Slovak Ambassador to NATO and honorary chairman of CEPI Tomáš Valášek kicked-off the milestone conference on NATO enlargement by saying that after Ukraine, the idea of Europe whole and free is more urgent: “Enlargements has put Russia’s relations with those neighbours that are in NATO on a stable and predictable footing. This calm and stability could be a hugely valuable asset, if we are to be in a prolonged period of tensions with Moscow.”

However, Ambassador Valášek admitted that consensus begins to break down on the question of further integration of the eastern reaches of Europe, due to the lack of political will and because the nations in question present harder cases of reform and transformation than Central Europe did. Also, more authoritarian Russia is voicing stronger opposition to further enlargement toward its borders, while in 1990s and early 2000s, “Russia was a partner and we didn’t have to choose between stabilising Europe and irritating Moscow”. But, as he stressed, our decision to do nothing will invite further aggression.

The conference organized by the Atlantic Council will feature the US Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and a number of other personalities including José Manuel Barroso, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright and John McCain.