THE CSCE PROCESS AND THE NON-MILITARY CONSEQUENCES OF THE COLDWAR
The consequences of the Cold War period on Eastern and Western societieswere multifold. They comprised a wide variety of political, military, econonnc, cultural and human rights aspects.
The aim of this presentation is not to give you an exhaustive list of consequencesof the Cold War, but rather to focus on a fewelements and to try to determinethe interrelationships between them.
The Conference on the Security and Cooperation in Europe is probably the best analytical framework to demonstrate the correlations of the various dimensions of the Cold War and of the initial detente process. The CSCE grewout of he Cold War, but it also pointed towards a new political and economic order. Its four major areas of activity , the four baskets, - as they became known - might help us to understand some of the crucial dilemmas of . the East - West confrontation on the European continent; and they may also help us to grasp the emerging new policies which contributed to the end of the rigid systemic division of Europe.
Before looking more closely at the evolution of the CSCE, we should return for a very short time to the early Cold War period, and even to the time before the Cold War.
WWl and WW2 brought important territorial changes to the political map of Europe. After the first war 3 great powers: the Ottoman Empire, the tzarist Russian Empire and the Habsburg Empire disappeared from the international system. New states appeared on the map, especially in Central and South-Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia .
WW2 brought two major territorial changes: it moved the Soviet borders Westwards and it also pushed the Eastern borders .of Germany Westwards. From the political point of view even more important was the fact, that 2 partly extra-European powers: the United States and the Soviet Union played a . decisive role in the defeat of the nazi-Germany and consequently in European affairs after the war.
The Cold War did not bring new territorial changes , but its imp act on the European in order was certainly more dramatic than that of the two previous 'real' wars.
A new type of conflict, a system-to-system confrontation replaced the previous, 'traditional' territorial-national rivalries on the European continent.
In the late 1940s, based on the military status quo reached at the end of the WW2, the continent became rigidly divided into two parts; as illustrated on map N02.
This major dividing line dominated European politics until the fundamental politicai and territorial changes that took place essentially in the early 1990s.
Europe has had, throughout its long history, many artificial borders. But no frontier in modem European history has separated peoples, smaller or larger communities as completely as did the tiron curtain'. It divided Berlin and Germany ; it cut the organic ties that Central and Eastern Europe had previously had with Western Europe and with the Western world as a whole.
The traditional economic and cultural orientation, that the small and medium size nations of this region had maintained over the centuries, were suddenly broken.
The East- West confrontation line in the middle of the continent eliminated the concept of Central Europe as a distinctive cultural entity. It reduced to zero the chances of developing a network of pan-European relations and a corresponding, more or less coherent vision of a future common Europe.The division of the continent limited the movements of peoples and ideas at a time when technological development multiplied communications worldwide.
In the 1960s and 1970s,with some exceptions, the iron curtain began to grow more penneable. It remained, however, a fundamentál barrier limiting travel and contact; and itcontinued to be a symbo1 of the 1imitation of human rights for the citizens of the Warsaw Pact countries.
The societies of the Eastern bloc remained closed. First, they were isolatedfrom the modernizing West; but they also remained isolated relative to each other.
From the early 1950's, Western European societies tended to converge and tointegrate; in the 1980s, virtual1y all the nations of Western Europe were combined in, or associated with, an historicaIly unprecedented form of integration. Their economies and societies became increasing1y interdependent, comprising more and more international, or supranational elements.
Within Europe, the geographic orientation of West European economic dynamism was increasing1y North-South, and decreasing1y East-West. It was oriented much more along the 'Hamburg - Seville' axis, than towards Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), despite the traditional market ties with most of the countries of this region.
Just two examples illustrate this trend. In the period of the 1980s the share of the COMECON countries in the foreign trade of the European Community was constantly decreasing; it fell from 6 to just 3 in the last decade, in a period, when some of the Far Eastern, newly industrialized countries multiplied two or three times their share in the Western European foreign trade. Another example: although in the 1970s West- German > Soviet trade increased considerably, in total volume the trade of Federal Germany with the Soviet Union was much less than that with Austria, or with Switzerland in the same period. This fact is probably surprising for those who make a purely quantitative comparision of the size of the countries and the national economies involved.
To sum up: from an Eastern European perspective the, Cold War division of Europe had devastating consequences on the geographic pattem of trade relations on the continent.
This phenomenon was due notexclusively, but largely, to the weak performance and lack of competitiveness of the COMECON economies.
COMECON, from its very beginning remained a formal structure; it never exceeded the intergovernmental level, and it never achieved a genume integration, similar to the Common Market.
Overwhelming state ownership, inflexible planning system and a lack of incentives to modernization led not only to stagnating living standards, but also prevented the development of organic ties between the respective national economies.
In a similar way, East European societies remained essentially elosed societies vis-a-vis each other. Frequently, anachronistic administrative measures, rigid border regulations and visa requirements limited human contact and exchanges between the countries of CEE. In the same period, French, German, Dutch, ltalian and other societies in the West were increasingly opening up, both to each other and to the rest of the world. Political frontiers, as dividing lines between peoples were gradually disappearing within the European Community.Personal exchanges, at the grass-root level, between the individual societies in the field of the work, study and tourism, became a mass phenomenon, involving more and more people. Compared to this evolution, the 'East Side Story' showed a striking contrast. Amongst many possible examples let me take the case of the Hungarian-oviet tourism. In the mid-1980, from the point of view of visa-equirements, it was easier for a Hungarian citizen to go the ltalian sea-side, than to go to a Soviet Black-Sea resort . In thesame period of mid-1980s, the number of Austrian tourists visiting Hungary was six times more than the number Soviet tourists. Obviously, these figures represent only the private persons and tourist groups visiting the country, and they do not include the civilian or military officials residing inHungary. Another remark: the exchange of tourists between Hungary and Poland, Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria showed considerably better performance during the same period.
However, in the region as a whole, the free flow of persons, products and ideas, remained an alien concept. The prevailing trends within the COMECON froze national isolationism. The 'Socialist Commonwealth' never became a genuine commonwealth. The historicai cicumstances in which it was created, the dominant politicai mechanism regulating its internal relations, and the lack of organic ties between its peoples, prevented the Eastern Bloc from becoming comparable to the Western European or Euro- Atlantic Community. In our region, also in this respect, there was a widening gap between political rhetoric emphasizing fraternal friendship on the one hand, and politicai reality on the other.
This situation, very often, preserved old national stereotypes and distorted clichés about each other. Of course, national rivalries and ethnic hatred in CEE did not start with the Cold War o They have centuries-old historicai roots.
But the four decades of regional isolation from Western modernizing trends did nothing to facilitate the progress toward settlement of these deeply rooted national and minority disputes.
The over-centralized system was counter-productive even when compared to its own policy objectives. It unintentionally encouraged the emerging centrifugal tendencies, and - as was demonstrated last week by Dr Grudizinski - it contributed substiantially toward its own destructien.
Military competition and economic burdens
As already mentioned previously in this class, the military competition of the Cold War constituted for the population of the WP countries a far heavier burden than for most of the NATO countries. The Soviet and Eastern European economies were much less dynamic and successful, than those of the West. Their combined Gross National Product represented only a fraction of the GDP of the NATO countries.
From the end of the 1970s, Eastern European economies witnessed a spectacular slowing down of their growth- rate, a stagnation, or even a recession, as compared to their relatively good previous results. Their international market position weakened, and the technological gap, with the West, and even with the newly industrialized nations of the Asian Far East, widened considerably .
Throughout the 1980s, this rapidly decreasing economic power was coupled, as a general rule, with rising military expenditure, as you can see from the distributed table No 1. You already studied the fundamentals of the defense budgeting, so it might be useful to look at the comparative figures of the last decade of the Cold War.
- Figuresprovided by the Stockhom Peace Reaserch Institute (SIPRI)
- No Soviet data are available; there are estimates, which are still subject of heated debate amongst experts
- Trend: almost all WP countries show an increase of military expenditure as a percentage of the GDP
- Some interesting comparisions can be made between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty countries regarding economic potential and military efforts. Comparing e.g. the defense spending ratio of the ex-GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany; or some other countries of the two sides.
As we see on Table No2. there were radical cuts in military expenditure at the end of the 1980s, right after the political changes took place. These reductions and the futher major cuts which were implemented in the 1990s in the who le region , including of course the former USSR, can also be interpreted as a kind of criticism of the previous excess.
The painful process of budget adjustment was combined in most of the countries with a substantial decrease in military industrial output and a sudden drop of arms exports . After the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia was the second, and Poland the third most important arms producer of the WP. As Table No3 shows, their arms exports were also the most significant. Consequently, in the current shrinking markets, these countries, or their successor states, are suffering most from the military downsizing process.
Post Cold War economic adjustments represent major challenges to the comparatively affluent Western societies too. But these challenges are hardly comparable with the magnitude of the problems, that the new democracies are facing. In the countries of the CEE, and especiaIly in the FSU, the social implications of the defense restructuring are closely linked with the general economic crisis. The economic reforms underway have must address both the after-effects of the Cold War itself and the legacy of a former, inefficient economic system.
The symptoms of the crisis are weIl known: they inc1ude high budget deficits, high inflation, massive unemployment, faIling living standards, and, depending on the country: large external indebtedness, or shortage of basic consumer goods, - or both.
The economic failure, which was increasingly manifest from the 1970s, contributed to a large extent to the coIlapse of the Communist regimes, but it still bears heavily on the current situation in the new democracies .
An analysis of four decades of East-West confrontation leads us to the conclusion that the economic and technological competition tumed out to be the decisive battle field of the Cold War. This fact does not diminish the importance of either political or ideological factors. East and West represented opposing socio-political models and conflicting worldviews: the struggle of ideologies was of course not less fierce than was the arms race, or the competition between economic systems.
Let us have now a closer look at the CSCE (now: OSCE). The aim of this overview is not to provide a history of this institution, but rather to present some of the main issues around which the Helsinki process was structured.
To some degree the CSCE became the institutional expression of conflicting Eastern and Western policies on the one hand, and. of the areas of potential compromise between the two systems, on the other. It was born in the 1970s, but the process of its preparation goes back to the 1960s. It was linked to the individual countries' efforts to improve East-West communications; which we have already discussed.
Within the internationallandscape of these two decades, the CSCE was a peculiar combination of the Cold War and the detente process.
Originally, it was a Soviet initiative. The idea first was launched in 1954, ill a period, when the Soviet Union had declared its 'new course' ill foreign policy.
A more detailed diplomatic proposal was made public at various WP meetings: in the Bucharest Declaration of July 1966 and the Budapest Appeal of March 1969. These documents . called for a security conference with the aim of ecognizing European frontiers and of developing economic cooperation 'on the basis of the principles of peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems'.
The NATO showed cautious interest in this WP initiative, which it first considered largely propagandistic in nature.
It did not reject it, but insisted that the US and Canada should participate, and that negotiations should first start on military issues, namely with mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe. In the NATO ministers' meeting in Bmssels in December 1969, a statement was issued underlying the 'principle of sovereign equality of states' and the 'rights of peoples to shape their own destiny' (this was a reference in general terms to the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the so-called 'normalization' process there.) For many observers in the West, the expression of 'peacefui coexistence of states with different social systems' was just a euphemism for mutually agreed spheres of interests.
The Dec. 69 NATO document also called for 'cultural exchanges and freer movement of peoples, ideas and information between the countries of East and West'. Thus the different political strategies of the two blocks were clear from the very beginning.
Originally, the Warsaw Treaty tried to use this process to sp lit the Western Alliance, asserting e.g. in the Bucharest Declaration, that 'the goals of the US in Europe have nothing in common with the vital interests of the European peoples'. After finn rejection of this policy by the Western side, the Eastern bloc - with some reluctance - finally agreed to include the two North-American states in the conference, and it also agreed that 'cultural exchanges' could also discussed.
The development of the CSCE was an evolutionary, step-by step process. The preparatory talks for the Helsinki conference to some extent shaped European events, but European events themselves (e.g. the Eastern Treaties of Federal Germany, or - on the negative side- the invasion of Czechsolovakia) shaped the Helsinki process even more.
From the beginning of the 1970s, NATO and especially the neutral countries ook a greater initiative in the process. In December 1971, in Brussels, NATO ministers stressed the significance of bilateral contacts amongst European countries. They emphasized that any future conference 'should not serve to perpetuate the post-war division of Europe'. Neutral and non-aligned countries made similar statements.
This was obviously not the view of the Warsaw Pact, which in its declaration of J anuary 1972, in Prague, continued to insist on peaceful coexistence and mutually advantageous economic relations between systems. The WP states declared that they rejected the proposal for the free flow of peoples, information and ideas, if this served as basis for interference in their domestic affairs.
The divergent interests and priorities of the two sides were now clear.
The SU and the WP countries were interested essentially in the stabilization of Central and Eastern Europe.
- They wanted the acceptance by the West of the status quo established after WW2. (Both territorial and politicai status quo: that means diplomatic recognition of all existing European borders and the legitimization of the two ideological- politicai systems.)
- The COMECON countries, because of their relative under-development were profoundly interested in obtaining more high technology, know how and credits through increased East-West economic contacts.
NATO members and neutral countries favoured primarily;
- bilateral and all-European arrangements, instead of bloc-to -bloc approaches
- broader informal, grass roots contacts, instead of government-sponsored, and controlled exchanges
- arms limitation talks in parallel with progress on politicai issues
Through the extended 'East- West' communication both sides wanted to increase their influence in the other part of Europe; and simultaneously tried to avoid internal destabilization.
These conflicting policy priorities were present in the development of the Helsinki document as well as in the whole implementation process.
The Helsinki Final Act, signed at a Summit meeting in August 1975, was a politicai compromise. However, many of its points reflected rather the Western negotiators' views.
In the Preamble, which defines the politicai principles, the inviolability of the frontiers was stipulated. At the same time, another artic1e declared that 'frontiers can be changed in accordance with international law by peaceful means and by agreement'. - which was an implicit reference to the question of the inner-German border.
One of the greatest innovations of the Final Act was the inc1usion of the -concept of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the document. This fact legitimized the discussion of human rights problems within CEE and USSR at various international fora. It put these questions finnly on the political agenda of the etente process. It also implied the right of European countries to discuss the internal events in other countries that violated the agreed norms of conduct.
The Helsinki negotiators made significant innovations in the fieId of military confidence building and monitoring. In the 'first basket' they extended the principle of transparency to defense activity.
The second basket covered the cooperation in economy, science and technology. This was the least controversial of the baskets: however it had also relatively little impact on the real processes of East-West trade.
The third basket contained various measures to facilitate human contacts and to improve dissemination of information throughout Europe. This basket was central to the Western strategy, which was designed to carry out 'change through rapprochement' with the Eastern part of Europe.
Human rights issues
The CSCE has an impressive re c ord in setting standards and defining a code of conduct for states. It contributed to a slow process within the Eastern bloc of fostering common values and norms. The implementation reviews became an embarrassing exercise for many East European govemments at successive follow up meetings. Such meetings were held in Belgrade in 1977, in Madrid in 1980-83 and in Vienna in 1986-89. (One example which illustrates the 'uncomfortable seat' at these conferences was the dec1aration of the Martial Law ih Poland in December 1981, during the Madrid follow up meeting. The issue of the military coup figured prominently on the political agenda, and this provided additional diplomatic support to the Polish people ,who, in their overwhelming majority favoured the democratic opposition.)
The impact of Helsinki on human rights was not immediate, and it was intermingled with other elements, like economic efficiency, national feelings etc .
Nevertheless, despite the initial skepticism of many observers, inc1uding Eastern European dissidents, the effects of the CSCE were instrumental in the gradual opening up of the Communist regimes, and in the emergence of a new civil society in the region.
As a sign of slow change of politicai conditions, grass-roots Helsinki monitoring groups were established in almost every country of the region.
They were occasionally harassed and constrained by authorities, as the case of Andrei Sakharov demonstrated. However, in final analysis, they proved to be successful in turning international atlention to the most flagrant cases of human rights and minority rights abuses. Within an evolutionary process, the so called . "Helsinki watch groups' helped to raise the self-consciousness of the society, both on an individual and on a group level.
The Eastern European political leadership was obviously aware of this danger, but it hoped to neutralize, what it saw as the 'negative side effects' of detente.
