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No NATO Expansion at September Wales Summit

July 5, 2014 (EIRNS)—When NATO’s foreign ministers met in Brussels on June 25 they agreed to offer Georgia a "substantive package" to help it come closer to NATO. As was noted by many observers at the time, a "substantive package" is not membership in NATO. Reports at the time indicated that NATO members were split on the question of expansion, generally, and on Georgia’s membership in particular. The Associated Press, in a story published today, confirms that, in fact, there will be no new NATO members welcomed at the summit in Wales in September. Neither Georgia, nor the other three aspirants to NATO membership—Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia—will be offered membership action plans, even though officially, the door remains open to new members.

Of the four aspirants, Georgia is strategically the most important, because its membership would be the most provocative to Russia, and it seems that’s exactly what some NATO members are worried about. According to AP, analysts say that NATO members are worried about granting, or being perceived as granting, security guarantees that could quickly be tested by Russia. "The conflict over Ukraine has made it clear to them at NATO they have to be careful, both about security commitments and credibility," Liana Fix, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, told AP. "If you give Georgia their membership action plan but don’t defend them if something happens, what does it say about your credibility?"

Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. indicates that, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea lies a far larger issue: "The question is, how much insecurity would you add to the alliance versus how much security would you bring to the alliance?"