Nato's major eastward expansion 20 years on

Seven Eastern European states - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia - joined Nato when it expanded eastwards for the second time in 2004. Media from these countries praise the step as forward-looking - but also criticise shortcomings in defence measures and loyalty to the alliance.

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

The right decision

Neatkarīgā voices relief that Latvia joined Nato at a time when the situation was comparatively relaxed:

“Looking back, this didn't seem like such an important event 20 years ago as there were few signs of the fundamental political changes that were about to take place in the world. At that time, not only did the Russian president promise to abide by the constitutional rule of a maximum of two terms in office but China's communist leaders also followed the tradition of two terms. The global victory of democracy seemed certain. After the end of the Cold War, the world for the most part lived in an atmosphere of détente. Real acts of war in Europe (with the exception of the Balkans) seemed unimaginable.”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Defence cannot be completely outsourced

Lithuania is facing the fact that real security comes at a high price, Verslo žinios notes:

“In the 75th year of Nato's existence and the 20th year of Lithuania's membership, the geopolitical security situation in our region is clear evidence of the indispensable role of the defence alliance. At the same time, there is a growing realisation in Lithuania that not only our allies are responsible for our security but that we must also pay the necessary attention to it. Parliament has decided that three percent of GDP will be allocated to national defence in the coming year. This means coming up with an additional 400 million euros. ... Exactly how these funds are to be raised is in the hands of the politicians.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Only on course thanks to US leadership

For the Romanian Service of Deutsche Welle, Romania's biggest weakness is the country's political class:

“Our leaders are often indecisive when it comes to the national interest, and if it weren't for the US persuading them to make important decisions, Bucharest would probably be swaying in the same direction as Budapest. In such a tough period the Romanian state is headed by leaders who are poorly prepared, vulnerable due to their own biographies and easily steered in the wrong direction. ... Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine our defence industry has barely got moving, if at all, and the purchases [for the army] are not meeting the immediate requirements. ... For Romania's politicians, defence is of secondary importance. As so often in history, they are focusing on their own interests.”