WEB EDITION No. 5 - Oct. 1993 Vol. 41 - pp.

12-18

SECURITY IN CENTRAL EUROPE: A POSITIVE-SUM GAME
Dr. Teodor Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania Melescanu

Our own security is inseparably linked to that of all other states in
Europe. The consolidation and preservation throughout the continent of democratic societies and their freedom from any form of coercion or intimidation are therefore of direct and material concern to us.

North Atlantic Council, June 1991

Even prior to the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council
(NACC), many of the new democracies in Central Europe, including Romania, were already expressing a desire to become NATO members. The upgrading of their relations with the European Communities (EC) and the Western European Union (WEU) has encouraged their expectations that they would also qualify for 'a higher status' with the Alliance. Russian President Boris Yeltsin's declaration on 25 August on the question of NATO's eastward enlargement encouraged the Euro-Atlantic community's expectation that the old perception of enemies that derived from the Cold War, and its paralysing taboos, are fading away.

While

today, enlargement is still only a topic for speculation, tomorrow, it promises to be an item on the Alliance's agenda. There is no doubt that, before taking a decision on when, how and with whom to enlarge NATO, its leaders will first need to assess the ramifications and possible side-effects of the potential options.

Like

other Central European partners within the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and as an applicant for future membership, we in Romania are directly interested in the outcome of that assessment. Moreover, we are quite aware that no decision can be implemented without the support of public opinion in the Alliance's member states. Those of us in the Cold War's 'forgotten' part of Europe can therefore help in better acquainting our Western friends with our security needs and concerns, and also with the way in which our eventual membership could serve NATO's values and goals.

What is Europe?

could be defended. has led to heated political debate. favouring a narrow notion of Europe. more or less negligible. some of the founding fathers of the European movement looked back to the imperial myths of the Holy Roman Empire as their models of a 'golden age' of European Christendom. whose circumstances prompted scientific and political analyses in Western Europe which redefined the European identity. usually comes to the fore whenever. Europe has come back to its natural geographic and historical boundaries.to present every possible argument which could persuade Western nations to join hands in a common project. With Communism over. any argument that could underpin solidarity against the dangers posed to a weakened post-war Western Europe. Europe's institutional architecture has. cannot be reproached for having tried . In some scientific and political circles in both Western and former 'East European' . Indeed. as well as numerous earlier conflicts. Consequently. While trying to adapt to the post-Yalta division of the continent. those models encouraged a vision of Europe made up of a 'core' and a few. democracy. The last four decades or so have witnessed two principal periods when a more or less academic exercise in taxonomy over what Europe is and is not.at a time when these organizations were still only vague projects . it should not be forgotten that most of those nations had fiercely fought one another during the First and Second World Wars. in its turn. by the assertion of "the primacy of the West". whose daring imagination and efforts led to the creation of such viable institutions as the Council of Europe. It remains an open question whether the founding fathers could have dispensed with a controversial European political mythology. as was revealed. though perhaps unintentionally.A certain mind set. 'peripheries'. The first period began with the onset of the Cold War. threatened by Soviet expansionism. the EC and the WEU. In assessing their zealous efforts. With the Cold War over. the market economy and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms have become the main elements of an 'identity card' claimed by every nation throughout Europe. However. exercises in taxonomy are once again in fashion. as a result of significant changes to the continent's geopolitical map. Nevertheless. the remarkable men and women. to be altered.

However. Has Central Europe contracted? A milder form of the 'cultural-religious' line of thinking. however. in Western structures. Were a mythology of this sort to somehow encourage within the Alliance a certain disposition to play off cultural ties against crucial security interests.. liberal and humanist values and practices succeed in shutting the door on the nightmare of authoritarian regimes. so as to include only a limited number of states. Since early 1990.e. command economies. after their respective 1989 revolutions. believe that today's Europe is to be found wherever its democratic.deserve a different destiny. have embarked on an irreversible process of realigning themselves with genuine European values. all of them. one learns that only the so-called northern tier of former Eastern Europe would 'fit in' with Western standards and projects. i. all the states formerly caged by the Yalta agreements in the Soviet 'external empire' have clearly opted for integration with the West. while 'the rest' . which hardly matches a Europe heading towards the 21st century. and a disregard for human rights and fundamental freedoms. then rather than favouring the fulfilment of its selfproclaimed role of projecting stability beyond its initial area. without exception. not being part of Western Christianity. with the collapse of the post-Yalta division of the continent. is the inclination to narrow the definition of the term 'Central Europe'. practices and goals. As a result. the taxonomists in question insist on a cultural-religious kinship test. a number of prestigious Western political scientists have recalled forgotten truths about the non-Soviet members of the extinct Warsaw Treaty Organization.countries. short of convincing arguments able to give substance to their narrow notion of today's Europe. NATO itself might precipitate new tensions within an already unsteady region. That is. an area misleadingly labelled for almost half a century . Fortunately. this tendency to treat Central Europe as a shrinking region is not unanimously shared.which. would inevitably be 'undemocratic' and 'unable to democratize' . That is probably why. We. there is an attempt to persuade a confused public opinion that only a few of the new Central European democracies qualify for inclusion in Europe. moreover.

Latvia. by defining Romania as a Central European state close to the Balkans. Romania is either an East European or a Balkan country. it is worth recalling that the first paragraph of The Declaration of the Extraordinary Meeting of the WEU Council of Ministers with States of Central Europe (Bonn. the Czech Republic and Slovakia). Of course. would somehow be 'more entitled' to closer ties with Western structures. Czechoslovakia (now. emphasizing once again that its criteria for admission do not include a "religious condition". the Council of Europe.have not subscribed to the 'contracting approach'. there are also more specific reasons for this choice. Hungary.Central Europe. However unorthodox it might sound. a country belongs to the area where its problems lie. It is our strongest hope that any eventual decisions by NATO will further strengthen the line taken by these other 'interlocking institutions'. culturally and philosophically . Lithuania. 1992) identifies Bulgaria. by signing association agreements with six of the former East European countries. did not have any difficulty in admitting as full members Eastern Christian countries like Bulgaria and Romania. Close to the Balkans According to the post-Cold War commonly accepted wisdom. WEU and the Council of Europe . which do not apply only to Romania. it can be said that. This clarification might help our friends to the south to understand that the way we characterize Romania implies neither a denial of enduring . More significantly. reduced to a few countries lying in the area between the united Germany and the exUSSR. we do not have in mind its geographic location alone. geopolitically. Similarly. Estonia. including the successor states to the former Yugoslavia. being located north of the Danube. We Romanians prefer to describe ourselves as a Central European country close to the Balkans. For its part. Poland and Romania as 'States of Central Europe'. Romania has no problems in its relationships with any of the Balkan countries. Besides the arguments presented earlier. practices and goals to which they have been devoted as far eastwards as possible. does not belong geographically to the Balkan region. As is well known. 19 June.as 'Eastern Europe' has again become what it has always been historically. which blatantly contradicts the aspiration of those institutions to extend the values. Examination of a map of our continent will show that Romania. the European Communities have rejected the notion that a narrowly conceived 'Central Europe'. In this connection. decision-makers in crucial European structures the EC.

