SECURITY CHALLENGES AND SECURITY SYSTEMS IN EUROPE An East-Central European point of view
With the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the end of the bipol ar world, a structure that dated back nearly halj a century, has dis integrated. With this event, the danger of global war has decreased considerably, and has almost disappeared.
However, as regards security in Eastern and Central Europe, there has not been an automatic improvement in the situation following these radical changes. Despite the fact that there is no longer a confrontation between the former East and West carrying the threat of global annihilation, new or revived dangers have emerged in the area. The sad reality is that the probability of spill-over from local conflicts to war between states has grown in the last one or two years. The eourse of events became more complicated, more volatile, and more unpredictable.
The importance of the immediate geographical environment and the role of regional or local factors in security policy have increased, and the notion of security itselj has become more difJerentiated, comprising of more and more non-military aspects; like migratory processes, minority and human right issues, enviromental problems etc.
Conjlicts arising from economic and social instability of some countries, as a result of their difJicul tics in moving to democracy, and from the re-emergence of centuries old national and ethn ie disputes in the area, today constitute the major factors endangering peace and security.
This is why it is hardly necessary to emphasize at this forum, that despite the positive efforts multiplying the opportunities for dialogue and partnership between the countries of the former politicaI "East" and "West", we are still far from a "Europe, whole and free". Our continent is still not free of certain dangers and threats, and its countries, or its groups of eountries, are far from making a whole single unit from the point of view of international security.
Instead of this the current security relations in the European continent can be graphically described as concentric circles progressing from the stable nucleus of the countries of the European and Euro-Atlantic community, to the most unstable periphery, constituted esssential/y by the countries of the form er Soviet-Union and Yugoslavia.
Many new security challenges result from the disintegration of these two multinational states. Their falling apart, fo/lowed by the split of Czechoslovakia, should be placed in the proper historicai perspective. During this century, we have witnessed the break-up of several empires. However, not since the Medieval Tim es, have we experienced such a large-scale territorial fragmentation in Europe.
Jn Eastern and Central Europe, at the end of the 20. century the movements of national self- determination have entered a new stage of development, with an unexpected impetus. This stage has proved to be extremely complex and sensitive from the international security point of view. The process highlighted the frequent non-coincidence of the borders between nations and states, and the difJerence between these two concepts in that region. Simultaneously, it lead to the emergence of new states and, at least, to a certain extent, to the drawing of a new political map of Eastern and Central Europe. The emergence of the new states or the re- dejinition of states emphasizes even more the importance of ethnic minority problcms within the region.
As we can see from numerous examples, the right to self-determination promotes the regaining of legitimate political sovereignity and the abolition of artificial entities in international politics. But in some places it leads also to destructivc conjlicts among nations and nationalities, especially where the principles are not implementedfully democratically, or where ethnica/ly mixed areas make the simple, clear- cut territorial separation impossihle.
The ongoing border changes create, in turn, new minority groups. Let us think about the Russian problem in the other ex-Soviet states; or the reciprocal Serb, Croate or Muslim problem in the Balkans. The Danubian lands and their surroundings, the Balkanic countries, with their complicated pattern of nationalities, languages and religions merit a special attention from this point of wiev. The historicai lesson, what we can drawn from the situation of the non-dominant ethnic communities in this area is, that not the minority rights, but their oppression; the forcible assimilatton, and the acts of discrimination are the main cause of troubles.
The decades of Soviet rule only served to deep freeze and aggravate the region's long term problems.
Now we see the dramatic consequences. Jt is therefore essential to ensure that the implementation of self- etermination be always accompanied by guarantees of minority rights. Any forcefuI ch ange of the ethnic composition of the population, any act of forcible subordination is harmful, not only to the respective community, but also risks creating conjlicts within, or between states.
The tragic events in some regions of the disintegrated multi-ethnic states demonstrate that the international community should be playing a greater role in dealing with local ethnic conjlicts and the rights of minorities. Current clashes between 'majorities' and 'minorities' are testimony to the fact that respectfor human and minority rights is not merely a legal or humanitarlan question but is also an integral part of collective international security. The fact that NATO, WEU and new EC initiatives like the Balladur plan, are increasingly considering these issues, as security problems, is, no doubt, an illusiration of the changing world.
