The exclusion of both Germany and Russia from the approaching D-day commemorations is highly inappropriate. Not only did millions of Russians die defeating Hitler but millions of Germans have been born and have grown up in a democratic Germany that is now a solid part of the West. It is especially inappropriate because the quality of Europe's security will be determined largely by the degree to which Germany remains permanently anchored in an integrating Europe and the extent to which Russia is linked constructively to a bigger and more secure Europe. Both these countries are destined to continue playing major roles in European affairs. But neither is likely to play constructively if the geopolitical context creates tempting options for national self-assertion, especially if nationalistic temptations are exacerbated by a sense of exclusion. Germany has been a good citizen of Europe for decades now. It has loyally and generously supported Europe's security and is the only NATO member with all its forces fully integrated into the joint command. It has been willing to propitiate French pride in order to foster a far-reaching French-German reconciliation, which in turn became foundation and catalyst for unification in Europe.

At the same time, Germany has managed to serve as the linchpin for a continued U.S. military presence on the continent. The Washington-Bonn connection has not been diluted by Franco-German political leadership in promoting Europe's integration. Last but by no means least, Germany has demonstrated a genuine commitment to democracy; for example, no country has more humane, liberal immigration laws. But Germany's circumstances -- and psychological mood -- are changing. The leadership will soon be renewed. The approaching 50th anniversary of the end of World War II will mark a milestone in generational change. This year will see departure of the last Russian soldier from German soil. Might not some Germans soon begin to resent the presence of American troops, claiming that Germany is the only European country still "occupied"? Will growing numbers of Germans then begin to take exception to the remaining limitations on their national sovereignty? And what will be the German -- and Russian -- reaction to a central Europe that remains a geopolitical vacuum? Is that what Russia's minister of Foreign affairs had in mind when last December he enticed his German counterpart with the vision of a special "axis between Germany and Russia (in) the construction of a new Europe"? If Europe enlarges, deepens its unity and widens its security perimeter, there are good prospects for Germany to remain a good citizen as well as the leader of a Europe that becomes more truly European. The best design would be an enlarged European Union embracing the European Free Trade Area countries and eventually also reaching into central Europe to include at least the three Visegrad nations: Czechia, Hungary and Poland. NATO should also enroll these three countries. A Europe along those lines would envelop Germany while enhancing the German role within it. Attaining that goal will require continued exercise of political leadership by France and Germany. It will call for genuine German-Polish reconciliation matching the existing German-French reconciliation. A French-German-Polish coalition would provide a mighty inner core for a larger Europe. It would affirm a positive role for a powerful, constructive and European Germany. Such a trilateral strategic coalition -- incorporating 175 million citizens -- would be economically driven by Germany and politically balanced by France and Poland. German leaders are aware of this opportunity. That is why some have taken the lead in urging the eastward expansion of the European Union and NATO. France and Germany are actively exploring Polish membership in the Western European Union, military arm of the European Union. The gutsy German minister of defense, Volker Ruehe, said early this year that it is in Europe's interest to admit Poland to NATO and the West should firmly state that it is no provocation against Russia. That is very much the case now that NATO no longer views Russia as an adversary and has opened its Partnership for Peace to Russian participation.

However, Russia -- unlike Germany -- has yet to demonstrate that it truly means to be a good citizen of Europe. True, its leading politicians often speak of Russia as belonging to Europe and even possibly joining NATO. But at the same time they make outlandish statements about Russia's "unique Eurasian mission" and assert a special right to use military force anywhere within the entire space of the defunct Soviet Union. Simultaneously they clamor for status as a global power and America's co-equal "strategic partner" (even while pleading for more financial assistance). Clearly, Russia cannot be all these things at the same time. Being a part of Europe and NATO is not compatible with pursuing a unique Eurasian destiny and seeking to operate as a global counterpart of the United States. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be settled by a choice. The politically decisive fact is that Russia bulks too large, is too backward currently and too powerful potentially to be assimilated as simply yet another member of the European Union or NATO. It would dilute the Western character of the European community and the American preponderance within the alliance. A Eurasian Union would be an oxymoron. NATO with Russia would become simply another version of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose credibility has been undermined by a pretense of being able to operate effectively from Vancouver to Vladivostok among 53 nations in diverse stages of democratization and development. Instead of perpetuating the illusion that Russia -- someday, somehow -- will join West's core political institutions, it is more important to define what it means for Russia to become a good neighbor for Europe and eventually a partner for the United States. Russia should: # Withdraw its troops from the Baltic republics on schedule, without claiming special privileges for its colonists. # Accept the reality of Ukraine as a secure, friendly neighbor, sovereign politically but a close partner economically. # Similarly, respect the political sovereignty of the new republics of the ex-Soviet Union while pursuing deeper economic cooperation with them. # Tolerate rather than obstruct the desire of central Europeans to belong to both the European Union and NATO. A Russia that embraces such a non-imperial approach will automatically be a good neighbor to Europe, a solid regional and global trading partner and the beneficiary of growing Eurasia-wide economic activity, transportation networks and cultural ties. Even if not part of the more integrated European Union, a good-neighbor Russia can and should be associated with Europe-wide cooperative undertakings. That would reinforce the aspects of Russia's history and culture that make it an extension of European civilization. In addition, this Russia can be America's colleague in the wider quest for international security. A Russia willing to become a good neighbor should be given other incentives: # An offer by NATO of a special treaty of friendship and alliance with Russia, even as the alliance expands its membership eastward into central Europe. The treaty between NATO and Russia (even if Russia falls short of U.S. hopes for its democratic evolution) would embrace Russia within a wider framework of military and political cooperation, consolidating security within Europe and even extending it into Eurasia. # An invitation to join the G-7 forum of leading industrial nations. These initiatives would provide the Russians a gratifying recognition of their country's status as a major power. They amount to a significant Western option for Russia, making it more worthwhile for Moscow to eschew imperial ambitions. However, Russia will be more likely to pursue the good-neighbor option if a larger, more secure Europe promptly fills the potentially destabilizing geopolitical no-man's land between Russia and the European Union. With German and French leadership, Europe should set a realistically early timetable for incorporating the countries of central Europe into the European Union, including its WEU security arm.

A European initiative of this sort might reawaken American policy toward Europe from the generally dormant condition that has existed since the Soviet collapse. George Bush found his crowning achievement in overcoming Soviet objections to inclusion of a united Germany in NATO. So President Bill Clinton could make his principal legacy in foreign affairs the inclusion of central Europe in a larger NATO, with Russia linked to the alliance by a special treaty. Early this year the Senate, by a vote of 94 to 3, adopted a resolution favoring NATO's eastward expansion. The upcoming congressional elections are already starting to generate further demands along these lines. Absent though they may be from the Normandy festivities, the Germans and the Russians are likely to loom large in the thoughts of President Clinton and other leaders gathered there. They will provide a timely reminder about the need for greater geopolitical imagination in shaping Europe's security.

The writer was President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser.