20th anniversary of 2004 NATO enlargement commemorated at Clingendael
10 Apr 2024 - 11:09
Bron: Clingendael

On Tuesday April 9th, the Clingendael Institute, in collaboration with the embassies of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in the Netherlands, hosted an event reflecting on the accession of these countries to NATO in 2004 - 20 years ago now.  This event marked a significant milestone in the alliance history, commemorated through a discussion on achievements and current and future challenges facing NATO. 

The first panel, moderated by Bob Deen, focused on the achievements and looked back on the period since the seven countries joined NATO. Panel experts highlighted NATO’s transformation from an expeditionary force into a defensive force, the evolving relationship with Vladimir Putin, and the impact of events such as the Russo-Georgian War (2008) and the Annexation of Crimea (2014). Additionally, the panel discussed NATO’s latest enlargement with Montenegro and North Macedonia, as well as the prospect of future enlargements involving Ukraine and Georgia. Panel guests included former NATO Secretary-General 𝗝𝗮𝗮𝗽 𝗱𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝗼𝗽 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿, Ambassador-at-Large of Latvia and former NATO Assistant Secretary General Baiba Braže, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to NATO Andrej Benedejčič, and Permanent Representative of Romania to NATO Dan Neculăescu

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO's Secretary-General between 2004 and 2009. ©Clingendael

The second panel, moderated by Dick Zandee, addressed the challenges that NATO faces moving forward, particularly looking ahead to the upcoming NATO summits in Washington and the Netherlands. Discussions encompassed a range of topics, including hybrid challenges posed by Russia, the rise of China, tensions in the Indo-Pacific and the situation in the Black Sea. Panelists also discussed Russia’s war in Ukraine and NATO’s role in the Western Balkans, as well as the future of the Atlantic partnership and the need for European strategic autonomy. Despite these formidable challenges, the panel composed of Permanent Representative of Slovakia to NATO Peter Bátor, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to NATO Nikolay Milkov, Deputy Minister of Defense of Lithuania Žilvinas Tomkus and Director of the Netherlands Atlantic Association Anna van Zoest expressed optimism regarding the future of the alliance. They underscored the resilience demonstrated by NATO in overcoming past challenges. e countries’ 2004 NATO accession.