Consequently, these problems are also dealt with in the first bas ket - security questions - of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as in the third one, comprising the problems of human rights. There are however still many old reflexes opposing the idea of an international protection of minorities.
Europe cannot remain inactive as long as there exist acute nationality problems in Central and Eastern Europe. It is especial!y the Balkans that have to be europanized, or else it is Europe that is threatened with balkanization.
Prevention requires, among other things, the definition of a statute for minorities, a European Charter of ethnic rights, which could form the basis of a cohercnt international protection system. Jn such a protection mechanism, the High Commissioner for Minorities, established in the framework of the CSCE, at the Helsinki summit meeting, last year, could also be a meaningful solution.
Hungary is closely interested in a new international approach to the protection of minorities for general security reasons as wel! as because of the existence of large Hungarian minority communities beyond its borders. One third of the ethic Hungarian population lives in the neighboring states. Their position is different from country to country. Obvionsby the situation of the ethic Hungarians of the former Yugoslavia is the most fragile, but from time to time the complaints of the Hungarian communities of Romania and Slovakia about their treatment by the respective authorities, make Hungary's relations with these countries more difjicult. Nevertheless there is a dialogue between Budapest and Bucharest; Budapest and Bratislava over these issues. There is not such dialogue with Belgrade, essentially because of the UN sanctions againts the Small Yugoslavia.
Historically, the confliet between the Southern Slav nations is not a new phenomenon, but what we have been witnessing for years in this war, is the bloodiest conflict on the entire continent since 1945. The south slav dram a has affected the neighbouring countries, including Hungary, closely and most directly. Since ils beginning in 1991, it has meant frequent violations of our airspace and of our borders, and it resulted in the arrival of some 60,000 refugees - mostly ethnic Croatians, but also, and increasinly, Muslims - in Hungary. The economc embargo imposed upon Yugoslavia Minor by the United Nations, has also resulted in serious economic losses one billion USD so far for Hungary. Despite this fact, my country has supported the sanctions approved by the UN Security Council.
Simultaneously, Hungary tried to avoid the danger of over-estimating the problem, in order to avoid escalation of the conflict. Jt is a malter of fact, that in the short run Hungary is not threatened by the danger of being drawn into the conflict, the war moved further South from Hungarian border. However, it is obvious that the war in former Yugoslavia constitutes a lasting threat to the security of our country especially if the fights between Serbs and Croats eventually get closer to our borders once again.
As far as the refugee problem is concerned, just a few years ago, Hungary and the other one- time Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe were source countries of immigration, 'producing' refugees, whereas now Hungary has become a target country, facing immigrants who arrive from ils Eastern and Southern neighbours, and als o, in increasing numbers, from some Third World countrics. The refugees and those seeking immigrant status, are fleeing economic hardship, civil war, or ethnic discrimination, but at the same time their flow constitutes an unprecedented challenge to the untested immigration policy and the fragile social balance of the Central European countries, also increasing their economic burdens to a great extent.
Contrary to our expectations, the majority of refugees have had to stay for alonger period our the country, due to the continuing war and the threat of "ethnic cleansing". Unfortunately a new wave of immigrants can be expected if new conflicts or new wars break out in the zones of instability in ex- Yugoslavia and ex-Soviet Union. It should also be remembered that there are places where innocent and defenceless civilians, belonging to various minorities, may, at any time, become targets of new agressions. Such territorics are, currently Kossovo and Voivodina, two previously autonomous provinces of Serbia.
The international commnunity must commit itself and do everything possible to maintain the fragile peace and to discourage regular and irregular military units starting violence in these ethnically mixed regions.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the extension of the war to Kossovo would change the nature of the conflict fundamentally. Jt would involve, for the first time, outside powers, and would put eveniually even NATO countries, on the opposing sides.
All measures should be employed to keep the conflict within the borders of the form er Yugoslavia. The Balkans should not be left to their fate. Even if we state the lack of political will for international military intervention, we must emphasize this basic requisite. An eventual spill-over would result in a catastrophic situation, not only for the region, but also for the larger international community. I should also be remembered that besides the natural security concerns of our societies, the credibility of the international organisations, such as the UN, the CSCE, NATO, ort the WEU, are at stake, as well.
Hungary, with other neighboring states, is particularly interested in isolating and neutralizing the armed conjlicts and the other sources of danger, Ihat have emerged close to ils horders. Consequently, Hungaryfully supports the VN sanctions and various peace efforts. My country has al!owed NA TO's A WA CS aircraft lO use ils airspace on behalf of the United Nations. We have been rendering help to the UNPROFORforces as well , to enable them to carry out their mission in Bosnia. Hungary has recently agreed also to aIlow WEU customs boats to patrol the Danube, ifthere is a need to use them as a suppIcment and reinforcement to the overland embargo already in force.
A worrying security problem for the Central European countries is the situation resultingfrom the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The disputes between some successor states about the exact borderlines, and the division of the common military inheritance, carry the seeds of further future conjlicts. The danger of nuclear proliferation, the dissemination of nuclear know-how, as weil as the fate of the sizeable conventional military force are matters of deep concern, not only for the close neighbours, but also for the entire world. These deep concerns are justified especiaIly when considering the fragile foundations of the demoeratic system in most CIS countries, or when we have witnessed the armed insurrection and tragic power struggle as was the case not long ago in Russia.
The demoeratic transformation of Russia is far from an easy task; considering also the grave heritage of the former Soviet foreign policy. There are voices advocating a more assertive Russian policy towards the other successor-states, what is often referred to as "near abroad". The task of the international community is to help relieve Russia of the burden of its expansionist past and to integrate this great nation, this new-old state of Europe, as fuIly as possible in the international system.
At this point, let me turn back to the national and ethnic issues, to the problem of the emergence of new states, new actors in international relations. The effects of the creation and re-definition of states are most directly experienced by countries like Hungary, which has "acquired" five new states as its neighbours in the past one and a half year : Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, the Ukraine, and Slovakia.
Ethnic self-determination is no doubt a dominant and decisive political trend in Eastern Europe today. The prevailing atmosphere of nationalism in some areas reduces the possibility of politicaI dialogue and compromise, and, in the future might further increase the danger of adventurism in relations between nations and states.
However, there may be some ho pe for an opposite trend in the not too distant future. The Hungarian experience with one or two new neighbors of ours, like Slovenia or the Ukraine, confirms the tendency for cooperation. without over-exaggerated optim ism, we can also forecast a growing need for integration. It will originate from the confrontation of individual nations with deep economic problems and the increasing awareness of the centuries-old interdependence or souvenirs of common statehood amongst some peoples of the region, and also from the awareness of a shrinking world in the fields for instance, communication and transportation. Even in the near future, we may find a greater commitment, on behalf of the emerging new states, to organizations guided in their work by regional, continental, or larger international concerns.
Ethnic self-determination is a disintegrative force in the modern state, but the evolution into smaIler political units may be complemented by functional integration into large economic units. European twentieth century history proves that centripetal and centrifugal trends are not always exclusive and contradictory, they may complement or even reinforce each other. Self-rule along cultural or linguistic lines and political separation might be accomodated in the medium term with a continued or re-defined economic association.
The economic fragmentation will inevitably increase the need for new regio nal arrangements andfor new institutional frameworks, in cooperation with the existing Western organisations. It is in the interest of the West not only to foresee this possible trend, but also to encourage it as a stabilizing patternfor the whole continent. To ignore the reality of self-determination would be naive, to neglect exploration of the new opportunities, foolish.
Let me speak briefly, at this point, about the various regional initiatives of the Central European nations, and, first of ali, of the Visegrd Group, established by Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republic, and Poland, in February 1991.
In an area which is generaIly characterized by tendencics of disintegration, any joining of efforts that aims at the development of international relations on the basis of the values of democracy has a stabilising effect. The countries of the Visegr d Group have both historicai and present-day similarities. Similarities in their geostrategic position on the borderline of a stable and unstable Europe, their simi/ar achievements regarding the transformation of the previous political and economic system, but also, their similar problems when facing the new security risks, and when transformiug their armies into a reasonable and justifiable defence capability. Al! of these features tnight serve as a basis for useful cooperation in many fields, security policy included. Hungary maintains this view despite some sceptical remarks concerning the future of this group, expressed recently by some of our partners.
We do not think that competition and rivalry are the proper strategies to become closer to the existing Western European or Euro-Atlantic organizations. National individualism can be counter-productive in the long run.
The other regional grouping, the Central European Initiative, grew out of the former Pentagonal, later Hexagonal, and covers another group of countries situated on the border-line of the former politicaI "East" and "West".
Among the regional initiatives, the most recent example is the "Carpathian Euro-region". It is a cross-border cooperational framework comprising countries and regions along the common frontiers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Romania's border regions were also invited, but Bucharest, regrettably, refused to participate. As a general rule, inter-regionalism, combined with de-centralised or federal states, has stil! a long way to go in East-Central Europe.
At this forum, there is no need to emphasize that cooperation between the Central European countries is not directed against any other state and that they do not aim to form a elosed bloc. Seeking a separate security identity in Central Europe may entail the risk of separating ourselves, once again, from the mainstream of European integration and transatlantic cooperation, and may result in fragmentation into rival coalitions in the Eastern part of the continent. This, in turn, might lead to new divisions in Europe though the remains of the former one stil! have to be dealt with.
Hungary and the other Central European countries see the lasting solution of their security problems as lying within their gradual integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic community. FuIl membership in the availahle security structures, such as NATO and the WEU, rem ain the long-term objective of our country. Before reach ing that stage, however, Hungary aims at making use of the present opportunitiers in security partnership, emerging in the regular contacts with NATO, the WEU, as weil as the individual member-states of these organizations. We need close cooperation and joint actions in security policy, designed to gradually develop towards the inclusion of a common defence policy. We need regular dialogue, with NATO and WEU, in crisis prevention and resolution, cooperation in peace - keeping activity, in issues of arms control and non-proliferation, and we need coordination with these organizations in the implementation of CFE agreements for instance, with special emphasis on verification and monitoring activities. Even joint manoeuvers might be foreseen.
Joint programm es with Central and Eastern Europe are needed to promote the principle of civilian oversight of the armed forces and to strengthen military professionalism in the region. We therefore propose the regular participation of East-Central European representatives and experts in the working groups and other fora of the WEU and NATO.
The Atlantic Alliance might also help the new governments in training the ojJicers, or civilian defense managers of these countries in NATO colleges. These education programm es could contribute to the remodelling of their armed forces and to the dissemination of information on North-Atlantic Alliance. In order to facilitate communications between the East-Central European countries and the Western European Union regular consultations on security matters and thefurther development of the parliamentary links with the WEU Assembly, could also be of immense benefit. Hungary has been already associated with EC; the Maastrich Treaty described the WEU as the "security component" of the PoliticaI Union; hence a paralel and gradual joining WEU would be logicai and desirable process. These measures are designed to contribute to genuine partnership and will bring the stage of full integration closer. They may also help to promote future convergence with the European and North American nations in every field.
Following the decades of artificial division, at the end of our century, we are facing the challenge of creating a new unity for our continent. This unity is just as much in the interest of the "West", as of the "East" of Europe. What are at stake now, are the conditions under which we are going to be able to find our common path, to meet the requirements of the 21st century. The mutual accomodation supposes receptivity on the one side, and creation of appropriate, compatible internal conditions on the other. Due to the different levels of individual countries' development, significant national differences can be perceived, as concerns the interests and motivations in this process. Both promoting and obstructing factors are present init, in significant numbers.
In the assessment of the possible future development of a larger and deeper European cooperation, examination ofintegrationalfactors is very helpful. It is interesting to note that even Western Europe has gone through this kind of a turning point only very recently, in terms of history. One of the preconditious of the common development in Western Europe was the fact that territorial debates reached a final conclusion. This happened after the Second World War.
The hard core of this process was the seulement of the French-Gertnan dispute. This however was heavily injluenced, in a positive way, by American political pressure and economic assistance, and, in a negative wcry, by the fear of the Soviets. Having said this, we can see that it was only in the 1950's that Western Europe could create thefoundations ofits present level of horizontal integration by inc!uding West Germany into the Euro-Atlantic bloc. The integration of the economies and societies of the Western part of the continent has gradually made war between major nations of this area not only impossible, but also unthinkable. It is only after this evolution that we can rightfully claim that "democracies do not fight each other".
Something simi/ar should be carried through in Central and Eastern Europe as wel!. We have to be aware of the fact however that establishing a network of horizontal integration is not going to be easy in this region, since preceeding the building of structures, we jirst will have to demolish those old ones which proved to be wrong or artificial.
It is also necessary to remember again that after World War 11, not even Western European countries could solve their ethnic and national tensions and economic problems on their own. This implies that Eastern Central Europe can today rightfully expect support from the West. To extend stability towards the East and Southeast without creating new dividing lines in Europe, is a historic task, which requires a European Union guided by avision like that of the Founding Fathers.
Another significant factor promoting integration is the state of internal development of agiven society. Only societies based on similar or compatible values are able to live peaceful!y with their neighbours. This requirement was reached in several phases by Western European societies, and the process was completed only in the mid-seventies, with the defeat of the authoritarian regimes on the Iberian peninsula, and on the abolition of the extreme right in Greece. The other Western European countries promoted this process by effective political and economic means. After the change in their political system, Central and Eastern European nations had better chances as well. Analogous social and political structures serve as pre- conditions for the integration process with the West, but they themselves do not predict the timing of the full integration.
The task of politians is to balance between the realities - in the jield of economics e.g. -and the pressure coming from the impatient societies of the former political "East".
The countries of Central Europe are conjident that it is also in the interests of the Western nations to ass ist the new democracies in their consolidation process, in projecting stability into the region. We cannot overcome the new risks and challenges with yesterday's formulas and recipes.
No organization and no major power in itselj can meet the challenges our continent is facing. A new security fabric is needed desperately, which would be based on a division of labour, on a geographicalor functional sharing of tasks between the available structures like NATO, EC/WEU and CSCE.
It is essential to distinguish NATO among these organizations. The Atlantic Alliance constitutes the core institutionfor the maintenance of peace and security in Europe. This organization, in particular its nuclear and trans-Atlantic component, secured the stability of Europe for halj a century. Despite the shrinking military budget of the members and deep cuts in troop strength the Alliance is a defense organization that works. Currently NATO is search ing its post-cold war identity; it is struggling to dejine its new function in a world of small wars and unpredictable crises. The key problem of this institution is how to continue to ensure reliable defense of current members when trying to project security to the Central and Eastern part of Europe; to those areas where the seeds for future conjlicts lie; where the spread of instability might destroy even that progress achieved thus far.
NATO's enlargement Eastwards is a long term, evolutionary process. The Alliance should extend gradually its sphere of activity to the democratically most advanced countries of the region, represented essentially by the Visegrad group.
The four nations of Visegrad clearly belong to the Western sphere of European civilization. They are often considered as prime candidatesfor future full membership. By embracing th em, NATO wouldfollow both a political and a geographicallogic in its extension.
At the meeting of NATO defense ministers, which took place in October at Travemunde, Germany, a strategic partnership, based on bilateral agreements, was offered to the new democracies. This' partnership for peace' is described as ajirst step towards possible - but not automatic - membership to NATO.
However, for the time being, the sixteen nations of the Alliance seem to remain divided over the issue of accepting new members. In this respect new proposals are expected at the NATO summit in January 1994 at least concerning terms and conditions for obtaining a full membership in the foreseeable future. Intermediate arrangements, like association agreements, or specific, original formulas, like the Spanish or the Freneh wcry participating in NATO, can be also discussed at the summit meeting.
In relation to the extension, the Russian sensitivity is often mentioned. The West has been reluctant to move toward the East more quickly for fear of offending Russia's strategic sensibilities.
Infact isolating or caging Russia inside ils bordas would be against the European interest. It seems however that geographically expanded NATO, closer to the Russian frontiers would not be contrary 10 the interests of the Russian demoeratic forces. To find the right form for guaranteeing the security of the Central European countries by full membership does not contradict the Russian interest to be linked in security partnership with NATO and with the individual Western countries.
Without a greater commitment from the major demoeratic nations to the process, projecting peace and stability East wards, there is no hope for efficient crisis management in the former Soviet Union in the Ba/kans or elsewhere. And without that, the peoples living in that area will not believe in Western political will or capability to create a new politicaI order based on shared values on our continent.
It is no surprise, under such conditions after ali, that many people, when hearing phrases such as "the new architecture of European security", do not listen with interest any more, but with an increasingly bitter smile.