"Eastern European elites desperately want to be part of "Europe"- for historical, strategic, cultural, and economic reasons." Stanley Hoffmann(8)


In June 1989, while most of Central and Eastern European dared, for the first time in almost two generations, to dream of a non-Communist future, the adrenalin in Serbia was surging for a leap into the distant past. On June 28, St. Vitus Day, more than a million Serbs descended on the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo to mark the 600th anniversary of the day when Tsar Lazar led the Serbs into battle against hopeless odds rather than capitulate to the Ottomans.(9) This is but one example of the heavy impact history has had throughout the CEE region. The memory of previous attempts by neighbours to subjugate them continues to exert a powerful influence on contemporary security assessments. Poland is, perhaps, the best example having experienced three partitions in the late eighteenth century.

Poland disappeared from the map of Europe for 130 years. It was again partitioned between the Soviet Union and Germany in 1939 - the two neighbours who historically have inflicted the greatest injuries on the country and its people. After 1945 it became a vassal state of the Soviet Union until 1990. Poland is not the only such case in the region. The Czech state was destroyed in 1621 and did not reappear until 1918. Hungary was conquered by the Turks in 1526, and had to wait until 1866 for political autonomy under Austrian rule, and 1918 for political independence.(10)

For North Americans, it is sometimes difficult to understand how these distant events and dates still have a great influence on the relations between European nations. Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald lamented that Canada "had too much geography and not enough history," European policymakers are either blessed or cursed with too much history and not enough geography.

The current security concerns of CEE countries can only be adequately understood by reviewing the impact on national psyches of Versailles (1919) and Yalta (1945). On the eve of the Yeltsin/Clinton March 1997 Helsinki Summit, Andrzej Karkoszka, the Polish Deputy Defence Minister, concerned that his country's security interests could be jeopardized by the quest for compromise between Washington and Moscow, remarked that "the smell of Yalta is always with us. (11)

The peacemakers at Versailles created a group of independent states in the region, but left them, on the whole, unorganized and unsupported by any outside powers, (except France) and sometimes, with large ethnic minorities. As a result, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Germany, resentful of the punitive consequences of Versailles, and the Soviet Union carved up the region. The failure of the victors of the First World War to fashion an effective security structure for CEE sowed the seeds of the Second World War.

In February 1945, a quarter of a century after the Treaty of Versailles, the political settlement of CEE dominated the discussions between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the USSR at Yalta. In the current NATO enlargement debate, some commentators are concerned that the enlargement of the Alliance to the East will result in the creation of new dividing lines - in essence a "new Yalta," rather than creating a Europe "whole and free." Those terms and phrases are a form of shorthand for a new division of Europe between Russia and the West, if not into armed camps, then into "spheres of influences." In the view of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Yalta remains of great political significance because it "symbolizes the unfinished struggle of Europe. (12) The Yalta analogy will more than likely surface again in the context of NATO enlargement, particularly, during the ratification process in the US Senate. For that reason, it is important to have an understanding of what happened at Yalta.

There are several different interpretations of the agreements reached by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. In the Western view, Yalta more or less established a new international equilibrium, with the apportionment of "spheres of influence" between the victors, giving too much to the Russians but obtaining stability in return. This view included the Gaullist subgroup, whose thesis is that Yalta inaugurated the politics of the blocs. This group believed that the West gave too much to the USSR and that blocs were formed because of Yalta.

The USSR had a different view. Stalin believed that the United States had conceded to him, in essence, the whole of Europe at Yalta and the understanding was that the countries occupied by the Red Army would be sovietized with the corollary being that Western Europe would be under Moscow's influence since Roosevelt had assured Stalin that US troops would be out of Europe within two years of the end of the war. To Stalin, the information provided by Roosevelt was a carte blanche to do what he wanted in Europe in the postwar period.

Finally, there is the view of the Central and Eastern Europeans. To them, Yalta was a stab in the back, a view especially held in Poland, whose army made a major contribution to the victory of the Western Allies. The West, in the view of CEE countries, bartered their enslavement for its own tranquility. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Yalta Agreement of "free and unfettered elections," these "liberated" people never had the option of choosing their own democratic destiny.