Nor should it be forgotten that. Thebloody conflicts in former Yugoslavia are just part of the story. among the new European democracies. nor a diminution of the important Balkan dimension of our foreign policy.. Each of them has played an important part in preventing the war from spreading throughout the area and beyond. and consolidation of. democratic regimes in Portugal. implies just the opposite. None of the new democracies bordering former Yugoslavia .against heavy odds . any augmentation of the liabilities would have costly consequences.their domestic stability. While none of these was . should not be overlooked. while strengthening the assets might enhance the security and stability of the whole continent. Hungary and Romania . these countries have been the most economically affected by the embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and they surely deserve as much encouragement and support from Western structures as their counterparts in less troubled areas.economic. Furthermore. In respect to the Balkans. In describing Romania as a Central European country close to the Balkans. We also want to reveal to our fellow Europeans and to our North American friends that.should be punished by neglect. the successful transition to. we think that to merely write them off as a 'powder keg' is to offer an incomplete and inaccurate picture of the complex and contradictory reality of this region. is the democratic development of all the neighbouring post-Communist states. i. In this connection. As a matter of fact. and their contribution to the international efforts to curb and stop the conflict. which corroborate this viewpoint. political and cultural ties. These states' ability to preserve .e. Greece and Turkey. Spain. too frequently ignored aspect. This description should not be mistaken for an attempt to 'escape from the periphery' which would only generate more trouble than hope for the future of the new Europe. with its assets and liabilities. Our choice of the richer locution "close to". NATO Review has already published a number of valuable articles signed by political leaders and military men from different countries in the area. Too long a history would mock us if we dared such irreverence.Albania. The other. we do not share the view that economic and political options depend on geographic location. Bulgaria. we simply aim at an accurate definition of our position. an encouraging evolution which does not deserve to be ignored. instead of the colder "bordering on". it might be useful to recall some lessons drawn from the 'wave of democratization' during the Cold War.

the pressures on what was previously called NATO's 'central front' have eased considerably.should continuously complement bilateral relations. Thus. Europe's new strategic challenges come simultaneously from the eastern and southern arcs of crisis. In the latter case. once the transition began. WEU. could play a positive role in preventing a dangerous mutual reinforcement of these two arcs of crisis. certain external factors played an important role in securing both the consolidation and the irreversibility of the process. Because of the presence of the US in NATO. and some bad historical memories. an essential part of such an endeavour. It is not difficult to guess that 'the second wave' of transitions will be more painful and more unpredictable than the first.straightforward. Hungary and Bulgaria. As a riparian state on the Black Sea and the Danube (controlling 1.000 kilometres of its navigable course) . Together with Albania. the domestic prerequisites for a successful transition are considerably weaker. The democratic forces in these societies have not been able to capitalize on pre-existing market economies and civil societies. a firm and even-handed attitude of support by the European states with solid democratic traditions could make all the difference. The continuing cooperation between the Western European Union and Bulgaria. Furthermore. once the war in former Yugoslavia is over .and we hope that it will be over soon . Romania and the new arcs of crisis With the dismantlement of the USSR. by enjoying an increased security investment from NATO. NATO is a privileged actor in this respect. Thus.a position to which the new Rhine-Main-Danube connection. But given the current situation in the Balkans. According to many analysts. cultural or religious differences did not constitute obstacles as such to their democratization. ceasing to be the Alliance's "first. Bilateral relations are. Romania could fill in the gap in the 'southern flank' of the Alliance. and the promising evolutions in both the Russian Federation and Ukraine. whose balancing role in Europe is as necessary as ever.these states could offer a more favourable security environment for positive post-conflict evolution and eventual reinsertion of all the Yugoslav successor states into mainstream Europe. second and third priority". collective support .Romania is one of the few post-Communist democracies which.extended by organizations such as the EC. and NATO . and the Black Sea-Danube Channel on Romanian territory give new relevance . and will be. Hungary and Romania in monitoring the embargo on the Danube is .

Romania's good relations with all the countries in the Balkans confer on it a unique position in its part of the continent. with a view to eventually joining its ranks. rather than wondering "who is going to be first in line?". That is why. it is one of the biggest Central European NATO partners within NACC. Last but not least. On the contrary. has benefited the whole of Europe. the internal stability of our country. if the successive steps leading to inclusion in NATO's security arrangements are clarified. With the decisions taken at the June 1993 NACC ministerial meeting. a new step on the road to integration has been taken. obviously. the better their chances of qualifying in the foreseeable future for an upgrading of their current status needs reinforcement. a preliminary statement on the criteria for closer ties to NATO could help these states focus on meeting objective requirements. in turn. we do not think that the exclusion of other countries would give us a better chance. In an area where states have been taught by history to behave almost exclusively like players in a zero-sum game. had Romania not resisted the dangerous 'virus of instability and disintegration'. The road to integration In Romania's quest to extend and deepen relations with the Alliance. we firmly believe that extending NATO's security umbrella to just a part of the area Romania belongs to could undermine this region's opportunities to become a network of democratic stability. It is therefore in the best interests of both our NATO partners and of all our neighbours to help us in strengthening Romania's stability and security. consequently. the problems currently confronting the main pillars of European and Euro-Atlantic security would have been considerably greater. this is a must.pointing to the fact that the sooner they adapt to the rules of a positive-sum game. even before the Summit in January 1994. In demographic and territorial terms. this could. Indeed. The development . The positive effect of the EC's clear signals to its six new Central European associates . Accession to full membership will. Romania occupies the ninth place among European states. be an evolutionary process. which has allowed us to keep two zones of open or latent conflict physically apart.quite instructive in this respect. perhaps even unmanageable. and improving their relations. tone down journalistic speculation on the imminent admission of certain countries. therefore.

