Does Bucharest Nine matter?

Meeting of Bucharest Nine (Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria) takes place in Kosice, Slovakia, representatives of nine countries but also NATO SecGen Jens Stoltenberg join this meeting. What kind of added value, if any, could such format bring into the debate about European security and defense? Read few comments.

Vihar GeorgievAssistant Professor, European Studies Department, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

Regional platforms in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are evolving all the time. The Bucharest Nine platform is yet another example, but what is interesting is the focus of discussions: regional dimensions of NATO’s security environment and the evolving Russian threat. The latter is quite important for CEE given the impact of INF Treaty withdrawal by both the US and Russia. Currently, the threat of medium-range nuclear missiles proliferation in Europe is significant and growing. That is why the Bucharest Nine can deliver a valuable contribution to regional geopolitical stability, providing a strong voice for CEE security concerns.

Artur GruszczakNational Security Department, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

The Bucharest 9 has reflected a regionalist approach to security advocated by its founding members: Poland and Romania. Both are staunch U.S. allies and both have been recently at odds with the EU’s principles and laws. The group is a conglomerate of Central and East European countries which share strategic location, membership in NATO and the EU as well as the communist past. They pretend to speak with one voice in key security matters in the region despite divergent views on specific issues of security, regional stability and cooperation.

Certainly , Bucharest 9 is a NATO fan club – it agglutinates post-Communist states, post-Soviet republics located along NATO’s Eastern flank. They feel threatened by Russia’s active engagement in the former Soviet bloc and seek a remedy to strategic uncertainty in that part of the transatlantic area. They strongly believe in effectiveness of NATO’s active engagement on the Eastern flank and are eager to consolidate NATO’s military strongholds there (forward presence batallions in the Baltic republics and Poland).

In my view, the Nine is a kind of political lobby within NATO aiming to draw attention of the US to weak points, challenges and dilemmas of security in Eastern Europe. However, the Trump administration is much more interested in the expansion of its ‘business-as-usual’ approach than in a real contribution to defence and deterrence on the Eastern flank. So, a substantial value added by the Bucharest 9 can be measured in US dollars spent or declared by those countries for the purchase of American weapons.

I think that Bucharest Nine format is obviously natural in encompasing  several regional formats of basically Eastern European  countries. 3 Baltic States, 4 Visegrad States and Bulgaria, Romania are countries with mostly common history throughout the 20th century and common political, social, economic and security problems and challenges.

Raimonds RublovskisFormer Chief of the Strategic Planning Department of the Joint Headquarters of the National Armed Forces of Latvia

I think this format can bring on the table common voice of entire Region on security and defense issues to be heard in US, UK, France and Germany and from this perspective I see that this format has potential to develop into substantial political and security entity. However, there are the diferences within Bucharest Nine format on several key issues. Firstly, security and defense policy issues towards Russian Federation, secondly, on understanding of challenges of current US policy on Europen Union.

Perhaps, B9 format could be reinforced by the Adriatic NATO members of Croatia and Slovenia.

Bottomline – B9 could develop into substantial political and military format which shoud be count with

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