To untangle the truth from each of these versions is not an easy task, but it is nonetheless important to the understanding of the current debate on NATO enlargement. At the time of the Yalta conference in February 1945, the Red Army had "liberated" Romania and Bulgaria, most of Poland and Hungary, and a portion of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. This "liberation" was in accord with the "spheres of responsibilities" elaborated in the Anglo-Soviet "Tolstoy" agreement negotiated at Moscow in October 1944. According to one version(13), the agreement assigned to Russia 75/25 or 80/20 preponderance in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. In Yugoslavia, Russia was to share influence with Britain, while in Greece, the agreement assigned to the UK 90/10 preponderance. Soon after the armistice in Bulgaria and Romania in 1944, it became evident that the Soviet Union had every intention of translating these military "spheres of responsibilities" into "spheres of influence." The Red Army became the arbiter of politics in Central and Eastern Europe.

Of all the agreements reached at Yalta, the Russian gains in the Far East and Poland, have occasioned the most controversy. On the question of Poland, the agreement provided that "the Provisional Government that was functioning in Poland, should be recognized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and Poles abroad," and that this Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, "shall be pledged to the holding of free and unfettered election when possible on the basis of universal suffrage and free election." On the question of boundaries, the agreement states that "the Eastern frontier should follow the Curzon line and that the Western frontier of Poland should therefore await the Peace Conference. (14) The nature of the Government was of more importance to the West than Poland's boundaries. For Churchill, this issue involved a question of honour since Britain had declared war on behalf of Poland. The Polish Government in London had been fighting the Nazis with the UK since 1939; many Polish pilots had given their lives in the Battle of Britain. At the time of Yalta more than 500,000 Poles were fighting on the side of the Western Allies. It appeared inconceivable, therefore, and hard to reconcile with Wilsonian ideals of "an open covenant openly arrived at," that one of the Allies, (the USSR) obtained from the other two, the (United States and the United Kingdom) the control of half the territory of a fourth ally, (Poland) which was not even present at the negotiations.

To Churchill, Poland might have been a question of honour, but to Stalin "the question of Poland was not only a question of honour but a question of security. Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor through which the enemy has passed into Russia. It is in Russia's interest that Poland should be strong and powerful, in a position to shut the door of this corridor by her own force. It is necessary that Poland should be free, independent in power. (15) In other words, Stalin was determined to create a Poland so strong it would be a powerful bulwark against Germany and so closely aligned with Moscow that there would never be any question of her serving as a cordon sanitaire against the Soviets or posing as an independent, balancing power between Russia and Germany.

At Yalta, the USSR promised "free and unfettered elections," in Poland as well as the other CEE countries occupied by its forces, but it soon reversed its position. At Potsdam, in July 45, Stalin stated that "any freely elected government (in Poland) would be anti-Soviet and that we cannot permit. (16)

The Yalta Agreement on Poland was a compromise between the inevitable and the impossible. It was not realistic to believe in the creation of a Poland oriented diplomatically to the East (with the Red Army as the arbiter) but politically and ideologically to the West. The real collision at Yalta was between Roosevelt's idealism about arrangements for the postwar order through a strong international organization (the universalist vision) and Stalin's studied vagueness about Russia's desire to dominate that future (the spheres of influence vision). The former desperately wanted to believe in postwar cooperation while the latter deliberately exploited that faith to generate gains on the ground while pressing the Western acceptance of Soviet claims in both the West and the Far East.

In the weeks after Yalta, the military situation changed with great rapidity. As the Nazi threat declined, so did the need for cooperation. It is important to remember that, the Grand Alliance had been uneasy from the start, united only in their desire to defeat Germany. The ink on the agreement, was not even dry, when the Soviets began violating the promises made at Yalta. In these brief few months following Yalta, the Russians emphatically and crudely worked their will in CEE, above all in the test country of Poland.

The Cold War had now begun. The suspicion and counter-suspicion between allies created a cumulative momentum which soon became unmanageable. Each side believed that future international stability and their own individual security depended on the success of its own conception of world order. Stalin was bound to regard the United States as the enemy. Regardless of what the United States did, it would always be the leading capitalist power. As a consequence of the capitalist system the United States, in his view, would likely oppose, encircle and destroy the Soviet Union. Nothing the United States could have done in 1944-45 would have eliminated this mistrust. For CEE states, the main impact of Yalta, was their forced exclusion from the West by Soviet regional hegemony. As a result, their societies were traumatized by decades of totalitarian rule and extremely inefficient economics.

The collapse of the Soviet Union makes the current security environment in CEE very different from that of 1945. Russia's European border is now east of Ukraine, its armed forces are in a profound state of disarray and has withdrawn politically and militarily from CEE. Consequently, Russia no longer plays the role of regional hegemony in the CEE. At the same time with the collapse of the Soviet Communist regime, Russia is slowly transforming itself from a totalitarian state endowed with a totalitarian ideology to a democratic country with a popularly elected leader and Duma.

At the end of the 20th century, the CEE nations face some of the same problems they faced in the post-Versailles and post-Yalta periods. Nevertheless, there are fundamental differences arising from the demise of the Soviet Union and the active engagement of North America, particularly the US, as well as the existence of many effective multilateral security organizations including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its outreach program, the Partnership for Peace (PfP), the European Union ( EU), the Western European Union (WEU), and the OSCE. These organizations are reinforced by a variety of arms control regimes, especially the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty - a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security. These factors are important elements in the discussions on how best to meet the CEE security concerns.


With the Soviet withdrawal and the collapse of communist rule, the CEE countries were left economically devastated and politically disoriented. The difficulties associated with the transition from central planning to a free market economy were clearly evident in the early 1990s. The immediate post-Cold War economic situation was characterized by obsolete infrastructure, high inflation, and lack of demand for their shabby products. In 1990, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania all experienced negative industrial growth - on average a drop of some 10%. Added to this large decline in industrial production were galloping national deficits resulting from a decrease in exports and a dramatic increase in the demand for expensive western goods.(17)

These economic difficulties, when associated with fragile democracies in all the countries in the region, were a source of great uncertainty and instability. The future of CEE depended, to a very large extent, on the satisfactory resolution of these economic issues. CEE leaders believed that if the basic needs of their population were not met, democracy would die and would be replaced by the kind of nationalistic and authoritarian rule that, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, was the norm in all the countries of the region during the inter war years.(18) The challenge to the CEE leaders was substantial. Correcting the damages caused by almost four decades of central-planning, would take years - witness the difficult integration of Eastern Germany into the former West German economy. The stability of these weak governments, could be measured in terms of weeks or months.

Some five years later, having traveled many bumpy roads, the democracies of CEE, have not only survived but have made substantial economic gains. This is particularly true of the Visegrad Four: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech Republic appears the most stable of the CEE countries. In recent years, the Government has followed a stringent path of economic reform. The Czech Republic has enjoyed a budget surplus since 1992. Unemployment, in 1995, was low at 4% and inflation was under control at 10%. The GDP rose by 4.5% in 1995.(19) In November 1995, the Czech Republic was the first of the former communist states in the region to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

For its part Poland is also experiencing solid growth, which might be the result of thorough reforms introduced after the fall of communism. Poland has experienced far-reaching liberalization of the economy, the creation of a strong private sector and a rapid reduction of the initial hyperinflation, (although still at 18.5% in 1996). Despite high unemployment (15% in 1995) and lingering public frustration, current reforms are generating very positive results for the economy. Poland experienced a 6% GDP growth in 1996.(20)

In sum, economic stabilization in Poland seems durable and not threatened by political uncertainty or serious social unrest.

The Hungarian government has pledged full integration of the market economy. One of its greatest challenges is to reduce its huge foreign debt and large budget deficit. Inflation rates, a source of some concern, now appear under control having gone from 30% in 1995 to 19.8% in 1996. Despite some political disputes and minority issues in bordering countries, particularly in Slovakia, the Hungarian democracy is secure.

In Slovakia, preliminary figures for 1995 show a very bullish economy. Its GDP grew by 6.6%, annual inflation was at 9.9%, and the budget deficit was less that 2% of the GDP. Democratic tendencies and support for good governance are still strong in the Slovak society although the future of political reform is unclear.