Of course. but fairly served. NATO member states will positively respond to the quests for closer ties and integration expressed by all the Central European democracies. it is not surprising that President Yeltsin's statement in Warsaw on the question of NATO's enlargement has been used by non-democratic forces in Russia as a pretext to frighten public opinion with Cold War slogans about the Alliance and its 'hidden' agenda. It has been aptly remarked that amendments to the previous encouraging signal. Neither of them should fear that an extension of NATO's security arrangements. in a shorter time span.the possible concerns of these two countries should be addressed. the sharing of experience. by the growing integration of the countries in their vicinity into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Poland's cooperation with Germany. The more so because the Russian Federation's internationally recognized role in world affairs underpinned by its permanent seat on the UN Security Council as well as its democratic partnership with the US . the essential compatibility requirement. and the tools for. consultations among NATO members and their partners in Central Europe (not 'Central Europe' in its more restrictive sense).and this is especially the case for those countries which are geographically closer to them .are solid guarantees that no state or organization in the world could ever afford to engage in any . It would be very helpful. in the military field. By increasing the security dialogue between the Alliance and Russia and Ukraine. on both these and related matters. It is our firm belief that. while defusing possible Russian concerns. hardly justified by the historical changes in Europe. The democratic reconstruction of Central Europe will give support and added impetus to the historic transformations taking place within both Ukraine and the great Euro-Asian power that is Russia. seem to echo the old fashioned policy of 'spheres of influence' which had affected for such a long time the fate of nations in Central Europe. these two countries will come to see that their vital interests will not be harmed. Therefore. Given that all the actors on the European scene are interested in the consolidation of the democratic option chosen by the Russian Federation and Ukraine . has set a precedent for further steps. however. and the development of common practical approaches and cooperation in peacekeeping have given partner countries new opportunities to gradually adjust to NATO standards. will entail their isolation from Western Europe. including Romania. for all aspirants to be extended the opportunity to take part in a joint assessment of other possible ways to satisfy.of a common understanding of the political principles of. peacekeeping. should be envisaged. and soon with Denmark. in whatever form.

and will continue to exist. and together with it. Of course there are at least two parties to a strained relationship. among the criteria to be met by aspirants to closer relations. Along with its obvious assets. In all probability. Though not unique in our region. Romania's Association Agreement with the EC. this recommends it as one of the candidates that could bring a useful contribution to the achievement of the Alliance's goals. pave the way for a gloomy future. the Alliance will focus on compliance with certain standards. In recent years. our political dialogue and cooperation could be better but objective common interests and growing self-restraint .hostile anti-Russian activities. Today's narrow options could. not only because of what it is against but also because of what it is for freedom. and recent inclusion among the fully fledged members of the Council of Europe. Understandably. Bringing states which have tense relations with their neighbours closer to the Alliance would mean putting NATO in an undesirable position. By making clear that NATO exists. sooner rather than later.the Alliance is crucial to the outcome of that struggle. it has become obvious that Europe's political destiny will be decided by the outcome of the current ideological struggle between the forces of integration and those of disintegration. the relationship between Romania and Hungary is frequently mentioned as a case in point. its status with the WEU. good relations with neighbouring countries might be a decisive 'qualifying' criterion. of the whole world. Integration versus disintegration What is at stake in Europe is not the fate of a handful of states but the future of the entire continent.the benefits of . Consequently. clearly indicate that it belongs to the like-minded group of countries in Central Europe. In certain respects. any decision concerning NATO's enlargement must have as an essential prerequisite a clear-cut set of objective criteria. security and stability in Europe . more or less similar to those already required by the other Western institutions along with the candidates' potential to contribute to the achievement of the goals of the Alliance and the state of their relations with neighbouring countries. The Russian Federation is also the only post-Communist country able to provide comprehensively for its own security.

represents an important step forward. had not been in NATO. in spite of certain disagreements. But we have not exerted daily pressure on any of our Western friends. In so acting. It is worth underlining that the Romanian message has been . or both. excluding the other. Dr. we have the long-term interests of both of our countries. showed that normal relations between the two countries are within reach. Moreover. In addition. an upgrading of Romania's status with the Alliance . particularly if these efforts are underpinned in a firm and even-handed way by Western states and structures. Jezsensky by the people of Romania.a status analogous to that eventually extended to other Central European states. the official visit to Romania of a delegation headed by the distinguished Hungarian Foreign Minister.have led to improvements. By clearly stating this. of our area.during these last three years or so . There is also a growing awareness on both sides that integration with Western structures could largely depend on the quality of our bilateral relations. would represent neither an adequate basis for the improvement of our bilateral relations. the membership of two states in NATO's 'southern flank' has very much helped them. as soon as possible. nor an incentive for a better political climate throughout Central Europe.the first such visit since December 1989 .which have become evident against the background of the tragic events in the former Yugoslavia .as consistent as any sent to NATO headquarters by other countries in our area. as well as our political desire to enjoy. and of Europe as a whole in mind. formal security guarantee. their verbal confrontations sound like the music of the angels. this article has attempted to spell out why Romania should be considered a valuable candidate for membership. In this respect. When compared with what could have happened if one of those countries. It is thanks to the Alliance that we can evoke Franco-German reconciliation as an encouraging precedent. the warm reception given to Dr. we thought it fair not to overburden the Alliance's decision-makers. Among other things. allowing them enough time to better adjust NATO to . The political will of our respective governments to enlarge and deepen contacts and cooperation in all fields was convincingly illustrated by the realistic spirit that prevailed during these talks and by the fact that a number of intergovernmental agreements were signed. to keep their bilateral relations on the right track. NATO's own history sheds useful light on such an approach. Geza Jezsensky in September . Any decision by NATO to establish closer relations with only Romania or Hungary. nor did we even make use of well-founded security concerns to plead for an immediate. irrespective of their ethnic origin or region.

least of all among the EC's new associates.its new tasks in the face of new risks and security challenges confronting Europe as we approach the turn of the century.in Brussels. President Iliescu conveyed an equally clear message during his visit to NATO's headquarters earlier this year. the one that most favours stability. Bucharest and other capitals . be mistaken for 'reluctance' concerning closer relations and eventual membership. We have been repeatedly assured that the Alliance has no intention of differentiating among its cooperation partners. democracy and reinforced security in our region. This attitude of restraint should not. to mention just a few . the clear-cut attitude taken by each of the new Central European democracies during the recent confrontation in Moscow reconfirms their irreversible option for integration with the West as well as their full support for the democratic forces in Russia. all the senior officials of the Alliance . A crucial foundation for our optimism is the firm belief that. these countries can better accomplish their own national interests. thereby bolstering security throughout the Old Continent . When visiting our country. this attitude augurs well for a much-needed understanding that by behaving like partners in a positive-sum game. as far as the question of enlargement is concerned. the President and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Assembly.NATO's Secretary General.which enjoys the consensus of all political forces in the country . the Chairman of the Military Committee. the Alliance's decisionmakers will choose. we remain optimists.as well as within the NACC framework. from among all possible options. In spite of the still unstable environment in our part of Europe.have learned that Romania's ambition to become a member is genuine. members of the Political Committee. At the same time. In this respect. Romania's desire for closer integration . however.has been clearly expressed on every possible occasion both during our dialogue with the Alliance and its member states .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful