Hollande’s NATO Statement Puts Europe At Risk

By Former Prime Minister of Georgia, Amb Grigol Mgaloblishvili

Francois Hollande’s statement on March 4 about halting NATO enlargement process and “temporarily” closing the Alliance’s door carries a very dangerous message, both for the Alliance and for its partners. But more importantly, it displays a lack of vision about how to handle the crisis of revisionist Russia.

The fundamental blunder of Hollande’s appeasing stance lies in a misreading of Russia’s strategy—what Russia opposes is not NATO enlargement per se but a state building process in its neighborhood. NATO and EU membership are just simple tools allowing the aspirant counties to free themselves from their Soviet legacy. NATO’s enlargement process has played a key role in transforming once totalitarian and corrupt European states into modern, open and democratic societies. It has significantly expanded the boundaries of stability and democracy in Europe. Closing this door carries a message that millions of Europeans will be deprived of the chance to pursue democratic reforms and are doomed instead to be part of Russia’s sphere of influence. Moreover, it jeopardizes the universal rights of the free nations to make their sovereign choices and devalues the idea of the “Europe whole, free and at peace.”

President Hollande’s veiled attempt to accommodate Russia’s demands by halting the NATO enlargement process won’t diffuse the tension. Quite the contrary, it will further embolden Moscow to carry on its aggression against its neighbors, dismembering those states as pay-back for “disloyalty” to Moscow. The Russian formula is pretty simple – instigate a conflict, create a permanent source of instability, take the Euro-Atlantic integration process as hostage of this engineered “frozen conflict” and consequently, impede the transformation of the post-Soviet area into a free and democratic space. As the Russian president admitted in the aftermath of the Georgian-Russian conflict – had he not acted (in 2008) the geopolitical realities would be different and a number of countries would have become members of NATO by now.

President Hollande’s statement must have sounded like music to Moscow’s ear and served as a further attestation that the well versed strategy of subjugating “disloyal” neighbors is up and running. Invading Ukraine has started bearing its first fruits, as NATO’s open door policy has not just been put on hold, but also openly questioned and challenged by one of the alliance’s founding members. Thus, it should not come to any one’s surprise to see a continuation of Russia’s military adventurism in other parts of its neighborhood. It certainly ensures a hampering of the Euro-Atlantic perspective in the post-Soviet space.

Perhaps most regrettably, President Hollande has undermined the fundamental principle of the North Atlantic Alliance that no third party holds veto power over its decisions. The idea that any European democracy, able and willing to contribute to the Euro-Atlantic security, can become a member of the Alliance has been openly challenged. This pitiful attempt to halt NATO’s open door policy is the implicit recognition of Moscow’s ability to dominate the Alliance’s consensus based decision-making process. But more importantly, it brings up memories of the early twentieth century when smaller European nations were carved up by power politics and not principles per se. The adherence to a policy of convenience rather than one of principles risks undermining the most precious asset of the Alliance – its credibility.

President Hollande’s statement invites more trouble rather than diffusing the tension. It undermines the founding principles of the North Atlantic Alliance, puts at risk its credibility and turns Europe into more perilous place. A very impressive achievement for a single press conference.

The views presented in this OpEd are those of the author and do not reflect the NDU or the Department of Defense

Amb Grigol Mgaloblishvili, Georgia


Amb Grigol Mgaloblishvili is a career diplomat who has served in the Georgian Foreign Service for 18 years. Before joining the College of International Security Affairs at NDU as Visiting Distinguished Faculty Member he served as the Permanent Representative of Georgia to NATO. During his tenure as a Georgian Ambassador to NATO he was actively involved in a decision making process of Georgia's defense and security policy; particularly, on issues of Georgia's integration into NATO and its active involvement in ISAF operations. Throughout his career he served as the Prime Minister, Georgian Ambassador to Turkey and as a non-resident Georgian Ambassador to Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. He also held different positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, such as the Director of European Department and Deputy Director of the US Department.

  • MCDuguesclin


    Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

  • Hervé Trofimoff

    François Hollande is just a coward, with no political perspective

  • Peter1619

    Typical French appeasers and surrender monkeys. In NATO when it suits them, anti-Anglo Saxon when it doesn’t, eastern Europe can never depend on France because all it cares about is self interest at the expense of the principles of the EU, NATO or anything else. Still, if Marie Le Pen becomes President France should leave both organisations and ally with Russia – after all Putin has bought and paid for her loyalty. All they want is to flog warships to Putin, they don’t care about right and wrong..

