Author: Dr. Ian Anthony
The creation of a "whole and free" Europe as envisioned by former US president George Bush, Sr., is not possible without the integration of Southeast Europe.
The events of the last decade in this region present great challenges "to some of the basic assumptions on which the emerging European security system rests." Europe must first move "from a period of confrontation into a period of security building". Furthermore, both with respect to past conflicts and potential future conflicts, the existing European security system "may well prove to be inadequate." In any event, the brutal conflicts in this region served to coalesce "solidarity between different parts of Europe." This solidarity should be the basis "on which the new security system is based." However, events in Southeast Europe of the last decade have shown that in practice and in the field "cooperation between international organizations without hierarchy" has not been effective. As a result, three new dimensions in the "current issues in European security" should be considered. First, the successful management of EU and NATO enlargement and the consequences of such enlargement. Second, the acceptance of "the continuous evolution of the European union" as a new partner in the wider European security system, and third, the need to "reconsider and redefine the trans-Atlantic partnership in light of recent events in Europe and the US."
The creation of what United States President George Bush senior labelled Europe 'whole and free' cannot be accomplished if Southeast Europe remains excluded. However, events and developments in Southeast Europe represent a challenge to some of basic assumptions on which the emerging European security
One assumption underpinning the present security system is that Europe has moved from a period of confrontation into a period of security building. Another assumption is that there are critical differences between the present process of European integration and past efforts. The main differences are, first, that the current process will be peaceful and, second, that it will actually be
By contrast, in the 1990s events and developments in Southeast Europe demonstrated that war is possible in Europe. Existing institutions could neither prevent nor manage it. Force remains an effective instrument of political change and the continuous subdivision of states has apparently not reached its limits. The current arrangements for European security may well prove to be inadequate to prevent either of these processes from continuing in Southeast Europe.
At the same time, the events in Southeast Europe have been the main catalyst for change in the mandate, structure, and operational activities of the European Union, NATO, and the OSCE. These events have also stimulated the development of new forms of cooperation between states, international organizations and NGOs that have never previously existed.
People living in Southeast Europe voice strong (and in many cases perhaps justified) criticisms of the nature and consequences of external engagement in the affairs of the region. Nevertheless, the same people continue to seek assistance of different kinds from these external actors who show no sign (at present) that they will refuse to consider such requests.
One of the other main assumptions on which the new security system is based—solidarity between different parts of Europe— has therefore been validated by events in Southeast Europe.
The grand design agreed among European states in the early 1990s is of central importance. However, it did not solve all outstanding normative issues, partly because of the complexity and confusion of events in Southeast Europe. Two sets of normative issues stand out as 'leftovers' still in need of clarification in conditions where developments within states play the main role in shaping European security.
First, the relationship between state sovereignty and the right of peoples to self-determination remains unclear. If one or more guiding principles could be made clear and established on a Europe-wide basis, it could contribute to finding political solutions that might be applied to current problems in Southeast Europe.
Second, the conditions under which the use of armed force within the boundaries of a state is legitimate are not specified in sufficient detail—though the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security provides a basis for further discussion. This question includes not only the use of force by states within their own borders but also discussion of what conditions (if any) make the use of force by non-state actors legitimate.
New security dimensions in Europe
While the decisions taken in the early 1990s (most notably in the 1990 Charter of Paris for a New Europe) established a grand design for the European security system, a lot has been learned subsequently about how this grand design can and cannot be implemented.
The idea of cooperation between international organizations without hierarchy has been shown to be unworkable in practice. Saying that everybody is responsible for decisions has been shown to be the same as saying that in fact nobody is responsible for decisions.
Experience has demonstrated the need to integrate military, political, economic, and social instruments into a coherent framework if there is to be progress towards the settlement of security problems. In each case, mobilizing and organizing the assets required to manage so-called 'complex emergencies' requires a leader. However, no single state or organization has the capacities to contribute all of the elements needed.
The need for leadership, and the lack of a single entity able to provide it, is itself in contrast to the period when the United States and the Soviet Union were dominant.
