stances as in the case of Turkey with its
Article translated by Carolina Peralta.
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Marco António Ferreira da Cruz
military intervention in the western Mediterranean, in Libya or Syria. Thus, the document
focuses on measures that can generate the political capacity necessary to overcome this
current situation.
This paper reflects on these two points. While there is a need to develop a new strategic
concept for NATO that translates this new international context, with another type of
threats arising from climate change, nuclear proliferation, space disputes, and cyber-
attacks, among others, it also involves actors who have (re) emerged and dispute power
on a global scale.
Russia “threatens the security of individual NATO Allies and the stability and cohesion of
the Alliance as a whole” (NATO, 2020: 25) and China has become “a full-spectrum
systemic rival” that, although not posing an immediate military threat to the Euro-Atlantic
area on the scale of Russia, "is expanding its military reach into the Atlantic,
Mediterranean and the Arctic".
However, whereas the proposed measures are understandable, their consensual adoption
by the Alliance depends on complex factors, particularly the attitude of the new American
administration, Turkey and the relationship with the EU, which are critical successful or
unsuccessful factors.
The establishment of NATO, in 1949, and the successive adaptations it underwent, almost
always took unanimity for granted, namely in relation to the type of threats it intended
to fight. In its original phase, the need to deter and defend from a Soviet attack and later
the Warsaw Pact was widely accepted. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of
the Warsaw pact, there was unanimous response to the crises that immediately erupted
on its periphery and which led to the first operations outside the area. It intervened in
the Western Balkans, in response to the atrocities committed by Serbian military forces
in Bosnia and Kosovo. Following the September 11 terrorist attack, NATO invoked Article
V to support the USA and in 2003 deployed forces in Afghanistan, further expanding the
external area of intervention to combat international terrorism led by Osama Bin Laden.
However, today the situation is much more complex both externally and internally. The
definition of threats or challenges is less consensual and the transatlantic departure by
the United States, initiated with the Obama administration
, left a trail of doubt about
the Alliance's longevity and even about the sharing of values, principles and effective
involvement in the common cause. Perhaps this is at the root of the feeling that NATO
may be “brain dead”, as French President Emmanuel Macron recently stated (The
Economist, 2019).
Likewise, the sharing of values, namely the validity of democracy, presented as the
“cement” of political unity among the member states, in contrast to the distinct values
of other regions and actors, proves to be quite fragile. This is taking into account past
NATO enlargement to countries that had been in the Soviet orbit for many years, or are
following controversial and debatable political principles, as is the case with Turkey.
At the beginning of his term, President Barack Obama declared that the United States needed to look more
at the Asia-Pacific region, where American interests would have to be defended. This was reflected in the
National Security Strategy Obama signed at that time, in what became known as the “pivot” for Asia. Trump
has not changed this redefinition of strategic priorities, or at least this has not been reflected in his National
Security Strategy.
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“NATO 2030”: survival in a new era
Marco António Ferreira da Cruz
In addition to this introduction and the final notes, this article is divided into three main
parts. In the first, the aspects behind the creation and maintenance of the NATO
community and the questions of adapting to the international strategic context are
identified. In the second, the central theme of the document that is the basis for this
analysis is addressed, which is the reinforcement of the political role of the organization,
focusing on the internal dimension of this ambition. In order to present lines of
reinforcement of the internal cohesion mechanisms, in the last part two essential
measures are discussed: the rapprochement of NATO with Turkey and the reinforcement
of cooperation, in different areas, with the EU.
1. A community of (in) security
It is important to identify the aspects that help to understand NATO, its establishment
and its evolution in the international context, in particular after the fall of the Berlin Wall
and the collapse of the Soviet Union. At theoretical level, it is important to retain the
aspects identified by Karl Deutsch, in 1957, regarding the creation of the so-called
security communities. The author helps us to realize that integration in this community
intended to make war unlikely among its members (Deutsch, 1957: 5), developing a
sense of cooperative and collective security. The work of Adler and Barnett (1998: 55-
57), published 40 years later, also gives important indications regarding security
communities. Reinforcing the principles identified by Deutsch, the two authors emphasize
that the creation of this type of community has as its main pillar the identification and
common recognition of a threat with an external origin. In addition to the intention of
creating a security community, the establishment of NATO intended to answer questions
of a geopolitical nature, the principles of which can be found in the theory proposed by
Mackinder (1919, 1943. He argued that only a union of the maritime (Atlantic) powers
may contain the (natural) expansion of the continental power (Soviet Union). Also the
speech by the first NATO Secretary- General, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, gives us
elements that reinforce this geopolitical sense of NATO. He stated that the main objective
of NATO is “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” (NATO,
n.d.). In fact, a large part of NATO's efforts, from its inception until the end of the Cold
War (1991), sought to fulfil this purpose.
The relationship with the Russians during this period was always tense, sometimes
dramatic, not only in the Euro-Atlantic area, in particular on the borders between Soviet
space and Western Europe, but also in the peripheral regions where European powers
and the US sought to maintain their influence. At this time, the world was divided into
two large blocs, in addition to the existence of non-aligned countries. On the one hand,
the Western bloc, with democracy and the market economy as a reference, and NATO as
a collective defence organization. On the other hand, there was the alliance of the USSR
with the countries that had come under its control after the WW II, characterized by
sharing a single-party regime and a centrally planned economy, with the Warsaw Pact as
its military structure.
They were completely opposite in philosophical, political, economic and military terms.
The threat of catastrophic nuclear war led, in the 1950s, to the establishment, at the
20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, of “peaceful coexistence”,
with the decision to attack “capitalist regimes” outside the European area by supporting
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Marco António Ferreira da Cruz
the liberation of colonies. In the following decades, support for the liberation movements
became the central focus of the Soviet foreign policy.
In the western field, the danger of a nuclear cataclysm was also taken into account and,
in the framework of the 1960s Harmel Report, the “dual track” stance was established.
Always maintaining a defence without quibbling, NATO opened space for negotiations
with the Warsaw Pact and the USSR. Although militarily there were never direct
confrontations between these two blocs, there were, however, several proxy conflicts,
where each party supported the insurgent groups in countries under the influence of the
other party in some way. Examples include the conflicts in Vietnam, the Korean
Peninsula, in Afghanistan, and in much of the former Portuguese colonies (Hobsbawm,
1996: 241-243).
Political differences and the threat of expansion of communism in Europe in particular,
and in the world in general, formed the basis for common recognition of the Soviet threat
and to “fuel” the effort that all Member States devoted to NATO’s political and military
structure. For the EU countries, the security pillar was completely entrusted to the
security guarantee of the Atlantic Alliance.
Regarding Germany, during the Cold War, NATO always tried to keep the German military
instrument “under surveillance” (Hobsbawm, 1996: 240), in the first place, in the face of
the context of the First and Second World Wars. Despite being divided into Federal and
Democratic Republics, NATO, along with the EU, gave guarantees for European stability
through the peaceful German integration into the other European powers, especially
France. The maintenance of a substantial American military contingent in Germany
during the Cold War was certainly a guarantee of internal stability and affirmation of
shared responsibility in the event of an eventual attack by the Warsaw Pact.
Finally, in Ismay's words, NATO served to "keep Americans inside". The creation of NATO,
for the various North American administrations, can be seen as being similar to the
Marshall plan, which economically supported a Europe devastated by World War II.
Despite this support, which was vital for the European economic recovery, since then the
American influence has been strongly felt, not only in Europe but also globally.
Similarly, NATO allowed the Europeans to redirect all their efforts towards the recovery
of economies and the construction of the EU
(Gaddis, 2007: 45), rendering investment
in the military sector insignificant, given the guarantees “offered” by the alliance with the
North Americans. It is therefore not surprising that NATO's capabilities, especially in
nuclear terms, have depended (and still do today) almost exclusively on the United
States. However, as in the Marshall Plan, NATO also allowed the various North American
administrations to influence European states in political and military terms, becoming the
main source of acquisition of military weapons, installing military bases and making their
military doctrine available, including in the information domain.
After the Cold War and significantly until 2007, part of Ismay’s assumptions were less
relevant, although they have not disappeared. Germany continued to be very military
dependent on NATO, always fearing how these developments could be viewed internally
and internationally (Kaplan, 1961; Daehnhardt, 2011). For the United States, NATO, and
At the time organized into three communities: the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC).
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in particular the bases in European countries, constituted an important platform for the
projection of power, including for the Middle East, through Turkey.
In the case of Russia, the establishment of partnerships for dialogue with NATO and the
signing of cooperation agreements, such as the Open Skies treaty, removed tension in
the relationship between the two parts. The distension of this relationship, however,
influenced one of the central pillars of the Alliance, the recognition of a common threat.
Despite Eastern European countries, formerly belonging to the Soviet Bloc during the
Cold War, considering the threat of Russian military invasion to be an ever-present
reality, most EU countries, especially those in the South and Centre, which maintain deep
economic dependencies related to the import of energy (gas and oil) from Russia, had
different opinions. It is therefore not surprising that, at this point, some voices were
raised questioning the maintenance of NATO, given the absence of the threat that was
at its base, the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and its red army.
NATO's readjustment to the new international context was achieved with the
intervention, in the 1990s, in the conflicts of the Western Balkans (Gaspar, 2017: 110),
and later, in the fight against terrorism resulting from the 9/11 attacks, led by al-Qaeda
and directed by bin Laden. Whereas in the first intervention, NATO awakened the
attention of Europeans to the risks of contagion from the conflicts on its periphery, while
continuing to guarantee security in the European space, the fight against terrorism
gathered a global consensus on this type of threat. Here, too, NATO played a central role,
to the point that, for the first time in its history, Article 5 of the Alliance (Collective
was invoked. The strategic concept of NATO currently in force, approved in
2010, largely emphasizes the organization's objectives in combating terrorism.