The Visegrad Four, have achieved substantial economic gains in a very short time. However, their level of economic well-being remains low compared with Canada's GNP per capita of US$19,570. Their GNP per capita varies from a low of US $2,230, (1994), for Slovakia, to a high of US $3,840 in Hungary, ranking them as lower middle income countries by global standards.

Romania, with a GNP per capita of US$1,230, is in a worse condition than the Visegrad Four. Romania was slow to initiate serious economic reforms. By the end of 1996, however, the economic landscape in Romania had changed significantly for the better. Annual GDP growth from 1993 to 1996, has been positive (1% in 1993 to 6.9% in 1995). These positive economic developments, coupled with Romania's strategic and geographic position in southern Europe, might encourage the Alliance to think seriously about including that country in the first enlargement wave. Nine NATO countries, including Canada, have indicated their support for early admission of Romania to NATO.

The progress of the economic transition in the Baltic Republics has been mixed. Their trade was dominated by the Soviet Union until their independence in 1991. Lithuania has been the most politically stable of the three, but the least prosperous. Its GNP per capita in 1994, was US$1,350, whereas Estonia with a strong economy has a GNP per capita of US$2,820 and yet Estonia's level of development is such that some have suggested it alone in CEE might join the EU without a transition period.

In summary, the picture is one of satisfactory economic progress in most CEE countries, accompanied by relatively stable governments. Market economies in most of CEE countries appear to have begun to take hold. There is still, however, a very long road ahead and substantial multilateral and bilateral economic assistance will be required from Western industrialized countries.


With the collapse of Soviet regional hegemony, minority and unsettled border issues resurfaced in the early 1990s as a major security concern for the fledgling democracies of CEE. (21)

The 1919 Versailles and the 1921 Trianon Treaties created new frontier problems out of defeated Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In nearly all the resulting newly formed states, formerly dominant groups, such as the Hungarians, were forced into minority existence in a number of bordering states. This situation was not dissimilar to the one faced by the Soviet Union after the dissolution of its empire, where some twenty-five million Russians live outside Russia's new border.

One of the most difficult ethnic problems in Europe, heightened by Hungarian irredentism, is the ethnic Hungarian communities outside Hungary. Some 3.5 million Hungarians live in neighbouring countries. Approximately two million Hungarians live in Transylvania/Romania, 600,000 in Slovakia, 450,000 in the Serbian province of Vojvodina, as well as smaller groups in Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. With the exception of Austria and Slovenia, Hungary, until recently, had outstanding border issues with all its neighbours. The most intractable were the Hungarian minority issues in Slovakia and in Romania.

In March 1995, France hosted a European Union-sponsored initiative in Paris, with the aim of developing an agreement that would prevent outbreaks of ethnic violence in CEE similar to those that occurred in the former Yugoslavia. The three Baltic States and the six former Warsaw Pact countries, all with aspirations of joining the Euro-Atlantic organizations, attended the meeting. Seven of them signed the Paris Stability Pact. Romania and Hungary were not able to resolve their outstanding differences before the meeting and so did not sign. An agreement between the two, under pressure from NATO and the EU, was reached in 1996. As a result the minority issue, which was a source of great concern in the early 1990s, appears, for the time being, to have been resolved satisfactorily, (except in the Balkans). Despite this recent progress, most notably concerning ethnic Hungarians in Romania, both countries wishing to join NATO, national minority rights remains a potentially explosive issue in CEE.

Ukraine, although not historically or culturally part of CEE, (except for its three Western provinces)(22) has, because of its size and geography, an important role to play in the European security structure. The emergence of an independent Ukraine, after more than three centuries of domination by Russia, has been one of the most important consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now that Belarus and the Russian Federation have signed a symbolic treaty of union, Ukraine is the only independent buffer between Russia and the CEE countries, particularly Poland. Since gaining its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has taken significant steps to justify its economic, political and strategic position as the second largest country in Europe. It has strengthened its democratic institutions. It has also adopted a number of economic reforms, but the pace of reform has not matched that of other countries of the area. Ukraine's internal politics are characterized by frictions between those who prefer closer ties with Russia, (primarily found in the eastern and southern part of Ukraine where some twelve million Russians live), and those determined to maintain independence. At present, the Ukranian Government believes that its national interest lies in continuing to pursue closer relations with NATO short of full membership.


The CEE countries' quest to join NATO as well as the EU is not driven by specific military threats to their security. Rather, these fledgling market democracies are asking for affirmation that they belong to the West. "If we in post-communist countries, call for a new order, it is not because we are concerned about our own security and stability," asserted Czech President Vaclav Havel, "we are concerned about the destiny (in our countries), of the values and principles that communism denied and in whose name we resisted communism and ultimately brought it down. (23) Former NATO Secretary General Willy Claes, also alluded to this rationale, when he said that "the key task of the Alliance today is to bring the countries of Central and Eastern Europe into our Western family of democracies. (24) Brzezinski, in his 1984, Foreign Affairs article, "The Future of Yalta," also raised the need to "undo the division of Europe . . . America has to identify itself with a cause which has a deeply felt emotional significance to most Europeans, undoing the division of Europe, which is so essential to its spiritual and moral recovery, is a goal worthy of the Western democracies and one capable of galvanizing a shared sense of historic purpose. (25)

This quest for a "return to Europe," which is commonly understood as the reestablishment of political, economic, and cultural links with Western Europe, unites most parts of the political spectrum in CEE. Domestically, it has inspired far-reaching reforms aimed at producing liberal-democratic political systems with functioning market economies. At the international level, it attracts them towards the West and the process of European integration. The desire for a return to Europe, has redefined contemporary national identity in terms of European values and a European heritage which the imposition of Communist rule denied in 1945. This has led, in most countries of the region, to widespread acceptance(though not always the practice) of the ideals of liberal democracy, human rights, multilateral cooperation, resolution of ethnic issues and European integration.

Samuel P. Huntington, in his most recent article in Foreign Affairs, pursues this line of argument. "The peoples of the West, in Benjamin Franklin's phrase, must hang together, or most assuredly, they will hang separately." In Huntington's view, NATO is the security organization of Western civilization and its primary purpose is to defend and preserve that civilization. He argues that NATO membership should be opened to the Visegrad states, the Baltic states, Slovenia, and Croatia, because these states, he argues, are "Western" in their history, religion, and culture. For that same reason, CEE countries that have historically been Muslim or Orthodox should not, in his view, be invited to join NATO. For the sake of consistency, he posits that with the change in NATO's mission, "Turkish and Greek ties to NATO will weaken and their membership could wither or come to an end or become meaningless. (26)


In an objective sense, the security context of the Central and Eastern European states has never been so favorably configured as it is today. Why, one may wonder, is NATO enlargement often postured as the solution to the prevention of a "security vacuum" and the consolidation of unstable democracies in the region?(27) According to NATO, enlargement to the east would "enhance stability and security" in the region. In their study of the alternative paths to NATO enlargement, Asmus, Kugler and Larrabee of the Rand Corporation, argue that the, "promote stability," enlargement path is the best option. Their main assumption is that a "security vacuum" exists between Russia and Germany, and that the region is "unstable. (28) Proponents of this path emphasize the linkage between democracy and security. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Richard Holbrooke, former US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, advised that "any blueprint for the new security architecture of Europe must focus first on Central Europe, the seedbed of more turmoil and tragedy in this century than any other area on the continent. (29) Former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski also recently commented in Foreign Affairs on the need to eliminate "any potentially disruptive geopolitical vacuum between Europe and the new Russia. (30) Dominique Moïsi and Michael Mertes have urged Western governments to focus on "the security vacuum" between Germany and Russia, the area where European wars have historically started,(31) a region described by Henry Kissinger as a strategic "no-man's land between the German and Russian peoples. (32)

Two World Wars and the Cold War were fought this century primarily over the territory between Germany and Russia. Clearly, with the demise of the Soviet Union and communist rule over the region, historians and policymakers are right in highlighting the dramatic historical past of the region. That being said, are terms such as: "security vacuum," "no man's land," "unstable region," "fragile democracies," accurate reflections of the current security concerns of the region?

Over the past two centuries, defining a place for Germany in the region has been one of the central issues of European security. After enormous bloodshed and suffering, the issue was finally resolved after the Second World War. Germany has found a constructive role in Europe that it will not easily relinquish. It has developed strong democratic structures and it is firmly anchored in NATO and the European Union. With unification in 1990, Germany, with Berlin as its capital, is again at the heart of Europe. Conscious of its past reputation in CEE, at the end of the Cold War, Germany was quick in building, good neighbourly relations, with its Eastern neighbours, in particular Poland. In 1990, after Germany's unification, Germany and Poland signed a treaty reaffirming the Oder-Neisse border. In January 1996, Germany and the Czech Republic signed an accord expressing mutual remorse for wrongs committed during and after the Second World War.

The stabilization of its eastern neighbours has become one of the chief objectives of Germany's foreign policy. As a tangible example of this priority, by the end of 1995, Germany had transferred some 45 billion DM to CEE countries and a further 100 billion DM to successor states of the Soviet Union,(33) in a bid to ease their economic transformation to a market economy.

Germany, which from 1938-1945, controlled most of central Europe by force, is not interested in repeating the mistakes of the past. CEE countries can rest assured that Germany, although powerful, will not, in the foreseeable future, present a military threat to the region. Nevertheless, given the history of CEE and the role Germany has played, the absence of security guarantees for a country like Poland, whose borders are of relatively recent origin, means that finely worded principles are not perceived as an adequate defence.

While Germany is not presently a security concern to CEE nations, the same cannot be said of Russia. The psychological impact of a 45-year long occupation of these countries by Soviet forces does not die easily. Anxiety about Russia makes NATO membership attractive to Central and Eastern Europeans. Bronislav Geremek, a prominent Polish politician, expressed that anxiety in a 6 September 1993, Washington Post article: "the moment Russia is weak. But we know that this is a transitional period. The Russian Empire could succeed the Soviet Empire. In some years, Russia will become a superpower again and the memory of this period of weakness will have an important psychological impact on a new generation of Russian leaders." Poles have been dominated and oppressed for most of the last two centuries. It is hardly surprising that they should want some insurance against the revival of Russian imperial behaviour.

Despite this concern, CEE countries generally recognize that the danger of a military attack from Russia has disappeared. As the former Polish Defence Minister, Janusz Onyszkiewicz said, it is "not to defend against a Russian attack," that Poland seeks NATO membership. "We see that attack as a virtual impossibility. (34) Indeed, specific military threats have not driven CEE's quest for NATO membership. Throughout the region, defence expenditure reflects the absence of any direct military threat. Poland and Hungary have shortened the terms of military conscription and the Polish and Czech armies have disbanded many of their divisions. Hungary's defence budget has declined from 3% to 1.4% of its GDP. These are not the actions of states that feel militarily threatened.(35)

A clear and present military danger from the East obviously does not exist, nor are the countries in the region concerned about the historical enemy, Germany. What is not obvious is why proponents of NATO enlargement keep repeating that the "security vacuum" in the region must be filled by a new security architecture of which NATO encompassing Central Europe ought to be an important part. Michael Mandelbaum, in a recent Foreign Affairs article contends that there is no such vacuum. In his view, the foundation of a new and radically different order is in place. It consists of the series of arms control accords covering nuclear and conventional weapons. These agreements form a common security based not on an age-old European balance of power but rather on consensus and cooperation. These accords are the results of negotiations and are accompanied by intrusive verification and transparency measures which have reshaped the military forces of the region making it virtually impossible for a successful westward attack by a Russian army.(36)

Russia, nevertheless, has become for CEE, the epitome of uncertainty with unanswered questions about the future path that country might take. Most of the CEE nations, particularly the Visegrad countries, do not, however, now perceive a military threat arising from Russia in the foreseeable future. We should, therefore, avoid the temptation of creating such a threat to make enlargement more palatable. As the former NATO Secretary General Willy Claes said in Munich in February 1995, "if we treat Russia as irredeemably hostile, then we will initiate a self-fulfilling prophecy, . . . we must engage Russia instead with a clear determination to foster security cooperation. (37) As we approach the twenty-first century, the

main task of European security planners is to find a place for Russia. This was done for Germany in the post

-Second World War period. If they can't for Russia, Central Europe will return to being what it was during the interwar period, the chessboard of European powers.