  • Racquel

    Hollande has the lowest approval ratings than every other French president in modern times. Not only does he lack foreign policy acumen, he is undermining basic democratic principles. He acts as if France was a post-Soviet satellite country, not one of the birthplaces of modern democracy. His domestic policies are almost as ineffective as his foreign policy. The terrorist attacks in Paris briefly boosted his approval rating. Waving the white flag and appeasing Putler is about all he’s excelled at lately. Sadly, though, the alternative is the Russian-purchased Le Pen, which make Hollande and the future of France look promising.

  • Allan

    Western politicians have zero experience of dealing with real crises. They are accustomed to using empty words to pretend that they are doing something, they are accustomed to pushing away hard decisions. When faced with someone like Putin who is willing to use any type of force to secure his goals, Hollande, Merkel, Obama, Cameron and all the others are like small children staring at a vicious dog. They run away, hide under a table, and ask it please to leave them in peace. “Eat someone else” is their idea of a good response. This is exactly the same as Chamberlain and Deladier when confronted with Hitler’s aggression. They kept sacrificing other countries, other people, in the hope that they could continue to live their frightened little lives in comfort. But of course this only encouraged Hitler to go further, and the result was World War II. We are on course to see World War III begin in precisely the same way. Weakness in the face of aggression always leads to more aggression. Putin knows the West is nothing. NATO means Not Able To Oppose. Therefore Putin will continue his process. Soon the Baltic states will have lots of Russian speakers who need to be “rescued” from fascist oppressors and so more “volunteer” Russian soldiers with their tanks and anti-aircraft systems and other hi-tech equipment will arrive to bring “peace and security” to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Hungary has already been paid to rejoin the Russian Empire. The only question is what Putin will do about Poland. But there is no question that the West will continue to do nothing except mouth empty words about “diplomacy” while continuing to hide under the table from the big scary dog in the Kremlin.

  • Betsi Rosse

    I am against any further NATO enlargement. The countries in NATO now are a bunch of dead beats and freeloaders who expect the US taxpayer to fund Europe’s defense while they spend money on things for their citizens.
    NATO now is funded 76% by the US Taxpayer and every nation that joins NATO costs the US taxpayer more money. NATO members have consistently refused to maintain the 2% of GDP which must be spent on defense. Those nations that refuse to pay the 2% should either be kicked out of NATO or denied Article 5 protection.
    The US taxpayer is sick and tired of funding Europe, 70 years after WWII – if Europe refuses to pay for its own defense, then let whatever happens to it happen. Rather than bleeding the US taxpayer, either turn NATO over to the EU or disband the worthless alliance of deadbeats.

  • “Wrong” a.k.a. NATO and USA

  • Get your facts straight. The only freeloader is the USA which has had a free ride since the introduction of the petrodollar.

  • Liar. You have no proof whatsoever of emperialistic moves by the Russian Federation, because there aren’t. The West is and has been the aggressor, as always.

  • Lev Havryliv

    Russian military aggression has resulted in Russia now occupying chunks of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

    Putin is not being swayed by international condemnation nor sanctions. He is now also making threats against the Baltic States by trotting out the familiar deceitful propaganda about protecting Russian speaking people living there.

    History shows that appeasement of imperialistic dictators always ends in more tragedy. Putin must be stopped by providing Ukraine with defensive military assistance. If he is not stopped in Ukraine the stability and peace of all Europe is threatened.

  • Betsi Rosse

    Petrodollar has nothing to do with the deadbeats in NATO which suck money out of the US Taxpayer,

  • Please do some studying and answer again when you’re ready. The worst freeloaders in history are the US of A, fact!

  • Pawel66

    Jacques: What are you smoking?

  • Pawel66

    Sad and true. West will need to deal with Putin. Soner or later.. Later means a stronger Putin and a weaker West…

  • Pawel66

    Hmm…. a Little Green Jacques?

  • lennoxus

    NATO is a cold-war mentality terror organisation and must be disbanded anyway

  • lennoxus

    Yea, we shouldnt appease imperialistic dictators like Obama regime, so NATO should be disbanded

  • Elizabeth Kane

    How about we kick out the countries that don’t do their fair share and instead admit the ones that do? That would be a better choice than scrapping the whole thing.

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