2007 marked a new turning point in the relationship between Russia and the USA, and
consequently, with NATO. During an annual meeting on security held in Munich, the guest
of honour Vladimir Putin, in addition to stressing that the implosion of the Soviet Union
was the main geopolitical error of the 20th century, challenged the Eastern European
enlargement policies (NATO and EU), and claimed a new role for Russia in the
International Order. It was then expected that relations between NATO and Russia would
worsen. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia. In 2014, and after US President Barack Obama
referred to Russia as a regional power, thus contradicting Putin's narrative in Munich
years earlier, Moscow ordered the invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea
In addition to this change in Russia's stance, during this period, new terrorist attacks
were carried out on European soil, in particular in the United Kingdom, Denmark,
Sweden, France, Spain, Belgium, and Germany. The EU reacted unanimously following
The parties agree that an armed attack on one or more of them in Europe or North America will be
considered an attack on all and, consequently, agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each one, in
exercising the right of legitimate defence, individual or collective, recognized by article 51 of the Charter of
the United Nations, will assist the attacked party or parties, taking without delay, individually and in
agreement with the other parties, the action it deems necessary, including the use of armed forces to
restore and guarantee security in the North Atlantic region. Any armed attack of this nature and all measures
taken as a result of that attack are immediately reported to the Security Council. These measures will end
as soon as the Security Council has taken the necessary measures to restore and maintain international
peace and security.
The conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine were also related to the invitations made to these two countries by the
EU and, especially, by NATO, for future accession (Matsaberidze, 2015). Despite internal differences, at the
2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, the official statement states that these two countries will become
members of NATO (NATO, 2008).
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the attacks in Paris, invoking, at France's request, the EU's “defence or mutual
assistance” clause, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 (art. 42/7). In addition to
the terrorist attacks, thousands of migrants and refugees began to arrive in Europe,
fleeing conflict zones along the EU's external border. The conflicts in Syria, Libya,
Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, just to mention a few, are some of the causes of this
migratory wave towards Europe.
It is in this international context, marked by Russia's more assertive stance, the increase
in terrorist attacks on European soil and the mass movements of populations towards
Europe that NATO sought to respond, through the actions of strengthening land, air and
maritime patrolling in the Baltic and Black Seas and operations in the Middle East (Iraq
and Afghanistan) and the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Sea Guardian).
The widening of the type of threats that NATO began to combat, trying to respond to
threats to the East (bellicose) and to the South (fragile and unstable), meant that within
the community there was no longer a common recognition of the main threat. For
countries on the eastern border, Russia should be the top priority, for southern
(Mediterranean) states, NATO should be more focused on migration issues and seek to
stabilize the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. In addition, the election of US
President Donald Trump was strikingly negative for NATO, which reinforced divergences
with European allies, especially with Germany and France, and even with Turkey (a
subject that we will return to later).
The analysis and recommendations identified by the think tank that produced the
document NATO 2030: United for a new era, materialize the enlargement that NATO
proposes to achieve by 2030. In addition to Russia, measures are identified in relation to
(both systemic rivals). The latter (re)emerging power challenges the American
hegemony and has made a remarkable modernization progress in all domains, including
nuclear, naval and technological (which it applies in its projection into space (NATO,
2020: 17). In addition to these two actors, challenges related to the emergence of
disruptive technology, cyber and hybrid threats, weapons control and nuclear threats,
energy security, pandemics and natural disasters are identified. Terrorism is also
identified, as well as threats originating in the South, including climate issues, human
security, outer space, strategic communication, diplomacy and disinformation. Of all the
recommendations, in addition to the permanent reference to the word resilience, which
appears in the document on 35 different occasions (out of curiosity, the global strategy
of the EU, approved in 2016, also emphasizes this word), directed above all to the call
for the greater empowerment of societies, there is a suggestion for broadening the
spectrum of NATO's operations in different domains and geographical spaces.
This expansion to geographic spaces and other fields of activity (cybernetic and spatial)
accentuates the Allies' divisions regarding the common recognition of threats.
Considering only Russia and China, we have not found, at least for now, this unanimity
For the group of experts, China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its growing
economic and military weight. It has proven to be willing to use force against its neighbours, in addition to
using economic coercion and intimidating diplomacy far beyond the Indo-Pacific region. It is also underlined
that in the next decade, China will likely challenge NATO's ability to build its collective resilience, to
safeguard its critical infrastructure, to deal with new and emerging technologies, such as 5G, and to protect
sensitive sectors of the economy, including supply chains. In the long run, China is increasingly likely to
project military power globally, potentially including in the Euro-Atlantic area (NATO, 2020: 17).
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in relation to the challenges that each of the actors poses for NATO member states. There
are profound internal divisions in this domain, resulting largely from the
interdependencies, especially economic ones, of the majority of the Allies in relation to
China and Russia. This prevents the aggressive views, objectively or subjectively
evaluated, from having effects on the internal and external politics of all members, as
happened during the Cold War in relation to the Soviet Union, or during the fight against
terrorism, more recently. The difficulties in imposing sanctions on Russia after the
invasion of Crimea, an issue that remains dormant today, and the issue of adherence to
Chinese 5G technology are just some of the dividing points. The recent trade agreements
between the EU and China further deepen the possibility of consensus on the challenges
that Beijing poses to the international order.
The extension to climate issues, pandemics, natural disasters, gender issues, space and
disinformation seems to overlap areas already addressed by European allies in the EU
context. Although a point has been devoted to political consultation with the EU and the
Secretary-General has emphasized that NATO aims to be an organization that brings
together other sub-organizations, the view of European allies, including their societies,
on these matters is more focused on European responses, given the nature of its
instruments (political and economic), and not so much on NATO. Like other areas, there
are also distances between the two organizations. It is therefore important to underline,
based on the identified theoretical assumptions, in addition to the greater relevance in
security terms for the Euro-Atlantic area, that the document “NATO 2030” does not
favour its main objective, which is the strengthening of the political cohesion of the
organization. Its scope, multiple spaces and multi-domains, make it difficult to achieve
this political unity, which is aggravated by tensions among its members.
2. A political identity
Political issues form a significant part of the “NATO 2030” document. It states that the
military instrument is adapted to carry out the missions under the responsibility of the
Organization, as a result of the developments achieved in recent years (NATO, 2020: 6).
But it also points out that political cohesion among the Allies is the main weakness.
Regarding the external relationship, a significant part of the recommendations is directed
to the need to strengthen political instruments through greater coordination among the
Allies, in order to make NATO's actions more effective. Internally, these
recommendations apply to decision-making processes and consultation mechanisms. We
can therefore conclude that the main objective of the document and its recommendations
is to promote the political dimension of NATO, including its democratic principles, which
are the basis of its foundation, the consultation mechanisms, the decision-making
processes and the development of policy instruments to respond to current and emerging
threats (NATO, 2020: 6).
In a recent statement, as part of the debate promoted by the Carnegie think tank on the
document discussed here, Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the issues of NATO's political
identity to refer to China's challenges. For the Secretary-General, China does not share
the same democratic values as NATO, including respect for fundamental rights. The
appeal to NATO's political identity has been used at different times in the organization's
history since its foundation (capitalism vs socialism). Also in the fight against terrorism,
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Marco António Ferreira da Cruz
the issue of values and their defence was emphasized, through the reference was to the
threat that terrorist attacks produce in democratic values (Carnegie Europe, 2020).
However, it is important to realize the consistency that this call on NATO's political
identity produces in its internal cohesion. This identity results from the identification of a
set of common characteristics among the elements of a given community, which
distinguish them from other groups. The maintenance of those characteristics, always in
comparison with external groups, is therefore the “cement” of the integrity and survival
of these communities. With regard to NATO's political identity, we find in different
references, such as the declaration of its current Secretary-General, the identification of
democratic values, respect for freedom, justice and human rights. The EU has also used
these issues as a way to Europeanize the policies of its member states, applying this
“recipe” to countries in the process of integration, through the so-called Copenhagen
Unlike the EU, democratic values were not, however, a priority issue for NATO in the
membership processes of its members. Above all, it took into account issues of a
geopolitical nature. Portugal's accession in 1949 is an example of this relationship
between values and responses to needs of a geopolitical and geostrategic nature
(Hobsbawm, 1996: 244). The guarantee of the use of the Lages base by the Americans
dictated the integration of Portugal, at the time admittedly an authoritarian regime, not
democratic, in the organization (Marcos, 2014). As a result of these options, which are
widely perceived by the societies that are part of NATO, the appeal and the narrative that
is made to values is extremely fragile, given the current context of some of the countries
that are part of the Atlantic Alliance, in particular Turkey and Poland (Petrova & Aydin-
Düzgit, 2021). The latter is even in dispute with the EU over the same matter.
Domestic policy issues are even more relevant when disputes among its members are
analysed. Thus, In addition to the threats of conflict between Greece and Turkey over
the Cyprus issue and disputes over area of influence and access to resources in the
Eastern Mediterranean, there are also tensions resulting from Ankara's purchase of the
Russian S-400 defence system. Turkey's disagreements with NATO and the United States
over this acquisition have led Washington to impose harsh trade sanctions on Turkey
. The Turkish foreign minister, in addition to classifying the North American
decision as a serious mistake, said that the sanctions had an effect on NATO cohesion,
promising that Turkey will do everything to retaliate, in an appropriate manner and at
the appropriate time (Gumrukcu, 2020). Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in a public
statement, referred to the sanctions, underlining that “from our NATO ally, the USA, we
expect support in the battle against terrorist organizations and not sanctions”
(Gumrukcu, 2020).
The Copenhagen criteria, formulated in 1993 by the Copenhagen European Council, set out the requirements
that candidate states have to fulfil before integration at three different levels: at the level of political criteria
(stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection
of minorities), economic (a functioning market economy and the ability to cope with competitive pressure
and EU market forces) and legal (ability to take on obligations arising from accession, including the ability
to effectively apply the rules, standards and policies that make up the EU's legislative body (the acquis)
and adherence to the objectives of political, economic and monetary union).
Sanctions include the export ban of Turkey's leading military procurement agency, as well as asset freezes
and visa restrictions for the organization's senior officials (Barkey, 2020).
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The political differences among some NATO members pose a serious risk to the
organization as they allow the intervention of external actors, who exploit these same
divisions. The NATO 2030 document makes reference to China and Russia working in this
field, calling into question the interests and security of the Allies in areas traditionally a
priority for NATO. These are its internal and transatlantic cohesion, also extending to the
cyber domains, technological and commercial strategies (5G), threatening the
democratic way of life (NATO, 2020: 9).
In addition to “opening space” for the intervention of external actors, the lack of political
cohesion calls into question NATO's capacity for intervention. It is in this sense that a
large part of the proposed measures are directed at decision mechanisms and processes,
such as the strengthening of consultation mechanisms among allies, a little like the
principle of constructive abstention in the EU. Regarding the consultation mechanisms
among the Allies, through the North Atlantic Council (NAC), its strengthening among the
Allies in the measures related to the two systemic rivals (Russia and China) and on
nuclear issues is defended. The intention is to achieve a “common understanding and
position (NATO, 2020: 37), in the sense that this position is even identified by the Allies
in other international organizations (UN and OSCE). In this same context, the
strengthening of consultation between NATO and the EU should also be highlighted, in
order to increase transparency between the parties.