From the above brief observations, three new dimensions can be identified as the main current issues in European security:
1. The need to manage the enlargement of the EU and NATO and to manage the consequences of those enlargements. For a long time to come, there will be a significant number of European countries that remain outside both the EU and NATO;
2. The need to accommodate the continuous evolution of the European Union into a new type of actor within the wider European security system;
3. The need to reconsider and redefine the transatlantic partnership in light of recent changes in Europe and the United States.
To a large degree, events in Southeast Europe can be seen as central to all three dimensions.
While it is still difficult to predict the details, it is widely believed that the next round of enlargements will include some countries from Southeast Europe. However, this will mean the introduction of a different status to the countries of the region.
Within the European Union and NATO respectively, it is argued that enlargement decisions are not predetermined or taken on political grounds alone (there clearly will be a political judgement to be made in each case), but in fact are conditional on meeting agreed standards. While in most cases domestic reforms need to be made with or without the attempt to join the EU and/or NATO, when countries of Southeast Europe become members it will be a demonstration that membership is not excluded for other states.
Nevertheless, it is likely that the next enlargement decisions will affect the relationship of Southeast European states with one another.
The evolution of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) has been strongly influenced by developments in Southeast Europe. Until 1 999, it was still the case that the development of a more coherent security and defense identity was seen as a process to be managed through NATO. However, the experience before and during the NATO intervention in Kosovo was probably an important factor that changed the perspective of European countries—in particular the United Kingdom—regarding the particular form to be given to ESDR.
European leaders were unable to persuade the United States of the need for military action for a long time. Once military action was agreed on, there were disagreements over the form it would take —in particular the balance between reliance on air power and preparations for the use of ground forces.
The experience of EU states in Southeast Europe has also played a central role in the development of other conflict prevention and crisis management instruments. In 1991, the European Union (created in Maastricht in 1992) did not exist. The pre-Maastricht system of European Political Cooperation within the EC (as it then existed) was very limited. However, even after the creation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, progress in implementation was very slow. In 1997, the collapse of the state in Albania underlined that the EU was still not prepared to play a major role in crisis management, and in this case one member— Italy—undertook to act alone.
The Political and Security Committee, Rapid-Reaction Mechanism, Military Committee and Military Staff established in 2001 are an effort by the EU to acquire the ability to manage crises as part of an efficient and credible foreign and security policy. Implementation of these plans will take some time and new elements are probably also required (notably more systematic cooperation between national intelligence gathering and monitoring activities within the EU).
After 1997, developments have moved far more quickly so that by 2001 the ability of the EU to respond collectively is now more coherent, as witnessed in Macedonia. However, the EU (with 375 million inhabitants and a GDP of over $7 trillion) still lacks the capability to manage a crisis in a country of 2.2 million inhabitants where public estimates put the strength of guerrilla forces at around 500 men. Nevertheless, the efforts to develop new capabilities have a new political momentum—not least because they are now written into EU law rather than being political undertakings.
The attitudes of European Union member states towards establishing an autonomous military capability have changed recently. The ESDP is not seen as a 'separable but not separate' part of NATO. Instead, it is increasingly being conceived as an autonomous force that will cooperate closely with NATO.
From this development of the EU into a new type of political actor emerges another new dimension of European security; namely, the need to redefine the transatlantic relationship. While the US leadership role will still be essential during the next decade, the evolution of an EU-US partnership will require tolerance and maturity on both sides. The United States should recognise its self-interest in helping to develop autonomous EU capabilities. The EU should stress that its role will be to implement a policy framework developed in line with US values and mainly under US leadership.
The most important discussion within the European security system during the past ten years has been the role and character of democracy and the rule of law. Whereas in the first part of the 1990s, these were presented as goals to be reached, it is now clear that democracy and the rule of law are not only objectives but also the main tools with which to enhance security.
If states internalize democracy and rule of law they can enhance security within any institutional arrangement. However, internal developments in some countries in Western Europe have underlined that democratic governments subject to the rule of law, however stable, are not predetermined to last forever. France and Germany, for example, have been forced to confront the negative impact of corruption in public service. Democratic governments are part of a process in which norms, procedures, and institutions are under continuous review and adjustment. They must be constantly reworked through a transparent process of dialogue with the public.