An artic1e published by an Hungarian official in 1987, in the foreign affairs journal 'Kulpolitika' , described quite unambigously this dilemma: 'The most important security issue is to maintain social and political stability. This means preserving a stable socialist society under the leadership of the Communist Party. The general concept is ... to try to cooperate with the West and aceomodate to the world market without dapting a capitalist regulatory structure to the socialist system. The overall structure rnust remain socialist; market regulatory techniques can only assume a complementary fimction.' (Kulpolitika, 3/1987, pp 50-51)
It is important to remember, that this article was published in 1987, ill Hungary; a country, which had progressed relatively successfully in its conomic reform, by combining market principles with a socialist planned economy.
The civil societies of individual Eastern blo c countries had, of course. a quite different view or the stability of the regime. This perspective was described eloquently by Timothy Garton Ash, a British expert on Central and Eastern Europe. He wrote: 'One could write the history of Central Europe over the forty years from 1949 to 1989 as the story of attempts by European peoples to become once again the subjects rather than the objects of history. For Poles, Hungarians, Czechs and others this meant primarily the attempt to regain control over their own internal affairs, for to regain control over their external affairs was hardly to be dreamed of. It meant endeavouring to restore, by reform or revolution, what might be called 'internal sovereignty'.(T.G.A. In Europe' s Name 1993. 22.)
So, the Helsinki process gradually helped to regain this 'internal sovereignty', and later on, at the end of 1980s, it contributed to regaining full 'external sovereignty' too.
The human rights policy of the Helsinki negotiators generally worked well, but not without problems and contradictions within the West itself. There has always been a trade-off between human rights concerns and other strategic considerations of an individual state. This trade-off frequently generated heated debate between supporters of a 'more moralist' and a 'more realist' approach to foreign policy. Both camps developed their own rationale to justify or criticize a particular foreign policy opti on. There were partisan debates within individual Western countries and diplomatic debates between them to try to define the appropriate role and scope of human rights in international relations. In the 1970s and early 1980s e.g., in Westem Europe, there was an inc1ination on some occasions to subordinate human rights concems to other national policy objectives.
(President Giscard d'Estaing' s visit to Leonid Brezhnev a few weeks after Afganistan , or Gustav Husak's visit to Bonn at a relatively early stage of the 'normalization' in Czechoslovakia).
Actions such as these provoked astonishment and raised criticism in Washington, especially during the Carter administration, with its strong emphasis on human rights.
On the other hand, critics of US foreign policy stated that the American standards of human rights were not always equally applied to some friendly countries with authoritarian regimes e.g. in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. (Countries like South Korea at that time, Saudi Arabia, or Latin American military regimes. Occasionally, similar criticism was made in connection of the development of political and economic cooperation with the Communist China.)
Paradoxically, even these controversial elements of the human rights debate had a crystallizing effect on policy, along with other factors. They helped the CSCE process to establish elearer common standards, against which the performance of the East European regimes could be properly measured. To conclude, let me sum up in recalling three main points concerning the subject(1) the CSCE, together with some other elements of detente, contributed to the development of political and legal culture in CEE, including USSR. Human rights violations ceased to be seen as an entirely 'internal affair' ; the principle of non-interference was invoked less and less by the WP countries. This was a slow, gradual evolution (not without setbacks); but it nevertheless represented a change of major significance in politicai attitude and behaviour)
- (2) the Helsinki Final Act recognized some elements of the Cold War legacy, for example certain aspects of the diplomatic, politicai and other reality of the bipolar world. However it did not legitimize the division of Europe; and it did not endorse the concept of spheres of influence. On the contrary: it helped several small CEE countries to regain a higher level of autonomy both in foreign policy, as in the case of Rumania, or in the economic and cultural spheres, where for some period Poland and Hungary are good examples.
The Helsinki Final Act instead of becoming a document for consolidating the status quo, it became a charter for change.
- In the post-Cold War era, the original mission of the CSCE has been gradually complemented by other types of activity, like monitoring, information gathering and preventive diplomacy. The CSCE, now the OSCE, like other international institutions coming out of the Cold War, is trying to adapt itself to a fundamentally changed environment. Whether this adaptation has been qui ck and successful enough, - is another matter.
This presentation was not intended to describe current trends and developments within OSCE.
We will debate these issues in detail later in the course in a round table discussion .