In relation to political decision-making processes, the main issue lies in the blocking of
most decisions, due to the lack of consensus among the Allies. This matter is particularly
relevant in the report since it significantly affects NATO's cohesion. Of total five
recommendations, a large part seeks to overcome this type of constraint in the decision-
making process. Therefore, it is proposed to create structural mechanisms to establish
coalitions within the Alliance’s structure, in a kind of reinforced cooperation, also planned
by the EU to overcome the difficulties of unanimous decision-making processes, in which
more “capable” and more willing members can conduct joint projects, and the decision
by qualified majority is in force.
For NATO, these coalitions can even be used to carry out new operations, under the
umbrella of the organization, including Allied and Non-Allied countries that express the
desire to participate. In this regard, the document identifies the possibility of using
NATO's command structures and decision-making processes. A final suggested aspect
concerns the question of the financing of the missions, with the possibility, in some cases,
that the principle of payment by the participating States will no longer be applied
(according to the idea that “costs lie where they fall”, that is, they pay the costs to the
participating Member States), for common funding some expenses resulting from military
operations (NATO, 2020: 61).
Still in relation to the decision-making process, it is important to identify the attribution
of greater autonomy to the NATO Secretary-General in routine decisions (without
mentioning which ones and under what circumstances). This measure allows to overcome
the issues of political consensus and the need to satisfy strategic conditions, motivated
by the speed of the decision. On this aspect of the speed of the decision, a time limit is
proposed for the response, under the risk of a delay jeopardizing the security of an Ally
and the credibility of NATO.
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One of the most relevant aspects of the recommendations regarding the Alliance's
decision-making process concerns the blocking, at ministerial level, by some of the Allies.
Whereas the measures relating to the speed of the decision that gives more powers to
the Secretary-General are aimed at the issues related to threats to the East and the Baltic
countries' fears of military intervention in the region, the second point is directed to the
tensions created within NATO related to the blockades to Turkey. This situation has,
moreover, prevented close cooperation between NATO and the EU.
Despite the relevance of the proposed recommendations, related to decision-making
processes and consultation mechanisms, their implementation is, in most cases, difficult.
Two essential aspects contribute to this. The first concerns the sovereignty issues of
States, the conduct of their own foreign policies and the enforcement of the military
instrument. At political level, there is no consensus in NATO regarding the type of threats
that affect the organization itself, which is why we sought to identify a wide range of
threats. The Allies' relationship with systemic adversaries (Russia and China) is not
equally consensual. They have different external policies, ranging from economic
dependencies to trade “wars”. In this sense, the consensus regarding the enforcement
of measures by NATO becomes quite complex, affecting the cohesion and credibility of
the organization. The disputes of interests among the Allies themselves raise the degree
of difficulty in reaching such a consensus. A second aspect concerns the issues of NATO's
political identity, based on the principles and values of democracy, freedom and strict
rule of law. Despite the experts' concern not to identify Allies, this narrative does not
apply to part of its members, which makes political cohesion very difficult. In fact, NATO's
own enlargement processes to other states have always sought to respond to geopolitical
needs and not to transform the internal structures and political model of the candidates
for accession.
3. From the Turkish question to shared responsibility
The current strategic environment, marked by several material and ideological challenges
of a global, systemic nature and with impacts on several domains, demands from NATO
great capacity for adaptation and response to show societies that it will defend its
capacity to respond to current difficulties. This has always been the main concern of the
Alliance, with the different strategic concepts reflecting a great capacity to adapt to the
strategic environment during the Cold War and afterwards, with emphasis on global
terrorism issues. However, current circumstances are profoundly different from the past
due to the emergence of another type of threat. Now the military instrument does not
have the relevance of the past, despite the centrality of nuclear issues and the paradigm
shift in the use of military capabilities for dual use. In addition, geopolitical issues have
changed radically, taking into account the emergence of new powers that seek to
challenge the international order. There is also an accelerated transition of centres of
power to other regions of the world, with an emphasis on East Asia. This change requires
a profound readjustment of NATO, including its own strategic centre, dedicated since its
origin to Europe and the Atlantic area.
This change is so pressing that it may even jeopardize NATO's very survival, a topic that
takes on even greater relevance when compared to the end of the Cold War. To achieve
this same change, among others, there are two essential aspects. One of an internal
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nature and the other of an external nature. While the first concerns Turkey, the second
concerns the future relationship with the EU.
In addition to what it represents in geopolitical terms for NATO, Turkey has one of the
largest armed forces among the Allies. Despite not having nuclear weapons, its military
capabilities stand out in number and quality. Since 2001, Turkey's defence budgets have
increased steadily and significantly, particularly since 2018, when over 22 billion dollars
were spent. For comparison, in that same year, France spent around 50 billion, the United
Kingdom 60, Spain 13 and Portugal 3 (NATO, 2019: 7).
Figure 1 Turkey Military Expenditure (1953-2018)
Source: Trading Economics (n.d.)
Turkey's political and strategic options have led to its visible distancing from Western
countries and organizations, including the EU. After years of negotiations to be included
in the European space, the current cooling has led President Erdogan to demonstrate his
disillusionment regarding this process, which has led to an ever greater distance from
the EU. Migration management created a new point of cleavage between the parties.
European leaders, in particular French diplomacy, accused the Turkish president of using
migration as a political weapon to claim a reinforcement of the financial aid sent by
Brussels to Ankara to support migrants stationed in Turkey intending to come to Europe.
Despite European institutions, with emphasis on the current responsible for Foreign and
Security Policy, Josep Borrel, and Germany and Italy mediating this dispute, the (historic)
tension relations with other Member States, namely Greece and Cyprus, has not
facilitated this process.
Regarding the US, these relations have been marked by similar tensions since the
beginning of the Iraq conflict. Turkey has not forgotten the incident of 4 July 2003, when
US forces carried out an action in the city of Sulaymaniyah (Northeast Iraq), and captured
11 Turkish military personnel belonging to special operations. The treatment of the
Turkish military, who had their equipment confiscated and their heads covered, was
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considered a serious diplomatic incident. Alongside this issue, the American refusal to
provide military technology to Ankara, like the Patriot air defence missiles, led to Turkey's
purchase of this capability from Russia, which has generated major cleavages within
NATO (Johnson & Gramer, 2019). Also Turkey’s increasingly active foreign policy,
seeking to retake the areas of influence occupied by the Ottoman empire (Colborne &
Edwards, 2018) (Ayoob, 2020), has distanced an understanding in terms of the
relationship with NATO and with the rest of the Allies. Turkish intervention in the Syrian
and Libyan conflicts are two of the many examples of this.
Due to the importance of Turkey to NATO and the many current tension relations, the
materialization of most of the recommendations proposed by the experts can only be
viable when there is a Turkish rapprochement with the West. In this sense, the imposition
of sanctions by the US, the lack of consensus in relation to the management of migration
and the disputes in the Western Mediterranean that oppose the EU to Turkey over
sovereign areas make this very difficult, the same applying to NATO's cohesion and
In this context, the establishment of a “Code of Conduct” that will be able to define in
more detail what is or is not accepted in the behaviours of the Allies makes sense.
In addition to the Turkey issue, NATO's relationship with the EU is also vital for the
realization of the political ambition of the recommendations of “NATO 2030”. Firstly, due
to the role that the EU can/should play as a mediator in relations with Turkey, due to its
geographical proximity, historical relationship and economic interests. Despite the
existing disputes, this rapprochement relationship has been happening for much of the
past two decades in the Western Balkans region, where Turkey has even integrated its
military contingent into the EU's mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). Enhanced
cooperation between the EU and Turkey will certainly also contribute to bring Ankara
politically closer to NATO. This strategy of bringing Turkey closer to and integrating into
the EU, in order to promote its Europeanization, was even sponsored, for years, by the
US, the main motivation being that such integration would be beneficial for Turkey's “way
of being” in NATO (Önis & Yilmaz, 2005) (Kivanc et al, 2014: 1697).
Secondly, due to the sharing of responsibilities between the two organizations,
preventing redundancies in performance through the exploration of the distinctive
capabilities of each and the sharing of geographical spaces. Although part of the threats
are global and in multiple domains, fighting them requires a comprehensive approach to
the instruments. The document discussed here and the EU's global strategy, approved in
2016 and updated over the past few years, indicate clear areas of common interest, such
as migration, terrorism, threats to the south, assertiveness to the east. The discussion
around the EU's strategic autonomy, in areas such as the economy, health and above all
in security and defence, should therefore be clarified. According to the document, it
should be established in such a way as to lead to the mutual reinforcement of the two
organizations and not to their mutual competition.
The establishment of the Permanent Structured Cooperation and related programmes
and structures, such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the
European Defence Agency (EDA), should be understood as a form of contribution of EU
Member States to NATO. This point is not new, taking into account the permanent effort
of the European institutions to identify and explain European developments in the field
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of Defence. It is true that, since its creation, the Common Foreign and Security Policy
(CFSP) and the corresponding Common Security and Defence Policy, the second being
part of the first, have generated major debates in the relationship with NATO and the
US. At this point, it is important to identify two distinct views that have occupied a large
part of that discussion.
Bearing in mind the EU's increasing external engagement in crisis management missions
and operations, the first trend defends the EU's autonomy, stating that strengthening its
capacity to act in regions of strategic interest is required. This view stresses that the EU
will only begin to be taken seriously as a security actor when it has new operational
capabilities to safeguard European interests, including the employment of European
military forces (Leonard and Rottgen, 2018).
For this current, the pursuit of the EU's specific interests is not at odds with NATO, as
the established capabilities even strengthen its military capabilities given the Member
States' commitment to the transatlantic alliance. The second current stresses that a more
“muscular” Europe can jeopardize NATO itself, if it is done against the will of the US,
fearing that the increase in European capacities and strategic autonomy may condition
the transatlantic relationship (Boniface, 2016:102).
The relationship with the US and NATO, together with the identification of threats to the
European space, are therefore the critical points of the EU's strategic autonomy. During
the Cold War, the development of European capabilities was, as a rule, seen by various
US administrations as reinforcing NATO's own capabilities. In other words, for the
Americans, the existence of an effective European military capability was considered
benign, as long as it was done within the framework of NATO.
The emergence of the CSDP in the late 1990s raised the question of the EU's military,
defence and security culture, distinct from that of NATO and the US (Helly, 2018: 13).
The creation of this new European path was seen by some as an echo of the divergences
between the US and some EU member states, like the one that occurred in late 1997,
when the Clinton administration sought to increase the pressure on Baghdad.
At the same time, France joined Russia and China in vetoing US proposals submitted to
the Security Council (Kagan, 2003: 53). The turning point in American scepticism about
European military development, at least in public terms, happened during the
management of the Iraq conflict in 2003, a time when several European countries decided
not to accompany the US in the invasion of Iraq. At that time, the George W. Bush
administration became aware that a stronger EU would be a less collaborative partner,
conditioning American foreign policy and NATO itself (Ghez e Larrabee, 2009).
In European terms, France, through its successive presidents (since General de Gaulle)
has generally maintained a political line in support of strengthening European strategic
autonomy. However, as stressed by Boniface (2016: 101), the more French than
European nature of this project contributed to its being seen, inside and outside Europe,
For France, the European project is largely the result of a French desire to keep Germany at bay and also
to create a counterweight to the US (Bongiovanni, 2012: 22). In the uncertainty surrounding the end of the
Cold War, France found competition from the United States for a leadership position in the new Europe.
Paris increasingly resented the US's attempts to preserve or even increase its influence on European
security. Mitterrand was hostile to any expansion in the tasks assigned to NATO, which he saw as an
instrument for the domination of America (Grant, 1996: 59-60). The creation of a European security identity
was therefore seen as a means to challenge the dominance of the United States in Europe (Menon, 1996:5).
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as aiming more at replacing American hegemony by French influence, than at developing
a real European project. For the rest of the European partners, in particular for Germany,
there was always a fear of some French arrogance and the desire to replace the
Americans without having the necessary means to do so.
For the French view, which has been the “bridgehead” for strategic autonomy, the EU
must become an autonomous strategic entity in order to be prepared for the eventual
withdrawal or disinterest of the United States, more concerned with Asia, whose military
forces will not remain forever in the centre of the European continent (Bozo, 1998).
France and other EU members have never been comfortable with the EU's lack of freedom
of action as it is substantially dependent on NATO (Ghez and Larrabee, 2009).
For many years, it was the United Kingdom that led the resistance within the EU in
relation to strategic autonomy, defending a view close to that of the US, preferring to
maintain Europe's status quo in this regard. When, in 2003, Belgium, France, Germany
and Luxembourg proposed the establishment of a Europe of Defence and of an
Operational Command in the city of Tervuren, the United Kingdom considered that this
action not only duplicated those existing in NATO (namely SHAPE), but it could be seen
as an unnecessary duplication of the Alliance and endanger NATO's role as a
“cornerstone” of European security (Duke, 2018: 25-26).
London’s resistances were shared by several Member States like Portugal, Denmark, the
Netherlands and Italy, for whom the defence guarantee must be the remit of NATO and
the US. For these States, European autonomy and a duplication of the Alliance's ESDP
reorientation could lead to an anti-American feeling. This “Atlantic” vision of European
Security and Defence was reinforced when the EU enlarged to the east in 2004 and 2007,
through the integration of ten new Member States
, formerly under the influence of the
Soviet bloc, for whom the strengthening of the leadership of the CSDP could mean a
weakening of NATO (Ghez e Larrabee, 2009) (Faleg, 2017: 137).
In addition to these issues, over the past few years, especially since the Clinton
administration (although the issue had greater visibility when Donald Trump was the
head of the White House), the Americans have been calling for greater investment in the
defence sector on the part of Europeans, insisting that this investment is at least 2% of
the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sharing of effort, the so-called burden-sharing,
has been one of the most central tension points between the two sides of the Atlantic.
It is therefore important that the EU demonstrates greater willingness to contribute to
the defence sector, spending more rationally and seeking consistency in its investments,
and that the new US administration gives a signal of this same will, which would
contribute to a return to the strategic sense of the relationship between the two blocs.
IThis way, the centrality of the discourse would no longer be focused on burden-sharing,
and be centred on a new concept of responsibility sharing between NATO and the EU.
This change of approach requires a realignment of the strategic documents and the
visions of the respective visions, in order to share fields of action and geographical spaces
in line with the instruments and their respective capabilities.
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.
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This effort to generate interdependencies and cooperative relations between NATO and
the EU would give advantages to both organizations to combat the threats that will affect
European and North American spaces.
Final considerations
The NATO 2030 document is an important guideline for the next strategic document of
the Atlantic Alliance. However, the importance attached to internal issues, related to
internal decision-making mechanisms in political terms and to the search for the
strengthening of consultation forums among allies, should be emphasized, in order to
give greater cohesion and credibility to NATO. In this sense, despite the identification of
a very wide range of challenges that the Organization must be able to face externally,
the recommendations depend to a large extent on this internal context.
Like other organizations, NATO is going through one of the greatest crises in its history,
which may even jeopardize its own survival. Transatlantic issues and the departure of
some allies from political norms and attitudes that have long been internalized, can lead
to the absence of a common strategic vision, or even the perception of a common destiny.
All this contributes to a pessimistic vision about the coming times. The proposed
reinforcement of the political instrument to act in external terms, as well as the greater
capacity of the military instrument, only seem achievable if the indispensable political
cohesion is achieved. In this sense, the document is (perhaps too much) ambitious,
taking into account that the recommendations are difficult to implement in the current
In order to overcome this crisis, it is important to achieve not only a rapprochement with
Turkey, which in the current context is proving very difficult, given the tightening of the
sanctions imposed and the territorial disputes that it has with some NATO (and EU)
members. Likewise, the path to closer ties with the EU, through the sharing of
responsibilities, proves to be an inevitability, because while a Europe without the
contribution of NATO will not make sense, the same is true when we talk about
dependency (politics) of NATO in relation to Europeans. Finally, it is important to change
the narrative of democratic principles as a structural pillar of the alliance, directing these
same discourses to the threats to the Euro-Atlantic area, which are identification roots of
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According to the NATO 2030 report the Alliance will have to adapt to a more complex strategic environment over the next decade. In this study, we address the major strategic priorities of the report, and its recommendations for the Alliance’s partnerships. NATO’s partnership initiatives (Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Partners Across the Globe) are key tools for building cooperative security and cooperation with partners. It provides a good opportunity to review the Alliance’s ability of continuous innovation and its adaptation to a changing world.
Full-text available
This paper analyzes the construction and transformation of Georgia and Ukraine’s post-Soviet security strategy in the context of post-Soviet Russian foreign policy in the “near abroad,” or what is often termed the “legitimate sphere” of Russian influence. After the Rose Revolution of Georgia and the Orange Revolution of Ukraine the independent/ pro-Western orientation of these two countries became the main issue securitized by the Russian Federation. Therefore, maintaining territorial integrity became the top security priority for Georgia (since the early 1990s) and most likely will become the main issue for Ukraine after the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea (March 2014) and the subsequent developments in Eastern Ukraine. The changes in the internal politics of these countries were transposed into the international competition between Russia and the EU/US, expressed through the clash of “sovereign democracy” and “Color Revolution” paradigms for the future of post-Soviet states. In essence, these are the maintenance tools of Russian influence on the one hand, and on the other hand an exercise in Western power values across the Former Soviet Union (FSU), supported with the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EP) projects. The military actions of Russia in Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2014) were a response to the soft power applied by the West and aimed at creating buffer zones in the shape of “frozen conflicts.” These could be used as indirect leverage in the hands of the Russian Federation to block Western aspirations in Georgia and Ukraine.
In April 1949, Portugal, an undemocratic and underdeveloped small country of Western Europe, became one of the 12 founding members of the Atlantic Alliance. The important geopolitical position of the Portuguese Atlantic islands was the main justification for the admission of this authoritarian regime in the Western Alliance. From this moment on, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) served as a framework for the bilateral relationship between Portugal and the USA. The US interests were fully achieved after the Azores agreement of 1951, since it authorised Washington to use an airbase in the archipelago during peacetime. However, for Lisbon, NATO did not safeguard one of its most important objectives: the maintenance of its colonial empire. As the 1950s evolved, US presence in the Azores and Lisbon's resistance to decolonisation became increasingly interdependent. Portugal quickly understood that the Azores could be a trump card to obtain political leverage from the USA regarding Lisbon's colonial policy. This strategy led to the establishment of a modus vivendi in US–Portuguese relations that was based on a thin balance between the interests of both governments.
Can the North Atlantic Area become a "security community"-a community like some other historical groups, in which warfare among members becomes highly improbable? This is the central problem of international organization; it is the problem attacked by this book as part of a larger study of the factors involved in the elimination of war. It comprises the first social-scientific study of its kind, based on historical analyses and representing the efforts of a group of political scientists and historians. It may be regarded as a prototype of fruitful research in the future.
This article examines the delicate dynamics of the triangle of Turkey-EU-US relations. While acknowledging the role of the United States in promoting close links between Turkey and the EU, this study underlines the limits of American influence on EU decision-making on issues concerning “deep integration.” In this context, the future of this triangular relation depends on the interplay of contending forces in Turkey's domestic political arena as well as the dynamics of trans-Atlantic relations in the international scene.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has played a central role in the regeneration of West Germany since die Second World War, with the accession of die Federal Republic to NATO in May 1955 marking the official return of Germany to the company of civilized nations. West Germany, in turn, has become a not inconsequential member of the treaty organization. The bulk of NATO'S defense forces is located in die Federal Republic; an increasing amount of NATO'S military contribution is German; and the most controversial issue in Europe confronting the organization stems direcdy from die division of Germany and the exposed position of Berlin.
Return of the Empire: Why Erdogan Wants to Resurrect the Ottoman State. The National Interest
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Ayoob, M. (2020, 22 August). Return of the Empire: Why Erdogan Wants to Resurrect the Ottoman State. The National Interest.
Why There's No Easy Solution to the U.S.-Turkey Dispute Over the S-400
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Barkey, H. Dec. 29 (2020, 29 dezembro). Why There's No Easy Solution to the U.S.-Turkey Dispute Over the S-400.
Erdogan Is Making the Ottoman Empire Great Again
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Colborne, M. & Edwards, M (2018, 22 June). Erdogan Is Making the Ottoman Empire Great Again. Foreign Policy.
Em: Maria Raquel Freire
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Daehnhardt: (2011). A Alemanha. Em: Maria Raquel Freire. Política Externa trabalho e investigação. As Relações Internacionais em Mudança. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra. (pp. 55-75) DOI: