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Obama's crucial moment in Poland

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Not only are there no invitations – no one is even talking about further NATO enlargement, and EU enlargement is moving all too slowly. The EU is consumed with its internal political and financial crises. The backlash against Turkish membership has put a damper on all EU membership questions. And the flailing effort to build an EU foreign policy has reinforced the sense that on enlargement, the answer is clearly “not now.” This, in turn, has diminished incentives to reform in much of Europe’s south and east.

Meanwhile, NATO has put Georgian aspirations for NATO membership on ice. Ukraine has turned its back on European integration. And while inviting Montenegro and Bosnia into its Membership Action Program, NATO has sent a strong signal that it does not envision new members any time soon.

Obama's opportunity

In all of this, President Obama has been largely silent. Yet at the dinner he co-hosts in Warsaw, he has an opportunity to change all this: He should not merely rebuild relations with nations that felt estranged in recent years; he should declare America’s enduring support for completion of a Europe that is truly whole, free, and at peace. For the right of all people to determine their own future, to choose their own security alliances.

He should explicitly state that NATO’s 2008 invitations to Croatia and Albania will not be the last, and he should call on the EU to reinvigorate its own dream of a wider Europe. And he should stress that freedom, prosperity, and security for Russia’s neighbors – and indeed for Russia itself – is not a threat to Russia, but indeed the best “reset” Russia could hope for.

Kurt Volker is international managing director of BGR Group and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Transatlantic Relations. Ivan Vejvoda is vice president of programs at the German Marshall Fund. Damon Wilson is executive vice president of the Atlantic Council.

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