An extremely important difference in security outlooks between Western Europe and North America on the one hand, and CEE on the other, is the notion of national security. In the West, the term generally refers to state security interests. In CEE, the term involves more fundamental values, and the fears it addresses are far more stark, since it concerns the very existence of the nation itself. Unlike the Western nations, the CEE people have frequently been the subject of policies of forced assimilation. As a consequence, guaranteeing the survival of the nation is a pressing concern. Given their historical experience and a continuing fear for the security of the nation, which Euro-Atlantic security organization, i.e., the CSCE/OSCE, the EU or NATO, will best meet their concerns?

In the early 90s the CSCE/OSCE, a product of the Cold War, was in its infancy as a security organization in the Euro-Atlantic area. The League of Nations and its shortcomings in providing "soft" security to Central and Eastern Europe, were of recent memory to CEE nations. As well, the failure of the CSCE to resolve the Yugoslav crisis revealed its impotence. For these reasons, the CEE countries did not consider the CSCE a viable organization to meet their concerns in a post -Cold War Euro-Atlantic security environment. Something more permanent was needed.

This review of the CEE security concerns, in particular, those of the Visegrad Four, leads us to believe that their current needs may be more effectively met by practical economic, political, and social ties with their Western European neighbours in the European Union (EU), than by the extension of NATO security guarantees. Why then is NATO enlargement happening first, rather than the EU enlargement, as logically warranted by the economic versus military concerns? CEE political leaders, although very interested in joining the EU, realize that EU enlargement was and is still far off. The costs involved would be astronomical. For instance, between 1990-95, Germany spent some 150 billion DM annually to integrate the six Ostländer into Germany proper and East Germany was considered the most economically viable of the former Warsaw Pact countries. Western European continental countries are also going through a difficult economic period with very high unemployment ranging from 11.3% in Germany to 21.8% in Spain.(38) Finally, the most important EU project is the creation of a single currency, scheduled to be launched by 1999, but unlikely to be joined by all EU countries. EU enlargement eastward was, and still remains, hostage to these internal issues. Despite these problems, the start of negotiations is scheduled for early 1998, with the year 2002 as an optimistic date for the inclusion of new members. These new members would likely be the same countries invited to join NATO in the first wave.

CEE leaders concluded early on that NATO membership ahead of EU membership had to be their first foreign policy priority. The EU's demand on state's internal policies appeared too unrealistic. The burden of the economic and democratic transition from central-planning and totalitarian regimes to market economy and liberal democracy, combined with the inflexibility of the EU bureaucracy, made meeting the required conditions for joining seem, at the time, an insurmountable obstacle.

Despite their desire, for obvious economic reasons, to join the EU, the CEE leaders therefore saw NATO as the most effective security organization, as it combines US power and interests with those of all but one (Russia) of the principal European powers. A regional security organization of the Visegrad Four, was rejected early as it would not provide a credible security umbrella for its members. Given the uncertainty of the region, obtaining "hard" security guarantees from NATO, implicit in Article V of the Washington Treaty, and being integrated into the Alliance military structures, is in the view of CEE countries, the best way to meet their historical security concerns. For these same historical reasons these new NATO members will insist on "hard" security guarantees from the Alliance, as well, they will monitor very closely the emerging NATO-Russia strategic partnership.


8. 8. Stanley Hoffmann, "Back to Euro-Pessimism", Foreign Affairs, vol. 76, no. 1, (Jan/Feb. 1997), p. 139.

9. 9. "Nations and Their Past: The Uses and Abuses of History," The Economist, 21 December 1996.

10. 10. I am most grateful to Dr. B. Lombardi from DND/DStrat A in Canada for his judicious advice and information on Central and Eastern Europe.

11. 11. William Drozdiak, "Central Europeans Hold Their Breath - US Wooing of Russia Will Weaken Them - NATO Hopeful Frets," International Herald Tribune, 17 March 1997, p.7.

12. 12. Z. Brzezinski, "The Future of Yalta," Foreign Affairs, vol. 63, no. 2, (December 1984), p. 279.

13. 13. Philip Mosely, The Kremlin and World Politics, (N.Y.: Vintage Books, Random House, 1960), p. 208.

14. 14. For full details on the "Yalta Protocol of Proceedings 1945," see English History, (February 1945), pp. 14-15.

15. 15. C. Wilmot, "A Stalinist Victory", Major Problems of American Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, T.G. Patterson, ed. (Heath and Coy, 1978), p. 214.

16. 16. D.F. Fleming, The Cold War and Its Origins 1917-1960, (George Allen Ltd., 1961), p. 203.

17. 17. Pierre Lellouche, Le Nouveau Monde, De l'Ordre de Yalta au Désordre des Nations, (Paris: Grasset, 1992), p. 197.

18. 18. Ibid., p. 195.

19. 19. The figures used are from Statistics Canada and are reproduced in CIDA fact sheets on each country of the region, except Bulgaria. For a discussion of the economic considerations of the CEE, see John E. Tedstrom, "NATO's Economic Challenges: Development and Reform in East-Central Europe," The Washington Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 2, (Spring 1997), pp. 3-21.

20. 20. The Economist, 25 January 1997.


21. For an excellent overview of Central and European issues see, V.G. Baleanu, Nationalism and Security in Post-Communist East Central Europe, 1995.

22. 22. At a June 1995, "International Conference on Security in Europe: Central European Component," hosted by the Ukranian Centre for International Security Studies (UCISS), Central Europe is defined as also including Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia, as well as the other countries normally defined as CEE.

23. 23. J.G. Ruggie, "NATO's European Pillar," The Washington Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 1, (Winter 1997), p. 112.

24. 24. Willy Claes, "NATO Secretary General's speech to the North Atlantic Assembly Meeting," Washington, D.C., 18 November 1994.

25. 25. Z. Brzezinski, "The Future of Yalta," Foreign Affairs, (December 1984), p. 295.

26. 26. Samuel Huntington, "The West Unique, Not Universal," Foreign Affairs, vol. 75, no. 6, (Nov/Dec 1996), pp. 44-46.

27. 27. Philip Zelikow, "The Masque of Institutions," NATO's Transformation - The Changing Shape of the Atlantic Alliance, Philip Gordon, ed. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 84.

28. 28. R. Asmus, R. Kugler, S. Larrabee, "NATO Enlargement: A Framework for Analysis," NATO's Transformation - The Changing Shape of the Atlantic Alliance, Philip Gordon, ed. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 96.

29. 29. Richard Holbrooke, "America, A European Power," Foreign Affairs, vol. 74, no.2, (March/April 1995), p.38..

30. 30. Z. Brzezinski, "A Plan for Europe," Foreign Affairs, vol. 73, no.1, (Jan/Feb 1995), p. 30.

31. 31. D. Moïse and, M. Mertes, "Europe's Map, Compass and Horizon," Foreign Affairs, vol. 73, no. 1, (Jan/Feb 1995), p. 125.

32. 32. Henry Kissinger, "Not This Partnership," Washington Post, 24 November 1993, p. A-17.

33. 33. R. Wolf, "The Doubtful Mover: Germany and NATO Expansion," Will NATO Go East?, The Debate Over Enlarging the Atlantic Alliance, David Haglund, ed. (Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University Centre for International Affairs, 1996), p. 218.

34. 34. D. Allin, "Can Containment Work Again," NATO's Transformation -The Changing Shape of the Atlantic Alliance, ed. Philip Gordon, (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 96.

35. 35. Michael Brown, "The Flawed Legacy of NATO Expansion," p. 124.

36. 36. Michael Mandelbaum, "Preserving the New Peace - The Case Against NATO Expansion," Foreign Affairs, vol. 74, no. 3, (May/June 1995), p. 11.

37. 37. Willy Claes, "NATO Secretary General's speech at the Munich Security Conference," 3-5 February 1995.

38. 38. The Economist, 1 March 1997.