The Inter-Agency Relationship: Parliament, the Government and the Military
Some problems, that the CEE countries have confronted, when building tripolar elationship (Parliarnent, Gov.Mil.).Personal experiences.
1.1 Both civilians and military lacked experience to work together in planning and implementing defence policy in demoeratic context. Especially at the outset there was a considerable lack of expertise on civilian side, which came from the excessive secrecy of the Communist period.
There was also a mutual psychological barrier, some reluctance to accept the new situation. This harnpered to some extent, and at least at the initial stage, the effective cooperation. The frequent personal changes in the MODs made difficult the consolidation and accumulation of expertise on the civilian side. (The Visegrad countries between 1990-1994. Poland, the Chech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary).
More importantly maybe, the very few civil servants, who carne to the MOD in the last five years, were also switched often following government changes. This is, first of all, against the principle of party neutrality in public administration. Second, it prevents the consolidation of the civilian component of the public administration in the MOD. Without consolidated position, the civilians can not perform their managerial or oversight tasks. Consequently, a real civilian partnership can not be established with senior officers either.
(1.) Stability of civil-servant positions in MOD matters in Government - Army relationship.
The durability is also very important in the personal composition of the Parliament's Defence Committee. Obviously the party composition of the Committee depends on the outcome of the free elections. Nevertheless, there are some good examples in CEE, that the parties elected to the Parliament, nominate experienced people to the Defense Committees. In Poland and in Hungary for instance former defese ministers, currently oppositional MPs are members of the Defense Committees. Obviously their voice is critical vis-a-vis the respective administration, but their presence and activity is no doubt useful in performing general parliamentary control.
It is also useful, if members of Defense Committee serve several terms. Let me cite the Hungarian experience in this respect. AlI three leaders of the Defense Committee, (the Chairman and the two vice-chairmen) were already members of the DC in the previous parliamentary period.
The personal stability and durability do es not produce automaticaIly more expertise, but the chances are better tha deputies perform a more effective job if they serve longer in the same Committee.
2.1 Another problem, which can disturbe the smooth relations between the executive and the rnilitary in some cases, is the unclear subordination of the armed forces to the cabinet on the one hand, and the President of Republic on the other. Lack of elear legal stipulations have been sources of conflict in several countries, in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and in the Chech Republic.
The probability of conflict is bigger, if the head of state (Commander in Chief) and the Prime Minister (MOD) belong todifferent political parties, having divergent concepts on defense and security policy. The unelear chain of command first, confuses the military leadership to whom to report and when. Second, in some occasion the military also benefites from the unelear circumstances around civilian control and increased its independence vis-a-vis the politicai establishement as a whole.
These problems are partly constitutional, some of them are extra-constitutional, political or organizational. Poland's example, where the Little Constitution of 1992 clarified the President's powers, nevertheless political ambiguity remained for instance around the procedure of nomination of the Defense Minister.
In Hungary, the adoption of Defense Bill in 1993, and the simultaneous modification of the Constitution contributed to a elearer delineation of sphere of responsibilty of the main constitutional actors inrespect of the Army. However, a fundamental organizational dilemma remained, and this is the fact that since 1990 the MOD and the High Command are separated institutionally. Unlike most of European models, the General Staff is not integrated into the ministerial structure, which has caused many overlaps, useless parallels,counterproductive bureaucratic fights.
This type of tensions probably will remain, they will not diseppear even with the best possible constitutions. Thus, the challenge is to develop a political culture, which is able to manage the conflicts coming from situation of shared governement.
Some of the Western democracies provide examples, which can be studied usefully. Such example is the French cohabitation', which is not an ideal solution, but it managed better the division of labor between President and PM, than most of the new democracies did.
3.1 In most of the new democracies the Parliamentary Defense Committee has become real, functioning institution, compared to their window dressing counterpart of the same name, which existed unde the Communist system. (It should be noted).
New mechanism were developed in order to improve communication between the executive and legislature. In the Hungarian MOD the political state secretary (the first vice minister) is responsible for contacts with parliament on political level. On working level a full time desk officer with legal background serves as liaison person between the Ministry and Defense Committee. The preparation of new bills is preceded as a general rule by multiparty consultations, which are organized jointly be MOD and Defense Committe. These consultations are not easy exercises: there are six parties represented in the Hungarian Parliament; currently two in government, four in the opposition. ( Complexity of the task.) Nevertheless, these consultations have proved to be essential to reach basic politicai consensus before voting. As a result, in the last two years, two imp. documents: the Defense Concept and the Defense Bill were adopted by unusually large consensus in the Hungarian Parliament.
Obviously, especially at the outset, there was a lot of ambiguities in the relationship between Parliament and executive (Defense Ministry). it was not elear for instance, which kind of information the 11p s can or should require from MOD.
There was no regulation how the legitimate demands of deputies for access to information can be meshed and reconciled with the not less legitimate demand of safeguard of the same information. On occasions, there are two extreme behavors III this respect: from side of MOD, an old time bureaucratic reflex to elassify everything as secret; from side of some deputies to ignore fundamental rules concerning elassified information. A golden midle road can and should be found Parliament - Executive (MOD) - Military : three institutions of very different nature. Their internal working mechanism, rules, values - all differ considerably from each other, which raises problem in mutual communication. Sometimes these are simple problems of concept and language, sometimes problems of different perception. Let's take the example of legislature and the armed forces. There could be hardly greater disparity between the rules that the deputies follow in their work, and the rules to which the military officers are subordinated. Even in established democracies, the different experiences can create disturbances in mutual contacts.