Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe: Contemporary Challenges 3031164180, 9783031164187

This book analyzes major contemporary political and security problems in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Presenting ca

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Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe: Contemporary Challenges
 3031164180, 9783031164187

Table of contents :
Editor and Contributors
Peripherality of the CEE Region
1 Introduction
2 The Genesis of Economic Inequality in Europe
3 Peripherality in the Rokkan Model
4 Applications of the Rokkan Model
5 Central and Eastern Europe as a Periphery
6 Peripherality as a Problem in the European Union
7 Is There a “Multi-Speed Europe”?
8 The Future of “Multi-Speed Europe”
9 Conclusions
From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus
1 Main Characteristic of the Neo-Authoritarian Rule in Belarus Before 2020
2 What is (Neo)totalitarianism in Belarus? Reasons of the Regime Changes and Its Basic Elements
3 The Enhanced Political Leadership
4 Political Terror
4.1 Forms and Methods of Terror (Mental and Physical Violence) in Belarus Applied in 2020–2022
4.2 Infrastructure of Terror
5 Dismantling the Elements of Façade Democracy and Destroying the Alternative Information Space
6 Re-Ideologisation and Ideological Purification in the Belarus
7 Consolidation of the Power and Bureaucratic Apparatus
8 Conclusions
Illiberal Turn in Hungary
1 Transformation in Hungary
2 The History of the Fragile Hungarian Democracy
3 The Birth of the ‘Homo Kadaricus’
4 The Road to Illiberal Democracy
5 The Energy Question and the Russian Affair
6 The Roots of Russian–Hungarian Friendship
7 The International Investment Bank
8 Hungary’s Individualist Strategy
9 The 2022 Elections
10 Conclusion
Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics
1 Understanding the Notion of Illiberalism and Its Derivative Terms
2 The Sources of the Illiberal Turn in Polish Politics
2.1 Internal Sources
2.2 International (External) Sources
3 Manifestations of Violations of Democratic Norms and Values by the Polish Authorities
3.1 Elimination of the Separation of Powers and Violation of the Rule of Law
3.2 Other Violations of Democratic Norms and Standards
4 Consequences for Poland’s Foreign Policy
EU and NATO Eastern Policy
1 Democracy Promotion
2 EU’s Partnership and Enlargement
3 NATO Eastward Expansion
Ukraine’s Attempts to Join the West
1 Introduction
2 Allegedly Open Doors that Cannot Be Entered
3 Ambitious Plans Face Ukrainian Reality
4 Model of Compromise
5 Finlandization of Ukraine?
Russia’s Challenge to Central and Eastern Europe
1 Introduction
2 The Starting Point: Roots of Putin’s Revisionism
3 Russia’s Strategic Culture
4 Doomed to Be an Enemy
5 Signals Missed
6 The Point of no Return
7 Implications for Central and Eastern Europe
Militarization of Security Policies in Central and Eastern Europe
1 Introduction
2 Theoretical Framework
3 The Position of the CEE Region
4 Militarization of the Security Policy in the CEE Region
5 Consequences of Militarization
6 Summary
A Fragile Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 Introduction
2 Threats in the Western Balkans as the Backdrop for Building Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
3 Internal Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina After the Start of the Peacebuilding Process
4 Involvement of International Institutions in the Stabilization Process of Bosnia and Herzegovina
4.1 United Nations
4.2 The European Union
4.3 Cooperation with North Atlantic Alliance
4.4 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
4.5 Involvement of Global Superpowers
4.6 The Outbreak of Separatism in the Face of the War in Ukraine
5 Conclusions
Energy Security of Central and Eastern European Countries
1 Introduction
2 Energy Security as an Analysis Context
3 Theoretical Assumptions
3.1 General Assumptions About the Theoretical Aspects of Geographical Conditions
3.2 The General Assumptions Behind Historical Materialism and the Structural Approach
4 Central and Eastern Europe from the Overall Perspective of Energy Security
5 Central and Eastern Europe from the Gas Security Perspective
6 Summary and Conclusions
Visegrad Group–Real Entity or Mirage
1 The Redrawn Central and Eastern Europe after the Collapse of the Bipolar System
2 From Economic To Political Initiatives
3 The Visegrad Group in the European Union–Mission Completed
4 The Public Opinion on Visegrad Group
5 The Visegrad Group After 2015
6 Alternatives for Visegrad Cooperation
7 Slavkov Triangle
8 Tensions Within the Visegrad Group
9 Pandemic and Ukraine War
10 Conclusions
Three Seas Initiative
1 Origins
2 The Program of the Three Seas Initiative
3 Functions of the Three Seas Initiative
Central and Eastern Europe in U.S. Foreign Policy
1 Introduction
2 You Are Either with Us, or Against Us—Bush’s Agenda
3 CEE on the Margins of American Politics—Obama’s Agenda
4 American Interests First—Trump’s Agenda
5 Renewing the Role of the United States in Europe?—Biden’s Agenda
6 Conclusions
Central and Eastern Europe in Germany’s Foreign Policy
1 Introduction
2 Central and Eastern Europe in Programing Documents
3 German Politicians Towards Central and Eastern Europe
4 Germany Towards NATO’s and the EU’s Eastern Policy
5 Germany Towards Democratising the Western Balkans
6 Germany Towards Ukrainian Crisis Since 2014 and Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine in 2022
7 Germany in the Face of the Crisis of Democracy in Hungary and Poland
8 Position on Energy Cooperation with Russia
9 Conclusions
Central and Eastern Europe in France’s Foreign Policy
1 Introduction
2 The Region in France's Strategy
3 2022 Presidency of the Council of the European Union
4 Strategic Partnership with Poland
5 France’s Position on the War in Ukraine
6 2022 Elections
7 Conclusions
Central and Eastern Europe in China’s Foreign Policy
1 Introduction
2 A Changing China in the Global Order
3 Central and Eastern Europe, the 16 + 1 and the BRI
4 The Limited Role of CEE
5 Why Then China is Interested in the Region?
6 The China-Effect: Divides the EU or Just Offers a Leverage?
7 The Russian Invasion of Ukraine
8 Conclusion

Citation preview

Contributions to Political Science

Ryszard Zięba   Editor

Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe Contemporary Challenges

Contributions to Political Science

The series Contributions to Political Science contains publications in all areas of political science, such as public policy and administration, political economy, comparative politics, European politics and European integration, electoral systems and voting behavior, international relations and others. Publications are primarily monographs and multiple author works containing new research results, but conference and congress reports are also considered. The series covers both theoretical and empirical aspects and is addressed to researchers and policy makers. All titles in this series are peer-reviewed. This book series is indexed in Scopus.

Ryszard Zi˛eba Editor

Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe Contemporary Challenges

Editor Ryszard Zi˛eba University of Warsaw Warsaw, Poland

ISSN 2198-7289 ISSN 2198-7297 (electronic) Contributions to Political Science ISBN 978-3-031-16418-7 ISBN 978-3-031-16419-4 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ryszard Zi˛eba


Peripherality of the CEE Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tomasz Pawłuszko


From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pavel Usov


Illiberal Turn in Hungary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrea Schmidt


Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ryszard Zi˛eba


EU and NATO Eastern Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Ryszard Zi˛eba Ukraine’s Attempts to Join the West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Marharyta Blyzniuk Russia’s Challenge to Central and Eastern Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Agnieszka Bryc Militarization of Security Policies in Central and Eastern Europe . . . . . . 177 Tomasz Pawłuszko A Fragile Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Marlena Drygiel-Bieli´nska Energy Security of Central and Eastern European Countries . . . . . . . . . . 215 Remigiusz Rosicki Visegrad Group–Real Entity or Mirage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237 Andrea Schmidt




Three Seas Initiative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 Ryszard Zi˛eba Central and Eastern Europe in U.S. Foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277 Ewelina Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk Central and Eastern Europe in Germany’s Foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 Aleksandra Kruk and Beata Molo Central and Eastern Europe in France’s Foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317 Marlena Drygiel-Bieli´nska Central and Eastern Europe in China’s Foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335 Zoltán Vörös

Editor and Contributors

About the Editor Ryszard Zi˛eba, Prof. Ph.D. Habil., is a full professor emeritus of international relations and security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. He is the author of numerous books, articles and chapters in collective works, reviews and expertise reports. He has a M.A., Ph.D. and state Ph.D. (habilitation) degrees from the University of Warsaw and the title of Professor of Humanities conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Contributors Blyzniuk Marharyta University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland Bryc Agnieszka Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toru´n, Poland Drygiel-Bielinska ´ Marlena Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, Siedlce, Poland Kruk Aleksandra University of Zielona Góra, Zielona Góra, Poland Molo Beata Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, Cracow, Poland Pawłuszko Tomasz University of Opole, Opole, Poland Rosicki Remigiusz Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna´n, Poland Schmidt Andrea University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary Usov Pavel University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland



Editor and Contributors

Vörös Zoltán University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk Ewelina University of Bialystok, Białystok, Poland Zi˛eba Ryszard University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

Introduction Ryszard Zi˛eba

Abstract In the introductory chapter, the editor explains why it is worthwhile to study politics and security issues of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The main contemporary challenge of this region is a destabilization arose as a result of the clash of the influence of the West and Russia. The West is implementing the policy of supporting democracy, European integration and strengthening of the security, expected by the peoples and societies of the region, while Russia sees this as a threat to its security and is taking increasingly decisive countermeasures. Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, which led to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2022, remains a particular bone of contention. There are also other serious challenges in the CEE region, such as the shift away from democracy by Hungary and Poland, the evolution of the Belarusian regime toward a neo-totalitarian one, the danger of a breakdown in peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and threats to energy security. The monograph also presents attempts to institutionalize cooperation between the CEE countries and the policy of external powers toward the region, i.e., the USA, Germany, France and China. The book is written using several theoretical approaches, with a prevailing neorealist perspective. Keywords Central and Eastern Europe · Russia · Ukraine · Illiberalism · Visegrad group · TSI · The EU · NATO · The USA · Germany · France · China Nowadays, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is a vast and highly diversified region in terms of the level of civilization development, including the former socialist states located eastwards of the line of the Cold War division of Europe, i.e., in the center of the continent and in the Balkans, and in the European part of the former USSR. It is a region peripheral to the highly developed West, and it is the subject of competition between great powers. The history of the CEE region is particularly complicated and turbulent. In this part of the European continent, there are over 20 nations whose road to independence R. Zi˛eba (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_1



R. Zi˛eba

was difficult. After the First World War, as a result of the defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary and the political coup in tsarist Russia, several independent states were established, but the process of national liberation was not over. The nations under the rule of Russia and then the USSR, as well as others incorporated into the new independent states lying in the center of Europe, did not gain independence. The nation-building process continued to develop at various levels. In the interwar period, Central Europe became the territory of Germany and the USSR’s policy of great power expansion. This prompted the states of this part of Europe to adopt the theory of two enemies and to look for opportunities to create regional cooperation between smaller states lying between the two powers of the time and to create federal groupings in the area between the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Some particularly culturally close nations built their own states, such as the Czechs and Slovaks in the form of Czechoslovakia and later the southern Slavs created Yugoslavia. The Second World War brought about further changes, as a result of which the international position of the victorious USSR was strengthened and Europe was split between the USSR and the West. An invisible ‘iron curtain’ has hung over the continent, dividing Europe into an Eastern part under Moscow’s rule and a Western part under the influence and domination of the USA. This dividing line ran through the defeated Germany, it even divided its capital, Berlin; the countries liberated by the Red Army (excluding Austria left on the West side), including the Balkans (without Greece), remained on the side of the USSR. This demarcation was overlapped by the systemic division, on the Western side remained the system of liberal capitalism, and on the Eastern side communism, called socialism. In 1948, as a result of misunderstandings about the model of building a new political system, Yugoslavia left as a disengaged country, sticking to its own self-governing version of socialism. In general, it can be assessed that the Eastern part of the European continent was in the sphere of influence of the communist USSR, and the Western part was in the sphere of influence of the USA, which, strengthened after World War II, became the leader of the Western world. The completed division of Europe remained for over 40 years, and this meant that the nations living in Central and Eastern Europe lost for decades the ability to pursue sovereign internal and foreign policy. The Cold War also froze the aspirations to independence of nations not only from the USSR, but also from the center of Europe and the Balkans. New chances for the fulfillment of the aspirations of the peoples of the Eastern part of the European continent appeared only after the collapse of the real socialist system, the Eastern Bloc and the USSR itself. This process began with the policy of Mikhail Gorbachev, who, after taking power in the USSR in 1985, proclaimed a policy of glasnost and perestroika, which followed (this process) quickly after the 1989 Autumn of Nations. The systemic transformations in Poland, which started that spring, set an example for other countries of real socialism to choose the path of sovereign development. These democratic changes were politically and financially supported by the US and other Western countries. Eastern Europe, as the Americans had called it so far, was becoming Central and Eastern Europe. The entry of postcommunist European countries on the path of building democracy and a market



economy awakened nationalisms, and in the area of the collapsing USSR, there were even fights for the right to self-determination (the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh), the emergence of separatisms from Chechnya and Moldova (Transnistria). The collapse of the USSR was initiated by the Baltic republics (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) and Georgia which declared independence. In 1991, Ukraine proclaimed independence, which resulted in the collapse of the USSR. It was also this year that the breakup of Yugoslavia began, leading to the bloodiest war in Europe since the end of World War II. The following year there was a peaceful disintegration of Czechoslovakia (the so-called velvet divorce). The CEE countries that regained their sovereignty and independence usually immediately chose the pro-Western option in their foreign and security policy. They not only rebuilt cooperation with Western countries but also made efforts to join NATO and the European Union under construction. This strengthened the temptation in Western decision-making circles to obtain geopolitical benefits—to create their own sphere of influence. By supporting the systemic transformation in the Eastern part of Europe, they proclaimed the slogans of expanding the zone of democracy, peace and prosperity. Behind these positive-sounding liberal slogans, however, there were specific geopolitical interests—building a zone of Western influence. Supporting reforms leading to the building of civil societies and prosperity, the USA, after several years of hesitation, decided to expand NATO to include countries that were its adversaries during the Cold War. From the outset, this met with opposition from Russia, and its first president, Boris Yeltsin, called the decision to admit Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the Alliance in 1999 ‘the greatest mistake in its history.’ The consecutive rounds of post-Cold War NATO enlargement were critically assessed by Russia. In February 2007, the then prime minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, at the Munich conference on security policy, accused the USA and the West of breaking international law and ignoring Russia’s security interests, and announced that Russia would counteract this policy (Vystupleniye, 2007). This did not stop the West from continuing its policy, although in the USA, the voices of experts on Russian affairs and realist researchers were heard loudly that further NATO enlargement would be a mistake. For example, the dean of America’s Russia experts, George F. Kennan, had called ten year earlier the expansion of NATO into Central Europe ‘the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.’ (Kennan, 1997). He believed that ‘expanding NATO would damage beyond repair US efforts to transform Russia from enemy to partner.’ (Goldgeier, 1999, p. 18). In 2008, Russia clearly showed the West that it would not allow the further incorporation of the former Soviet republics into the North Atlantic Alliance. It was a reaction to the announcement of the NATO summit in Bucharest (2008) that Georgia and Ukraine would join the Alliance in the future, and the pretext for a strong military crackdown with Georgia was an attack by Georgian troops against Russian peacekeepers stationed (as a CIS mission) in the separatist republic of South Ossetia (Karagiannis, 2013). The main problem for Russia was preventing Ukraine from joining NATO. Therefore, when during the so-called Revolution of Dignity, power in Kyiv was taken over by pro-Western nationalists, Moscow annexed Crimea in the spring of 2014 and then


R. Zi˛eba

started supporting separatists in Donbas. This behavior of Russia, which is a drastic breach of international law, did not stop the new Ukrainian authorities from seeking to bring their country into NATO, and the USA from supporting Ukraine militarily. Since 2009, Russia has publicly advocated in its concept of security against American hegemony and NATO enlargement, and in favor of building a polycentric world (Strategiya, 2009; for more see Zi˛eba, 2018, pp. 117–119). In the West, it was called Russia’s return to imperial politics and great power revisionism. In the fall of 2021, Russia began military preparations for the aggression against Ukraine, which was supposed to be a kind of preventive strike in the eyes of President Putin, intended to prevent Ukraine from recapture Crimea and the rebellious Donbas with the help of NATO. In the Kremlin, the war started on February 24, 2022, was called a ‘special operation’ aimed at the de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. In fact, it should be remembered that, several months earlier, Moscow had been demanding the consent of the USA and NATO to start negotiations on a new European security architecture that would take into account Russia’s legitimate security interests, including a guarantee that Ukraine would abandon its goal of joining NATO. The correspondence exchange between Moscow and Washington and Brussels did not bring both sides to the negotiating table. A bloody war broke out, which quickly became a proxy war between Russia and NATO (Khudoley, 2022), in which Ukrainians became victims, and there was enormous damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure, millions of refugees and drastic war crimes. It was the misunderstandings related to the security policy of Ukraine and the outbreak of the most terrible war after World War II that created the greatest threat to international security; there was a risk of this conflict turning into a third world war involving nuclear weapons (Mearsheimer, 2022). The gradual increase in international tensions from the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, exacerbated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, resulted in a very dangerous militarization of international relations, a policy of economic sanctions, problems with the availability of energy sources in many EU countries and even a war in the areas of sport and culture. The consequences of this war are already visible in Ukraine and beyond. By the end of 2022, over 17 million refugees left Ukraine (about 9 million came back to mother country, and about 7 million are internally displaced within the country), the effects of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries are already visible, first of all, in the EU countries, and Russia is supposed to be harmful in the long term. In this war, propaganda was launched to demean the opponent as a highly dangerous enemy and criminal and to destroy him. When the group thinking syndrome has prevailed, it is difficult to analyze and diagnose objectively. In this situation, the great challenge is how to end this war, whether to start peace negotiations or strive for full victory (Walt, 2022). While it is possible and necessary to justify the defending Ukraine, the position of Russia and the USA is unacceptable. Russia does not hide that it aims to destroy Ukraine as an independent state, and the USA to remove President Putin from power in the Kremlin and to weaken Russia for a long time, so that it ceases to be an important international player. US President Joe Biden spoke about it many times. American politics lacks an idea of what the



world will be like after the end of this war. It would be naive to assume that Russia could be eliminated as a great power. Prominent American neorealists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt warn against such attempts (The Munk Debate, 2022). In May 2022, the doyen US diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, appealed to the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos to end the war as soon as possible, even at the cost of giving Russia part of Ukraine’s territory. He stated that the lack of negotiations with Moscow and its further antagonization by the West could have disastrous consequences for the stability of Europe in the long run. He called on the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine. In his opinion, it would be fatal for the West to get carried away by the mood of the moment and forget about Russia’s proper place in the European balance of power (Bella, 2022). This caused outrage among Western politicians and from the countries of NATO' s Eastern flank, and Ukrainian President Zelensky replied, “It seems that Mr. Kissinger’s calendar is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was talking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich of that time.” He added “The various great geopoliticians never see ordinary people. They do not see Ukrainians living in the territory that these (experts) would like to exchange for the illusion of peace with Russia” (Kampaes, 2022; PAP, 2022; Zelensky, 2022). This juxtaposition of conflicting opinions presents the dilemma of how to end a war, which is already devastating to Ukraine, and may turn out to be catastrophic not only for the CEE countries but for the entire international system (for more see Kissinger, 2022; Kaplan, 2022). One should also pay attention to another aspect of the problem, which is a huge challenge that has arisen in Central and Eastern Europe and has much wider consequences, which is the issue of promoting democracy and the rule of law. The liberal leaders of Western countries are convinced of the necessity to promote in other countries, especially in the former USSR, democratic values and norms, human rights, the rule of law and the market economy. This is based on the liberal belief that, beyond its intrinsic value, this policy strengthens international peace and security. They justify this by believing that democracies do not fight each other. It results from overestimating the theory of democratic peace. The problem, however, arises in what ways to spread democracy, especially if it is strongly counteracted. American politicians mostly follow the recommendations of Prof. Gene Sharp, who in the early 1990s proposed ‘subversion strategy’ and ‘regime change’ (Sharp, 2012). And it was in Eastern Europe that a strong opponent emerged, a nuclear power that refuses to promote democracy in neighboring countries, believing that it aims to organize antiRussian political coups. Such an assessment is given, among others, by to Ukraine, pointing to support for the anti-Russian course and bringing Ukraine into NATO. We can see that the rhetoric of Russia is determined by security considerations, while the legitimate aspirations of Ukrainian society to join the democratic West do not count. This is a serious and saddening aspect of the crisis around Ukraine. Another serious political problem in the region of Central and Eastern Europe is the emergence of a strong tendency to question the rule of law and other liberal constitutional norms and principles. It is paradoxical that the strongest tendency in this respect occurs in the two countries that were the first to start the democratic


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transformation, namely Hungary and Poland. The illiberal shift in Hungarian politics took place during the second term of office of prime minister and the leader of the Fidesz party, Viktor Orban, in 2010. It manifests itself in breaking the rule of law, limiting the freedom of the media and corruption. At the same time, it is accompanied by populism and the maintenance of nationalism by pursuing a policy of political support and involvement in domestic affairs of a large diaspora of Hungarians who, as a result of the Trianon Treaty (1920), remained outside the border of the truncated Hungarian state. At the same time, in the second country considered to be the prime mover of the democratic transformation, i.e., Poland, the conservative-nationalist and populist tendency made itself felt during the first edition of the rule of the Law and Justice (PiS) party in 2005–2007. It has been much stronger during the independent rule of this party since 2015. Then PiS gained full power, which is informally exercised by Jarosław Kaczy´nski, and the president is another PiS politician, Andrzej Duda. During the PiS rule, there are gross violations of the rule of law, freedom of the media, and the rights of all minorities in Poland, and corruption at the top of the government and its political base. This is accompanied by a continuing conflict with the institutions of the European Union, which is trying to discipline Poland, just like Hungary. The illiberalism and nationalism of the rulers in Warsaw brought Poland into conflict with Germany and France interested in strengthening the EU and also renewed various historical resentments with Germany. The conservative and nationalist course of the policy of Hungary and Poland is a reflection of a broader tendency in the politics of other countries and had a strong support in the policy of President Donald Trump in the USA in 2017–2020. Orban and Kaczy´nski’s allies are the extremely conservative and populist parties in Western Europe, which are mostly in opposition to their governments. Importantly, some of these right-wing parties openly display a pro-Russian orientation, supported the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the French National Front of Marie Le Pen took loans from a Russian bank. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2022, the USA softened their criticism of the illiberal regimes in Hungary and Poland. The Polish authorities, unlike Hungary, came to the fore of critics of Russia and Ukraine’s allies. However, it is a paradox how to reconcile supporting the pro-Western and liberal course of Ukraine with the anti-liberal attitude of the Polish authorities toward their own society and disputes with EU institutions. A serious challenge for contemporary Europe is the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenka in Belarus. Although it is neo-totalitarian, it is more repressive than the regimes in Hungary and Poland but does not cooperate with them. Russian Federation is the main partner and support for Belarus. Russia is the most powerful challenge for modern Europe, not so much as a not fully democratic state, but as a great power which in its foreign policy allows for blatant violations of international law and aggression. The international situation in Central and Eastern Europe is complicated. The recurring Cold War in relations between the West and Russia has a negative effect on other, not fully resolved conflicts, e.g., in the Western Balkans. Such a challenge



is posed by the delicate situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the peace solution imposed by the West in 1995 is increasingly being questioned and threatens to disintegrate the country. Meanwhile, the expansion of the European Union expected by the Balkan peoples is not progressing. This creates the danger of a return to the proverbial ‘Balkan cauldron.’ When observing the policy of great powers toward the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, one should notice diversified and even divergent interests. The main difference is between Russia and the West, and China is also pursuing its interests in the region. Even within the West, until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the USA, Germany and France had different strategies toward Russia. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of the interests and strategies of external entities toward the CEE region should be made. The above-mentioned contemporary problems and challenges functioning in Central and Eastern Europe should be studied using a kind of methodological eclecticism, consisting in the simultaneous application of various main paradigms functioning in political science. However, due to the fact that the most important problems of CEE function on the international level and relate to security, the most used in this book is the neorealistic approach, as it allows us to search for the essence of contemporary challenges in our region in the longer tradition of international relations and in identifying the most important interests of the parties involved. Probably, the analyzed challenges, due to their political nature, will have a significant impact on the ongoing reconfiguration of the international order, not only in Europe, but in the wider international dimension. This can also be successfully investigated using the neorealistic predictions of Kenneth Waltz or John Mearsheimer. The intermittent rivalry of powers for influence in the region of Central and Eastern Europe suggests the use of the realistic paradigm, as it is the researchers of this trend of different orientations and of its classical and contemporary versions, that deal with this issue. They give priority to the interests of great powers which they consider more important than the interests of other states. However, this approach is not enough to fully illuminate the contemporary challenges emerging in Central and Eastern Europe. For the entire analysis, the authors of this book referred to the liberal paradigm, the Copenhagen School and social constructivism, as well as the assumptions of neoclassical realism, which, while giving priority to the preferences of the international system, also perceives the preferences resulting from the aspirations of the societies of the region’s states. The structure of the book includes 17 chapters which constitute separate analyzes of various aspects of politics and security in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. It begins with a study by Tomasz Pawłuszko (Chap. 2), who analyzes the position of the Central and Eastern Europe region in the perspective of the center-periphery theories, primarily uses theories of Immanuel Wallerstein and Stein Rokkan. Focusing on economic history and politics, the chapter draws attention to the crucial intervention of the integration processes in the history of CEE region and uses a broad perspective to facilitate a better understanding of its roots. The next three chapters show the dangerous evolution of the domestic politics and political system of Belarus, Hungary and Poland. Pavel Usov points out that the authoritarianism in Belarus, which has


R. Zi˛eba

been developing since the mid-1990s, even leads to the creation of a neo-totalitarian system (Chap. 3). Andrea Schmidt provided us with a backward-looking analysis of the contemporary illiberal turn in Hungarian politics (Chap. 4). Ryszard Zi˛eba, on the other hand, made a detailed analysis of the origins and manifestations of illiberalism and nationalism in Polish politics (Chap. 5). In each of these three studies, the consequences of abandoning democracy and the rule of law for the foreign policy of Belarus, Hungary and Poland are shown. They are visible, among others in the rapprochement or even partial integration of Belarus with Russia, in close cooperation between Budapest and Moscow, and Poland ruled by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, despite the fact that some political solutions are related to Vladimir Putin’s ‘sovereign democracy’ in Russia, remains in deep opposition to Moscow’s foreign policy. All three countries have problems with the institutions of the European Union, which negatively evaluate their domestic policies. The following chapters analyze the plunging of the CEE region into growing disputes and conflicts with Russia, which led to the second Cold War between the West and Russia. Among the reasons for this evolution of the international situation, the Eastern policy of the European Union and NATO, which has faced growing opposition and counter-moves by Russia, is shown. Ryszard Zi˛eba presented the policy of promoting democracy by the West, the partnership and enlargement of the EU as well as the expansion of NATO and the strengthening of its Eastern flank, which resulted in a negative and then hostile reaction from Russia (Chap. 6). The most unacceptable act of the West by Moscow was the policy of strengthening cooperation with Ukraine and the efforts of the authorities in Kyiv to introduce Ukraine into NATO. The policy of Ukraine trying to affiliate with the West has been very broadly and multilaterally analyzed from the perspective of neoclassical realism by Marharyta Blyzniuk (Chap. 7). Ukraine’s policy of rapprochement with the West, especially its desire to join NATO, is not accepted by Moscow. Russia has become the biggest challenge to the CEE countries and the West as a whole, and in February 2022, it began its aggression against Ukraine. This is the subject of Chap. 8 by Agnieszka Bryc. The overall development of the West-Russia situation has resulted in a process of militarization of security policy in the CEE region, as presented by Tomasz Pawłuszko in Chap. 9. In the next chapter, Marlena Drygiel-Bieli´nska shows that the aggravating situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also not a new challenge, which may result in breaking the Dayton peace agreement and reconfiguring the peace order in the Balkans (Chap. 10). The issue of energy security, presented by Remigiusz Rosicki in relation to the CEE countries, is an old and new acute challenge (Chap. 11). The next two chapters present attempts to institutionally organize Central Europe. Andrea Schmidt shows the achievements and weaknesses of the Visegrad Group and reflects on its future prospects (Chap. 12). In turn, Ryszard Zi˛eba makes a critical analysis of the Three Seas Initiative (Chap. 13). The last four chapters of the book are devoted to the place and importance of the CEE region in the foreign policy of external powers. Ewelina Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk showed the very active role of the USA in the CEE region (Chap. 14), Aleksandra



Kruk and Beata Molo in the politics of Germany (Chap. 15), Marlena DrygielBieli´nska in the politics of France (Chap. 16), and Zoltán Vörös in the politics of China (Chap. 17). These texts show the growing importance of the region in the policy of external entities, and if we take into account the actions of Russia presented earlier, we get a picture of the growing importance of the CEE region in Europe as a whole and in global international relations. It results not so much from the international position of this region, but from the fact that it has become a field of rivalry between the great powers. In recent years, Central and Eastern Europe, striving to strengthen its own security and increase its development opportunities, faced war and uncertainty over its own future.

References Bella, T. (2022, May 24). Kissinger says Ukraine should cede territory to Russia to end war. The Washington Post. Goldgeier, J. M. (1999, June 1). The U.S. decision to enlarge NATO. Brookings Review, 18–21. Kampaes, R. (2022, May 26). Zelensky to Kissinger: The world didn’t adapt to the Nazis, we’re not adapting to Putin. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. https://www.jta.org/2022/05/26/global/zelenskyto-kissinger-the-world-didnt-adapt-to-the-nazis-were-not-adapting-to-putin. Accessed July 30, 2022. Kaplan, F. (2022, December 16). Henry Kissinger wrote a peace plan for Ukraine: It’s ludicrous. Slate.com. Karagiannis, E. (2013). The 2008 Russian-Georgian war via the lens of offensive realism. European Security, 22(1), 74–93. Kennan, G. F. (1997, February 5). A fateful error, New York Times. Khudoley, K. (2022). New Russia-West confrontation: War of attrition or escalation? Strategic Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1080/09700161.2022.2149980 Kissinger, H. (2022, December 17). How to avoid another world war. The Spectator. Mearsheimer, J. J. (2022, August 17). Playing with fire in Ukraine: The underappreciated risks of catastrophic escalation. Foreign Affairs. PAP. (2022, May 26). Zełe´nski po słowach Kissingera. Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. Sharp, G. (2012). From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation. London: Serpent’s Tail. Strategiya natsional’noy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii do 2020 goda, Utverzhdena Ukazom Prezidenta Rossiyskoy Federatsii ot 12 maya 2009g. No. 537 [The national security strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020, Approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of May 12, 2009g No. 537]. http://www.kremlin.ru/acts/bank/29277. Accessed July 30, 2022. The Munk Debate: Russia Ukraine War, (Stephen Walt, John Measheimer, Michael McFaull, Radosław Sikorski). Toronto, May 12, 2022. @sikorskiradek. https://mobile.twitter.com/i/bro adcasts/1jMJgeOlPzkKL. Accessed June 10, 2022. Vystupleniye i diskussiya na Myunkhenskoy konferentsii po voprosam politiki bezopasnosti, Myunkhen, 10 fevralya 2007 goda [Speech and discussion at the Munich Security policy conference, Munich, February 10, 2007]. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034. Accessed June 11, 2022. Walt, S. M. (2022, November 29). The perpetually irrational Ukraine debate, Foreign Policy. Zelensky respond to Kissinger’s suggestion to cede territory. The Washington Post. May 26, 2022. Zi˛eba, R. (2018). The Euro-Atlantic security system in the 21st century: From cooperation to crisis. Cham: Springer.


R. Zi˛eba

Ryszard Zi˛eba, Prof. Ph.D. Habil., a full professor emeritus of international relations and security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. The author of numerous books, articles and chapters in collective works, reviews and expertise reports. He has a M.A., Ph.D. and state Ph.D. (habilitation) degrees from the University of Warsaw, and the title of Professor of Humanities conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Peripherality of the CEE Region Tomasz Pawłuszko

Abstract Pawłuszko offers a summary of the center-periphery perspective on the relationship between the Western European center and the Central and Eastern European peripheries. Focusing on economic history and politics, the chapter draws attention to the crucial intervention of the integration processes in the history of CEE region and uses a broad perspective to facilitate a better understanding of its roots. As well as looking at the ways in which the history was constructed, Pawłuszko explores the theoretical implications of current state in intra-European relations in the field of security studies. “Peripherality of the CEE region” concludes with a study of current geoeconomic position of the Central and Eastern European countries. Keywords Periphery · CEE · Region · Poland · Inequality · Backwardness

1 Introduction The aim of this chapter is to analyze the position of the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region in the perspective of the center-periphery theories. These theories describe the asymmetry of social relations in various fields (politics, economy and culture). Asymmetry is a result of unequal access to resources, the quantity and importance of which change over time. The concept of the center-periphery has been developed in sociology (Johan Galtung, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pierre Bourdieu), economics (Raul Prebisch, Andre Gunder Frank, John Friedmann) and political science (Stein Rokkan, Derek Urwin). In this text, I will primarily use the political science perspective. Immanuel Wallerstein was one of the first to emphasize the systemic nature of the relationship between the regions of the so-called Western and Eastern Europe (Wallerstein, 1974, pp. 387–415). In this view, economic dependence remains a crucial feature of peripherality. Stein Rokkan’s approach is broader and allows to understand the political interactions between regions in Europe (Rokkan, 1980, pp. 37–57). S. Rokkan’s vision of peripherality describes the inability to T. Pawłuszko (B) University of Opole, Opole, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_2



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influence the environment in the area of (1) politics, (2) economy, and (3) culture (Rokkan & Urwin, 1982). Finally, the more recent concept by Barry Buzan and George Lawson shows the global position of Europe as an example of a historical anomaly that resulted from the sudden domination of European states over the rest of the world achieved in the nineteenth century. As a result of the expansion of the West and the popularization of Western ideas of modernization, a global center-peripheral system was created, with the leading role of Europe in the global economic and ideological circulation (Buzan & Lawson, 2015). The Western world sets the standards and the rest of the world became the periphery, that is, the world “dominated” and “subordinated.” Peripherality in this approach can be defined as the inability to influence existing power structures. The structure of this paper is as follows. At the beginning, the genesis of economic inequality in Europe is considered. Then theoretical propositions are formulated. Then, the position of the CEE region in the center-periphery perspective is analyzed. Another issue is the attempt to understand the political actions in order to reduce the asymmetry of potentials between European regions. The analysis includes a case study of the concept of a “multi-speed Europe.” This concept became important in the debate on the condition of the contemporary European Union. However, it is perceived negatively in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. These countries remember the centuries in which they were dominated by neighboring powers, and therefore they are concerned about their military and economic security, which would be compromised by the loss of influence on their own development, i.e., periphery. In this work, the author tries to show that center-periphery theories have the potential to explain both contemporary causes of integration and disintegration processes. The main research problem of the text is the issue of understanding the causes of the structural asymmetry of development potentials in the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe are struggling with a historically weaker international position. The aforementioned center-periphery approach will be used to clarify the research problem. The supporting hypotheses deal with related issues. The author believes that regional inequalities in the EU are a model example of center-periphery relations, as they meet the features defined in the theories as crucial for the emergence of asymmetry mechanisms. Within the European Union, attempts have been made to introduce a mechanism to correct inequalities. Regional policy, which aims to converge and increase the EU’s cohesion, de facto confirms the existence of structural inequalities, although it is itself a fairly effective corrective and compensatory mechanism (especially in the symbolic sphere). Attempts to deepen the institutionalization of the “multi-speed Europe” mechanism would mean recognition of the durability of the central–peripheral nature of the European economy. Another related hypothesis is the claim that the center-periphery perspective is useful tool for describing and explaining integration processes.

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2 The Genesis of Economic Inequality in Europe The debate over economic inequality in Europe has been going on since at least the middle of the twentieth century. According to Wallerstein, in the world economy there are centers/cores, semi-peripheries and peripheries of development. Their separation depends on: the method of production, the amount of accumulation and the political organization. The most modern countries (center/core) have the highest capital wealth, investment potential, technologies, labor productivity and efficient institutions. Peripheral countries are their opposite—they have little capital, low wages, poorly educated workers, old technologies and inefficient state institutions. The semi-peripheral countries combine the features of the core and the periphery (Wallerstein, 2004). Authors such as Christopher Chase-Dunn and Giovanni Arrighi have studied historical cases of the development and decline of economic powers such as Venice, the Netherlands and England (Chase-Dunn, 1998). The issue of the underdevelopment of the Central and Eastern European region was also one of the key topics studied in this approach (Chirot, 1991, pp. 1–9). The topic of differentiation of economic models of Western and Eastern Europe was one of the foundations of research on the “great divergence” of development paths in Europe and the rest of the world (Pomeranz, 2001). According to Wallerstein, Central and Eastern Europe is the key periphery of the capitalist world system. Western Europe in the modern period was still an agricultural region, but Western European merchants strengthened international trade as well as the production of advanced goods, creating an alternative to traditional agriculture. At the same time, Eastern Europe assumed the role of an exporter of raw materials to the west of the continent. The West began to develop cities, crafts, and trade. In Eastern Europe, the noble class monopolized trade, and this weakened the cities and the industries located in them (Sowa, 2011). The development tendency in the West has become the pursuit of diversity and specialization, while in the Eastern European periphery, the raw material monoculture has won. This process led to the collapse of the central government in Eastern European countries and led to the marginalization of the entire region. The second model that emerged in a similar period was the center-periphery model of the Norwegian political scientist Stein Rokkan, developed in 1977–1979 under the aegis of the European Consortium of Political Research. The results of the work were compiled by Derek Urwin after the death of Rokkan and published in several works in the years 1980–1983. Before his death, Rokkan got to know the early works of Wallerstein,1 but he was interested in the political diversity of regions in Europe more than the history of capitalism and economic inequalities. The center-periphery model in Rokkan’s approach concerned the processes of centralization of political power in European countries and explanation of regional differences in the field of political representation. 1

We know this because in his posthumous work he quotes and comments on the 1974 study mentioned here.


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In a collective work entitled Center and Periphery: Spatial Variation in Politics, S. Rokkan’s text is an attempt to build a model explaining ethnic, economic and political diversity in Europe from a geographical perspective (Rokkan, 1980, pp. 37– 57). Rokkan preceded them with historical studies on the stages of the settlement, the development of political institutions and finally national disputes over territories over the past several hundred years (Rokkan, 1992). In 1982, a collective work edited by Rokkan and Urwin was published, entitled The Politics of Territorial Identity. Studies in European Regionalism (Rokkan & Urwin, 1982). In the introduction to the book, Rokkan and Urwin emphasized that in the twentieth century, the concept of the nation-state was widely accepted as the norm of territorial organization in politics. However, the issue of regionalism and nationalism continued to be important in the study of industrial societies in Western Europe. European countries and regions have different layers of identity that generate potential for political expression (Rokkan & Urwin, 1982, pp. 1–3). The second important theme is the increasing internationalization of politics and the world economy. It is about the issue of globalization, a concept coined by Thomas Levitt in (1983). Rokkan and Urwin noticed that the increase in the scale of internationalization of transactions on a global scale led to a significant reduction in the amount of resources remaining under political control of the regions. As a result, there is growing concern in local communities, which manifests itself in the form of increased activity of regional movements and protests against government policies. For the purposes of this analysis, it can be assumed that a similar process may take place in integration processes at the international level. The authors distinguish two areas of conflicts between the centers and the peripheries. The first are cultural differences (language, religion and ethnicity) and the second are economic differences (resources and trade). At this point, a conceptual distinction of centers and periphery was introduced. Centers are privileged territories that possess key resources and leading military, administrative, economic and cultural institutions (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, pp. 4–5). They are often capitals of states that impose various institutional and symbolic solutions on the rest of the country (and other countries). Contemporary political and economic centers have a well-developed sphere of deliberation and extensive decision-making processes. Political centers are communication nodes and have control over resources and communication within three spheres: (1) political control, (2) economic domination and (3) cultural standardization. The centers fulfill their role in any social system by controlling key transactions. Contrary to the centers, peripheries are dependent—they only control their local resources, they also have decreasing influence on the processes of communication and culture creation. Rokkan and Urwin emphasize two patterns of territorial structures present in modern countries. They are monocephalic (territorial structures depend on one center) and polycephalic (territorial structures depend on several centers) (Rokkan & Urwin, 1982, pp. 6–12). This division results in various political and economic strategies concerning: standardization, centralization, unification or federalization, consistent with the interests and interpretation of the dominant region.

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3 Peripherality in the Rokkan Model The problem of peripherality outlined above was expanded in another work: Economy, Territory, Identity. Politics of West European Peripheries, published in 1983 (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983). From the collected research material from several centuries of European history, the authors drew a valuable conclusion that the main features of the periphery are subordination and dependence. These are regions that do not control their fate, poorly represented politically, are often foreign or conquered territories, usually less developed economically, geographically remote, with less developed infrastructure. In order to organize the model, three basic areas of interaction have been defined: political, economic and cultural (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, pp. 3–5). This leads to the formulation of “three-dimensional” (3D: distance, difference and dependence) characteristics of the periphery, which is reconstructed in the Table 1. Various transactions take place in the spheres of politics, economy and culture. As mentioned, the centers control transaction patterns of various types. These are the transactions: ● Economic—trade, services, work, credits, subsidies, investments; ● Cultural—transfer of norms, messages, lifestyle, ideology, myths, rituals; ● Political—conflicts over territories, wars, invasions, blockades, alliances and connections between elites (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, pp. 6–13). Due to the control over transactions, some contemporary researchers propose to distinguish a separate level of the center-periphery relationship, which is the discourse (thus the classic 3D model becomes a 4D model) (Danson & De Souza, 2012). The centers control most of the content of information transfer in a given social system. Moreover, the centers universalize their messages, create hierarchies of values, as well as hierarchies of desired goods and resources. The unequal exchange of resources thus takes place on several levels and is not dominated by economic interactions as in the Immanuel Wallerstein’s school (Wallerstein, 1979; Wallerstein et al., 1984). Below is a reconstruction of the targets of region interactions that are observable in this model (Table 2). The aim of the center is to dominate the periphery by including them in the dominant political, economic and cultural circulation of social ideas and practices. Table 1 Features of the periphery according to ± Urwin

Feature of the periphery



The peripheries are distant from the center


The periphery differs from the center’s patterns in several areas


The periphery is dependent on one or more centers

Source Rokkan & Urwin (1983, pp. 3–4)


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Table 2 Objectives of centers and periphery in a comparative approach Transmission/formation Aims of the centers

The goals of the periphery


Linguistic, religious and ideological standardization

Maintaining the distinctiveness of the language, schools, literature and religion


Integration, administrative and political subordination, convincing local elites

Separation, independence, resistance to superior forces


Monetarization, inclusion of the Maintaining the local market, and periphery in the exchange network even independence—autarky and the increase of addiction

Source Rokkan & Urwin (1983, Chap. 1)

The center is an active actor—it imposes patterns, creates institutions, promotes standardization, unification and homogenization of the periphery according to central recipes. The periphery remains rather passive and unable to defend itself against the expansion of its stronger neighbor. This activity can be summarized as follows (see Table 3). Centers use different resources to dominate less developed regions and give them subordinate status (see: Table 3). Throughout history, integration in the domination system has usually taken place on the terms of the stronger actor. As part of such integration, the dominant patterns of economic, political, administrative and cultural behavior are implemented in the periphery. The basic process in each sphere is the penetration of the periphery by the resources from the central region. In peripheral areas, foreign people (colonizers, officials and army), foreign ideas (literature, education, language and intellectuals) and products (money, new goods, services offered by specialists from the metropolis) appear and dominate in local circulation of goods and ideas. Table 3 Theoretical model of center-periphery interaction Building an administrative system (integration)

Building a cultural system (unification)

Construction of the economic system (monetization)

Basic process

Migration of people and colonization of new territories

Penetration of new territories by new codes and cultural messages

Penetration of new territories by new production goods and services


Physical restraint

Culture texts

Money, exchange, barter


Army, police, government Education, religions, agencies churches



The army, bureaucracy

Merchants, merchants, artisans

Source Rokkan and Urwin (1983, p. 15)

Clergy, intelligentsia, scientists

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The intervention of the center in the periphery leads to the creation of an administrative, cultural and economic system dependent on the center and is managed by specialists from the center. Peripheral cultural codes, institutions and social practices are considered “peripheral” because they are “local,” “particular” and “limited.” In order to take social positions and develop careers, it becomes necessary to know new cultural codes related to the center, which are considered “better,” “universal,” “profitable,” “fuller” and “truer.” Local elites often remain the object of intensified propaganda, and in exchange for abandoning “outdated” local cultural codes, they become representatives of “enlightened ideas” that came from outside. The periphery then adopts a simplified view of the world elsewhere. According to Rokkan’s model, many regions are losing control over the resources, but there are also those that are gaining influence (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, p. 61). Most often these are the cross-border regions that benefit from the location between the various centers. Such affluent peripheries include, for example, Catalonia, Switzerland, Alsace or the Basque Country (Rokkan & Urwin, 1982, pp. 45–65). These regions concentrate the influence of several countries and gradually have a chance to become central regions themselves, if they are able to modify the agenda of the other centers. This topic is particularly important in the period of networking the European economy in the information age (O’Tuathail & Dalby, 1998). Today, many regions are trying to work out the so-called smart specializations to build your own regional identity on the basis of local economic successes. It seems that in the light of Rokkan’s model, the emancipation of the periphery is a process much more complex than relative economic development.

4 Applications of the Rokkan Model In the 1970s, when Rokkan was preparing his studies, Europe was in the time of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. As the authors note, the so-called Western Europe around 1970 “shrunk and shifted” to the West compared to the 1920 map. Countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, East Germany and Hungary, dominated by the influence of the USSR after World War II, became Moscow’s periphery (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, pp. 42–43). The dynamic post-war industrial revolution increased the already significant disparities between European regions and increased the dominance of the North-West part of the continent over the rest. It is worth emphasizing that the Rokkan model is not strict (Braudel, 1992). It does not define specific parameters of social change as these differ in specific regions and epochs. What is more important for this text is the very reconstruction of the stages of development of center-periphery relations (see the Table 4). In the first phase, there are attempts to unify scattered territories by a strong political authority. Regions where the population had a lower level of identity awareness and the literacy process was less advanced may more easily submit to the pressure of unification. The leading regions in the late Middle Ages have a much


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Table 4 Rokkan-Urwin’s model of social changes in the center-periphery relationship Economy



Phase 1

The starting position of the region in the economy of the middle ages

Early or late unification of the territory

Early or late literacy

Phase 2

Urbanization, commercial expansion

The degree of regional penetration by the administration

Early or late standardization

Phase 3

Industrial revolution

Election rights and election Mass education in the systems language of the center or the periphery

Phase 4

Changes in the economy of the periphery in the era of globalization, innovation, changes in trade directions

Politicization of territorial, linguistic and ethnic differences

The strength of the local language, the number of speakers, its use in media and education

Source Rokkan & Urwin (1983, pp. 69–71)

better starting position, although it does not always determine the prosperity in later epochs. In the era of geographical discoveries, the economic center of European civilization moved from Italy to the North Sea, which has better communication with the lands conquered by Europeans. Meanwhile, Venice and the Mediterranean merchants, after the Turks dominated the Eastern half of the Mediterranean Sea, lost their markets, as well as the numerous political and cultural roles they had played over the centuries (Wallerstein, 1979, pp. 42–45). In the second phase, the key is the level of urbanization and commercial position of a given region, as well as its possible quick inclusion in the network of a larger political organism. The modern period in Europe is the time of religious wars and the first attempts to standardize (Augsburg peace, the Treaties of Westphalia) the governance of the regions by the monarchs. There were also centralized absolute monarchies and professional institutions of administration, army and diplomacy. At that time, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe had to deal with the expansion of Turks and the collapse of statehood (Czechia, Hungary, Romania, periodically Poland). In phase three, the attitude to the industrial revolution and relatively early success in the absorption of new technologies are crucial. These processes strengthen urbanization, the availability of labor and increase the attractiveness of the region from the perspective of the international flow of production factors. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries also saw the massification of electoral law and the spread of democratic systems. National awareness grows and state education becomes an element of civic education in a sense of bond with a given political community. Most of the modern countries of Central and Eastern Europe during this period were no longer on the map. The development of political and economic institutions was under the control of metropolises with capitals of Berlin, Vienna, Istanbul and Moscow. This led to the peripheralization of the entire CEE region,

Peripherality of the CEE Region


which was not treated as a priority in the capitals of mentioned empires. As a result, the CEE region was delayed by several dozen years in building the institution of a modern rule of law and in implementing most of the social and economic innovations. The region later developed education, industry and technical colleges, and the trade-related social groups were weaker than the noble class, which was important to local cultures during the period of non-statehood. The fourth phase of the development of European regions is based on their position in the context of globalization processes. The essential issues have become: competitiveness, recognition, and therefore also particularism. Many peripheries have gained development opportunities. In S. Rokkan’s model, the economic success of peripheral regions may lead to the formation of local narratives of success and the promotion of alternative visions of cultural phenomena. Many Western European regions began to emphasize their own local identity (Basques, Catalans, Irish, Scots, Flemish and Walloons), which in the era of globalization began to be called more broadly a regionalization. The region of Central and Eastern Europe freed itself from the control of the Soviet Union at that time and began to use the political (democracy, political integration), economic (capitalism) and cultural (pluralism) patterns of Western Europe and to rebuild its own identity after centuries of the domination of powerful neighbors. The process of building political autonomy is usually supported by deeper economic and cultural processes that build a sense of historical separateness. For centuries, many economically strong regions of Europe existed as separate states (examples of city-states in today’s Italy or Germany) or were part of countries other than today (Belgium, Central European countries). For example, in Poland, the theme of the economic differentiation of regions is also associated with the historical changes in state borders and the economic history of the region. The present Western regions of Poland, incorporated for centuries into the economic circulation of German states, have certain features of the periphery (Pomerania, Silesia, Greater Poland), resulting from the historical economic separation from the lands controlled by Russia (Mazovia) and Austria (Cracow). After returning to the Polish borders in the twentieth century, despite being the poorest areas of Germany, they became the most developed lands of Poland in comparison with the former territories of the Russian and Austrian partitions (Jasi´nski, 2012). Even today, the location of the Polish Western territories close to the economically developed Germany determines their development positively compared to the regions of Eastern Poland, bordering with the countries of the former USSR.

5 Central and Eastern Europe as a Periphery In this part of the text, the theoretical concepts of the center-periphery will be related to the situation in Central and Eastern Europe. First of all, it should be noted that the modern refeudalization of social relations in the Eastern part of Europe was not once perceived as a sign of “backwardness.” In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this


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region did not differ economically from other European monarchies. One hundred years after the medieval plague epidemic, the population density and the level of urbanization in the Czech Republic or in Poland equaled the rates from German, French or Spanish countries, reaching 20% (Wycza´nski, 2003, pp. 12–15). Common to Western and Eastern Europe were cultural trends, architecture and religion. The relative weakness of the region of Eastern Europe resulted from long-term processes: demographic weakness, the backwardness of cities and the weakness of political power. The economic domination of the noble elites translated into their political supremacy and the weakening of the central government. This stopped the urbanization process, inhibited the development of bourgeois culture and weakened the formal institutions of power in the countries of the region (Brenner, 1991, pp. 17–47). The main states of Eastern Europe gradually succumbed to stronger neighbors: Hungary fell in the sixteenth century (Turkish conquest), Czechia in the seventeenth century (the Thirty Years’ War), and Poland in the eighteenth century (three partitions of Poland) (Kochanowicz, 1991, pp. 94–119). When the Westphalian order of sovereign states was being created in Europe (the Treaties of Westphalia from 1648 and the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713), the region of Central and Eastern Europe lost its political subjectivity for over two centuries. In addition to political changes, there were also significant economic changes at that time. Eastern European lands continued in feudalism, and at the same time Western European countries began their colonial expansion on a global scale. Moreover, the institutions of the market economy developed in the same period in England and the Netherlands. Land and work have become a commodity. In Eastern Europe, it became possible only in the nineteenth century, along with attempts to merge the conquered lands of this region with the structures of the Russian, Prussian, Habsburg and Turkish empires. Looking from Rokkan’s perspective, there are several problems that should be noted. The development of capitalism and market economy led to the strengthening of (1) political, (2) economic and (3) cultural positions of Western European countries. Eastern Europe did not have comparatively influential power centers, did not participate in the colonization of other continents, did not have significant metropolises and did not have so many universities, commercial, military or technological successes. Innovations, such as railways, banks, and mass education, were delayed here and financed mainly from outside, through the Western European institutions. The period of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century was a time of discussion on the directions of modernization of Eastern Europe. As a result of centuries of economic specialization in this region, agriculture was still the main area of production for the majority of the population. About 70% of the population worked in agriculture in Poland (data for 1931). Czechoslovakia had this rate at 35% (Czech lands 26%, Slovak 59%), Germany 25%, Hungary 52%, Romania 72% and Bulgaria 73% (Landau & Roszkowski, 1995, pp. 22–25). At that time, the share of industry in production in Poland was only 26%, Hungary showed 29%, in Spain (before the Civil War) it was 40%, and in Italy it was 62%. Just before World War I, Polish lands produced 24% of the average European production per

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capita, and in 1936–38 only 20%. For comparison, Romania is 10% and 16%, respectively, Hungary 35 and 43%, Czechoslovakia 50 and 67%, Finland 48 and 115%, and Norway 69 and 96% (Landau & Roszkowski, 1995, p. 81). The reborn states of Central-Eastern Europe developed more slowly than Western Europe. Another problem in the region was the numerous border disputes and ethnic conflicts between the new states. The interwar period lasted for two decades. The Second World War destroyed the Eastern part of the continent more than the Western part. After the war, the CEE region came under the control of the USSR. Around 1950, the level of GDP per capita in the countries of Eastern Europe was estimated at approx. 30% of the European average in Romania and Albania, through approx. 45% in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, approx. 67% in Poland and Hungary, 80% in the USSR and 96% in Czechoslovakia, which was not damaged by the war. According to Witold Orłowski, according to the same calculations, the result of Greece was 50%, Spain 60%, Italy 96%, West Germany 106%, France 144%, and Great Britain 190%. Four decades later, around 1989, the level of development was 35% of the European average in Romania, 51% in Poland, 62% in Hungary, 64% in the USSR and 79% in Czechoslovakia. For comparison: Greece had 91%, Spain 104%, Italy 144%, UK 148%, France 160%, and Germany as much as 170%. It is difficult to judge the credibility of these numbers. During the communist period, statistics were falsified, not kept regularly, or were kept secret for political reasons. Overall, however, it should be assumed that after a momentary dynamic increase in the post-war period, the development distance between Eastern Europe and Western European countries has increased significantly (Orłowski, 2010, pp. 48–53). It was only at the beginning of the twenty-first century that some Eastern European countries managed to exceed the conventional level of 50% of the wealth of the integrating Western European countries (EU-15) and to make the legal, institutional, infrastructural and economic structure similar to Western models (Poland’s 10 years in the European Union, 2014). Still, the level of affluence remains significantly lower (GDP per capita in EU regions, 2018). Poland and the region of Central and Eastern Europe from the periphery of the USSR became the periphery at the gate of integrated Western Europe. Twenty years after the transformation, 20 Central and Eastern European countries (from Estonia to Bulgaria) with 190 million people, or 25% of Europe’s population, generated only 10% of the continent’s GDP (Orłowski, 2010, pp. 11–22). The aim of the authorities of Poland and other countries of the former Eastern bloc was to make the institutions similar to the “standard” models of Western Europe. The accession of the countries of the region to NATO and the EU was treated as a civilization challenge and the moment of “seizing the opportunity” to join one of the centers of the world economy, which is the “Western civilization.” Considering the above data, it must be admitted that in the period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the region of Eastern Europe was a stable semi-periphery of the Western world. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was a degeneration of political institutions and a military decline. Moreover, the political role of the nobility led to the marginalization of cities and trade. The culture of the nobility blocked the development of education and innovation. The long nineteenth century brought an industrial and scientific revolution to Europe. There was also the


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issue of economic development that was relatively independent of extensive military expansion. Eastern European territories were included in the European economic circuit within the framework of the German, Russian, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian empires. The First World War saw the collapse of these empires. The beginning of the twentieth century in Eastern Europe saw attempts to build a dozen or so new countries on their ruins. This period ended with another world war, depopulation and devastation of the region. After this war, Eastern Europe becomes the political and economic periphery of the USSR. Interestingly, as a result of the processes of education, urbanization and industrialization, a significant part of the region’s population clearly improved its material existence at that time (Pi˛atkowski, 2013). However, the growing indebtedness of states and the collapse of the ineffective economic system resulted in the bankruptcy of communism in the late 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, Central and Eastern Europe became the periphery of the integrating West, and in the twenty-first century it was again “promoted” to the status of a semi-periphery. This is related to inclusion in the integration processes within NATO and the EU. Today, the problems of Eastern Europe include: technological gap, lower labor productivity, low wealth of local capital, weak infrastructure, unfavorable energy structure and low level of social capital. These are the main challenges for the countries of the region in the first half of the twenty-first century.

6 Peripherality as a Problem in the European Union Debates on European integration have always dealt with the different political goals of the member states. However, for most of the decades of the integration, the scope of their activities was much smaller than today. The breakthrough came with the late 1980s. In the fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, the USSR collapsed, the European Union was established, new treaties were adopted (in Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice), the European currency was created, regional policy and cooperation in the field of security and defense were developed. The dynamics of changes in Europe in 1989–2004 made integration processes a priority throughout the continent. At the beginning of the 1990s, the European Union consisted of 12 countries, while in 2004, it was as many as 25 and in 2007–27. The rapid development of the EU led to a discussion on the coherence of the integration process. The social, economic and cultural diversity of “old” and “new” Europe has created concerns about potential regional conflicts. In the longer term, it was feared that the European institutions would lose their legitimacy and their mechanisms, which had become quite abstract for the citizens of almost 30 member states. Let us recall that on the philosophical level, the process of European integration was related to the ideas of the Enlightenment, such as equality and human rationality (See more in: Kant, 2003). That is why European legislation has adopted that every resident of the EU has equal rights, opportunities and opportunities to take advantage of different aspects of well-being. At the same time, it was noted that the unequal distribution of income in Europe results from long-term geographical

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and historical conditions. Hence, concerns have arisen that the differences in living standards in different member states may lead to the erosion of support for the EU. Such a risk was already indicated in the Thomson Report from 1973, on the basis of which the European Regional Development Fund was established. The new regional policy was a mechanism for managing aid funds around which a consensus of European states was built. Richer countries demanded subsidies from European funds as compensation for financial contributions to the integration process, and poorer countries treated funds supporting poorer regions as compensation for agreeing to trade liberalization (Miszczuk & Jakubowski, 2015, pp. 169–191). As we can see, ERDF payments were initially treated as “compensation,” but after 1984, systemic support began to be given to entire action programs, rather than individual investments. After the reform of Jacques Delors, as much as 85% of funds were distributed between the countries and the three main goals (aid for backward regions, supporting structural changes in agriculture, and combating unemployment). In the 1990s, ETC (European Territorial Cooperation) programs, also known as Interreg, also began to function. Thus, cohesion policy has become the main mechanism for managing inequalities in the EU (Fig. 1). The term “cohesion” was first introduced into the legislation of the European communities in the Single European Act of 1986. Article 138a of the act indicated the need to increase the social and economic cohesion of the European community in order to eliminate excessive disparities in the development of regions and their potential growth, which was expected as a result of the introduction of the single market. The Maastricht Treaty, establishing the European Union, rooted the notion of cohesion in the global debate. According to it, achieving “harmonious development” by strengthening social and economic cohesion will “in particular” be achieved by reducing disparities in the levels of development of individual regions and the backwardness of the most disadvantaged regions (Art. 130a). Obtaining “cohesion” here is tantamount to eliminating territorial differences in the level of economic development (economic cohesion) and in access to work and income (social cohesion). The first countries covered by the broadly understood cohesion policy were the “Western periphery” of the EU, i.e., Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Greece and the territories of Southern Italy. In the 1990s, the cohesion policy project turned out

Philosophical assumption

Economic geography



each resident has equal rights, opportunities and opportunities to take advantage of different aspects of well-being,

different geographical and historical conditions created an uneven distribution of income

differences in living standards would weaken or withdraw support for integration activities.

A regional policy has been decided to give priority to supporting the poorest regions.

Fig. 1 Formation of the assumptions of the cohesion policy in Europe. Source own study


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to be relatively successful. In all cohesion countries, GDP growth was higher than in the rest of the EU. Therefore, GDP per capita in Greece, Spain and Portugal increased altogether from 68% of the EU average in 1988 to 81% in 2002. Ireland’s development deserves special attention. In 2001, Irish GDP per capita was 17.6% higher than the EU-15 average, while in the early 1990s, it was only 70% of the EU average (See more: Bachtler et al., 2017). The “catching up” countries were able to ensure a modern understanding of the determinants of development. It is about the another 3D triad (density, distance, division), i.e., density (local dimension of investment concentration), distance (between concentration centers) and specialization division (on an international scale). This triad could serve as a remedy for the above-mentioned triad of peripherality. The relative success of the South European periphery in “catching up” with the leading economies has made cohesion policy an important tool in the EU. The period 2004–2007 brought the accession of 12 new countries to the EU and practically the entire Central and Eastern Europe became the area of influence of the cohesion policy. The sanctioning of the territorial dimension of cohesion in the EU was possible thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, which introduced a new wording of Title XVII of the TEC: Economic, social and territorial cohesion. In art. 3 of the treaty states that the union supports economic, social and territorial cohesion as well as solidarity between the member states. The pursuit of consistency is of a compensatory nature. It means making an effort to reduce the disparities in the level of economic development between poor and rich areas. It is a difficult task, because the peripheral regions are rarely able to develop more dynamically than the central regions, because they do not have comparable resources at the start (Gorzelak, 2017, pp. 33–54). In the period 2007–2013, the main objectives of cohesion policy were economic growth, employment, convergence and territorial cooperation. The amount of funds increased by 60%, of which 82% was allocated to regional convergence. More modern management methods adopted in the EU have channeled funds into complex multi-sectoral projects. The criteria of affluence were also changed. It was assumed that the level of co-financing EU projects in poorer regions (GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average) will amount to 75–85%, in transition regions (75–90% of the EU average prosperity) it will be 60%, and in developed regions (above 90% of the EU average). %) co-financing will be up to 50%. The new Europe 2020 strategy adopted in 2010 also called for the focus of structural assistance on a new growth model: smart, sustainable and inclusive. By 2020, the goals of the EU were to be: increasing the employment rate to at least 75%, achieving 3% of GDP in R&D spending, reeducation of greenhouse gas emissions to a level lower than in 1990, increasing the number of people with higher education to nearly 40% in cohort of 30–34 years, and a 25% reduction in the number of Europeans living below national poverty lines, lifting 20 million people out of poverty (Europe Strategy, 2020). However, the implementation of these programs faced increasing political problems. In the following years, however, the European Union was shaken by the global financial crisis, followed by the migration and British crisis (the so-called Brexit), which undermined trust in the EU and cohesion policy and popularized the concepts of different models of integration.

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7 Is There a “Multi-Speed Europe”? As a result of enlargement in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the EU’s surface area increased by approximately 30%, but European GDP grew by only 10%. At the beginning of the century, the level of GDP per capita in the EU-15 accounted for only two-thirds of US income. The average working time in Europe was shorter than in the USA and the productivity was lower. In Europe, professional activity also decreased and demographic processes started to lead to a decline in the working age population. The goal of the Lisbon Strategy, adopted in 2000 for a period of 10 years, was to make Europe the most dynamic and competitive economic region in the world, developing faster than the USA (Presidency Conclusions, 2000). In the face of the accession of new, poorer countries to the EU, the Lisbon Strategy, which assumed catching up with the USA, was becoming a pipe dream. The view that the costly cohesion policy and the aspiration to be the leader of the world economy cannot be reconciled was becoming more and more popular. Therefore, it was postulated that European integration should be diversified. This view was not particularly new (Lesiewicz, 2015, pp. 27–44). In the tradition of integration thought, numerous attempts were made to name the differences in the level of development of the integration process of European states. In general, to this day, three leading concepts of differentiation of integration can be distinguished: a multi-speed Europe, a variable geometry Europe and an à la carte Europe. Historically, the first was the idea of à la carte Europe, proposed by the Dahrendorf in 1979 in his lecture for the European University Institute in Florence (Dahrendorf, 1976). It is worth adding that to this day the EUI is still developing the “InDiVeu” website (short for Integrating Diversity in the European Union), where the ideas of differentiated integration are analyzed and an entire section has been created containing numerous expert publications for download (Integrating Diversity in the European Union, 2022; Riedel, 2018, pp. 213–222). In 1989, advisers to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany proposed the concept of a Europe of concentric circles (Mertes & Pril, 1989). This idea assumed that the core of the EU should consist of several leading countries with the highest level of cohesion. The other dozen or so states would belong to the circles of various levels of integration, gradually entering the economic and monetary union. A few years later, when the USSR ceased to exist and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined the EU, these authors reformulated the original concept. This is how the idea of a “Europe of Olympic Rings” was born, where poor CEE countries could also gradually join other areas of EU cooperation (Mertes & Pril, 1994). Comparing this proposition with the center-periphery theory, we can see that there is a division into the integrated core (economic and monetary union), the integrating semi-periphery (countries outside the economic and monetary union) and the periphery (CEE region). In the mid-1990s, the effects of the collapse of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and the outbreak of nationalist disputes in Eastern Europe raised concerns among European leaders and experts, who called for EU countries to be a model of integration for others. The supporters of functionalism excelled in this. It was


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a typically center-periphery model, where the “uncertain” periphery was to adapt to the cultural, political and economic standards promoted by the EU-15. At the same time, the concepts of “variable geometry of integration” appeared in Europe, which accepted various dimensions of the involvement of member states in adopting the common currency, in participation in defense cooperation and others (Visegrad Countries and Multispeed Europe, 2018). The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 brought an official decision on enhanced cooperation, which was an expression of the acceptance of the so-called intergovernmental approach to European integration. Another shock to the European integration process was the crisis surrounding the Constitutional Treaty, which was to be a qualitative leap for the EU. The theme of “Different Speed Europe” returned again. In September 2004, The Economist published an article again suggesting integration within the “A la carte Europe” (Europe à la carte, 2014), the concept according to which each country should be able to choose in what aspects of integration it participates. This concept was strongly opposed by Germany, pointing out that integration according to the à la carte model of Europe could lead to a domino effect and break the unity of the basic integration mechanisms. The following years brought numerous crises of European integration. These included the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty, the subsequent financial crisis, and the debt and migration crisis. They resulted in a return to the formulation of subsequent political concepts of “multi-speed Europe” in 2011 and 2017. Separate ideas were: the idea of “diversified integration,” presented by Zielonka in the work Europe as Empire (which referred rather to the idea of multi-level governance and pluralism of power) (Zielonka, 2006) and the economic idea of Europe as a “club of clubs,” presented by Majone in 2014 (Majone, 2014). These concepts refer to the halting of the centralization process and the transfer of state competences to the European level and propose to make the integration model more flexible, thus referring to the old message of Dahrendorf. In March 2017, after the meeting in Versailles, the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and Italy officially announced their political support for the idea of a “multispeed Europe.“ President Emmanuel Macron spoke directly in the interviews about the need for a “coalition of the willing” who would push the process of European integration a step forward (Maurice, 2017). The leaders of large European countries also wanted to show the world public opinion that after the surprising decision of the British people to leave the EU, the condition of the project of a united Europe is still going well. A little earlier, the European Commission, chaired by Jean Claude Juncker, published a White Paper on the Future of Europe, in which it outlined several scenarios for the development of European integration until 2025 (White Paper on the Future of Europe, 2017). The third scenario outlined the perspective of the division of the EU into centers and peripheries in the form of “Two-Speed Europe” promoted by the participants of the Versailles meeting. Juncker himself spoke out clearly in favor of the fifth scenario, which makes the integration a bit slower but more coherent. The presented concepts did not become an official EU policy, nor were they entered into the treaties, but it should be noted that they became one of the political doctrines constituting the discussion on the future of European integration. In 2022, President Macron again said that the EU had de facto pursued the “multi-tiered”

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Europe scenario for a long time because of a European currency and a Schengen area. In a speech on May 9, 2022, the French president said that European cooperation in the area of security and climate protection should be developed (Emmanuel Macron, 2022). It should be noted that in various concepts the idea of a “multi-speed Europe” describes a situation in which the center and the periphery accept different pace and path of development, with the center acting as a “club of leaders” and taking advantage of the greater cooperation opportunities offered by integration, and the periphery trying to “catch up” and “imitate” the so-called good practices developed at the center. In this approach, the peripheries become the second-class regions. The idea of a “two-speed Europe” met with protests from supporters of the cohesion policy, because if the treaties sanction decision-making inequalities, then the possibility of filling economic divisions in Europe will be difficult. There is a risk that economic inequality will be carried over into symbolic and political divisions. What is particularly important, the ideas of “multi-speed Europe” always appeared at a time of crisis of a given stage of European integration, related to events such as: conflicts over treaties, financial crises, the EU budget or differences in the policies of the member states. In the optics of the center-periphery theory, the concept of “multispeed Europe” may deepen the differences between states, especially at the symbolic level, examples of which are presented below. The suggested theory seems to be useful in explaining the genesis of differences and states’ approaches to integration processes.

8 The Future of “Multi-Speed Europe” Economic data confirm that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have quickly made up for the development gap in relation to the EU-15 for several years of membership in the EU, although they still remain the poorest macro-region in the EU (Sm˛etkowski and Wójcik, 2010, pp. 77–106). In these countries, the greatest beneficiaries of European integration have become the capital regions (cities such as Warsaw, Prague, Budapest or Bucharest), which are characterized by the highest level of prosperity and internationalization of economic cooperation. They are local centers among the less developed and less prosperous periphery. Central regions dominate not only economically, but also politically, as they are the seat of state authorities. Therefore, these authorities meet both with considerable support for the EU in central regions within states, and with a strong emphasis on supporting the processes of European integration. All CEE countries are protesting against the concept of “multi-speed Europe.” The most common fear is also the collapse of the cohesion policy, which would primarily affect the poorer regions of the CEE countries, which are the base for the central regions and constitute the electorate of politicians of all options. The CEE elites fear that a multi-speed Europe will perpetuate the historic division into “better” (Western) and “worse” (Eastern) Europe, i.e., the “backward” and “poorer” Europe. Despite the investment of nearly EUR 150


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billion in economic infrastructure in recent years, the region’s investment needs are still estimated at over EUR 600 billion (The Road Ahead, 2017). The resources come largely from the EU structural funds, allocated in particular within the framework of the above-mentioned cohesion policy. As shown above, the CEE countries have been a poorer region of the European economy for several centuries. The peripheral nature of this region is historical and manifests itself on many levels: economic, political and cultural. In this context, the European Union has become a historic opportunity for them to break the peripheral status. The cohesion policy introduced in the late 1980s became a symbol of European integration, especially in peripheral regions such as CEE, where it has been and is associated with modernization and catching up with the European “core.” Contemporary Eurosceptic movements in CEE, however, emphasize the pressure exerted by European structures on states, which paradoxically strengthens the supporters of the “multi-speed Europe.” These views have a complex background. Let us try to summarize them in terms of the center-peripheral theory.

9 Conclusions The concept of the center-periphery offers an interesting perspective to study the asymmetry between various resources at the disposal of societies and states. The basic center-periphery mechanism describes the patterns of domination of the centers over the periphery. The point is that the centers have (1) political control over power processes, (2) economic domination over backward regions and (3) the potential to create norms and standards (Rokkan & Urwin, 1983, pp. 3–15). All these patterns can be easily applied both to the traditional domination of a superpower over dependent states and to the process of European integration. The table presents a comparison of the patterns of dependence to which CentralEastern Europe was subject in the twentieth century (periphery of the USSR) and in the twenty-first century (periphery in the EU). The above comparison seems important both in the historical perspective and in the context of the contemporary Central European debate, where the comparing (and sometimes identifying) the forced subjection of the region’s states to the USSR with the voluntary participation of states in the EU integration processes is wrongly compared (Table 5). The Table 5 shows that the CEE region has historically been subject to the military domination of the USSR, which has periodically strengthened its geopolitical position. Taking into account the three domination areas defined by Rokkan, let us note that the Soviet empire tried to dominate (1) the cultural resources of the region, forced (2) the ideologization of politics and (3) the nationalization of the economy in terms of its own military interests. The politicians of the region did not have a chance to influence the policy of the USSR, and the society, after the initial period of growth, began to impoverish in relation to the rapidly developing economies of Western Europe.

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Table 5 Patterns of peripherality of the CEE region The CEE region as a periphery of the USSR


The CEE region as a periphery of the European union

Agricultural economy in the industrial era


Post-industrial economy in the information age





Policy of the centers






State strategy

Catching up with the richest

Source own study

Currently, the CEE region is subject to the beneficial influence of the confederation of EU member states. Contrary to the “imperial integration” used by the USSR, the current models of European integration emphasize the voluntary participation in the cooperation of democratic states. Membership in the EU resembles a traditional alliance—it is voluntary and based on the observance of jointly adopted rules and treaties by the authorities of the states. Another difference between the former imperial model and the modern European model is the fact that the relative wealth and material standard of living of the population is increasing, and national politicians have a chance to influence European institutions and other countries’ agendas. In the former “Eastern Bloc,” it was practically impossible, as the hierarchy of international relations was typically “vertical” (one decision-making center influencing all the others). The cultural core and the mechanisms of law-making and democratic politics remain common to the EU member states. Currently, the CEE region has the highest level of support for the EU, as the increase in the quality of life compared to the still remembered period of brutal subjugation of the USSR is clear (European Public Opinion, 2019). Freedom of travel, earning, living and investing as well as numerous practices and institutions implemented thanks to European decision-making mechanisms (e.g., the Schengen area) enjoy massive social support. However, among the politicians of the region there is a “fear of peripherality,” based on the memory of historical forms of political, economic and symbolic domination, which provokes difficult ideological conflicts both inside the CEE countries and in the European arena (e.g., a dispute over the concept of sovereignty). These concerns also apply to the recurring concepts of “multi-speed Europe.” It has been shown that the European economy has been center-peripheral for centuries. However, for the first time in history, it has political corrective mechanisms in the form of EU institutions and cohesion policy. The selected theoretical approach shows that the phenomenon of cohesion policy, in the form of a politically approved and substantively justified income adjustment, is one of the greatest political innovations of the late twentieth century. Historically, it is also one of the most convincing tools to maintain support for the EU. This mechanism works even


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if the real convergence occurs only to a limited extent and depends on the economic situation, regional specialization, location or social capital of the population. The center-periphery approach also emphasizes that the concepts of “multi-speed Europe” can carry a symbolic potential, dividing EU members into “better” and “worse” by definition (differences in powers, ways of influencing the EU, access to community programs, etc.). The symbolic level remains the hardly measurable aspect of the center-periphery relations. In the age of media and populism, however, his influence on European politics cannot be overestimated. Previously, economic differences were neutralized and accepted thanks to correction mechanisms influenced by all EU members. In addition, the treaties made it possible to create mechanisms of enhanced cooperation in the EU in areas selected by you. On the one hand, Emmanuel Macron’s call to deepen the “multi-speed” approach may be interpreted as mobilizing European leaders to strengthen the EU’s core. On the other hand, the public strengthening of subsequent dimensions of asymmetry within the EU, especially those with high symbolic potential, may be used by opponents of European integration to deepen antagonism within the European community. Of course, the peripheral regions, which still have little opportunity to convert their social capital into economic, will lose out, and vice versa. Summing up, the article presents various dimensions of the usefulness of the center-periphery theory in explaining phenomena in the field of European integration, especially in the area of its diversification.

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´ Riedel, R. (2018). Zró˙znicowana integracja w Europie—Zródła, Mechanizmy, Konsekwencje [Diversified integration in Europe—sources, mechanisms, consequences], Economic Studies. Scientific papers of the university of economics in Katowice, 2018(352), pp. 213–222. Rokkan, S. (1980). Territories, centers, and peripheries: Toward a geoethnic-geoeconomicgeopolitical model of differentiation within Western Europe. In Gottmann (Ed.), Center and periphery: Spatial variation in politics (pp. 37-57). London: Sage. Rokkan, S., & Urwin, D. (1983). Economy, territory, identity. politics of west European peripheries. London: Sage. Rokkan, S., & Urwin, D. (Eds.). (1982). The politics of territorial identity. Studies in European regionalism. London: Sage Publications. Rokkan, S. (1992). Centre-Periphery Structures in Europe [1880–1978]. An international social science council (ISSC) workbook in comparative analysis. Ann Arbor: Inter-university consortium for political and social research. Sm˛etkowski, M., & Wójcik, P. (2010). Regional development in Central and Eastern Europe. Studia Regionalne i Lokalne, Special Issue, 2010, 77–106. Sowa, J. (2011). Fantomowe ciało króla. Peryferyjne zmagania z nowoczesn˛a form˛a [The phantom body of the king. Peripheral struggles with a modern form]. Cracow: Universitas. The Road Ahead—CEE Transport Infrastructure Dynamics, Joint Atlantic Council—PwC Report, 2017. https://www.pwc.pl/en/publikacje/2017/the-road-ahead-cee-transport-infrastructure-dyn amics.html. Accessed May 10, 2022. Visegrad Countries and Multispeed Europe: Perceptions, Positions, Strategies, EuroPolicy.sk. Report, December 2018. https://euractiv.sk/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2018/12/EUROPOLICYANALYSIS-Visegrad-countries-and-multispeed-Europe1.pdf. Accessed May 20, 2022. Wallerstein, I. (1974). The rise and future demise of the world capitalist system: Concepts for comparative analysis. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 16(1974), 387–415. Wallerstein, I. (1979). The capitalist world-economy. New York: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme—Cambridge University Press. Wallerstein, I. (1984). The politics of the world economy, New York—Paris: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme—Cambridge University Press. Wallerstein, I. (2004). World-systems analysis: An introduction. Durnham: Duke University Press. White paper on the future of Europe. Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025. European Commission, COM (2017) 2025 of March 1, 2017. https://ec.europa.eu/info/future-europe/whitepaper-future-europe_en. Accessed May 10, 2022. Wycza´nski, A. (2003). Wschód i zachód Europy w pocz˛atkach doby nowo˙zytnej [East and West of Europe in the Early Modern Age]. Warsaw: Semper. Zielonka, J. (2006). Europe as empire: The nature of the enlarged European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tomasz Pawłuszko, Ph.D., an international security and government analyst, an assistant professor at the University of Opole. He previously taught at the Military University of Land Forces in Wrocław. Holds a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from University of Warsaw.

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus Pavel Usov

Abstract The political system in Belarus is still in the process of non-democratic transformation. This evolution was launched by the political crisis that had emerged in 2020 due to the presidential campaign. It became evident that previous methods of authoritarian governing using elements of facade democracy were not effective anymore for keeping and legitimating power. Political crisis in Belarus and authority reaction led to reestablishing functions of the political institutions, dismantling prodemocratic activities, introducing political terror as one of the main instruments of the political rule. As a result, a new type of political regime has formed. Its stabilisation is still going on; new political and institutional components are introduced and fixed in the new constitution. Political, structural and functional changes of the Belarusian regime allowed us to speak about it as neo-totalitarian. This chapter deals with studying the main institutional changes in Belarus, which lead Belarusian society and the state from the neo-authoritarian political conditions to the neo-totalitarian. Keywords Belarus · Neo-Authoritarian regime · Neo-Totalitarianism · Dictatorship · Militarisation · Lukashenka

1 Main Characteristic of the Neo-Authoritarian Rule in Belarus Before 2020 For more than 27-year period, Lukashenka’s regime was treated to be one of the stable non-democratic regimes in post-Soviet space. The peculiarity of regime existence was that it had formed and developed in the European geographical space and faced permanent influence from the Western World, European Union in particular. The Republic of Belarus was used to be called the geographic center of Europe. That influence was a serious challenge for Alexander Lukashenka and made Belarusian authority permanently extended political, informational and ideological control over P. Usov (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_3



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society. On the other hand, it was necessary to realise attractive populist policies in order to consolidate political support of the citizens and legitimacy. At the same time, the Russian Federation was the main geopolitical recourse and provided economic and political stability for the (neo)authoritarian regime in Belarus for a long time. In this perspective, the strong political influence of Russia in Belarus was considered as one of the reasons for the political crises during and after the presidential election in 2020 and also hybrid occupation of the republic in 2022. It should be taken into the consideration that political crises and system changes in Belarus had been used by the Russian Federation for its own interest, “the country had become a part of Putin’s big geopolitical game” (Priznanie, 2022). So, on the one hand, political and social–economic processes in Belarus have been determined by civilisation clashes, nevertheless, stability and viability of the autocratic regime in Belarus were hardly possible without social and structural policy of the state and Lukashenka’s leadership. In general, evolution of the autocratic political regime in Belarus passed through next stages: • 1994–1996, process of Lukashenka’s personal power consolidation after presidential election in 1994. Conditions for this process had been caused by rather weak democratic institutions and political culture of the Belarusian society. Constitutional changes through the referendum became the key mechanism for power consolidation (Palitychnaya, 2011, p. 175). • 1996–2001, process institutionalization of the new authoritarian regime included elimination any kind of political resistance and opposition on the central and local level, establishing state control over all political, social and economic institutes in the country (Palitychnaya, 2011, pp. 154–155). Authoritarian institutionalization includes the absolute subordination of the judicial system to executive power and its transformation into a mechanism of political repression, as well as the creation of quasi-public structures and organisations that should maintain the legitimacy of the government and provide ideological influence on individual social groups. • 2001–2020, period of the stable functioning of the neo-authoritarian regime in Belarus; • 2020–2022, political crises and rather intensive transforming authoritarian political practice into totalitarian, due to erosion of the legitimacy. The political regime in Belarus displayed specific characteristics that distinguished it from other autocracies, including those in the post-Soviet space, until the 2020 elections. There were a lot of definitions of Lukashenka’s rule in Belarus: it was compared to totalitarianism neo-communism (Sushkievich, 2002), (Sannikov, 2003), fascism (Kapitanin, 2008) or sultanistic (Eke & Kuzio, 2000), illiberal democracy (Zakaria, 2003) or electoral authoritarianism (Korosteleva et al., 2003). But, all this definition and approaches took into the consideration a separate element and certain political processes of the regime functioning, and did not study the system as a whole. Some of the definition of the regime (like fascism) had clear ideological motives.

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus


The undemocratic political regime that existed in Belarus was a mixture of different elements of the exercise and functioning of power, a certain way of governing and controlling society. The mechanisms, methods and forms of political, social and economic control have been substantially modernised. For example, the regime did not seek to control the private life and activities of individuals, as it was in the USSR. In Belarus, there were conditions for entertainment and consumption, individual (private) business activity, which favored the withdrawal of a significant part of society from political life (Usov, 2014, pp. 47–48). It is worth mentioning that according to UN reports of the Human Development Index Belarus was on 53rd position in 2020. Ukraine—74th, Azerbaijan—88th, Uzbekistan—106th (Human Development Report, 2020, pp. 343–344). There were not any obligatory moral or behavioral standards for individuals, so-called social order like it was in the closed totalitarian systems. Also, the policy towards opponents of the regime was not based on their total elimination, but on discrediting and marginalising opposition structures, which discouraged citizens from actively participating in opposition movements or parties. Moreover, opposition organisations had been allowed to take part in different electoral companies in order to create an illusion of freedom and democracy. In other words, the political regime in Belarus had introduced rather wide ideological, informational and political limits inside the state system but had left wide space for individual consumptions and material satisfaction for the society. Social and even economic progress, rather good life conditions, general westernisation of the society had set significant differences between Belarusian political model and classic and modern authoritarian regimes, also with those which had existed in post-Soviet space. Considering historical, political and social–economic conditions and aspects of the power functioning Lukashenka’s regime was defined as neo-authoritarian. “It is thus a form of political regime shaped by historical and political processes. It is characterised by a specific way of conducting and implementing policy based on mixed forms of control and steering of society even through democratic institutions and mechanisms. Further, the legitimacy and stability of this regime are ensured not only by the use of administrative and repressive methods, extended control and manipulation of elections but also by sufficiently broad support from society as a result of its social and economic policies” (Usov, 2014, p. 98). One of the fundamental characteristics of Lukashenka’s rule was also the active use of elements of façade democracy. Thus, the regime tolerated the functioning of various opposition and non-governmental organisations and approved their active participation in local and national (parliamentary and presidential) elections. Accordingly, the authorities did not liquidate the existing autonomous social communication and cultural–religious networks. To a certain extent, they were used to legitimise Lukashenka’s power and to maintain or mobilise relatively stable public support. The state also built an entire institutional apparatus to ensure the internal consolidation and effectiveness of the political system and its constant readiness to eliminate internal threats. Even though there were some threats and challenges during the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections, they did not destabilise and disintegrate the state apparatus and its institutions.


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Table 1 Belarusian regime (until 2020) against the background of non-democratic political regimes Structural Totalitarian features and regime mechanisms of a political regime

Authoritarian regime

Sultanistic regime


– An ideology is not developed, yet there is a definite axiological space, an expressed mentality

– High degree – A state ideology based of manipuon some aspects of a lation society’s identity exists through and functions; an symbols, the ideology is aimed at a establishrational explanation of ment of a the political processes leader, lack taking place in the state of a developed ideology

– A well-developed ideology, allencompassing

Mobilisation – Extensive and mobilisation politicisation through of society state-created mass organisations

Public support

– General and unconditional support for the regime

Belarusian regime until 2020

– Extensive – Low – Structured and regular and mobilisation mobilisation, achieved intensive of a with the help of mobilisaceremonial state-created tion is not nature; organisations present ideology is (except at characisolated terised by a moments in lack of the develsystematic opment of and organithe system) sational forms – In general, the population is apolitical, which allows the regime to secure the social base it needs

– The social – With a generally base of the apolitical population, the political regime manages to regime is maintain a stable social very narrow, base and support from a and popular large part of the support is population, both through the result of mobilisation and creating a politicking and as a sense of result of effective social “fear” and and economic policies using the “reward” mechanism and the activities of paramilitary groups (continued)

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus


Table 1 (continued) Structural Totalitarian features and regime mechanisms of a political regime

Authoritarian regime

Sultanistic regime

Belarusian regime until 2020

State control – Total and absolute state control over all spheres of activity of social life

– Substantial – Unstable – Extended and stable political state state control in political control with control—the and other spheres of social and regime social life. If necessary, economic cannot the state may expand or autonomy control all narrow the sphere of of society sides of political autonomy political and social life

Political pluralism and opposition

– Complete lack of opposition

– The opposition functions within the formal limits allowed by the regime

– The regime – The opposition exists is unable to within limits set by the suppress the regime but is unable to mood of organise a widespread protest in protest or social dissent society. and is partly used by the There is authorities to organise widespread control over society opposition, including armed resistance

Political leadership

– Any formal boundaries do not constrain a totalitarian leader

– The leader operates within poorly defined yet sufficiently stable formal boundaries

– Extremely – A significant role of the personleader in the life of the alised, no society (their activity is rational or based on the legal bureaucraticmechanisms administrative to contain apparatus) and control it, strong dynastic traditions

Social and economic policy

– A planned – Market and – An econom- – The use of mixed economy, competitive ically selfish economy mechanisms, redistribution of economy regime that with moderately stable wealth by the (with weak seeks only guarantees of social state social to satisfy the security for the provision material population system) interests of the ruling group and its supporters

Source Linz & Stepan (1996, pp. 43–44, 57–60).


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Despite some forms of extreme control, as it was mentioned above, the private sector was characterised by a high degree of freedom. The individuals thus retained autonomy in their personal lives and interests and pursuits (except for those political or in some way related to politics) were not restricted by the state. A person’s private life was not subordinated to the goals and interests of the state, as it was in the case of a totalitarian system. Belarusian neo-authoritarianism was thus, to some extent, a modernised regime, open to the West (especially after the events in Ukraine in 2014) and even trying to speculate on national traditions and symbols. The situation changed dramatically during and after the 2020 election campaign. The loss of legitimacy and broad support of citizens translated into active demonstrations of dissent, which weakened the position of the authoritarian leader and led to partial deconsolidation of the political system. To some extent, this affected the functioning of the bureaucratic apparatus and other state institutions during the growing crisis. Lukashenka faced the real threat of losing power. However, certain political and geopolitical circumstances (support from Moscow, maintenance of the totality/integrity of the power infrastructure, the pacifism of the protesters— no revolutionary leadership, the loyalty of the power structures and the majority of the bureaucracy) saved the regime from collapse. Nevertheless, this political crisis completely changed the nature of the authoritarian regime. It revealed significant gaps in political and ideological control and the functioning of the administrative division. As a result, within a year and a half, state and social institutions were restructured to the point of extreme politicisation. The regime thus evolved towards an extremely mobilised authoritarianism, which can also be defined as a (neo) totalitarian regime.

2 What is (Neo)totalitarianism in Belarus? Reasons of the Regime Changes and Its Basic Elements There are many political science research dedicated to totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Broadly, totalitarian regime or state is defined as “non-democratic political systems that use modern tools such as the mass media, alongside a political police, to try to coordinate all aspects of life among an entire population” (Jackson, 2019). Friedrich and Brzezinski had proposed six key structural elements of totalitarianism: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Elaborate guiding ideology. Single mass party, typically led by a dictator. System of terror, using such instruments as violence and secret police. Monopoly on weapons. Monopoly on the means of communication. Central direction and control of the economy through state planning (Brzezinski & Friedrich, 1956, p. 59).

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus


In his book totalitarianism, Leonard Schapiro complements the characteristics of such a regime with the following elements: leader, subordination of the law to political order, control over private morality, constant mobilisation, justification of the legitimacy of power by mass support (Schapiro, 1987). Speaking about totalitarianism it is necessary to mentioned modification of the social/individual mentality and mind, “shaping” the consciousness of an individual according to the assumptions of a total institution in order to completely subject it (Goffman, 2000). Evidently, classical definition of totalitarianism and proposed structure of such a system hardly could be used for analysis of the political order established in Belarus after 2020. Moreover, the process of totalitarian transformation is still going on. Crucial impact on these changes, as institutional so individuals is made by the war had been unleashed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and involvement of the Republic in Belarus in this aggression on the Russian side. Participation in the conflict demands from Lukashenka’s regime additional political and ideological control as also extending the space of repressions. Speaking about the Belarusian political regime, the term “(neo)totalitarianism” is used to denote a form of supreme political mobilisation of state institutions and social groups, extending ideological purification and forced loyalty of the majority of the population. The aim of this mobilisation is to strengthen the current government by eliminating internal threats (centres of resistance) using legal (from the authorities’ point of view) and illegal tools. The mobilisation model incorporates the implementation of long-term state policy: • • • •

in the ideological sphere; in the control of the information space; in the form of dismantling alternative political and ideological institutions; in the maximum restriction of civil rights.

In its essence, this policy consists of eliminating all elements of civic activity that are not conducive to the legitimacy and stability of the political system. Therefore, such a process can be characterised as a deliberate simplification of political reality: not only political, but also intellectual and spiritual. “The regime will not be able to manage a diverse community. Journalists, analysts, publicists, writers will always generate a protest of thought, spirit, will (Usov, 2021). The fewer different disordered activities and political and social initiatives, the easier it is to control society and impose a single model of political behaviour on it. Such an extreme level of mobilisation can therefore be compared to the internal militarisation of the state and society. Power, thus, attempts to organise the life of society under conditions analogous to those of the highest level of external military threat. Transforming the neo-authoritarian regime to neo-totalitarian in Belarus related to modification of the role and functioning of the political leadership, political and social (educational system) institute, judicial and electoral system. Full reorganisation of the political regime was completed and formalised with introduction of the new constitution. It was accepted on the referendum of February 27, 2022.


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The specifics of the functioning of the neo-totalitarian system are based on full-scale political terror, the purpose of which is the destruction of the ideological, cultural, informational and organisational autonomy of society for the sake of retaining power, as a result of the loss of social support for effective leadership. It should be noted right away that falsifications and repressions have always been the key tools of Lukashenka’s political management, just like any other authoritarian regime. But as a result of the demobilisation of Lukashenka’s electorate, mass visualisation of support for an alternative, partial dysfunction of the administrative apparatus, open terror has become a basic tool for retaining power.

3 The Enhanced Political Leadership Political leadership is one of the key elements of any non-democratic rule, especially of totalitarian type. Alexander Lukashenka was a “father” of authoritarianism in Belarus, and his political behavior and activity is still a condition of regime existence. Lukashenka’s supporters and opponents had emphasised his specific feature of the character even pointed out some psychological disorders (Volchek, 2020), which allowed him to get and stay in power for a long time. “Lukashenka had all the characteristic features of a fanatic of power. He had no friends, a normal family, there is only a goal—power, for which he was ready for anything. According to him, politics is a struggle of will and character (Karbalevich, 1996).” No doubt that Lukashenka’s personal stance towards serious challenges for his rule and his will to power during political crises in 2020–2021 played decisive role in preserving regime form collapse. It is difficult not to agree with the statement of pro-government analyst Denis Meliantsov: “the personal qualities of Lukashenka himself did not allow us to avoid the “Yanukovych”1 version of events. This will to power and willingness to defend to the last his ideals and achievements (whatever they may be seen) largely motivated the security forces as well (Mieliantsov, 2020).” It is necessary to mention that one of the reasons for the political crises in 2020 was the blurring of Lukashenka’s leadership. His image of a people leader (“father”bac’ka) evaluated into a smug, pompous “sultan”, living in comfort and surrounded by young and beautiful ladies. Many of them became Lukashenka’s favorites and were promoted within the political system during several years (Usov, 2019). Serious inflation and failure of political leadership became obvious in the COVID pandemic period. “Mistakes in the perception of the COVID-19 threat and in the response of the authorities became the main trigger of public discontent and created the ground for the successful activity of the figures of the “new opposition” (V. Babariko, V. Tsepkalo, S. Tikhanovsky) at the start of the presidential election campaign, which led to a full-fledged political crisis (Tsarik, 2020).


Meaning Yanukovich ran away from Ukraine during the political crises in 2014. This brought down the falling of his regime.

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus


So, during political crises Lukashenka had to restore and renew his political image and leadership even though extraordinary, theatrical action like running with Kalashnikov gun Lukashenkas avtomatom v rukie ugrozhal razobrat’sia s uchatnikami vsio yeshcho mirnych protestov, (Lukashenko s avtomatom, 2020), regular visiting hospitals with COVID-19 patients without sanitary means of protection (Zhivoy-Ya, 2019), or by organising 8th hour so-called Big talk with President in 2021 Vstriecha s zhurnalistami, predstavitielami obshchestvennosti, (Vstriecha, 2022). All these activities had to demonstrate superpower and enhanced leadership. Enhanced leadership is a necessity of the quick changes of the image and character of the political activity of the autocratic leader from ritual (stagnant) into extreme one. It should lead to rebirth of ruler’s charisma for consolidation of his surroundings, force structures and bureaucratic apparatus to restore political control, basic social support and keeping power by manifestation of the leader’s extraordinary qualities. The process of image reconstruction implies a return to an ascetic, caring way of the ruler’s acting and behavior. But, even after that part of Belarusian society still had an irrational attitude to Lukashenka and official ideology, propaganda provided absolute dominance of Lukashenka’s image in Belarus and reconstruction of his positive portrait, as also his extraordinary role in saving the country and stability. Nevertheless enhanced leadership needs institutional and structural support, as also enforced political institutions demand permanent demonstration of the strong leadership and social loyalty to it.

4 Political Terror One of the fundamental characteristics of (neo)totalitarian regimes is the use of systemic and massive political terror, which involves the physical destruction of social and ethnic classes and strata (large-scale operations) and the intimidation of all citizens, “even own supporters” (Arendt, 2008). Undoubtedly, any non-democratic regime uses violence and repression against its political opponents and some of its citizens. Lukashenka’s regime also resorted to repression during political and social crises; however, these were not systemic, massive or long-lasting. Nevertheless, in 2020–2022, the policy of Lukashenka’s regime was practically entirely based on the implementation of repressive practices against citizens. Moreover, there is every indication that the authorities do not intend to abandon their policy of terror in the future. The activity of the Belarusian authorities can be divided into two stages. The first is the period from August 2020 to January 2021, when the policy of terror was situational and used to suppress protests and open opposition to the authorities. According to various estimates, between 37,000 and 40,000, citizens were detained on remand, beaten and tortured during this time (Tsygankov, 2020). Such policy could be defined as emergency terror which is the aim to suppress resistance and stabilised situation by protecting the political space of the power: administrative buildings, central streets and squares in big cities.


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The second stage—from the beginning of 2021 to 2022—was based on the implementation of a systematic and long-term policy of state terror, used to partially or entirely “remove” social groups opposing the authorities and introduce an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and hysteria among the rest of the population. The term “remove” is understood as such repressive activity of state organs that forces citizens (at risk of persecution) to leave the country. It should be noted that Lukashenka’s regime could not pursue a policy of physical elimination of a large group of citizens. Still, for the sake of the stability of the system, it was necessary to remove the most active participants of the protests and opponents of the authorities. Forced displacement was just such an instrument. According to various sources, around 30,000 people have left Belarus during this period for political reasons, including over 23,000 people who have emigrated to Poland for this reason alone since August 2020 (Za dzien’, 2022). In general, during 2020–2021 Belarus had left around 110 thousand people. Countries of their destination: Ukraine (before 02.2022), Poland, Lithuania, Latvia (Skolko, 2021). Considering the scale of repression, the author estimates that state terror in the next few years (in one form or another) will affect between 400,000 and 1 million of the country’s citizens (i.e. more than 15% of the state’s population) (Usov, 2021). Russian aggression against Ukraine, and as a result severe sanctions against Putin’s and Lukashenka’s regimes and international isolations of Belarus and Russia, created additional conditions for enforcing repressions against society. Lukashenka’s regime uses various methods and practices of psychological intimidation of society, including the systematic identification and subsequent punishment of all people associated with the opposition. At the end of 2021, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus announced the creation of a digital database of protest participants and subscribers of opposition Telegram channels. Up to around 200,000 citizens could have been included in this database (MVD, 2022).

4.1 Forms and Methods of Terror (Mental and Physical Violence) in Belarus Applied in 2020–2022 State terror involves the use of legal and extra-legal violence (in retaliation) against opponents. It is a systemic and institutional process manifested in attacks on activists, beatings and killings during raids (e.g. Raman Bandarenka in 2020, Andrei Zeltser in 2021). The terror system consists of the following elements: • Arrests and long-term prison sentences (imposed in show trials) against active participants in the 2020 election campaign and related to post-election events in Belarus (sentences: for Viktar Babaryka—14 years, Sergei Tikhanovsky— 18 years, Maria Kalesnikava—11 years, Maxim Znak—10 years). Bloggers and other political activists also received long-term sentences. According to the

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus

• •

• • • • • •


Human Rights Center “Viasna”, on 3rd of the April, there were 1108 political prisoners in Belarus at the beginning of 2022 (Po sostoyaniu, 2022). Regular detentions, the imposition of financial penalties, short-term arrests of ordinary citizens for taking part in protest actions or expressing their opinions about the authorities or security officials. Dismissals of workers disloyal to the regime. For example, 147 lecturers were dismissed from Belarus State University in 2020 (Repressii, 2022). There were also purges in the bureaucratic and power apparatus (personal data from the support lists for opposition candidates from 2020 were used). Deliberate destruction of private property (arson, breaking of windows, burglary of dwellings, etc.). Liquidation of the businesses of those people who took part in the protests or actively supported the protesters. “Preventive” interviews in workplaces and higher education institutions with people disloyal to the regime. Pressure on family members, including children (especially in schools). The deprivation and demotion of military ranks and awards as well as pensions of former collaborators of the structures of power who have demonstrated disloyalty (Lukashenkao, 2022). The use of psychological and informational tools influences society: the dehumanisation of opponents, the use of comparisons to Nazis, criminals, traitors, etc. These narratives had enforced after Russian invasion on Ukraine.

To perpetuate the atmosphere of fear and limit the exodus of workers, the authorities introduced obstacles for those planning to leave the country. The situation became even worse when, following the forced landing of a “Ryanair” plane and the arrest of Raman Pratasevich Zaderzhan byvshiy glavred protestnogo kanala Nexta Roman Protasevich, (Zaderzhan, 2021), all flights from Belarus to Europe and from Europe to Belarus were suspended. The only way to escape from persecution was to illegally cross the border into Poland, Lithuania, or Ukraine. It should be noted that regular physical and psychological persuading of people by the regime pushed some of them to committing suicide (V Pinskie, 2022). There is no doubt that the authorities will use new methods of repression and pressure on society to strengthen the feeling of fear and insecurity in society (and thus build greater loyalty to the regime). At the same time, there are changes in the law. They were introduced in the criminal and administrative codes and under the Act on Counteracting Extremism. According to new amendments, any public, ideological and political activity of citizens which undermined the stability of the state was treated as extremism. Simultaneously punishment for such activity became more severe. Thus, the law becomes more repressive by introducing new restrictions and penalties into its provisions. Political scientists define this process which was typical for totalitarian regimes as the subordination of the legal order. It consists of justifying political repression or granting legal legitimacy to certain forms of activity on the authorities, used against


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representatives of the opposition movement or specific social groups (Schapiro, 1987, p. 13). In such conditions, any formal judicial and law procedures in Belarus related to political cases are totally absent. Surely, that judicial system in Belarus had been completely politicised and morally corrupted, but after 2020, its repressive function became absolutely unlimited, politically justified. “Although when an almost brazen intervention is carried out, as I call it (A. Lukashenka), from the outside, it is heated from the inside and led from the outside. You know, sometimes there is no place for laws. It is necessary to take tough measures to stop any rubbish that claims to be” (Lukashenko, 2020). So, “political process” became an usual practice. In its own turn, courts and judges in Belarus demonstratively neglected all elementary rules and procedures for political goals sake, being regime instruments for repression. Another example of the setting of totalitarian practices in law interpretation and its execution is destruction of the institute of independent attorney practice. During 2020–2021 Belarusian ministry of the Justice terminated dozens law licenses of attorneys who had protected protestors (Minyust, 2021). The repressive initiatives implemented by the authorities in recent months include the introduction of the principle of the inevitability of punishment (an initiative of the Security Council). The solution is to allow political criminals abroad to be sentenced in absentia and to serve out their sentence if they return to Belarus. An interesting example is also the initiative of the heads of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) to deprive of citizenship Belarusians who left the country for political reasons and “work for Western countries” (GUBOPiK MVD, 2022).

4.2 Infrastructure of Terror Terror in the Belarusian (neo)totalitarian state is not occasional. It is a permanent mode of state functioning in which all state institutions (from schools to municipal services) are transformed into instruments of punishment and surveillance. In other words, the state mobilises efforts against the ideological enemy and determines the extent of internal political control in the long term. Special structures that apply physical violence are essential to the terror infrastructure. Political affairs were dealt with exclusively by the Committee of the State Security until 2020. However, during the post-election crisis, the GUBOPiK2 turned into political police conducting a campaign of intimidation and repression. Additionally, officers are also completely absolved of any responsibility and restrictions on the use of violence (including murder). Thus, the entire system that is supposed


GUBOPiK—The Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption. It was the criminal police, which was turned into a key structure for realizing political repression in Belarus after the events of 2020.

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to ensure legal order and security in the country is today, in fact, a foundation for political terror (this also applies to the role of the military). Apart from the institutions involved in the organisation and implementation of repression, the state also supports the activities of informal groups of volunteer followers of Lukashenka (the so-called YaBaciek).3 Further, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM), a pro-government youth organisation, formed the Youth Squads of Law Enforcement to assist the militia and other structures. It was an attempt by the regime to create something like a youth combat organisation for fighting any oppositional manifestation. According to official data, they have more than 15,000 members (BRSM, 2022). It is worth noting that a new practice has appeared in Belarusian society, namely denunciation. The fact that this phenomenon has appeared indicates a change in the consciousness and worldview of some citizens. This problem is very characteristic of totalitarian states, in which some citizens feel a duty to fight the enemies of the people. In October 2021, the group “Cyber-Partisans”4 released information about 2800 cases of telephone contacts (the subject of which was political issues) of citizens with repressive organs (Cyber partisans, 2022). However, the number could be much higher.

5 Dismantling the Elements of Façade Democracy and Destroying the Alternative Information Space The dismantling process involves closing down (by banning) all political and nongovernmental organisations, media, social networks that can damage the order and stability of the system. The fact that representatives of opposition organisations had no opportunity to get into either central or even local representative bodies is irrelevant. The regime was only interested in their participation in the elections. Thus, there was a certain space for the democratic community to operate. At the same time, the alternative information and communication space was strengthening significantly. On the one hand, Lukashenka’s regime had control over traditional mass media (television, radio), and actively used them for the propaganda influence. On the other, the technological and digital revolution intensified the influence of online media and social networks (channels), YouTube channels and bloggers on society. This change in the information space in Belarus contributed significantly to the revolution during the elections and the political crisis in 2020. For example, one of the key oppositional telegram channels Nexta-Live during the electoral campaign


Ba´cka (Father) the popular nickname of the Lukashenka. The calling name “YaBa´cka” had appeared after election 2020 as the demonstration of the grassroots’ political support for Lukashenka. 4 “Cyber-Partisans” the unanimous group of the Belarusian hackers who had cracked down and published information of the different state structures including the Ministry of the Domestic Affairs.


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had 2 mln., subscribers (Yuzbiekova, 2022). Internet tabloid www.tut.by during the last days before the closure, the site was visited by 3.3 million unique users per day (Isacheko & Kozenko, 2021). This channel had become not only the source of alternative information, but also the mechanism for protest coordination. Moreover, only 29% of Belarusian had trust for official mass media (Perelomit’ oppozicionnye, 2020). Rather extended informational, social and political autonomy, which had functioned in neo-authoritarian system and even coexisted with it, became its main challenged during 2020. It is evident for the Belarusian authorities that without wide total political and information control, the system’s stability and ideological coherence cannot be maintained (especially in conditions of loss of trust and legitimacy of Lukashenka’s rule). Therefore, from 2020 onwards, the offices of officially registered opposition parties and NGOs in Belarus were systematically destroyed. At the same time, the authorities have started procedures to prohibit them, which means banning even informal membership of such organisations on pain of prison sentences. Organisations that conducted cultural and educational activities of a national character were also closed: the Belarusian Language Society and the Union of Belarusian Writers. In March 2022, the non-government ecological organisation “Protection of birds of the Fatherland” had been banned by the Supreme Court. “The organization was accused of carrying out extremist activities aimed at destabilizing the socio-political situation in the country under the guise of volunteering to save birds on the territory of the Republic of Belarus” (V Belarusi likvidirovali, 2022). In addition, the authorities also liquidated organisations that were only partially in opposition and had never challenged authority. The main idea of such a political strategy is to get rid of all political, social, cultural, economic and informational institutions which cannot be used for the state and regime stability and survival. Even if this will negatively influence the general development of the society, it is clear that the interest of society and the state is fully subordinated to the regime, and such a subordination should be total. The fact that the regime was able to respond quite quickly and radically to social and institutional challenges testifies, on the one hand, to its high internal mobilisation potential and, on the other, to the loyalty and obedience of the ruling class to Lukashenka. When assessing the state’s actions towards civil society, it is worth noting that religious centres (primarily the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church) were also subject to pressure in 2020–2021. The church was a powerful means of legitimising the political regime, an additional element of the state ideology. At the same time, however, it was also a tool of “soft power” in the hands of Moscow—especially after the appointment of Bishop Pavel as Metropolitan of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. His subtle criticism of the activities of the authorities after the 2020 presidential elections and calls for an end to violence against society directly hit Lukashenka and his regime. The reaction of the Catholic Church (which has so far tried to stay outside politics) was even more drastic. Undoubtedly, the support given to the protesters by the Orthodox Church and the Church could accelerate the erosion of the regime. Accordingly, the authorities’ retaliation was swift: on 25 August 2020, Metropolitan Pavel was dismissed and replaced by Metropolitan Benjamin. The latter represented

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an attitude of total loyalty of the Orthodox Church to the state and Lukashenka. There were similar repercussions for the Catholic Church as well. The head of the Belarusian Catholic Church, Archbishop Tadeusz Kandrusiewicz, was forced to resign. In turn, the new archbishop, Jozef Stanievski, has demonstrated his loyalty to the authorities. The authorities simultaneously aim to create an information vacuum by destroying civic structures. As a result, many independent Websites or radio stations ceased to exist, e.g. www.tut.by, www.naviny.by, www.belapan.by, www.belaruspartisan.by, www.ky-ky.by, radio Svaboda, Radio Europe, Belsat TV. Independent Websites were blocked and are inaccessible in Belarus. Some employees of Internet portals were arrested and convicted—as of the end of 2021, there were 19 journalists in Belarusian prisons (Bielarus zaniala, 2021). Most people who worked and were active in the infosphere were forced to emigrate. Moreover, some media were described by the Belarusian authorities as extremist. Popular channels such as NEXTA were also classified as extremist. The main purpose of such practice is to discourage (under threat of repression) citizens from using (watching, reading) such sources of information. On 12 October 2021, the Regulation of the Council of Ministers on “measures for countering extremism and rehabilitation of nazism, regulating the implementation of the law on countering extremism” entered into force. Therefore, GUBOPiK started work on recognising unregistered groups of citizens as conducting extremist activities, including in instant messaging and social networks. This means that subscribers of “extremist” Internet channels and chat users will be prosecuted under Article 361–1 of the Criminal Code (an act punishable by up to seven years in prison) as members of an extremist formation. GUBOPiK, therefore, warns that subscribing to “extremist” channels and using chat rooms carries criminal liability (GUBOPiK, 2022). In early October 2021 alone, nearly 200 people were arrested for commenting on social media about two deaths: a KGB officer and programmer Andrei Zeltser. Both were killed in a shootout during a search of Zeltser’s apartment (2 milliona ekstremistov? 2021). About 300 chats were deemed extremist, about 100 chats were terminated, and 17 active groups on various YouTube channels were blocked (Volfovich, 2021). All these tendencies, which could be defined as institutional purge, should influence the organisation electoral process in future. Elections are still only the single mechanism of legitimacy for the system in Belarus. But, events of 2020 proved that even a partly democratic election could be a problem for the authoritarian regime, if there are no instruments for the total control of society and political space. Elections, presidential elections as in particular, had been used not only legitimating the regime, but also emphasising absolute Lukashenka’s dominance over political opponents and their marginalisation. That is why the opposition had been allowed to participate in the electoral process as an element of democratic façade. Participation itself also legitimised electoral procedures creating the illusion of its fairness. In a situation, when the political dominance of the state is total, there is not even formal space for political alternatives, and elections just became an instrument for expression of loyalty and obedience. Lukashenka cannot refuse elections and electoral campaigns, but he tried to make them absolutely harmless for the system, through excluding any oppositional presence, also on observation level, in


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the process. In some way, the testing of the new approach took place during the Constitutional referendum held 27th of February. In order to make control effective, the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Belarus classified all personal data of the members of the local electoral commissions (V Bielarusi, 2022). On the one hand, it demonstrated that authority was not sure in people’s loyalties, but on other hand, it showed that the electoral process could be constructed according to the interest of the regime neglecting any formal demands. Other words, Lukashenka’s regime could not cancel elections, but he tries to cancel people’s will by new restrictions and control. Anyway, the referendum was successfully used for re-legitimating Lukashenka’s, restructuring the political system for executing new tasks of control and manipulation and neutralising any possible risks. As a result, a new project of the constitution which formalised a new political order, “received” 82% (CIK Belarusi, 2022) of the support. In 2020, authorities declared that 80% of citizens had voted for Lukashenka (Lukashenko nabral, 2022) during the presidential election, which became a trigger for protest and the political crises. Such a result after the referendum had to demonstrate that the crisis was resolved, the control restored and the opposition destroyed. Of course, totalitarianism is also based on wide irrational support for the system and the ruler in conditions when alternatives do not exist at all. In the Belarus case, we deal with the process of liquidation of alternative and leader’s charisma reconstruction that is realised by institutionalised neo-totalitarian methods.

6 Re-Ideologisation and Ideological Purification in the Belarus Along with the attempt to neutralise the alternative information and communication space, the authorities present their vision of political, historical processes and phenomena to the public. However, given that the official political discourse (promoted in the media and driven by ideology) does not have public trust, the authorities try, using control, pressure and aggressive propaganda, to artificially impose specific models of behaviour and thinking. It is worth mentioning that there were two ideological paradigm and concept in Belarusian political and ideological space. One is official, anti-national, closely related to the soviet and even Russian historical and political tradition; another was pure Belarusian national concept, based on tradition of the Great Duchess of Lithuania, resistance to Russia and re-establishment of the full national state independence. The official paradigm had been arranged into the so-called ideology of the Belarusian State and was introduced by all state means (ideological vertical and ideological personnel) inside all state institutions including schools and universities. In spite of anti-national state policy, which included deliberated marginalisation Belarusian national culture, language, historical tradition and symbols by Lukashenka’s, the

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national concept and thought had developed and extended inside public space. It was one of the reasons why the national white–red–white flag and “Pogonia” emblem became symbols of the protest in 2020. Due to political crises, the national idea was recognised as an ideological threat for the regime. So, the consolidation of the system assumed dominance of the one political idea and way of thinking. As mentioned above, the authorities are trying to destroy alternatives at the level of information, ideas and organisation. Along with the repressions against journalists and politicians, the persecution also affected the intellectual elite of Belarusian society. The arrest in 2021 of the Belarusian philosopher and political scientist Uladzimir Matskevich (Filosof , 2021) and the expert and analyst Valeria Kostyugova (V Bielarusi, 2021) has a symbolic meaning as ideological purge. Moreover, many Belarusian intellectuals, writers, poets and artists have emigrated. Therefore, Lukashenka’s regime is striving to introduce not only a monopoly of information but also a monopoly of thought. At the same time, it tries to create a new ideological system. However, it is worth noting that the regime has already been attempting to artificially create such an ideological system since 2001, based primarily on elements of Soviet political mythology. It aimed to shape a certain model of political behaviour and create a desired, approving attitude towards Lukashenka’s rule. Ideology and the so-called ideological department were supposed to perform exclusively utilitarian functions: filter opinions, educate patriotically, organise and control the electoral process. However, the official ideological concept could not form universal views. It instead served the political system locally: “The ideology of the Belarusian state, unlike global ideologies, including liberalism, does not pretend to develop a general understanding and explanation of the world for all humankind or a universal programme of activity, the only principles of society’s existence. Our ideology—an ideology of the local level—is oriented towards ensuring the development of Belarus and the welfare of its people” (Parechina, 2006). At the same time, there was a relatively strong and more ideologically and historically coherent concept based on national traditions. However, the 2020 protests demonstrated the total failure of the ideological policy of Lukashenka’s regime, its artificiality and lack of social acceptance. Therefore, the only way to fight a strong wave of national revivalist ideology is to completely ban historical symbols and references to national history and try to discredit them in general through propaganda and “historical science”. At this point, it is worth noting that the humanities in closed (neo)totalitarian societies also become a tool of propaganda and ideologisation. In Belarus, history and the social sciences have had a political function for many years, and the process of their politicisation is bound to intensify in the future. As part of the implementation of historical and ideological policy, in 2020, the authorities initiated an attack on national symbols in an attempt to limit their use in public space. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has proposed a law “on the establishment of lists of organisations and other Nazi structures, symbols and paraphernalia”. This document contains a list of Nazi (collaborationist) symbols and emblems, in particular the white–red–white flag. According to law enforcement agencies, the


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slogan “˙zywie Biełaru´s” (Long live Belarus) is also collaborative (MVD Belarusi, 2021). In order to strengthen the ideological pressure and the transformation of consciousness and historical memory in the years 2021–2022, the law “On the genocide of the Belarusian nation during the Great Patriotic War and the post-war period until 1951” was prepared and adopted (Podpisan, 2022). It was made public on the official Website of the leader and, as official sources point out, “the implementation of the law will contribute to blocking the distortions of the effects of the Great Patriotic War, and will also contribute to the cohesion of Belarusian society”. Any public denial of the genocide of Belarusians “during the Great Patriotic War or in the post-war period”— including on the Internet—will be punished by arrest, restriction of freedom for up to five years or imprisonment for the same period. What is the conclusion? It is the following: 1. The domination of the official historical narrative and its narrowing to the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945; 2. A return to the Soviet (totalitarian) understanding of history and specific events in the Belarus and in the World. 3. Historical revisionism; 4. Complete abandonment of national historical threads; 5. Holding Western countries and Belarusian (Polish, Lithuanian) nationalists and collaborators responsible for “genocide”; 6. Consolidation of the concept of incorrect, hostile history (which is characteristic of totalitarian regimes). Concerning the topic of what the historical policy should look like, Lukashenka stated during one of the meetings: “I propose to name in history textbooks, castle and museum exhibitions, for example, the period of the Republic the occupation of Belarusian lands by Poles. Ethnocide of Belarusians” (Lukashenko Nezval, 2022). It is also worth noting that in the process of re-ideologisation, the informational isolation of Belarusian society, its subordination to certain political rituals imposed by the regime and the stifling of readiness to oppose even at the ideological level are important. The ideological changes in Belarus were also influenced by the Russian aggression in the Ukraine. Belarusian propaganda and mass media tried to introduce the only correct visions of events in the Ukraine. This vision reflected the Russian official version after Russia realised the operation for denazification of Ukraine (Moshchniy, 2022). Any attempt to demonstrate an opposite position (colors of the state flag of the Ukraine) or opinion faced with immediate repressions. Undoubtedly, it is difficult to build a unified model of thinking and attitude towards power today. At this stage, therefore, the authorities’ priority is to encode fear in people’s consciousness, consolidate the awareness of the supremacy of the state over society and activate mechanisms of self-censorship and distrust that would deter citizens from any political activity.

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7 Consolidation of the Power and Bureaucratic Apparatus The effectiveness and, even more so, the durability of any non-democratic system— especially a (neo)totalitarian one—depend on the degree of internal consolidation and loyalty of the ruling group and the entire administrative division. Lukashenka quite quickly started restructuring the higher and middle power apparatus. In the first stage, to increase control, he reinforced the civilian bureaucracy with officers of the power bloc. For example, the inspector and special representative in the Brest Oblast became the former head of the KGB, General Valery Vakulchik; in the Grodno Oblast, General Yuri Karayev (former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs); in the Minsk Oblast, Militia General Alexander Barsukov. The militarisation of civil and state structures continues to this day. The appointment of Oleg Chernyshev— former deputy head of the KGB and commander of the special unit “Alpha”—as deputy chairman of the presidium of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences had a very symbolic meaning. In the next stage, there was a rotation in the entire administrative and management division associated with purges in structures, state institutions (schools, universities, hospitals), and enterprises. It was to strengthen and mobilise the effectiveness of the bureaucratic apparatus during the process of implementing further repressions in these structures. The personal responsibility of the employer for the political orientation of the employee hired for work has been introduced. Today, the candidates must provide a special characterisation from a previous workplace or other body (school, university) in which the following options must be specified: • their relationship with public institutions and the constitutional system; • their actions against administrative order and public safety, the display of anti-state behaviour in the workplace (Pravitelstvo, 2021). At the same time, the Labour Code was changed entirely, which ultimately restricted workers’ rights (including the right to strike). The principle of responsibility for strike incitement and providing information about the situation in enterprises has also been introduced. All these initiatives aim to strengthen political control within large collectives of workers, neutralise potential opportunities for collaboration and reduce the risk of possible sabotage. An essential stage in the consolidation of power was the strengthening of Lukashenka’s position and the separation of political responsibility by extending the functions of the Security Council. The collective form of governance (even if it only operates in a formal mode) was also intended to increase the level of legitimacy for the decisions taken. At the very beginning, this structure did not possess any political and constitutional authority, but during the events 2020–2021, it had become the collective center for taking decisions and controlling key decisions and turned into a central political body executing the function of the “collective president” in the situation of emergency (Podpisan, 2021). It was supposed to create inside stability for the system and for Lukashenka personally. After the referendum 2022, the Security Council was formally constitutionalised.


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There was also another non-constitutional body in Belarus, the All-Belarusian People Congress, which had been used by Lukashenka for demonstrating mass public support for his policy since 1996. Due to the electoral crises, this Congress had become an element of no-electoral institutional support for the regime, the element “of real direct democracy” (Ekspierty, 2021). With constitutional changes the Congress was defined as supreme representative body, of the people’s power of the Republic of Belarus, which determines the strategic directions of the development of society and the state, ensuring the inviolability of the constitutional system, the continuity of generations and civil harmony” (Konstituciya, 2022). One of the Congress competences is “to consider the issue of the legitimacy of the elections” (Konstituciya, 2022). Members of the Congress are the representatives of the central and local authorities, members of the parliament and local deputies councils and representatives of the civil society. In general, the Congress is the structures party of the power without ideology, but with the idea to support existing system. Constitutional changes that took place in 2020 had to consolidate all political institutes after the crises 2020–2021, to demonstrate system effectiveness and the end of the crisis on the one hand and introduced limits in democratic procedures like national elections in future.

8 Conclusions Taking into the consideration political tendencies in Belarus, it could be suggested that the (neo)totalitarian transformation process in Belarus has not yet been completed. The country is facing institutional reconstruction aimed at strengthening Lukashenka’s position. It will be implemented through constitutional amendments. The Lukashenka’s regime will not stop using repression and terror as its primary tools for maintaining the existing political system. In parallel, the ruling class will seek additional means of legitimacy. In April 2022, Belarusian parliament had introduced new amendment related to terrorist activity prevention. The draft law introduced the possibility of applying a death penalty punishment for attempted acts of terrorism. The policy of terror, regular purges in all state institutions and emigration will lead to intellectual devastation and eventually to the social and economic degradation of the system. In its own turn, involvement of the Republic of Belarus into the Russian aggression with Ukraine provided further consolidation of the neo-totalitarian regime in Belarus. It is also related to the same processes that have taken part in Russia. As a result, we deal with global neo-totalitarian space. The war had provoked new steps, limits for freedom, increasing censorships and limits for information inside Belarus. Based on this, it can be argued that political changes in Belarus are hardly possible without political transformation inside the Russian Federation.

From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus


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Pavel Usov, Ph.D., Belarusian political analyst, an assistant professor in the Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw. The main subjects of his research are: hybrid wars as the instrument of contemporary geopolitics, Russia and its geostrategic projects, the nature of the authoritarian regimes in post-Soviet space and their evolution (Belarus in particular).

Illiberal Turn in Hungary Andrea Schmidt

Abstract Political transformation reached the entire post-socialist bloc. The year of 1989, the ‘annus mirabilis’ helped to step onto the path of change. Hungary, such as the formal socialist bloc states quickly adopted Western values. Institutional frames, new political power verified and at the beginning of the twenty-first century had the chance to return its Western roots to radically changed and much more favourable conditions than it ever had before. However, since the early 2000s, Hungary had to face a chain of crises. The aim of the chapter is to analyse the nature of the illiberal turn, its embeddedness in historical roots, its effect on political culture and to find the answer to why this system enjoys wide support from the Hungarian society, how it is verified within the reelection of the governing coalition. We would also like to focus on the problem of (mal)functioning of democratic institutions, and the tension between Hungary and the EU, the Hungarian answers to the multiply crises, and to investigate whether the Hungarian illiberal turn is unique or can be recognised in a wider scope. Keywords Transformation · Crisis · Illiberal democracy · Disputes with the EU · Friendship with Russia In the past two years, two important factors determined the global world and affected Hungary; the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out in the early spring of 2020 and the war in Ukraine that began with the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022. These two events rewrote previously existing relationships, and global order, and intensified the collaboration among NATO and EU member states, while Hungary had to face the fragility of its built-up model related to the balance between the East and the West. Defying the decisions of the neighbouring countries bordering Ukraine and even ignoring the common position of the European Union, Hungary seems to be isolated on the continent by the spring of 2022. Its former allies look on in bewilderment, while critical comments are regularly made by leading Western European powers. A. Schmidt (B) University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_4



A. Schmidt

In addition to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the upcoming elections on April 3, 2022 have also influenced the orientation of Hungarian politics. In April, the Fidesz–KDNP Party Alliance gained a landslide victory and nothing stopped the triumph of Viktor Orbán to become the longest incumbent prime minister in Hungary. The world’s leading politicians and media were stunned by the victory, and together with the disillusioned Hungarian electorate, they sought an explanation for Fidesz’s landslide victory. In the elections, the united opposition regularly accused the ruling coalition of being pro-Russian and the government regularly retorted that the opposition would go to war against Russia on the side of Ukraine. The latter opinion was shared by a very significant part of the Hungarian society, according to opinion polls conducted before the elections. To interpret this result, we need to be familiar with Hungarian political culture, voter behaviour, historical circumstances, and all the factors that led to this victory.

1 Transformation in Hungary Political transformation reached Hungary parallel with other Central and Eastern European countries at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. The core of the events, the year 1989 was called ‘annus mirabilis’ (Kornai, 2005) or ‘the autumn of nations’ (Czy˙zewski, 2017) because within one year almost the entire Central and Eastern European region stepped on the path of change. Transformation into a market economy and the establishment of democratic states and further social and cultural changes could take place within a new political framework. The year 1989 seemed to be affected by the conviction of the global triumph of world capitalism and the rule of law based on democratic elements (Tölgyessy, 2017). This optimistic approach was based on the dominance of the principles of Western civilisation both in economic policy and in the political systems determined by the competition of different parties. The contributing partners adopted Western patterns within a short period, institutions of the new political systems were established, and the new political power verified and consolidated its legitimacy through free elections (Schmidt, 2016). Many Eastern and Central Europeans wished to shake off the colonial dependency implicit in the very project of Westernisation. Imitation was widely understood to be the shortest pathway to freedom and prosperity (Appelbaum, 2019; Krastev & Holmes, 2018). Fifteen years later, the transformation came to an end, as most of the socialist bloc member states joined the European Union. All these changes took place peacefully and without a single shot being fired in Hungary. These changes have allayed the fears of sceptical analysts and Hungary has been regarded as one of the best examples of a smooth and rapid transformation (Berend, 1999; Bohle & Gerskovits, 2012; Kornai, 2005; Szelényi, 2004). Domestic political consolidation also seemed to have been resolved with the renewed victory of the governing coalition. The ‘speech from the grave’ scandal of September 2006, which was about the admission by the elected prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány

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of the real situation of the country, and of the campaign’s efforts to conceal the real economic situation from the population, turned the streets of Budapest into a battlefield three weeks before the municipal elections, with regular demonstrations disrupting everyday life. This political instability, accompanied by the financial crisis that erupted in 2008 and then deepened in 2009, undermined the government’s overall legitimacy. Gyurcsány resigned, and the new technocratic government was forced to focus on rapid crisis management. A year later, in 2010, the opposition parties came to power and for the second time since 1998, Viktor Orbán was elected prime minister. He and his party (Fidesz) have won three more elections since 2010. They used this advantage to implement the so-called National Cooperation System (NER).1 Today, the Hungarian political system seems far removed from the ideas that defined it in the early 1990s. The Hungarian government’s every move has been criticised and the Hungarian model has been the subject of many negative opinions. The opening of ‘illiberal democracy’ was followed by the dismantling of independent institutions. There is no doubt that since 2010 there has been another regime change in Hungary, but the date of birth of the new system is in doubt (Bozóki & Heged˝us, 2018; Juhász et al., 2015).

2 The History of the Fragile Hungarian Democracy Although Hungary served as the symbol of smooth and peaceful transformation, citizens had an only limited experience of democratic institutions in the past centuries. Being an integral part of the Habsburg Empire, the peaceful coexistence determined the functioning of the political institutions from the second part of the nineteenth century. The Act on Election from 1848, grounded the terms of new legislative power by giving roughly 7.5% of the population the elective right.2 Participating in elections in Hungary was thus a privileged position only for a selected group of people, in particular the nobility. After the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, Hungary faced double challenges. The Interwar period introduced a system that could be identified with the principles of competitive authoritarian regimes (Levitsky & Way, 2002). These types of regimes dominated most of the Central and Eastern European new independent states at that time with Czechoslovakia being the only exception.3 1

They have authorised more than mere adjustment or change: they have authorised us, through the strength of national cooperation, to establish a new political, economic, and social system built on new rules in every era of life. (Viktor Orbán’s programme from 2010) Office of the National Assembly Document Number: H/47 Received: May 22. 2 This 7.5% seems a bit weak, but according to the practice in the nineteenth century, the Hungarian Act on Election was quite liberal. 1848.5. Act on Election, http://mnl.gov.hu/a_het_dokumentuma/ kepviselovalasztas_1848ban.html. 3 That corresponds with Linz’s argumentation (Linz, 2000), in which he identifies authoritarian regimes according to the following elements: limited, not responsible political pluralism, without elaborate and guiding ideology, but with distinctive mentalities, without extensive nor intensive


A. Schmidt

In the first decade after the Treaty of Trianon which resulted in territorial and economic loss for Hungary, the government was focused on political consolidation. The Horthy regime lasted between 1920 and 1944. The system itself was called in various ways; it was called conservative, Christian-nationalist, authoritarian, or even fascist.4 It was verified by the acting prime minister who emphasised that Hungary was still not ready for mass democracy, as it could lead to anarchy, disintegration, and dictatorship (Turbucz, 2007). The Interwar years in Hungary thus were influenced by the idea of peaceful (or, from the late 1930s, even violent) territorial revision. Every single political decision was saturated by territorial claims. The desire to regain the lost territories and the hope of support for this finally brought Hungary to enter the Second World War on the side of Germany. A relatively short phase of democratisation in Hungary took place between 1945 and 1948, however, that freedom was limited and it was controlled by the Soviet Union (Góralczyk, 2002). This democratic experiment lasted only until 1948 and ended with the transformation into a totalitarian regime. Hungary rapidly followed the Stalinist directives and ideology that was interrupted firstly in 1953 with the first Imre Nagy cabinet established after Stalin’s death, and secondly, with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 revolution, in which Hungary gained some psychical victories.5 Soviet tanks destroyed the Hungarian democratic ambitions, but the Soviet establishment found a politician suitable for the Hungarian needs. János Kádár successfully embodied the myth of the Hungarian ‘forgotten man’ and founded a regime valid and justified for approximately three decades.

3 The Birth of the ‘Homo Kadaricus’ According to Huntington, the survival and legitimacy of authoritarian regimes depend heavily on their economic performance, that is their output. The legitimacy of democracies, by contrast, is based mainly on input: shared ideas about what the political system represents and relatively durable electoral procedures that assure the representation of citizens’ interests. Hybrid regimes aspire to achieve a balance between the output and input elements of legitimacy, but ‘the coexistence of democratic rules and autocratic methods aimed at keeping incumbents in power creates an inherent

political mobilisation except at some points in their development, a leader, or occasionally a small group exercises power within formally ill-defined limits but actually quite predictable ones. Linz, J. J.: Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, 2000. 4 Based on the events of 1918 and 1919, the dissolution of the historical Hungarian state with the threats towards the loss of the majority of its territories, and the two revolutions; in 1918 and in 1919, the entire political system could be characterised with destroying, it was a natural claim to establish a strong government. 5 Milovan Djilas, the Yugoslavian Communist politicians had a similar comment on the Hungarian events. ‘The wound which the Hungarian Revolution inflicted on communism can never be completely healed’. (Swain et al., 1993).

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


source of instability’ (Mazepus et al., 2016). Also, there are states that have undergone democratic erosion, where existing democratic institutions are undermined (e.g. through vote-rigging), horizontal accountability is damaged in favour of expanding executive power, and the rights of citizens and the opposition are restricted (Kneuer, 2017; Levitsky & Way, 2002; Mazepus et al., 2016). Moreover, rulers in hybrid regimes often adjust to external circumstances and adapt their legitimation patterns to various democratisation pressures, for example, popular demands or external events (Finkel & Brudny, 2012; Mazepus, 2016). The Kádár regime was an excellent example of the legitimacy of authoritarian regimes. Appointed by Soviet politicians as a proxy of the head of state and coming to power on the ruins of a defeated liberation struggle, Kádár, responsible for the execution of emblematic figures of the 1956 events, focused on keeping citizens away from any violent events. His power was based on the presence of the Soviet army and his ability to provide for the needs of his citizens (Berend, 1999; Romsics, 2001). To avoid conflict, he focused on compromise in domestic policy and consumption in economic policy, even if this policy led Hungary into a debt trap in the 1980s (Lengyel & Surányi, 2013; Oplatka, 2014; Schmidt, 2014; Vigvári, 2008; Romsics, 2001). Consumption, or at least the ability to consume, was an important element of the mentality of society. Economic and physical security is considered the most important value by citizens. The latter is also associated with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.6 Hungarian society belonged to the group of individualist societies, which means a high preference for a loosely knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. In such societies, offence causes guilt and a loss of self-esteem, the employer/employee relationship is a contract based on mutual advantage, hiring and promotion decisions are supposed to be based on merit only, and management is the management of individuals.7 The stability of these values was also determined by the fact that the Hungarian society had to face a sequence of regime changes. Since 1945, a special dualistic value characterised Hungarian society. Nationalisation of the lands interrupted the wealthy aristocrats’ and the Catholic Church’s opportunity to keep the financial basis of their survival. With the disappearance of these post-feudalist social groups, new views were transferred by the communist politicians returning from the Soviet Union. As they represented two different worlds, obviously both groups stared at each other with suspicion (Hankiss, 1988; Ungváry, 2014). The elimination of thousand-yearold evidence that wealth can be represented by the church and secular estates, or the appearance of the previously not tolerated communist values, the changes in the composition of the civil servants, and the communist influence in it, caused confusion.

6 7

http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSContents.jsp. https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country/hungary/.


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Table 1 The steps of the redistribution crisis in Hungary 1


Translocation of land assets to capital assets with the participation of the Jewish elite



Translocation of the assets based on the Holocaust



Nationalisation of the private assets



The first phase of privatisation, from national to multinational ownership


Since 2010

Redistribution of the assets; translocation from private to state-owned, from local to central, and from foreign to national ownership

Source Lengyel (2016), edited by the author

Suspension of the clubs and other civic organisation in the late 1940s also led to the isolation of society.8 Andrew C. Janos writes about the redistribution shock that characterised the Central and Eastern European societies. He explains the asymmetry between economic development, or economic performance and political participation arguing, that while in the Western European countries the extension of civil rights followed the economic development, in the Central and Eastern European region this happened oppositely. The economic inequalities served as an obstacle to the popularity of democratic values (Janos, 2003). Within the frame of 130 years, Hungarian society survived five waves of redistribution crises that also determined both the position of the social classes and the values they shared (Lengyel, 2016). As Table 1 shows, the translocation of assets and their redistribution resulted in the inclusion of new social groups with different values. In the past century, within less than one hundred years, Hungary also experienced nine different system changes and only the last one of them was peaceful, as the previous ones were the results of violent events.9 These cataclysms followed each other so rapidly that the Hungarian society was enforced to build up a special defensive mechanism that let them overcome smoothly the sequence of shocks they had to face. This strategy is embodied in adaptability and survivability. The Hungarian reaction did not stop at these abilities, but their behaviour was influenced by the deficit of the trust in the institutions bringing to the fore their interest. The following elements can be considered the survivors of these mechanisms: 1. Pending trust towards politicians and political institutions 2. Lack of self-confidence 8

In the 1930s and 1940s, there existed around 13,000–14,000 clubs in Hungary, while by 1950s as a result of the drastic order, less than 1000 NGOs remained. Even most of them were involved in the political activity. http://www.korall.org/hu/node/1718. 9 These are the following: (1) The Aster (or Chrysanthemum) Revolution in 1918, (2) The Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 spring, (3) The Horthy Regime in 1920, (4) The Szálasi coup d’état in 1944, (5) Democratic Transformation in 1945, (6) The Rákosi System in 1949, (7) The 1956 Revolution, (8) Kádár Regime, (9) The negotiated transformation in 1989. Csizmadia mentions nine types of regime changes (Csizmadia, 2018), while Tölgyessy counts eleven (Tölgyessy, 2017).

Illiberal Turn in Hungary Table 2 Changes in values from 1986 to 200712

63 Values in 1986

Values in Kadar regime (2007)

1 Financial security Safety of workplace, no unemployment 2 Freedom

Financial security

3 Safety


Source Figyel˝o, edited by the author

3. Relation to the external environment. The value preference of Hungarian society was examined several times. Regarding the outcomes, most experts agree that these data are still influenced by the troubles in value changes inherited from 1945 (Hankiss, 1988; Lengyel, 2016; Tóth, 2017; Ungváry, 2014).10 The results of these polls proved that Hungarians were the least able to identify their close environment beyond the family members, a so-called atomised society (Hankiss, 1988) that usually had the susceptibility to accept the way of social justice as a zero-sum game. The essence of this game means that the price of somebody’s success can be measured by the failure of the other. In other words, voters were sure that the price of their better condition is the worsening circumstances of the others. ‘Homo Kadaricus’ thus represents the abandoned man, who is less keen on criticism and trusts the state and the government, whose dreams are focused on small necessities, and leaves political participation to politicians. In 2017, a survey was conducted on the dreams of Hungarians. According to the research by Policy Solutions and FES, the most important personal aspiration of Hungarians is a healthy life, followed by a secure livelihood, a good salary, and a pension.11 Regarding value preference, security (or financial security) was treated as the most important value of the society as it is shown in Table 2. The present fear from unknown migrants or refugees who can threaten this security and take the jobs and goods that determined the communication of the government was beneficial. Focusing on well-being also resulted in a lack of interest in political behaviour. There was a silent agreement among politicians and the citizens that ‘We shall guarantee your well-being and you don’t have to deal with politics’. The government let the people earn money (after the early 1980s they even needed to work hard to keep the standards of living). Citizens tried to find their ways of well-being, and ‘Homo Kadaricus’ was added as an additional layer; it symbolised the quintessence of the Kádár regime: trust towards the promises. Or, in other words, ‘the basis of the governance even within the democratic circumstances remained the same; the centre knows what to do and the guarantee of the success of the reforms is based on the exclusion of interference to the central division’. The weakest trust towards the transformation was measured in Hungary in 1997 and 2009. In both years the distrust was of the Hungarian economic performance. The 10

Such surveys regarding value preferences were made in the 1980s, too, however, as Tóth remarked, the results were never published due to their harsh criticism towards the existing regime (Tóth, 2017). 11 https://www.policysolutions.hu/hu/hirek/458/mi-a-magyar-alom. 12 In 1986 there was a general poll, but the results were not published.


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effects of the Hungarian shock therapy (in Hungary it was called Bokros package after the recent Minister of Finance) on the living standards a year later, met dissatisfaction, while in 2009 the consequences of the economic crisis and the uncertainty of the future of the mortgage loans paid in foreign currency increased again the distrust towards the government.13 Presuming that the trust towards the regime is strongly connected with its citizens’ financial conditions, there is nothing to be surprised at the decrease in the support. Apart from the missing reforms, a general cleavage appeared within the Hungarian society. The Hungarian left-wing parties had to experience a massive decline in the general support, while society itself also underwent a dramatic neurosis (Lengyel, 2008). Right before the financial crisis, Hungarian democracy reached a turning point in 2006 that Lengyel calls ‘Annus Miserables’.14 The leftoriented society broke into small elements while disappointed and violent citizens took to the streets in Budapest in 2006 who felt cheated. Local elections that followed the parliamentary elections expressed the distrust of voters towards the government.

4 The Road to Illiberal Democracy In recent years, political systems have been named in different ways. In academic writings, the following definitions have appeared: ‘hybrid regime’, but also ‘semidemocracy’, ‘virtual democracy’, ‘electoral democracy’, ‘pseudo-democracy’, ‘illiberal democracy, ‘semi-authoritarianism’, ‘soft authoritarianism’, ‘electoral authoritarianism’ (Levitsky & Way, 2002). According to Fareed Zakaria’s definition, ‘democratically elected regimes, often re-elected or confirmed by popular vote , systematically ignore the constitutional limits of their power and deprive their citizens of fundamental rights and freedoms’ (Zakaria, 1997). In illiberal democracies, political power is increasingly centralised, while people’s liberties are simultaneously eroded. Depending on the degree of centralisation, the character of illiberal democracies can range from ‘quasi-liberal’ to ‘fully autocratic’. Accepting the explanation of Gyulai and Stein-Zalai (2016), the transformation in Central and Eastern Europe has been influenced by democratisation, but the disintegration of authoritarian regimes is not necessarily followed by the emergence of purely democratic regimes. Even authoritarian regimes have been able to widen the participation of their citizens. In other words, it can hardly be assumed that the path from authoritarian to democratic regimes is counterproductive. Although the Great Recession worsened the situation, 13

By 2009 roughly 90% of the mortgage loans were based on foreign currency. With the economic and financial crisis, more than 50,000 families became insolvent due to the increasing costs of monthly installments and the loss of job security. http://www.origo.hu/gazdasag/hirek/20110822hogyan-terjedt-el-a-devizahitelezes-es-ki-a-felelos-erte.html. The Hungarian government had to struggle with twin deficit and ask for financial assistance from the IMF. https://www.theguardian. com/business/2008/oct/29/hungary-economy-imf-eu-world-bank. 14 That is a distinction from 1989 that was called Annus Mirabilis. The scandalous speech, called ˝ Oszöd speech, held by Ferenc Gyurcsány confessing the lies the government had done to pretend governing provoked general dissatisfaction.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


the decline of democracy had already begun earlier, as the number of countries that were themselves recognised democracies had already declined before the economic crisis (Scheppele, 2019).15 The fact that not all countries that changed their regime had a long democratic tradition and institutional system further worsened the democratic establishment. There was simply nowhere to fall back. Krastev and Holmes (2018) refer to this process as an imitation. Gyulai and Stein-Zalai identify a so-called grey zone between democratic and authoritarian regimes, while Bozóki and Heged˝us use a ‘triple structure’ instead (Bozóki & Heged˝us, 2017). According to their argumentation, this grey zone, or middle zone is wide enough to identify certain models. The most important element of their analysis is the problem, whether these mixed types can create a different, intermediate system between democracy and dictatorship, or if they are the limited versions of these latter systems. The Hungarian example is proof that even consolidated democratic systems can be transformed into hybrid regimes, however, as the author remarks, the Hungarian case is a unique phenomenon demonstrating that such a system can exist within the democratic European Union. There is a further question related to the narrow path between ‘illiberal’ and ‘anti-democratic’ that focuses on the problem of whether this path still exists. Hybrid or mixed regimes, such as illiberal democracies, can be characterised by competitive authoritarianism (Levitsky & Way, 2002), where the following democratic elements are still present, but the system favours the governing party, or ‘the competition is real, but not fair’ (Bozóki & Heged˝us, 2017). According to Levitzky and Way, the following elements can be recognised; elections with limited freedom and transparency, limited civil rights, transparent media, defects in the separation of power, the oppositional groups facing more obstacles, and the ruling parties can hardly lose the elections. Illiberal democracies are dynamically changing hybrid systems (Bozóki & Hegedüs, 2017). In these mixed regimes, political competition is still affordable; however, in general, the political institutions are in favour of the ruling groups. Hungary thus can be characterised as the onset of autocratic, crypto-dictatorial trends, a slide towards semi dictatorship, or elected autocracy, or even operetta dictatorship, or hybrid regime, or, as the deconsolidation of democracy, democratic backsliding, populist democracy, or selective democracy (Bogaards, 2018). In 2010, Viktor Orbán came to power for the second time since 1998, and four years later he repeated his victory. In his speech to an audience of mostly ethnic Hungarians at the 25th Bálványos Summer Free University in Transylvania, Romania, Viktor Orbán declared that Hungary had abandoned liberal principles of social organisation and would adopt illiberal forms of governance, following the example of today’s ‘international stars’ such as China, Singapore, Turkey and Russia.16 He emphasised the Asian model, by which he means a high level of social discipline and a low level of public dissent (Biró-Nagy, 2017). As he noted in his speech, he envisages a 15

https://lawreview.uchicago.edu/publication/autocratic-legalism. https://2015-2019.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/the-prime-minister-s-speeches/prime-min ister-viktor-orban-s-speech-at-the-25th-balvanyos-summer-free-university-and-student-camp. 16


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work-based society in which job retention will be the key, implying that those who cannot or will not work will lose certain rights. In an authoritarian system, the constitution proclaims institutional checks and balances, but constitutional powers are completely unbalanced. The executive—in particular the head of the executive: the president, the prime minister, or the de facto head of government—not only enjoys supremacy of power but also legally unchecked power (Tóth, 2017). Buried in the general phenomenon of democratic decline are a series of cases where charismatic new leaders are elected by the democratic public and then use their electoral mandate to legislate to dismantle the constitutional systems they inherited. These leaders aim to consolidate their power and remain in office indefinitely, ultimately removing the democratic public’s ability to exercise their basic democratic rights, hold leaders accountable and peacefully remove their leaders (Scheppele, 2019). The new constitution has limited the possibilities for direct democracy, making it more difficult for citizens to bypass the Fidesz-controlled parliament. The new government also succeeded in destroying elements of consensus-based liberal democracy in the name of democracy (Bozóki, 2019). The opening of the ‘illiberal democracy’ was followed by the dismantling of independent institutions. There is no doubt that since 2010, Hungary has been undergoing another regime change. The only question is when this new system will be calculated (Bózóki & Heged˝us, 2018, Juhász et al., 2015). From the very beginning, Viktor Orbán’s attack on Hungarian democracy was specifically aimed at not attracting too much attention abroad. His tactic has been to push the boundaries, wait for the EU structures to respond, step back—and then push the boundaries again. This is how he managed to stay within the EU and continue to receive EU subsidies and benefits, even if he passed legislation that is far outside European norms (Biro-Nagy, 2017). Orbán not only borrowed from others but also left his tactics to others. Its components focused on the change of the functioning of several institutions, rewriting the constitution, which was a constable unit, but since 2011 nine modifications were implemented.17 The Fundamental Law of Hungary was a good example of the expansion of the ruling power by composing such a constitution that also represents the dominance of the ruling political power.18 Although the constitutional structures of authoritarian states inevitably consist of the three main parts—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches of government—they are not based upon the principles of checks and balances (Tóth, 2017) (Fig. 1).


The tenth modification is on the agenda in the 2022 spring. Authoritarian systems constitutionally retain multiparty elections and provide scope for the activities of opposition movements. What makes them distinctive is that the election is managed so as to deny opposition candidates a fair chance. Legal norms and practices ensure the dominance of the ruling party. The governing party may enjoy undue advantage because of partisan changes in election law, unequal suffrage, gerrymandering of electoral districts, restrictive campaign regulations, far from independent assessment of the election, and biased media coverage that blurs the separation between political party and the state (e.g. Hungary) (Tóth, 2017).


Illiberal Turn in Hungary


5.00 4.50 4.00 3.50 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00 Corruption


Judicial Framework 2011

Local Democratic Governance 2012


National Democratic Governance 2014


Independent Media 2016


Civil Society


Electoral Process


Fig. 1 Freedom house report on Hungary between 2010 and 2022. Source Edited by the author, based on https://freedomhouse.org/country/hungary

Freedom House announces their report on the status of democracy annually. The latest report about 2021 was issued in April 2022.19 With its 69/100 result Hungary is the only EU member state that was evaluated as partly free. The report on Hungary mentions the following critical arguments: 1. The status of independent media rating declined from 3.25 to 3.00 due to the surveillance of journalists with Pegasus spyware as well as the shrinking space for independent, critical media illustrated by the loss of Klubrádió’s frequency and a court decision infringing on a journalist’s freedom of speech. In 2021, further control had gained over formerly independent institutions that made Hungary’s place among hybrid regimes in the ‘grey zone’ between democracies and autocracies.20 2. The lack of transparency in the case of information about the status of the COVID pandemic is also remarkable. Although the government has introduced decree governance, citing COVID, access to public information, including epidemiological data, remains restricted.21 Hungary was perhaps the only country where


https://freedomhouse.org/country/hungary/nations-transit/2022. About the centralisation of information see: https://www.direkt36.hu/kiszivargott-iratok-mut atjak-hogyan-diktalnak-orbanek-a-nemzeti-hirugynoksegnek/. 21 Access to public information, including epidemiological data, remained limited as state authorities repeatedly used the pandemic as an excuse to extend the deadline for replies to information requests. The right of public assembly remained constrained well into the year, which hampered citizens’ opportunities to express their dissent over contested developments. 20


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it was forbidden to make interviews or reports in hospitals, while the government used the vaccination platform for propaganda.22 3. Looking at the situation in Hungary, Freedom House notes that ‘the ruling parties have further strengthened their institutional and financial dominance by making political appointments and by securing control over public funds’ but also cites the ‘ideological war’ against the LGBT community, which it says was reflected in the adoption of the so-called anti-paedophilia law, which struck a homophobic tone. This propaganda referendum was held on 3 April, at the same times as the general elections, however this was invalid.23 4. One of the most striking problems was the corruption that made the European Commission send a letter of formal notification to start the conditionality mechanism against Hungary. As this decision was announced on 5 April 2022, two days after Fidesz’s landslide victory, it was the target of criticism by the winning party right after the first press conference. Corruption is thus one of the main issues Hungary has to face with debates in Brussels. These are visible in public procurements favouring business circles close to the government, and they are usually non-transparent. It is hard to investigate the status of spending the financial support coming from the EU budget since Hungary did not join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. In 2021 after years of conflict, the European People’s Party suspended Fidesz’s membership. Shortly after this decision, Fidesz began negotiations with far-right parties from across the EU throughout 2021 about the formation of a new alliance, however without any result. Only György Hölvényi remained in the EPP fraction representing the Christian Democratic Party.24 The freedom of expression of belief cannot rely on a better position, since after the centralisation of the higher education with the establishment of the position of the university chancellors who became responsible for the management, and as all the financial affairs at the universities are centralised in their hands, the rectors’ freedom of competence in decision making became shortened and indirectly that led 22

Conspiracy bugs have many theories about governments using COVID measures to control people. In liberal democracies, they tend to be twaddle. But in Hungary Viktor Orban’s government really is using COVID vaccination campaigns to manipulate its citizens—not with microchips or 5 g, but with old-fashioned propaganda. https://www.economist.com/europe/2022/03/12/hungarysgovernment-uses-anti-covid-campaigns-for-propaganda. 23 https://lgbti-ep.eu/2022/04/04/press-release-the-message-from-hungary-was-clear-this-lgbtiqreferendum-is-invalid/. According to the Freedom House report: The government’s ideological war against the LGBT+ community continued in 2021 with the adoption of a so-called anti-pedophile law, which gained a strong homophobic tone due to amendments that ban the portrayal and promotion of homosexuality and the display of content promoting homosexuality and sex reassignment to minors. Adding these to an anti-pedophile law conflates pedophilia and homosexuality and consequently demonises sexual minorities. This provoked strong domestic and international criticism and resulted in the European Commission (EC) launching a case against Hungary for infringing on European Union (EU) law. To garner support for the government’s agenda, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a ‘child protection’ referendum, organised alongside the parliamentary elections on April 3, 2022. 24 https://www.europarl.europa.eu/hungary/hu/ep-kepviselok/kepviselok-2019-2024.html.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


to the reduction of the autonomy of the higher education. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences became the next step of the increase of the control by depriving them of their autonomous status putting them under the control of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.25 Regarding academic freedom, it was not a positive sign that half of the state universities across Hungary have been privatised by the Hungarian government and are put under the control of Fidesz party-controlled asset management foundations.26 Hungary’s three biggest universities outside of Budapest received an unexpected ‘gift’ from the government before Christmas. They were given two weeks to decide if they wished to join the government’s push to privatise education transforming them from state-funded institutions into private foundations governed by a board of trustees nominated by the government. The partial regime of political participation rights is measured through two criteria: freedom of association and freedom of opinion, press, and information (Bogaards, 2018). The centralisation of the media was carried out parallel with the cut of the financial resources of the independent media in the advertising market. By 2018, roughly 80% of the total population had the chance to get information either from the Fidesz-oriented newspapers or government-controlled TV or radio channels.27 Another element of the centralisation policy was the attack on civil society. In 2014, May, the EEA Grants and Norwegian Grants were suspended because of the intervention of the selection of NGOs that participated in the selection. The suspension was lifted in December 2015. The total sum of money Hungary got between 2009 and 2014 was 153.3 million EUR. Lack of transparency in procurement was also an element of corruption that was criticised several times by various actors.28 In 2018 February, a new legislative package was discussed in the parliament. This proposal appeared under the name ‘Stop Soros’ and it restricted the functioning of such NGOs that could be suspected of ‘supporting migration’. Based on the text, any organisation that does not comply risks severe financial penalty, the withdrawal of its tax number, or even closure.29 In 2021 summer, it was announced that Hungary lost


https://merce.hu/2018/09/11/palkovics-innovacios-miniszteriuma-feldarabolna-az-mta-t/ The Hungarian Academy of Sciences experienced the greatest loss in January. Right now, it is still questionable if the scientific institutions belonging to the HAS can survive or if they will be suspended. 26 https://balkaninsight.com/2021/02/23/fidesz-makes-hungarys-universities-an-offer-they-cantrefuse/. 27 A general government dominance was observed in the advertising market government information and the Fidesz election campaign were often mixed. The opposition was barely allowed to appear in the public media, and the opposition coalition, which had been formed on the basis of six-party cooperation before the election, was given five minutes to speak, as was a phantom party with apparently no significant membership or support. 28 https://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/hungary/,https://www.reuters.com/ article/us-global-corruption/hungary-slides-deeper-down-corruption-index-watchdog-says-idU SKCN1G52E6. 29 https://www.ecre.org/global-outcry-against-attack-on-civil-society-in-hungary/. This law requires organisations that receive more than 7.2 million HUF (approximately 24,000 EUR) in foreign donations per year to register as civil society organisations funded from abroad.


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access to over 200 million euros in grants from Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein amid growing concerns about the country’s democratic backsliding.30

5 The Energy Question and the Russian Affair As the main political message of the Hungarian government focuses on the reduction of public utility costs, it required some effort to handle Hungary’s energy dependence. Hungarian hydrocarbon imports date back to the 1960s. The fact that the chemical industry started to switch partly to oil and that the central oil refinery in Százhalombatta was completed was mainly related to the commissioning of the Barátság (Druzhba/Friendship) oil pipeline a year earlier, in 1964. This increased Hungary’s energy dependence on the Soviet Union. In 1962, the Hungarian electricity system was tied to the Soviet Union, followed by the construction of oil pipelines between 1962 and 1972, then the development of dependence on natural gas from 1975, and finally, in the 1980s, Moscow gained a decisive role in nuclear energy with the Paks nuclear power plant. The dangers of this dependency could have been recognised as early as the 1970s. The blame lies with the top leadership of the Kádár regime for Hungary’s ‘failure’ to adapt to the first oil crisis in 1973. New power plants built in Hungary between 1989 and 2006 were almost exclusively based on burning oil or natural gas. The biggest problem since the change of regime is the data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH): household gas consumption (natural gas and LPG combined) almost doubled between 1989 and 2009, from 2.14 billion cubic metres to 4.14 billion cubic metres. This has increased the country’s vulnerability—and the vulnerability of the most vulnerable, households—to natural gas from the East more than ever before. The second problem has compounded the impact of the previous one: domestic energy production fell by 35% between 1989 and 2009. And by 2020, domestic gas covered less than a fifth of domestic consumption. In 2007, Viktor Orbán criticised the Gyurcsány government for its dependence on Russian energy and urged Hungary to commit to a common European energy policy. In the same year, Orbán also said, ‘We don’t want to be Gazprom’s happiest barrack’.31 Ferenc Gyurcsány refuted Fidesz’s accusations, saying, ‘There is certainly an economic policy risk if Russia takes an 80% share of Hungary’s energy imports. But this is a two-way risk because Russia has little else to sell gas to’.32 Of course, Fidesz’s attack did not scare the prime minister, who was present when an agreement on the Hungarian section of the South Stream pipeline was signed in Moscow. This project was later cancelled by the Russians in 2014, and Gazprom is now pumping gas through Turkey to the Balkans and Hungary via the TurkStream 30

https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-loses-norwegian-funds-as-rule-of-law-concerns-intens ify/. 31 https://index.hu/belfold/ovdem9525/. 32 https://hvg.hu/itthon/20220318_deutsch_szijjarto_ukrajna_fidesz_oroszorszag.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


pipeline. Orbán’s reaction to the agreement between Gyurcsány and Putin in 2008 was that the government was ‘carrying out a coup’, against parliament on the one hand and his people on the other. The Fidesz leader was particularly outraged that the contract had been kept secret for ten years. This is interesting because Orbán’s government, in 2021, signed a secret contract with the Russians for 15 years of gas supplies. But the WikiLeaks leaks revealed that in 2010, Orbán—in talks with US diplomats—was no longer opposed to the South Stream pipeline, he just did not emphasise this to his electorate. This is not a coincidence, as Orbán made the first turnaround in his eastern policy in 2009: not much is known about his contacts with Putin at that time, but Fidesz’s anti-Russian rhetoric has certainly eased. In both 2006 and 2009, Russian exports were threatened with temporary stoppages due to partial or complete gas pipeline closures. The Hungarian government then took an important step for energy security: in 2009 the Strategic and Commercial Storage at Sz˝oreg was completed, with a current capacity of 1.2 billion cubic metres, according to FGSZ. This is enough to cover about 45 days of consumption in the country. Consumption started to decline again under Viktor Orbán’s government between 2010 and 2014. But from 2014—the year of the ‘Russian turn’ of Fidesz and the Orbán cabinet—Hungarian domestic gas consumption also started to increase after the announcement of the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant with Russian participation. And natural gas imports increased from 38.3% in 2016 to 46.3% in 2020, when compared to total energy imports.33 Meanwhile, under the Orbán government, several steps have been taken that have hampered the diversification of energy sources. Nor was the Nabucco project, which sought to bring Azeri gas to Europe via a new pipeline, implemented. In the meantime, however, Nabucco has been replaced by a gas interconnector with Serbia, which transports Russian gas from TurkStream to Hungary. This makes the Brotherhood pipeline through Ukraine redundant from a Russian perspective.34 If we look at the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption, the situation is even more dismal for the Orbán government: they have only managed to increase their share from 12.7% in 2010 to 13.9% in ten years. This is no coincidence. After coming to power in 2010, the Orbán government halted the development of wind farms and then effectively banned their construction, imposing impossible conditions.35


https://telex.hu/gazdasag/2022/05/03/orban-viktor-negy-eve-eppen-2022-re-igerte-meg-a-lev alast-az-orosz-energiarol-de-elporladtak-a-tervei. 34 https://www.napi.hu/magyar-gazdasag/hetesi-zsolt-nke-energetika-foldgaz-atomenergia-oroszo rszag-ukrajna-magyarroszag-energiafuggetlenseg.749046.html. 35 https://www.greenpeace.org/hungary/sajtokozlemeny/9602/friss-adatok-orosz-energiafuggo seg-helyett-fuggetlenseget-megujulokat-es-energiahatekonysagot-akarnak-a-magyarok/.


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6 The Roots of Russian–Hungarian Friendship In 2021 December, the Hungarian MFA, Péter Szijjártó was awarded the highest Russian medal ‘For Friendship’ that can be given to a foreigner. It is commonly known that the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó and Sergey Lavrov are good friends. Lavrov was invited to the annual meeting of the Hungarian ambassadors in Budapest as a special guest speaker which was quite unusual. Paradoxically during Lavrov’s visit the Hungarian President, János Áder represented Hungary at the Crimea Platform in Ukraine where he struck an unusually harsh tone in Hungarian diplomacy towards the Russian when he said that the Hungarians also have historical experience with foreign powers arbitrarily redrawing the borders of a state in a difficult situation.36 The tension between Hungary and Ukraine was expressed several times. When the Hungarian government suspected Ukraine of the interference in the Hungarian elections, the Ukrainian government refused the approval of Hungarian claims.37 The War in Ukraine has also driven a wedge in the Visegrad cooperation process. Although the Visegrad Group that celebrated its 30th anniversary seemed to be a success story, the past years divided the member states into two groups. While Slovakia and the Czech Republic underwent significant changes in their internal policy and based on the last elections chose a pro-Western orientation, the Hungarian—Polish tandem remained the black sheep of the European Union. While the migration threat in 2015 linked the member states closer to each other, the issue of Ukraine divides them. Right before the war Polish, Czech, and Slovakian governments became supportive of Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its ties with the European Union and NATO, the Hungarian standpoint towards Ukraine and Russia is controversial. The Hungarian government repeatedly opposed the Ukrainian NATO candidacy referring to various conflicts.38 The reason for the Hungarian opposition can be explained by two factors. On one hand, the Hungarian government extended Hungarian citizenship to all Hungarians living outside but in the territory of historical Hungary. In the Transcarpathian region according to the 2001 census there live around 150,000 Hungarian-speaking Ukrainian citizens. The aim of the extension of the Hungarian citizenship programme can be explained in various forms, however, the Ukrainian Constitution does not recognise dual citizenship. The Hungarian interference in the Ukrainian local elections was also a core conflict in 2020 autumn that resulted in the expelling of two high-ranking public servants from the Hungarian government accusing them of interference in the Ukrainian internal affairs. The 36

https://444.hu/2021/08/24/ader-miatt-magyarazkodhatott-szijjarto-lavrovval-kozos-sajtotajekoz tatojan. 37 “In contrast to the behaviour of Ukraine in Ukraine, we have never interfered in the internal affairs of Ukraine, and even less in the run-up to the elections. It is good to see that for the sake of a short-lived election campaign, Prime Minister Siyarto is ready to take the initiative and destroy the relations we have maintained with him for so long. If the Order of Lavrov is more important for him because of his relations with me, it is better to say so directly”, said Dmytro Kuleba. https://www.eurointegration.com.ua/news/2022/03/30/7136910/. 38 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-nato-hungary-idUSKBN1Y823N.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


Ukrainian Language Law that made the Ukrainian language the only official language in Ukraine in 2015 and 2019 was also welcomed with criticism. Energy security is also a crucial element in Ukrainian and Hungarian relations in September 2021 Hungary agreed to buy 4.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia each year, with 3.5 billion cubic metres to be transported via Serbia and 1 million cubic metres via Austria. With this step, Hungary excluded Ukraine as a transitional path and on 1 October, Gazprom halted natural gas transit to Hungary through Ukraine.39 However, at the beginning of December 2021 on the event of the 30th anniversary of the opening of the diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Hungary, the two foreign ministers agreed on the smoothening of the previously existing conflicts. As a result of their negotiation from the beginning of December based on their discussion, Hungary promised to provide Ukraine with natural gas.40

7 The International Investment Bank In 2019, the International Investment Bank (IIB) moved to Budapest, creating the first development bank based in Central and Eastern Europe. At the time, many, including the USA, criticised the bank’s presence in Hungary, as it was previously the development bank of the Cold War countries, with Russia being its largest stakeholder. When it was launched in 2012, 60% of its paid-up capital was Russian, but that has now fallen to around 45%, with Bulgaria, Cuba, Mongolia, and Hungary among its members, along with other Eastern countries. Hungary is now one of the most active members of the network. After a failed attempt by the International Investment Bank to establish a European office in Bratislava, in 2015 the Hungarian government was more than willing to host the bank. Hungary’s pre-accession was followed by a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed with Hungary on opening a European office in the country. The plans came to fruition in June 2019. Although the move was justified by the Hungarian government mainly on the premise of making Budapest an international ‘financial centre’, the real rationale was to ensure the Kremlin’s access to the European financial system, while enjoying the broadest possible diplomaticlevel immunity from any outside financial or other oversight for the bank’s activity (Fig. 2). The International Investment Bank, nicknamed ‘spy bank’ by the opposition, has become a symbolic example of the Orbán government’s pro-Russian approach. The extent to which the bank was a symbol of the Hungarian opposition’s symbolic support for the bank is shown by the fact that, following the Russian invasion of 39

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3328270-kuleba-ready-for-hard-talk-with-szijjarto. html. 40 Ukraine will be able to import daily 8 million cubic metres of gas from the European market via Hungary from January, Ukraine’s state operator of gas transmission said on Wednesday after signing an agreement with the Hungarian operator FGSZ. https://www.reuters.com/markets/com modities/ukraine-agrees-deal-with-hungary-gas-imports-2021-12-22/.


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IIB member countries - share of the paid-in capital

Russian Federation









Fig. 2 Edited by the author based on political capital41

Ukraine, the Hungarian opposition immediately demanded that it be banned and announced an anti-war demonstration at its headquarters on 1 March. With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Czechia declared their withdrawal from the bank that was not affected by the sanctions; however, it represented Russia’s geopolitical extension in the region and the extension of Russian economic influence in the European Union.

8 Hungary’s Individualist Strategy In 1989, Orbán gave an important speech at the reburial of Imre Nagy and the heroes of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in which he expressed the will to withdraw the Soviet army from the territory of Hungary. As a matter of fact, by the time of the speech, there were advanced talks between the Soviet and the Hungarian partners. Until 2010 the left-wing government was suspected of Russian orientation, however, after 2009 the standpoint of Fidesz changed.42 The Russian interest can be explained by various aspects. One of them is the frozen Hungarian–US relations which were visible already between 1998 and 2002. This was partly due to disagreements over the perception of anti-Semitic manifestations in Hungary (the Americans considered it a serious problem and felt that the government was not taking it seriously enough), and partly because Orbán decided to buy Swedish Gripen fighter jets rather than American F-16s, contrary to expectations. ‘This created tension with the Americans’, explained a senior diplomat in the then Orbán cabinet, who said that despite this, Orbán had hoped to get in with then-president George Bush on a visit to the USA in 2002, ‘but it 41 42

https://www.politicalcapital.hu/hirek.php?article_read=1&article_id=2963. https://www.direkt36.hu/orban-jatszmaja/.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


failed to materialise’. The Russian relation can be explained by various aspects. Once, it could improve the country’s bargaining position vis-à-vis major Western European countries and the USA. The prime minister is known to enjoy manoeuvring between the great powers, partly because he has found domestic politics boring for years, and partly because he is convinced of his extraordinary leadership qualities, which he has openly demonstrated in a restricted circle. According to a source close to the government, Orbán is thinking of a strategy whereby all the major powers have some kind of investment in Hungary, because ‘if you have investment, you have something to lose’. According to the source, Orbán is therefore trying to build close relations not only with the Russians but also with the Chinese and the Turks. In this way, as the source put it, the aim is ‘to get out of the German colonial status’, i.e. to loosen the very strong German economic dependence. Hungary’s individualist behaviour can be visible in the reaction to the COVID19 pandemic. Being the only EU member state Hungary went opposite the joint action of the EU member states by importing vaccines from China (Sinopharm), and Russia (Sputnik). While Orbán became the campaign figure of the Chinese, Szijjártó remained the campaign figure for the Sputnik V vaccine refusing the common vaccine strategy. According to the original plans, the planned National Vaccine Factory would have produced Chinese and Russian vaccines. By hacking of the foreign networks, Hungarian diplomacy has effectively become an open book for Moscow.43 The Russians can know in advance what the Hungarian foreign ministry is thinking and planning, and this is happening at a very sensitive time. Russian infiltration remained active before and partly after the invasion of Ukraine, during the current EU and NATO crisis talks. Meanwhile, there is no sign that the Hungarian government has publicly protested to Russia about the invasion. There are some quite spectacular examples of soft handling of Russian espionage. Former Moscow diplomat Szilárd Kiss, for example, was allowed to stay in his position even after he failed two national security checks because of his Russian intelligence connections. As for former MEP Béla Kovács, who has since been convicted for preparing espionage, Péter Szijjártó told that he had not brought the case to the attention of any former Russian ambassador. Since then, Kovács has been living and teaching in Moscow and is currently analysing the invasion of Ukraine on Russian propaganda websites. Under Rogán’s proposal (who is currently appointed as the member of the new cabinet responsible for security services), non-EU nationals could obtain a Hungarian residence permit and then a permanent residence permit for 250–300,000 euros. Similar schemes exist in other European countries. Foreign newspapers have reported that Russian businessmen close to Putin have been able to obtain European residence papers through schemes in Cyprus and Malta, for example. The Rogán economic commission selected a few companies with opaque ownership structures, typically from offshore backgrounds, to distribute the bonds without an open tender. These 43

https://privatbankar.hu/cikkek/makro/bizalmas-informaciokat-is-ellophattak-a-magyar-kulugy tol-orosz-kemek.html. Unlike most EU countries, Russian diplomats have not been expelled from Hungary on charges of espionage.


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companies made billions of euros on the e40–60,000 management fees charged to customers and on the interest on the residency bonds. The family member of Sergey Naryshkin, the previous chairmen of the Russian State Duma was among the supported persons such as Andrei Kalmikov, the head of the low-cost subsidiary of the Russian state airline Aeroflot, who confirmed that he has obtained a Hungarian residency permit through the bond programme. He stressed that he did not violate Russian law by doing so, as he does not handle state secrets. He said that he had informed the Russian Interior Ministry about the acquisition of Hungarian papers. Kalmikov added that he had obtained the documents for travel purposes.44

9 The 2022 Elections The elections in 2022 were organised in the shadow of the war in Ukraine. Right before the Russian invasion, Orbán paid a visit to Putin and after the five-hourlong discussion, he declared that managed to smooth the conflict between the two states. On 24th February, Russia attacked Ukraine. The first Hungarian reaction was against the majority of the EU and NATO member states. The election campaign was reorganised and instead of anti-LGBT movements, or invisible enemies, the government had to face real war. To avoid any falsification, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent a full mission to Hungary.45 Experts and critics have long maintained that Fidesz enjoys an unfair advantage in Hungary, arguing that the electoral system was designed to favour the ruling party and that it also controls much of the media and advertising landscape. The mission found that although there were few procedural problems on election day—which took place in parallel to an anti-LGBTQ+ referendum—the contestants did not compete on an equal footing. ‘Contestants were largely able to campaign freely, but while competitive, the campaign was highly negative in tone and characterised by a pervasive overlap between the ruling coalition and the government’, the mission found.46 The lack of transparency and insufficient oversight of campaign finances’, according to the observers, ‘further benefited the governing coalition’ while ‘bias and lack of balance in monitored news coverage and the absence of debates between major contestants significantly limited the voters’ opportunity to make an informed choice.47

The mission also pointed out that the way many election disputes were handled ‘fell short of providing effective legal remedy’. While the OSCE mission was formally in Hungary following an invitation from the national authorities, it faced public criticism from the country’s government. Orbán hit out against the observers 44

https://444.hu/tldr/2018/09/10/putyin-gepezetenek-tagjai-kaptak-magyar-papirokat-orbanekkotvenyprogramjaban. 45 https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/511441. 46 https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/511441. 47 https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/511441.

Illiberal Turn in Hungary


in the days ahead of the election, telling pro-government media that ‘election observation is no longer about observation but about accusation: How can the political forces they do not like but can win be accused well in advance’.48 In the 2010 elections, the Fidesz-KDNP (Christian Democratic Party) coalition achieved 53% of the votes resulting in a constitutional majority with 68.13% of the mandates. Four years later, in 2014, based on the new Act on Election, the coalition repeated the same share of votes. Thanks to the new system, the compensation and the votes from Hungarians living outside the territory of historical Hungary, altogether less than 45% of the votes were enough to reach 68.83% of the mandates. The oppositional parties did not expect victory only the level of the Fidesz majority was a question, as thanks to the basis of the new proportional electoral system, the supremacy of the governing parties was not an issue. The country’s six main opposition parties prepared for the upcoming elections by organising primaries to select their joint prime minister candidate and, for all 106 single-mandate districts, to select joint candidates to run against the governing parties’ candidates in the given districts. Their goal is to ensure that the opposition vote is less fragmented in the 2022 polls. The primaries drew the participation of around 850,000 voters in two rounds, which gave momentum to sizable civil mobilisation ahead of the elections. Péter Márki-Zay, the independent mayor of Hódmez˝ovásárhely, led the united opposition against Fidesz in the April elections. The result was unpredictable. It was obvious that the government and the opposition were not equal regarding financial resources and marketing opportunities as it was hard to distinguish whose message was transmitted in the media and on the wallpapers; the government’s or the campaigning party’s. The Fidesz-KDNP coalition received all together with a constitutional majority, while the unified opposition became fragmented right on the eve of the lost election. A new radical right-wing party, the ‘Mi Hazánk’ (Our Homeland Movement), an anti-LGBT, the anti-vaccination party received six seats from 199 in the Hungarian Parliament. Hungary remained divided, as in Budapest with one exception the opposition won the districts, while in the case of the two university towns, Szeged and Pécs, one oppositional candidate could win. There are various explanations for why the unified opposition lost all together around 900,000 votes since the last elections. One of the reasons is probably that this wide coalition with the socialist, the green, the liberal, and the formal radical right-wing parties (Jobbik) was hardly palatable for the voters. In the case of Jobbik, only 53% of the party’s supporters voted for the coalition, while 15% for the Mi Hazánk and 7% for the Fidesz.49 After the first quick analyses, it turned out that Fidesz easily found the message to the voters. One of the main messages was the desire for peace, the mission to be left out of the war in Ukraine by not mentioning Putin as the aggressor, while the other message was dedicated to the citizens trusting in economic conditions. Rent cuts and gas prices were such calling words that could easily help to win the elections. Fidesz has succeeded in convincing voters who feared for their security, 48 49

https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-election-level-playing-field-fair-observer/. http://republikon.hu/elemzesek,-kutatasok/22-04-07-jobbik.aspx.


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and who demonstrably voted for the governing coalition parties at the last minute. It may be asked what led to the victory of the governing coalition. There are various reasons. From gerrymandering to the changes in the Act on the election that gave compensation for the winner, from the overwhelming dominance of the governing coalition in social media and public media, the differentiated voting opportunities for Hungarians living abroad. Those living in the territory of historical Hungary could vote by mail, while those living abroad with Hungarian addresses could only do so at the embassy or the consulate, often travelling hundreds of kilometres. Four years ago the handing out of potatoes to voters symbolised vote-buying. This year there was no such issue; however, it is remarkable that the highest share of pro-governmental votes was recognisable in the most backward municipalities. In other words, not having adequate information, voters were influenced by propaganda and their fears of unsafety.50

10 Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine rewrote the previously existing economic and security axioms. Instead of extended international labour division and supply chains, self-sufficiency took focus, while the global post-cold war world order faced new challenges. In the past half a year the elections in Europe demonstrated that there is less chance to vote for radical parties and it is also remarkable, that the majority of previous allies of the Hungarian government were defeated in the elections. It is still questionable how the Visegrad Group can develop and how Hungary can get out of international isolation. In March, the Hungarian Parliament elected the new President, Katalin Novák and in April 2022 Viktor Orbán won the fourth consecutive election. Both had their inauguration speech in May. While Orbán envisioned a speech as a potential leader of Europe whose mission is to change the old continent, Katalin Novák paid her first visit to Poland to revitalise the frozen Hungarian-Polish relations. Hungary thus faces new challenges and has to decide whether to return to its Western roots or remain a neglected pariah state on the periphery of the European Union.

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444.hu. (2018). A fiatalok között a leggyengébb a Fidesz [Fidesz is the weakest among the young]. 444.hu, April 10, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2021. http://republikon.hu/elemzesek,-kutatasok/22-04-07-jobbik.aspx. Accessed May 23, 2022. http://www.origo.hu/gazdasag/hirek/20110822-hogyan-terjedt-el-a-devizahitelezes-es-ki-a-fel elos-erte.html. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://2015-2019.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/the-prime-minister-s-speeches/prime-min ister-viktor-orban-s-speech-at-the-25th-balvanyos-summer-free-university-and-student-camp. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://444.hu/2018/04/10/a-fiatalok-kozott-a-leggyengebb-a-fidesz?utm_source=mandiner&& utm_source=mandiner&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=mandiner_201810;utm_medium= link&utm_campaign=mandiner_201804u?utm_source=mandiner&utm_medium=link&utm_ campaign=mandiner_201804. Accessed November 23, 2019. https://444.hu/2021/08/24/ader-miatt-magyarazkodhatott-szijjarto-lavrovval-kozos-sajtotajekoztat ojan. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://444.hu/tldr/2018/09/10/putyin-gepezetenek-tagjai-kaptak-magyar-papirokat-orbanek-kot venyprogramjaban. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://balkaninsight.com/2021/02/23/fidesz-makes-hungarys-universities-an-offer-they-cant-ref use/ https://freedomhouse.org/country/hungary/nations-transit/2022. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://g7.hu/penz/20220404/ot-telepules-ahol-egy-ellenzeki-szavazatra-320-fidesz-voks-jutott/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://index.hu/belfold/ovdem9525/. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://hvg.hu/itthon/20220318_deutsch_szijjarto_ukrajna_fidesz_oroszorszag. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://lgbti-ep.eu/2022/04/04/press-release-the-message-from-hungary-was-clear-this-lgbtiq-ref erendum-is-invalid/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://merce.hu/2018/09/11/palkovics-innovacios-miniszteriuma-feldarabolna-az-mta-t/. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://privatbankar.hu/cikkek/makro/bizalmas-informaciokat-is-ellophattak-a-magyar-kulugytolorosz-kemek.html. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://telex.hu/gazdasag/2022/05/03/orban-viktor-negy-eve-eppen-2022-re-igerte-meg-a-lev alast-az-orosz-energiarol-de-elporladtak-a-tervei. Accessed May 15, 2022. https://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/hungary/. Accessed November 23, 2019. https://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/hungary/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.direkt36.hu/kiszivargott-iratok-mutatjak-hogyan-diktalnak-orbanek-a-nemzeti-hir ugynoksegnek/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.direkt36.hu/orban-jatszmaja/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.economist.com/europe/2022/03/12/hungarys-government-uses-anti-covid-campai gns-for-propaganda. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.ecre.org/global-outcry-against-attack-on-civil-society-in-hungary/. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.eurointegration.com.ua/news/2022/03/30/7136910/. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/hungary/hu/ep-kepviselok/kepviselok-2019-2024.html. Accessed May 19, 2022. https://www.greenpeace.org/hungary/sajtokozlemeny/9602/friss-adatok-orosz-energiafuggoseghelyett-fuggetlenseget-megujulokat-es-energiahatekonysagot-akarnak-a-magyarok/. Accessed April 22, 2022. https://www.napi.hu/magyar-gazdasag/hetesi-zsolt-nke-energetika-foldgaz-atomenergia-oroszo rszag-ukrajna-magyarroszag-energiafuggetlenseg.749046.html. Accessed April 12, 2022. https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/511441. Accessed April 12, 2022. https://www.policysolutions.hu/userfiles/elemzes/275/magyar_alom_web.pdf. Accessed November 23, 2022.


A. Schmidt

https://www.politicalcapital.hu/hirek.php?article_read=1&article_id=2963. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-election-level-playing-field-fair-observer/. Accessed May 19, 2022. https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-loses-norwegian-funds-as-rule-of-law-concerns-intens ify/. Accessed May 17, 2022. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-problem-with-illiberal-democracy-by-jan-wer ner-mueller-2016-01 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-corruption/hungary-slides-deeper-down-corruptionindex-watchdog-says-idUSKCN1G52E6. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-nato-hungary-idUSKBN1Y823N. Accessed May 17, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/ukraine-agrees-deal-with-hungary-gas-imports2021-12-22/. Accessed April 25, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2008/oct/29/hungary-economy-imf-eu-world-bank. Accessed May 15, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3328270-kuleba-ready-for-hard-talk-with-szijjarto. html. Accessed May 19, 2022.

Andrea Schmidt, Ph.D., Habil., an associate professor at the University of Pécs, Hungary, Department of Political Science and International Studies and former visiting lecturer at the Josai International University, Tokyo (Japan), and at Ivan Franko National University in L’viv (Ukraine). She is the member of the scientific board of joint MA program Europe from the Visegrad Perspective. She is author of several articles and book chapters related to Central and Eastern European and post-Soviet region.

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics Ryszard Zi˛eba

Abstract After Poland joined the European Union, strong conservatism, nationalism, populism, and authoritarianism arose in Poland and pushed the country onto the illiberal path. This political course is represented primarily by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which governed the country in 2005–2007 and has been in power since 2015. The roots of Polish illiberalism are both domestic and foreign. The main manifestations of the illiberal and nationalist turn in Poland’s politics are as follows: the elimination of the separation of powers and violation of the rule of law, including violation of the independence of the judiciary; restriction of the right to assembly and repression of demonstrators; attack on the free media; control of schooling and higher education; centralization of governance, and taking away competences from local government; tightening the ban on abortion; inhumane treatment of immigrants from the Middle East; corruption and nepotism on an unprecedented scale; public surveillance and repression of people who criticize the authorities. These activities of the Polish authorities have consequences to foreign policy and international role of Poland, such as: a Euro-skepticism manifested in an anti-Brussels stance and in disputes with EU institutions, Germany, and France; close collaboration with illiberal Hungary, and with other illiberal movements abroad; nationalist and great-power approach with regard to Russia; the bi-lateralization and militarization of security policy. The consequences of this Poland’s policy are detrimental to itself and to the international environment. Keywords Illiberalism · Nationalism · Populism · Authoritarianism · Poland · Hungary · The EU · The USA

R. Zi˛eba (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_5



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1 Understanding the Notion of Illiberalism and Its Derivative Terms Illiberalism is a new concept in social sciences that has no intersubjective definition. In the subject literature, illiberalism is usually grouped together with related categories such as populism, conservatism, nationalism, and authoritarianism. Populism has been on the rise throughout Europe since the 1990s. Leading Western intellectuals were especially concerned about its growth in Central and Eastern Europe, in countries undergoing profound political transformations. Ralph Dahrendorf, paraphrasing the well-known sentence from the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, wrote with concern about the specter of authoritarianism looming over the eastern part of Europe (Dahrendorf, 1990). During the decade that followed, populism gained strength in western European countries as well. In many western democratic countries, liberal policy, institutions of parliamentary democracy like the separation of powers and the free-market economy, began to be questioned with an increased frequency. This was usually accompanied by criticism of the elites and the state’s failure to address the needs of society effectively. This criticism led to the search for simple and rapid solutions meant to please dissatisfied social groups and to redistribute scarce goods. Populism also helps to boost the self-esteem of social groups that feel looked down upon by the ruling elite. This usually brings about oppositions such as poor versus rich; the uneducated versus the elite; the provinces versus the city-dwellers; the nation versus its ‘cosmopolitan’ members; member states versus integration structures (such as the European Union); and society versus globalization. Even though it formulates postulates once the realm of the political left, populism combines them with right-wing calls to defend the nation and the state. It seeks to defend the identity of the nation, its religious beliefs, and its traditional values. This counters the liberal values and political institutions of democratic countries and leads to the formulation of anti-liberal and authoritarian demands. Conservatives believe that they represent the needs and interests of social groups looked down on by liberals; they adopt the mantle of spokesmen of all scorned and excluded individuals, and of the provinces and the nation ignored by the cosmopolitan and corrupt elites. Authoritarianism is an undemocratic method of governing used by populists, conservatives, and nationalists to force state institutions to meet their political demands quickly. The abovementioned notions are clearly recognized and well defined in the literature of political science. The definitions of the Dutch scholar Cas Mudde, who describes populism as “a set of ideas focused on a fundamental opposition between the people and the elite” and defines it as “a thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups: ‘the pure people’ and ‘the corrupt elite’,” and argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people. The core features of the populist ideology are monism and moralism: both ‘the people’ and ‘the elite’ are seen as sharing the same interests and values, while the main distinction between them is based on morals (i.e., ‘pure’ versus ‘corrupt’). Populists claim that they, and

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


they alone, represent the whole people, while ‘the elite’ represents ‘special interests’ (Mudde, 2019). Some of the abovementioned notions, such as conservatism or nationalism, have long been defined, and there is an extensive literature about them. In contrast, it is still difficult for scholars to define authoritarianism, populism, and especially illiberalism. While authoritarianism was quite extensively analyzed many decades ago by such scholars as Popper (1945), Arendt (1951), or Linz (1975), it has been enriched today by new restrictions of freedoms and democracy that accompany it in many countries on various continents. Thus, in my opinion, authoritarianism, and especially populism, similarly to the relatively new term illiberalism, should be redefined. Attempts to do so were made in many central European countries. In 2011, a major scholarly journal in Cracow devoted an entire issue to the analysis of populism as a challenge to good governance and international cooperation (Cziomer, 2011). Defining populism drew the attention of Hungarian expert László Andor, who associates it with other phenomena that accompanies it—above all with nationalism (Andor, 2019). On the other hand, Marliese Glasius advocates a combination of liberalism and authoritarianism and proposes practice-oriented definitions based on the analysis of authoritarian and illiberal practices (Glasius, 2018). One of the most recent attempts to define illiberalism was made by Marlene Laruelle, who points out that illiberalism is a new ideological universe representing a backlash against today’s liberalism in all its varied scripts—political, economic, cultural, geopolitical, civilizational; it proposes solutions that are majoritarian, nation-centric, or sovereigntist, favoring traditional hierarchies and cultural homogeneity, and “it calls for a shift from politics to culture and is post-post-modern in its claims of rootedness in an age of globalization.” (Laruelle, 2022). This is an introductory proposal of a very broad definition. The aim of my study is to examine illiberalism and nationalism in the practice of Poland’s politics under the Law and Justice (PiS) party governments. Polish illiberalism and nationalism should be considered in the context of the general trend in the international order to move away from liberalism. Developments in other CentralEuropean countries, especially in Hungary (Knight, 2021; Krekó & Enyedi, 2018; Grabbe & Lehne, 2017; Barber, 2019) and in the United States under the Trump administration (Popescu, 2018), are of significance in the specific case of Poland. The sources of the anti-liberal and nationalist turn in Polish politics are both domestic and international.


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2 The Sources of the Illiberal Turn in Polish Politics 2.1 Internal Sources 2.1.1

Dissatisfaction with Liberal Governments

Of fundamental importance is the dissatisfaction of broad social strata with the harsh economic and social reforms implemented since the end of 1989. Poland was the only post-communist country in which free-market forces in the economy were introduced in a swift and radical manner. This reform package, known as the Balcerowicz Plan (after Leszek Balcerowicz, then Deputy-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance), was introduced without regard for the high social costs of the marketization of the economy. Its positive effects were felt rapidly and brought economic growth as soon as in 1992. At the same time, the number of persons excluded or unable to take advantage of this growth increased. These reforms were continued by each successive Polish government, while social discontent was growing. By the time Poland began negotiations to join the EU in March 1998, the Christian National Union (ZChN), a coalition partner in the Solidarity Electoral Action government (AWS), non-parliamentary right-wing groups and the populist Self-Defense (Samoobrona) were voicing their criticism and protests against the continuation of market reforms, against the planned integration with the EU, speaking in defense of Poland’s supposedly threatened sovereignty. In the wake of the parliamentary elections of autumn 2001, anti-EU and populist groups were elected to the Sejm. These were Self-Defense, the League of Polish Families (LPR), and the party headed by the Kaczy´nski twins, Jarosław and Lech—the Center Agreement (PC), which later metamorphosed into the Law and Justice (PiS) party. Following the parliamentary elections of autumn 2005, these parties formed a coalition government. Their populist and anti-EU criticism was supported by the country’s president Lech Kaczy´nski. In July 2006, PiS broke the coalition with Self-Defense and LPR and formed a single-party PiS minority government headed by Jarosław Kaczy´nski. As the strongest opposition party in parliament was the liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO), PiS strongly criticized its liberal notions, views on the state and policies. PiS’ populism, conservatism, and nationalism were also directed against the left, which had governed Poland twice (in 1993–1997 and 2001–2005). PiS gradually transformed itself into an anti-liberal, anti-left populist party, which criticized essentially all economic and social policies pursued in Poland since 1989. This spoke to the imagination of a large segment of Poles, not all of whom felt the benefits of the marketization of the Polish economy or of the country’s admission to the EU. Moreover, PiS propaganda proclaimed many very effective slogans: things were bad, the former governing elite had been robbing the country and selling it to foreign capital, etc. The above-mentioned socio-technical tricks generated much public support for PiS. After eight years of liberal PO-PSL governments (2007–2015), during which it failed to address the problems of many Poles, who had failed to benefit from

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


the political transformations, support for PiS grew. As a result, after the elections of October 2015, PiS was able to form a majority government single-handedly, having obtained only 37.58% of the votes. The parties that had formed the previous government found themselves much weakened, while the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) failed to enter the Sejm. The previous summer, PiS politician Andrzej Duda had been elected president. The new PiS government’s program and slogans were focused on the rejection of liberalism and leftist views and on the takeover of all democratic institutions in the country.


Political Activity of the Catholic Church and Activation of the Province

PiS’ populist, anti-liberal, conservative, and nationalist policies have been eagerly supported by the Polish Catholic Church, and especially by its conservative and fundamentalist minded bishops and the milieu of the influential Redemptorist, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk. With the formation of the first PiS government in the autumn of 2015, the Polish Catholic Church gained enormous influence over state policy. The rise of populism, conservatism, and nationalism in Poland is due to the political awakening of the Polish provinces. It is among the politically unsophisticated inhabitants of villages and small towns that populist views predominate. People who were negatively affected and have borne the greatest economic and social cost of the transformations after 1989 blame the elite, central administration officials, Brussels’ bureaucrats, economists, professionals, and generally educated people for this. Using professional marketing techniques, PiS consolidated its influence in the provinces, where most people hold conservative views and feel cut off from the social benefits of the political transformations by the liberal and left-wing elites. Public support for PiS increased in the parliamentary elections (from 37.58% in 2015) to 43.59% in 2019. This means that PiS’s internal policy has been effective and convincing for a greater group of voters. The Polish Catholic Church has played a big role in increasing this support for PiS. If the Polish provinces are conservative and patriotic, this is in large measure due to the influence of the Polish Catholic Church. This makes it easier for the right to fire up nationalist sentiment and fear of foreigners, such as immigrants from beyond Europe. Such were the first steps taken by the conservative-nationalist PiS leadership in order to gain support for themselves, and their actions intended to ‘defend’ Poles’ Catholic and national identity. They also seek such support to engage in undemocratic governing practices and to break the law, which they often justify by the necessity to effectively protect the interests of the ‘Sovereign’, understood above all as those who vote for PiS and the United Right. Resorting to authoritarian practices is meant as a final settling of accounts with all manner of liberals, cosmopolites, ‘Europeans’, LGBT+ and ‘gender’ persons, Jews, and other enemies of ‘true Poles’. Taking advantage of the provinces’ support and the involvement of the provinces in these actions is supposed to produce a ‘healthy’ society based on traditional values,


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the Catholic religion, without leftists and liberals, and to restore Poland’s great-power status, similar to the one it enjoyed under the Jagiellonian Dynasty.

2.2 International (External) Sources 2.2.1

Reconfiguration of International Order and Weakening of the West

A factor helping to reinforce anti-liberal and nationalist sentiments is the ongoing reconfiguration of the international order leading to the weakening and—as the prominent neorealist scholar John Mearsheimer pointed out—to the decline of the democratic and liberal West (Mearsheimer, 2019). From the neorealist perspective, this process is a natural phenomenon ensuing from the fact that the states, which seek to play a part in determining the world’s destiny, took up having first become stronger internally a policy of balancing the hegemony of the USA and the West in the second half of the first decade of the twenty-first century. It is worthwhile to note that these states are mostly authoritarian or semi-authoritarian: communist China, Russia, nationalist India, populist Brazil, authoritarian Turkey, or theocratic Iran. Challenging democratic West, the new emerging powers criticize its liberal ideology and institutions, including the international economic system based on liberalism (Kupchan, 2012). The changes in the international order stimulated criticism of liberal institutions and policy in many western, central, and eastern European countries, where dissatisfaction among people let down by the disappointing—in some cases nonexistent—benefits of the political transformation process grew. The example of China’s economic success under the communists, or that of other non-democratic countries, such as Turkey, was interpreted as evidence that economic and social growth is not necessarily owed to liberal regimes and that populist and authoritarian policies could accelerate such growth.


European Union Crisis

The crisis of the European Union, which became apparent following the great enlargement of 2004, played an important role in the rise of illiberalism and of the phenomena accompanying it, such as populism, conservatism, nationalism, and authoritarianism. This crisis has many dimensions, but the one that is most dangerous politically is the crisis of the EU as an integration project because it means the failure of the liberal concept of integration. For many people, the rise in living standards in the new EU member states has been disappointing, and populists and nationalists have taken advantage of this fact. This could be clearly seen in 2005 after PiS won the elections and, for the next two years, attempted to put Poland on an anti-liberal course. In Hungary in 2003, Victor Orbán became the leader of the opposition Fidesz party

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


and changed that party’s pro-European center-right orientation to a conservative and nationalist one. In 2010, Fidesz came to power, and Orbán became prime minister for the second time and embarked on a new anti-liberal political course. The debate about overcoming the financial crisis in the Euro zone, about revamping the EU’s defense policy (CSDP), about the migration crisis or EU reform, confirmed EU member states’ diverging views, while the governments of Poland and Hungary called for looser integration. At the same time, their repeated infringement on the rule of law and on EU norms led to the launching against them of the procedure provided by art. 7 of the Treaty on the European Union (which calls for disciplinary measures against states violating EU norms) and to proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In addition, after the 2004, enlargement fears of an influx of cheap labor from the newly admitted states increased in the ‘old’ member states. This, among others factors, explains the unexpected negative outcome of the referenda held in France and the Netherlands (at the turn of May and June 2005) on the adoption of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. It also catalyzed the growth in influence of right-wing and nationalist parties in western European countries, such as the Brexit Party and the increasingly nationalist Conservative Party in the UK, the Nation Rally (until June 2018 known as the National Front) in France, the Vox in Spain, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) in Austria, the League (until 2018 Northern Ligue) and the Five Star Movement (MV5S) in Italy, and others. As early as the summer of 2010, the well-known American political scientist Charles Kupchan wrote in alarming tones of the European Union’s collapse, partly economically and, above all, because of the increasingly apparent renationalization of political life. In his opinion, this renationalization was spilling over ‘from London to Berlin to Warsaw’ and was expressed in a return to sovereignty at the cost of selflessness in the name of a common idea, and this placed the European project under threat (Kupchan, 2010).


The Rise of Conservatism, Populism, and Nationalism in the International Environment

Another factor stimulating the growth of populism, conservatism, illiberalism, and nationalism in Poland (and in Hungary) is the occurrence of such trends not only in the European Union but also in its immediate neighborhood and in distant regions of the world (Boyle, 2016; Galston, 2018; Levitzy & Ziblatt, 2018; Oliker, 2017; Sunstein, 2018). Such phenomena are present in most of the post-Soviet area, including Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia. At the beginning of 2017, illiberalism came to dominate U.S. policy when populist and conservative Donald Trump became president. This strengthened a similar trend in Poland, especially as PiS has been conducting a very active bandwagoning policy with regard to the USA. Polish politicians seeking to implement illiberal policies have countless examples to follow from different autocratic systems around the world (Roth, 2019).


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Generally, it is worthwhile to recall that in the modern world undemocratic states present a majority. The wave of liberalism, which rose after the Cold War in the western world and soon after in countries of Central Europe, is a typical phenomenon, similar to that which took place following the two world wars, in 1918 and 1945. John Mearsheimer claims that in recent years, the democratic West has become convinced that the liberalism, which forms its ideological basis, has been an illusion. Returning to world-development trajectories known from history entails a return to the politics of realism (Mearsheimer, 2018; comp.: Kagan, 2018; Ikenburry, 2018; Jones, 2017–2018). If we were to agree with this thesis, we would recognize that the illiberal trend will gain in strength, and we would seek to understand it and live with it. However, for people accustomed to life in a democracy, in conditions of individual freedom, tolerance, and respect for the law, this represents a great challenge. Therefore, the wave of illiberalism is accompanied by the active defense of liberal norms and values by its proponents. These two competing processes can be seen in all countries struggling with illiberalism, including Poland.

3 Manifestations of Violations of Democratic Norms and Values by the Polish Authorities The Law and Justice party, when it took full power in Poland in 2015, began to implement its conservative and nationalist program of shaping internal and foreign policy. It does so in an authoritarian manner, in violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and the law of the European Union. Its actions are an expression of an incompletely articulated conservative-nationalist ideology. This ideology assumes imposing on the society a vision based on a worldview that is a mixture of moral conservatism and Catholic fundamentalism, as well as striving to maintain the full political power that PiS won in 2015. An additional element to ensure this party’s continued social support is the desire to create ‘new’ elites promoting a conservative and nationalist ideology. These elites are to consist of all sorts of promoters of PiS ideas and programs. That is why PiS relies on ‘its’ journalists and ‘experts’ fighting liberal and progressive views and recruits them from among various groups of dissatisfied and under-educated people, who so far have not had much opportunity to appear in the liberal media and work or social advancement. Of key importance for the PiS leader, Jarosław Kaczy´nski, is the desire to fully control society and maintain full power for many years. It is needed to implement the conservative-nationalist political agenda. There is a clear similarity of his political determination to that of the communist leaders of socialist Poland, which was in the Eastern Bloc in 1945–1989. This is especially visible in the juxtaposition of views and statements by Jarosław Kaczy´nski and Władysław Gomułka (1956–1970). Gomułka often used to say “we will never give up power once conquered,” and he called those, who wanted to take it away from communists as traitors, traffickers, and even “agents of American imperialism and revisionists from West Germany.” Similarly,

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


Jarosław Kaczy´nski often says that PiS will rule for several terms and will not hand over power to traitors from the Civic Platform and the left. This example clearly shows that Kaczy´nski—as a man with an oppositional attitude during the Polish People’s Republic—took the worst traits from the communists. It should be added here, however, that the communists received power in Poland after World War II from the USSR, and PiS won power in the parliamentary and presidential elections. Even more, it should be noted that the communist elites had pragmatic politicians who, understanding geopolitics, tried to expand Poland’s margin of independence from Moscow, which resulted in a certain margin of autonomy from the USSR in internal and even foreign policy. On the other hand, Kaczy´nski, by his own political choice, implements the conservative-nationalist vision of reforming the Polish state using authoritarian methods of government, straight from the communist era. He does not understand the requirements of modern democracy; he only reduces it to an electoral act. Indeed, PiS came to power twice in 2005 and 2015 as a result of won elections although the next elections in 2019 were not fully free elections, especially due to the unequal access of competing parties and politicians to public media and the tracking of opposition politicians using the system Pegasus illegally. Soon after winning the elections, PiS began to limit the rights of the opposition and all minorities; arguing that if it won the elections, it can do what it wants because it has a majority in parliament.

3.1 Elimination of the Separation of Powers and Violation of the Rule of Law A specific paradox is that during the Cold War division of Europe, the majority of Polish society and the opposition focused on Poland joining the democratic West. Only a dozen or so years after it happened and Poland was admitted to NATO and the European Union, PiS politicians chose the course to pull away from democratic standards and norms. The explanation for this turn seems simple. PiS deviates from democracy because democratic institutions and procedures make it difficult for it to impose a conservative-nationalist vision of the country’s reconstruction on society. To this end, it tries to subordinate all state organs to itself. It is about exercising full power and therefore about what was in the countries of real socialism—uniformity of power, instead of its tripartite division. Therefore, it should not be an exaggeration to say that Jarosław Kaczy´nski turned out to be a good student of the Bolshevik leader—Vladimir Lenin. Observing the dismantling of democratic institutions and the ruthless manner of doing so, one can ask whether this does not constitute a practical implementation of the recommendations of Lenin’s famous essay entitled On the State.



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Constitutional Tribunal

The first body of the judiciary that PiS subjugated to itself was the Constitutional Tribunal. This body upholds the compliance of laws and international agreements with the Constitution. PiS, having a majority in parliament, began the process of passing bills significantly changing the state system, including those aimed at changing the constitution, without maintaining appropriate procedures. The Sejm was ‘baffled’ by so-called parliamentary bills that do not require—like government bills—the necessary consultations. The opposition was completely ignored, and there were quite often instances of the rapid pace of the entire legislative process; a group of PiS deputies submitted a bill which was subject to the three readings required by the Sejm Regulations at a one-day session of the Sejm, under the cover of night, and President Andrzej Duda, who came from PiS, signed bills on the same night. Since PiS, and formally the ruling United Right, had a slight advantage in the Sejm, it has sometimes lost votes. At that time, the Marshal of the Sejm, El˙zbieta Witek, illegally ordered a ‘reassumption’ of the vote in which the ruling party’s draft was passed. PiS did it many times and ostentatiously disregarded the opposition’s opinion. This was accompanied by the violation of the Regulations of the Sejm and good customs. Many MPs from PiS showed an evident lack of personal culture. Many times Jarosław Kaczy´nski and his prominent party colleagues said that they had the majority and could pass whatever they wanted. They often referred to the ‘will of the sovereign,’ that is, their voters. The parliamentary majority in the Sejm was provided to the PiS by the system for counting votes during elections using the d’Hondt method. In addition, PiS activists constantly refer to the fact that they won the elections and completely ignore the opinion of the parliamentary minority. This situation is similar to the behavior of the episcopate of the Catholic Church, which due to the fact that most Poles consider themselves Catholics, imposes fundamentalist principles on the whole society regarding their private life. Anyway, in Poland, under the rule of PiS, a close ‘alliance between the throne and the confessional’ has been formed, and the government authorities introduce orthodox regulations on abortion and grant the Church further financial privileges, as well as turn a blind eye to the negative phenomena in the conduct of priests toward children and adolescents (pedophilia). The PiS battle to subjugate the Constitutional Tribunal continued from the beginning of its assumption of power in the fall of 2015. PiS wanted to introduce its judges to the composition of the Tribunal, who would issue favorable or even written sentences at the party’s headquarters at Nowogrodzka Street in Warsaw. PiS used a provision of the 1997 Act, which gives the Sejm the right to appoint new judges to replace those vacated by persons, who ended their 9 year term in the Tribunal. A dispute arose immediately about which Sejm of the 7th or 8th term of office could appoint new judges. The outgoing Sejm (7th term of office) appointed five new judges on October 8, 2015. This election was not recognized by PiS, which had a majority in the newly elected Sejm (8th term). On November 19, it forced through the Sejm a bill on the re-election of judges, as well as on the removal of the current president and vice-president of the Constitutional Tribunal, and on December 2, at night, it

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


appointed its five judges, and on the same night, President Duda received an oath from four of them. In this way, PiS introduced its judges to the Tribunal, three of whom were called by the opposition and many experts—‘understudies.’ Subsequently, on December 9, the Constitutional Tribunal issued a judgment stating that the acts passed by the parliamentary majority on the re-election of judges of the Tribunal were unconstitutional. However, Prime Minister Beata Szydło refused to publish this judgment. It was the first such case since the commencement of judicial activity by the Constitutional Tribunal in 1986. On December 22, 2015, with the restriction of the voting rights opposition, a new act on the Constitutional Tribunal was adopted. The dispute over its constitutionality lasted a few more months, and it was rejected by the majority of votes by the ‘old’ Constitutional Tribunal led by Professor Andrzej Rzepli´nski. It was criticized by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Ombudsman, and most legal and rule-of-law organizations. It was to no avail. PiS led to the removal of the chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal from office, and on December 20, 2016, President Duda appointed Kaczy´nski’s ‘friendly discovery’—Julia Przył˛ebska, MA. The Constitutional Tribunal has become a dummy and convenient tool for the legal justification of PiS decisions that violate the rule of law. Since November 2015, numerous demonstrations have been held against this in many Polish cities, at which the amendments to the Constitutional Tribunal were denied the validity of. On May 7, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ruled that the inclusion of understudies in the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal was unconstitutional and stated that “Poland violated Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial before an established court in accordance with the provisions.“ This means that the Tribunal of the Council of Europe confirmed the opinion of the Polish opposition that the Constitutional Tribunal was incorrectly elected and therefore illegal.


Prosecutor’s Office

Another segment of power that was recognized by PiS as ‘a bastion of the old system’ was the judiciary. The idea was to make the prosecutor’s office and the courts dependent on the executive, so that they would not react to the breaking of the law by the ruling party. This creates a situation of impunity in cases of violations of the rule of law and common crimes, including widespread corruption in the power apparatus. In March 2016, the law changing the prosecution system entered into force. The most important element of this change was the merger of the functions of the Public Prosecutor General and the Minister of Justice. The new minister of justice is Zbigniew Ziobro, known from the previous edition of the PiS government (2005–2007), the head of the small far-right party Solidarna Polska, remaining in a program alliance with PiS (within the United Right). He immediately began personnel changes, controlling law enforcement processes and personal interference in the ongoing investigations. The prosecutor’s office very quickly became an arm of PiS’s power, as it was during the Polish People’s Republic.


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The significant manifestations of the changes taking place were the delegation of ‘disobedient prosecutors’ to work in distant cities, the promotion of people associated with the government and personally with Minister Ziobro, as well as entrusting the political leadership in Sejm of the so-called Constitutional Tribunal reform to the prosecutor under martial law (introduced on December 13, 1981, in order to suppress Solidarity), Stanisław Piotrowicz. The effective abolition of the independence of the prosecution service and the extensive powers of the Public Prosecutor General increased the abuse and political manipulation of the prosecution service. The fact that it is unacceptable under the rule of law was pointed out by the Venice Commission operating at the Council of Europe in September 2017 (European Commission for Democracy, 2019).


Violation of the Independence of the Judiciary

Striving to ensure impunity, the ruling Law and Justice party made efforts to subjugate the courts, as part of the propaganda term ‘reform’ of the judiciary. It was about gaining the possibility of appointing own judges and replacing the presidents of courts with those, who were submissive and felt to perform a mission reminiscent of the political commissioners of the first years after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, as well as common careerists and people resenting their colleagues at work. Since 2016, the Minister of Justice Ziobro replaced most of the presidents of courts and began to transfer inconvenient judges (like prosecutors) to other courts, often distant from their place of residence. In order to influence the appointment of judges, PiS took steps to subordinate the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). The National Council of the Judiciary was a constitutional body obliged to uphold the independence of courts and judges and was competent to assess candidates for judicial and assistant judges and to submit to the President of the Republic of Poland applications for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court, common and administrative courts. In July 2017, the Sejm passed the law terminating the terms of office of all members of the National Council of the Judiciary, and in December this year another law changing the method of electing members of the KRS, not by judicial structures, but by 2/3 of the Sejm deputies, and in a case of failure to obtain this number of votes by a simple majority. This paved the way for the politicization of the National Council of the Judiciary and its subordination to the party that had the majority in the parliament. The Venice Commission issued an opinion assessing the act as weakening the independence of courts in Poland (European Commission for Democracy, 2017), and in October 2021, the National Council of the Judiciary was excluded from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary. At the same time, attempts were made to take over the Supreme Court, a body that was critical of PiS taking over the Constitutional Tribunal. The most important reason was that the Supreme Court approves the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections. Not without significance was Jarosław Kaczy´nski’s personal aversion to the First President of the Supreme Court, Prof. Małgorzata Gersdorf

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


and his conviction that the judges of the Supreme Court constitute an unauthorized caste of the judicial elite, who stands above the law. In the media controlled by PiS, especially public television, systematic personal attacks were made on judges in order to present them in the worst possible light as people, who broke the law with impunity, and were not answerable as ordinary citizens before the courts but before the biased bodies of the judicial self-government. This was to justify the need to replace judges and subject them to disciplinary and criminal liability. The first steps were taken to remove Małgorzata Gersdorf from the position of the First President of the Supreme Court despite the fact that her term did not end until April 2020. In July 2017, PiS submitted a parliamentary bill changing the term of office of judges by shortening it to the age of 65. This was an open attack on the constitutionally guaranteed independence and irremovability of judges. As a result of misunderstandings in the ruling camp, President Duda vetoed the bill passed by the Sejm. Then, in December 2017, the Sejm passed the law proposed by the President, which also shortened the return of judges to retirement after reaching the age of 65 and introduced the possibility of an extraordinary complaint—allowing for challenging final court judgments. Under this act, the Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamber and the Disciplinary Chamber were established. Then, in an atmosphere of sharp protests from legal circles, a battle was fought for the position of the First President of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court supporting Małgorzata Gersdorf on August 2, 2018, asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on the compliance with European law of the provisions of the Act on the Supreme Court concerning the reduction of the retirement age of judges to the age of 65. On June 24, 2019, the CJEU ruled that the Polish regulations on lowering the retirement age of Supreme Court judges breached the principles of irremovability of judges and judicial independence (Court of Justice of the European Union, 2019). The judgment was recognized by the Polish authorities, and Gersdorf remained in her position until the end of her term of office. Disputes over the Supreme Court continued, and PiS did not give up its efforts to subordinate this important body to itself. The ruling party was supported by a dummy Constitutional Tribunal headed by Julia Przył˛ebska. After Gersdorf left her term of office, Małgorzata Manowska, a close associate of Minister Ziobro, was appointed to the position of the First President of the Supreme Court in May 2020. Since March 2019, the government-dependent Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, composed of nominations of the minister of justice, has been operating. It punished over a dozen judges adjudicating on the basis of the constitution and CJEU judgments. The new first president of the Supreme Court did not terminate the functioning of this chamber. The Disciplinary Chamber was not replaced by the Chamber of Professional Responsibility until July 2022, on the basis of the amended law on the Supreme Court. This was only a facade change, which did not satisfy the European Commission. New problems were created by the Polish authorities with implementing of the socalled disciplinary law on judges (adopted on December 20, 2019). The law forced by the United Right, called by judges the ‘muzzle law,’ introduces penalties for judges for questioning the decisions of the judiciary bodies controlled by PiS and


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mainly the judicial appointments of the new KRS. It was supposed to be a recipe for the decisions of ‘old’ judges, who did not want to adjudicate with the wrongly elected judges under PiS and tried to challenge their status by law, directing the socalled preliminary questions to the CJEU. This law was passed under the guise of improving the functioning of the courts and allegedly preventing chaos and anarchy in the judiciary, violating the constitutional principle of tripartite division and balance of powers. It damages the foundations of a democratic state ruled by law and deepens the systemic crisis of the Polish state. It violates the Polish Constitution and deepens disputes with the European Union. The dispute with the EU continued, and the European Commission refrained from accepting the National Reconstruction Plan submitted by the Polish government. In October 2021, the European Commission upheld its demand with regard to the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court and the reinstatement of judges punished by this supposed court. Finally, the European Commission accepted the Polish reconstruction plan only on June 1, 2022, but this did not mean that it agreed to release money for Poland from the EU Reconstruction Fund. This remained dependent on Poland meeting the conditions for restoring the independence of the judiciary. Faced with unequivocal criticism from the European Commission and CJEU, the rulers of Poland try to delay. They do not implement the decisions and judgments of the CJEU, and they announce the continuation of the reform of the judiciary. They will not improve the inefficient judiciary, and in particular, they will not affect—announced for several years by Jarosław Kaczy´nski and Zbigniew Ziobro— the elimination of the tardiness of pending court proceedings. It is about getting rid of the best judges of the Supreme Court and the political control of the courts. Undoubtedly, the new ideas of PiS herald further devastation of the judiciary in Poland and a tightening of the position in disputes with the European Union over the rule of law in Poland.


Restriction of the Right to Assembly and Repression of Demonstrators

A visible manifestation of the evolution of the Polish political system toward authoritarianism is the restriction of the right to assembly and severe repressions of demonstrators. In December 2016, the Sejm amended the Law on Assemblies. In this amendment, priority was given to expressing consent by state organs to the so-called cyclical manifestations. In this way, priority was given to the so-called Smolensk monthlies held on April 10 to commemorate the victims of the Smolensk plane crash, in which President Lech Kaczy´nski died and the entire 95-person delegation, as well as nationalist marches on the November 11 public holiday. The new regulation gave priority to demonstrations supported by the ruling party Law and Justice, and the law to demonstrate against government decisions has thus been restricted. During street protests, and there were many such protests in defense of the rule of law or against the limitation of women’s rights, the government sent a large number

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


of police forces, just as it was during the martial law in the early 1980s. PiS even considered using the army against demonstrating women. Special forces, including anti-terrorist units, were also used to break up the demonstrations. Very often, there were cases of severe beatings not only of the demonstrators but even of passers-by. During street demonstrations in many Polish cities, anti-terrorist units used violence against protesting women, intervening opposition MPs and journalists, and even underage adolescents with tear gas, and beat them with so-called telescopic batons. There were numerous arrests. The police very often imposed fines or referred cases to courts.1 Following the introduction in spring 2020 of restrictions on the accumulation of people in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, the state authorities gained increased powers, but these were applied selectively primarily to those protesting against the authorities; they did not apply to assemblies supporting the government, i.e., rallies organized by PiS and to nationalist demonstrations. The government was very careful not to let journalistic reports from the street protests reach the public. In addition to obstructing the work of free media, public television (TVP) was used, controlled by the ruling parties. The reports and comments of journalists from this government television resembled the worst times of communist propaganda. Journalists of TVPInfo acted like political commissars during the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.


An Attack on the Free Media

Jarosław Kaczy´nski, as a political strategist, who finally came to power after several years of efforts, knew very well that in order to strengthen this power, it was necessary to take over the media. In Poland, public television is the most important medium for the electorate from the provinces, small towns, and villages. To control it, he delegated Jacek Kurski, a politician with whom he had disagreements before, but who, while making blunt propaganda on TV, used to say “the dark people will buy it.” In January 2016, Kurski assumed the position of president of Polish Television (TVP). While performing this function, he initiated a number of projects aimed at the intellectually untrained electorate of the provinces. He introduced on TVP artistically poor entertainment shows, referring to the plebeian culture, colored with patriotic content, as well as broadcasts of sports events. This increased the viewership of this television, and then, Kurski forced journalists to conduct primitive propaganda criticizing the political opposition and educated elites. This quickly brought success. Television has ceased to be public television and has become a tool of PiS propaganda. It was effectively used during the parliamentary elections in 2019 and the presidential elections the following year. The situation did not change after Kurski was dismiss from the position of the president of TVP in early September 2022. Polish Television undertook the action of introducing far-right journalists supporting PiS into publicist debates. This corresponds to the idea of Jarosław


However, the courts in most cases discontinued cases.


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Kaczy´nski’s fixe on the need to create new elites. In journalistic programs, journalists, experts, and opposition politicians do not have a chance to express themselves freely, and if some of them managed to do so, their speeches were distorted by PiS political commentators. Public television devotes a lot of airtime to ad personam attacks on the former prime minister, head of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The right-wing group of Gazeta Polska [Polish Newspaper] has become an important support for PiS and TVP. Simultaneously, with the political control of public television, PiS took over Polish Radio, which supports PiS propaganda. Commercial TV stations have become a salt in the eyes of PiS leaders. They managed to soften the critical attitude of Polsat television, and TVN (owned by the American concern Warner Bros. Discovery) remained the only truly independent television station. Therefore, the so-called public television from the very beginning of Kurski’s presidency has been dealing with undermining the credibility of this American television station, especially news programs and journalism on TVN24. Jarosław Kaczy´nski and many other PiS barons do not appear at this station. The effect of PiS propaganda is that many people do not want to make any statements for TVN24 because they treat this TV station as their enemy. In this situation, it should come as no surprise that TVN24 waited 19 months for the extension of its broadcasting license in Poland. It was granted conditionally just before the expiry of the existing license in September 2021.2 PiS even prepared a bill (the so-called Lex TVN), which provided for forcing the owner of this TV station to resell it, preferably to the Polish owner. This issue casts a strong shadow on the already tense relations between Poland and the USA. The situation was temporarily eased by the veto of President Duda, who refused to sign Lex TVN on December 27, 2021. Presumably, PiS leaders did not realize the importance of media freedom for the United States, which remains one of the basic features of a democratic state. A very important step by PiS to liquidate the independence of the media was the purchase on December 7, 2020, from the German owner (Verlagsgruppe Passau Capital Group) of the press and regional media by the state-owned fuel company Orlen. In this way, PiS gained access to 17.4 million Internet users and the possibility of acquiring new customers. The transaction made should be assessed in the context of the upcoming local and parliamentary elections, which should be held in autumn 2023.3 Soon, the new owner began to replace the editors of these media with his own people trusted by PiS. Regional media is no longer free.


By granting the license, the National Broadcasting Council adopted a resolution the purpose of which is in line with the purpose of the Lex TVN Act. The resolution states that if the Discovery Group does not sell TVN’s controlling stake, it may, for example, not obtain an extension of the license for other channels. And in some cases, the Constitutional Tribunal dependent on PiS may be included in the case. 3 In November 2022, the ruling PiS, fearing that it might lose the elections, pushed through the Sejm a bill extending the term of local governments until April 30, 2024. This means postponing elections to these local governments.

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


3.2 Other Violations of Democratic Norms and Standards 3.2.1

Control of Schooling and Higher Education

During the first edition of the PiS government, Jarosław Kaczy´nski announced that PiS would create its own university. This idea was revealed during long-lasting disputes with the academic community, which opposed some solutions with regard to the intelligentsia and criticized the decommunization act of 2007, passed by the parliamentary majority at that time (PiS, League of Polish Families and SelfDefense). Back then, the intelligentsia was generally referred to by the deputy prime minister Ludwik Dorn as a ‘pseudo-elite.’ In that first edition of the PiS government, PiS failed to implement Kaczy´nski’s plan to create new elites, who were to think patriotically and conservatively. Jarosław Kaczy´nski returned to this vague idea as the leader with full power in the country since 2015. However, the issue of universities was relegated to the background in a situation of complicating the operation of subjugating the judiciary and the media by PiS. These matters were dealt with by the PiS coalition partner Jarosław Gowin—the leader of the small party Agreement (Porozumienie). The new law on higher education, adopted in 2018 on his recommendation, maintained and developed erroneous regulations introduced by the previous government, which treated universities as corporations, and the main occupation of academics was seeking points for publications in English-language journals. The new law was passed without any real consultation with the academic community and, overall, turned out to be beneficial for the ruling party. During Gowin’s disputes with PiS opponents on some solutions, Jarosław Kaczy´nski’s view won. He suggested that the so-called constitution for science is not relevant now, so let the community take care of itself and continue to plunge into the pointless pursuit and counting of publication points. There are very unfavorable solutions in the new policy toward universities. Such is the removal of older and experienced staff—full professors who have reached the age of 65. Although the new law does not regulate this, the Ministry of Education and Science does not finance professors’ positions, which results in the fact that universities do not have the funds for their further employment. The place of professors is taken by young researchers for whom the so-called quick promotion paths to ‘university professors,’ including ‘teaching professors.’ This further aggravated the difficult situation in universities and young academics, apart from chasing points, focus on using the path of rapid promotion to university professors. This lowers the level of research as well as teaching. In fact, universities under the PiS rule have lost their autonomy. Since October 2020, Gowin’s policy has been continued by Minister Przemysław Czarnek (professor at the Catholic University of Lublin), who changes the scores for publications. He prefers weak American publishing houses and scientific journals and of course Polish ones related to the Catholic Church. Observing the general staffing policy of PiS authorities, it is clear that the preferred are graduates of the


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Catholic University of Lublin and the Rydzyk School from Toru´n, whose status was raised in October 2021 to the rank of an academy (Academy of Social and Media Culture). For now, Kaczy´nski does not return directly to his idea of a dozen or so years ago that PiS should create its own university. On the other hand, this is partly implemented in practice by the creation of the Zamo´sc´ Academy or is manifested in the projects to liquidate the Polish Academy of Sciences and create the Copernican Academy. Therefore, just like in the economy, you can see the PiS gigantomania in science management. It is also dangerous that the Minister of Education and Science, Czarnek, announces the need to introduce the study of the texts of John Paul II into the curricula at universities and a new subject in primary schools, entitled “History and the Present,” through which the historical and civic narrative is to be promoted by PiS. The Minister tries to strengthen the functions of curators supervising primary and secondary schools, i.e., officials appointed by the Ministry of Education and Science. The goal is to make schools a field of right-wing nationalist indoctrination and the first front line in building new conservative-nationalist elites. In 2022, the top-down practice of pushing away from teaching and dismissing academics known for their independent views from work intensified at universities. This strikes at the essence of academic freedom and testifies to the strengthening of PiS’s authoritarian political course.


Centralization of Governance: Taking Away Competences from Local Government

Jarosław Kaczy´nski is guided by the desire to have full power. To this end, he eliminates all possible obstacles, such as independent courts or free media. He is a supporter of the communist thesis on the uniformity of state power. Aiming at the elimination of the tripartite division of powers, he orders taking away competences from local self-government. Meanwhile, in Poland, there is a system solution from 1990 assuming the cooperation of the government and local government administration. Voivodes stand guard over the general interest of the state represented by the government. Most local governments in Poland do not have sufficient income from taxes paid by individuals and legal entities in a given territorial unit. In such a situation, the expenses of communes, poviats, and voivodships are financed from the budget subsidy. The PiS government, wishing to have full control over the spending of funds by local governments, takes away their powers to decide what the money will be spent on. This is the simplest method of ensuring that you have a say in determining the goals for which the grant money is spent. Under the rule of PiS, following competences were taken away from local government units: ● the right to employ assistants and advisers for a specified period by commune heads, mayors, city presidents, poviat starosts, and voivodship marshals;

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


● the right to stand for the third term of office of the incumbent commune heads, town mayors, and presidents, which means depriving them of their passive electoral rights and limiting the active election right of voters in communes; ● the right to set remuneration for people in managerial positions filled by choice or appointment was limited by reducing it by approx. 20% amounts of the minimum and maximum basic salary. The law amending the act on regional chambers of audit was particularly dangerous to the independence of local self-government. It did not enter into force due to President Duda’s veto in July 2017. This act aimed at subordinating all regional accounting chambers to the government in order to allow the government administration to interfere with the performance of all own tasks of local government units and to allow the dismissal or suspension of local government bodies under the pain of immediate enforceability (Fundacja, 2019). Another way for the PiS government to pursue party politics is to refrain from allocating funds to cities and municipalities governed by officials and activists from outside the ruling party. In such a situation, in recent years, the largest Polish cities have found themselves ruled by people from opposition parties, e.g., Warsaw, Kraków, Pozna´n, Wrocław, Lublin, Białystok, and Gda´nsk. Meanwhile, municipalities and poviats managed by people from PiS receive additional increased financial resources. Numerous examples of such a policy toward local governments can be found in southern Poland, Małopolska, and Podkarpacie. Sometimes, as a reward for long-term voting for PiS, these regions receive promises of costly investments from central funds, such as the construction of a railway line in the south of the Lublin region from Szastarka to Janów Lubelski and Biłgoraj. A possible way to weaken local governments may be to change the administrative division of the country. PiS supports the need to ensure sustainable development, taking into account the interests of the periphery. PiS’s activities are aimed at supporting less affluent and lower-level self-governments. This is at the expense of large cities and provinces. A well-known example of PiS’s attempts to weaken strong local governments is the recurring project to divide Mazovia into two voivodeships: Warsaw and Mazovian. Another way to weaken local governments is to strengthen supervision over the sources of funding for local governments and the way money is distributed between individual units. PiS has for a long time been creating an alternative system of financing local ventures and keeping watch over it. Thus, instead of fulfilling the basic postulate of local governments and increasing their share in tax revenues (PIT and CIT)—thanks to which their pool of own revenues would increase—the authorities create new centrally managed funds. PiS has already established, for example, the Bus Transportation Development Fund and the Local Government Road Fund or the Government Fund for Local Investments. Such central funds, exceeding the finances of local governments, become a tool for rewarding local governments loyal to the authorities and punishing those governed by the opposition or local committees unrelated to the dominant political parties. This strengthens the centralization of the state and does not help the development of local self-governments. It may also lead


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to the threatening conclusion that PiS does not actually need the local government ˙ 2020). for anything other than gaining its influence (Zółciak, The PiS government, while pursuing a policy of financial support for local selfgovernments, does not care about local development, but first and foremost about supporting ‘its owns’ and paying for its electorate. By the way, it does so from central earmarked funds, which consist of money taken out of the budget. By the fall of 2021, the government has created 35 such funds, which are at its disposal so basically beyond the control of the parliament. Generally, one can agree with the opinion of Jacek Krzemi´nski, former head of the Self-Government Service of the Polish Press Agency, who writes: “The PiS government’s policy towards local self-governments destroys them, destabilizes them. It devastates their finances, makes them party-like, takes away their competences and makes local governments more and more dependent on the state, the government and the ruling party. Turning to rubble the idea of self-governance. One gets the impression that this is a deliberate action, calculated to take over the control of local governments by PiS” (Krzemi´nski, 2022).


Tightening the Ban on Abortion

After several years of rule, PiS found itself on the verge of losing the majority in the Sejm, Jarosław Kaczy´nski more and more clearly adopted the views of the rightwing political circles on abortion, moving to fundamentalist positions. This is what happened with his attitude toward the so-called abortion compromise of January 1993. Earlier, Kaczy´nski was in favor of maintaining this ‘compromise,’ which was actually one of the strictest regulations on the possibility of terminating pregnancy in Europe. In autumn 2020, he adopted the point of view of Catholic fundamentalists and gave consent to the head of the licensed Constitutional Tribunal, Julia Przył˛ebska, to issue a ruling on the unconstitutionality of a provision allowing abortion in the event of a high probability of severe, incurable and fatal fetal impairment. Such a ruling was made on October 22, 2020 (Bogdalska, 2020). The abortion compromise ceased to apply, and a series of violent street demonstrations by women took place in many Polish cities. These demonstrations took place despite the restrictions on public gathering in the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new regulations of the Constitutional Tribunal were immediately applied by doctors. When the first case of a woman’s death, publicized in the independent media, due to doctors’ concerns that they would not be accused of breaking the law during childbirth (by performing an abortion), it came to submit in November 2021, with the support of PiS, an even more extreme draft banning abortion and providing for a life sentence for woman deciding to have an abortion. This means a clear evolution of the views of Jarosław Kaczy´nski, who cares about the political support of the fundamentalists and the episcopate of the Catholic Church. A similar evolution can be seen in Kaczy´nski’s decision to aggravate disputes with the institutions of the European Union, in connection with their call for Poland to withdraw from violating the rule of law.

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


The transition of the entire PiS to fundamentalist positions on the regulation of termination of pregnancy is against the majority of Poles’ opinion, and women are denied the right to decide about their bodies. After the ruling of October 2020, Poland has become, next to Malta, the country with the strictest ban on abortion. This testifies to the dangerous evolution of PiS toward a fundamentalist party implementing the demands of the Catholic Church. It also means that Poland, ruled by PiS, increasingly does not match the standards and norms that prevail in the European Union.


Inhumane Treatment of Immigrants from the Middle East

In the summer of 2021, illegal immigrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, began to cross the border with Belarus to Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland. They were transferred by the special services of Belarus in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by the European Union on the regime of Alaksandr Lukashenka for the rigged presidential elections last year. At the beginning of August 2021, the Polish Border Guard began to detain the first groups of immigrants trying to reach Western European countries via Poland, most often in order to reunite with their families. Unable to stop the growing wave of illegal immigrants, the Polish authorities decided to introduce a state of emergency on September 2, 2021, in the border zone with Belarus (until June 30, 2022). Polish services were catching immigrants and ‘pushing’ them back to the Belarusian side. It was a ruthless inhumane action in violation of international humanitarian law, especially as some immigrants asked the Polish services to provide them with international protection. Soon, on the Polish side, the Border Guard, the police, the army, and inhabitants of border towns found fatalities among immigrants exhausted by wandering in the woods in unfavorable weather conditions (rain and frost). The Polish authorities ordered their border guarding services to carry out a decisive, brutal, and highly inhumane action of expelling immigrants, including small children, abroad with Belarus. It was a practical application of the policy announced by Jarosław Kaczy´nski and Prime Minister Beata Szydło during the great migration crisis in 2015–2016. It was then that a firm opposition to accepting immigrants met with public approval, especially in the PiS electorate. This time, the expectation of a similar social reaction was the basis for the attitude toward immigrants entering Polish territory from Belarus. In order to achieve this, the Polish authorities launched an intrusive propaganda action pointing to the looming threat from Belarus, as well as Russia, presented as the protector of the Belarusian regime. PiS was anxious to arouse fear in order to increase public support for the shaky government and its inappropriate actions. It imposed on its supporters the opinion that the allegedly endangered security of the country could be shaped by all methods, including highly inhumane ones. It is a kind of paradox that thanks to this, PiS increased social support for its actions in a society which, in the last years of real socialism, received sympathetic help from abroad for emigration from the country. The army was also drawn to protect the border, as if it was to repel an armed attack from the east. Frontex, the EU agency dealing with border protection (having


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its headquarters in Poland), was not asked for help. It was pointed out in the government media and statements of government representatives that the Belarusian border guards were behaving provocatively toward the Polish Border Guard. However, NATO was not asked to consult under Art. 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. These circumstances indicate that the Polish authorities made a propaganda campaign to increase public support for PiS in the case of sending illegal arrivals to Poland, brought to Minsk by Belarusian airplanes. Meanwhile, on the border, the services of the Polish state acted abruptly and violated international norms. This shows that they fell for the regime of the Belarusian dictator and, in fact, behaved as Lukashenka assumed. The Belarusian regime was able to show the international opinion how inappropriately Poles treat immigrants, some of whom could be classified as refugees from conflict-ridden countries. It is difficult to find a substantive justification for the introduction of a state of emergency on the border with Belarus, except for anti-democratic one, that the Polish authorities wanted to prevent journalists from independent media from having access to immigrants and border guard services crossing the border. Thanks to this, it was possible to hide most of the inappropriate behavior of the Polish services. In addition, the regulations of the state of emergency made it difficult for medical personnel and humanitarian organizations to assist immigrants. Nevertheless, some information was reaching the public opinion, showing the compromising behavior, especially of the Polish Border Guard. In addition, Poland’s behavior in the face of this small migration crisis will remain a highly inappropriate example, and the media will still retain images of tormented and extremely exhausted immigrants being forced into the forest to the Belarusian side, photos of some fatalities, first barbed wire entanglements built by Poland and then replaced by high a wall (5 m) on the border with Belarus, 186 km long. For the societies of Western countries, these views turned out to be very depressing, especially since the historical message in the West remembers the great help that those societies gave to Poles fleeing during the People’s Republic of Poland behind the ‘Iron Curtain.’ Moreover, the position of the current Polish authorities can only be reported with embarrassment. An example of one of the first reactions of international opinion is the statement issued by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovi´c, in which she strongly condemned the incitement of people to cross the border through Belarus. Referring to the situation on the Polish–Belarusian border, she noted, however, that “Poland cannot allow innocent and defenseless people to fall victim,” and “withdrawing people back to the border, denying them access to fair asylum procedures or leaving them in a threatening humanitarian situation cannot be a reaction of a member state of the Council of Europe, as it is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and other international human rights instruments” (Council of Europe, 2021). The inhumane and contrary to international law treatment of immigrants trying to enter the EU through the Belarusian–Polish border was still practiced by Polish border services in next months.

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


After the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022, by the end of this year over 9 million refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, had entered Poland, of whom about 1.56 million remained in this country. Polish society, local governments, and humanitarian organizations provided unprecedented help. The authorities of the Polish state only created legal regulations enabling refugees from Ukraine to stay in Poland. However, they did not turn to the European Union institutions for financial support for accepting refugees. On the other hand, they used self-propaganda campaign of help provided by the society to prove that Poland is open to accepting immigrants. Meanwhile, they continued the inhumane and contrary to international law treatment of immigrants trying to enter Poland from Belarus.


Corruption and Nepotism on an Unprecedented Scale

Leading representatives of PiS in the election campaigns, both presidential and parliamentary in 2015 strongly criticized the previous government coalition of the PO and PSL, pointing to corruption and nepotism in its ranks. The presidential candidate Andrzej Duda even said significant words about the fact that the old coalition operated under the slogan “Lord, get us back the dairy homeland.” Politicians from PiS and Solidarna Polska often presented statistics on the staffing of state-owned companies by the PO and PSL with their people without taking into account the criterion of competence. They announced that after coming to power they would end this practice. However, immediately, after taking up positions in the state administration, they began expelling competent people from state-owned companies and state offices and filled the vacant positions with their activists, members of their families and friends. There were sneering opinions among independent journalists observing that PiS pursues a pro-family policy, which was also a reference to Prime Minister Beata Szydło’s frequent comments about the government’s policy of supporting families with social programs such as 500 Plus. Indeed, an allowance of PLN 500 per month for each child was granted to all families, regardless of their wealth. On the other hand, members of their families, distant relatives, and friends were handed out state positions, regardless of their competences. These were lucrative positions of members of supervisory boards of state-owned companies, managerial positions in central and local offices, including numerous special purpose funds. At the end of September 2021, Gazeta Wyborcza, Radio Zet and the Onet.pl portal began publishing the results of a joint journalistic investigation, which shows that over 900 people from the PiS environment—family members, colleagues from studies, friends from work, found employment in state-owned companies. It was more than three times more than during the previous PO-PSL government coalition. The list includes the largest state-controlled companies, incl. KGHM, Orlen, Lotos, and Azoty. The publication shows that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has the most ‘his people’ in state-owned companies. PiS local government officials acted similarly where they had power in local government units led by their party.


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The same applies to the delegation of trusted high-ranking government officials to business. There are many examples of completely incompetent people leaving offices for well-paid positions in business. Such an example may be the case of the head of the Chancellery of the President, Małgorzata Sadurska, who in June 2017, without a competition procedure, transferred to the management board of the largest insurance company in the country, PZU, where she received a salary of over PLN 40,000 per month; it was about 10 times the average salary in Poland. She did not have any qualifications for this job, and in the years 2002–2005, she was a board member of the Puławy poviat. The lack of competence was not a problem when the company was personally supervised by Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Sadurska’s good friend. A serious problem is the fictitious distribution of property by the highest people in the state to their spouses. The most drastic example is Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who transferred a multi-million-dollar fortune to his wife, and PiS, despite repeated announcements, did not introduce the principle of submitting property declarations by family members of politicians. In Law and Justice, there is a problem, as Kaczy´nski himself put it, the ‘fat cats’ syndrome. It is about employing family members on lucrative jobs in state-owned companies. On this matter, the PiS congress in July 2021 passed a special resolution prohibiting the families of PiS politicians from sitting on supervisory boards of stateowned companies. It stipulated that their spouses, children, brothers and sisters, and parents would not be able to do so. The resolution applies to deputies and senators. In accordance with the internal arrangements of PiS, the provision does not apply retroactively. This means that those working today have not lost their jobs. It is also worth noting that the resolution in this respect mainly referred to supervisory boards of state-owned companies, and omitted the matters of employing family members in local government companies and in government administration. In addition, the resolution also states that the provision does not apply to “people, who work in state-owned companies because of their competences, professional experience and an extraordinary life situation” (PiS chce, 2021). Thus, it can be concluded that it ended with this resolution. Only a dozen or so people were transferred from well-paid positions, and nepotism is still a visible trait in the image of PiS, which solemnly announced that it would pursue a transparent and honest personnel policy (“Tłuste koty”, 2021). The lack of transparency in the PiS personnel policy can be seen in the lack of explanation of how some of its activists achieved great wealth, such as Daniel Obajtek, the former mayor of the Pcim commune (in 2002–2005), who has been the head of a large state-owned company—Polish Orlen Oil Concern. In August 2022, the web portal Wirtualna Polska (wp.pl), as a result of a journalistic investigation, revealed that 122 people associated with the Law and Justice party earned a total of 267 milion PLN (appr. 70 million USD) in state companies, and 66 people became millionaires. Moreover, the PiS leadership bribes politicians from other parties or from their own, who are leaving the party, when PiS balances on the edge of the parliamentary majority. This was clearly visible with the politicians of the coalition Agreement of Jarosław Gowin. In August 2021, Gowin was expelled from the government and

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


the United Right, and most of his people were bribed with positions offered in the government administration by Kaczy´nski. The same was done with the deputies from the Kukiz 15 club. In this way, PiS maintained a shaky majority in the Sejm. This example clearly shows how incredible was PiS’s assurances that it would pursue an ethical policy.


Public Surveillance and Repression of People Who Criticize the Authorities

Surveillance of its citizens is a very dangerous activity of the PiS authorities. The Law and Justice government purchased the Pegasus system from Israel to spy on people via cellular telephony. Equally reprehensible, the purchase was made in September 2018 from the Justice Fund established to help victims of crime.4 Meanwhile, Pegasus is misused, not only to spy on the most dangerous criminals (e.g., terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking), but mainly opposition-minded prosecutors, judges, lawyers, journalists, experts and politicians. The IPhone producer—Apple informed about cases of such a criminal practice of the Polish government. In November 2021, such a case was disclosed by the prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek, who, after receiving information from Apple about a “possible cyber-attack on her phone by state services”, submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office about the possibility of committing a crime to her detriment (Prokurator, 2021). It soon became apparent that similar cases were common. In December 2021, the Associated Press, citing an analysis by Citizen Lab from the University of Toronto, announced the use of Pegasus wiretapping on prosecutor Wrzosek, Roman Giertych, lawyer of Donald Tusk, who has been the target of PiS ‘hunting’ for years and the head of the election staff of the opposition Civic Platform in the election campaign 2019, Krzysztof Brejza (Bajak & Gera, 2021). In January 2022, it was revealed that Michał Kołodziejczak, the head of a small organization organizing protests of farmers, Agrounia, was under surveillance with the Pegasus. As Kaczy´nski’s trusted man publicly admitted in January 2022, “there were few of these wiretaps, only a few hundred people a year” (Suski, 2022). In early February, it turned out that Pegasus was used over 7000 times against 544 official phones of the controllers of the Supreme Audit Office, the most important state control body. In April 2022, the Reuters Agency reported, citing sources in the EU institutions that senior officials of the European Commission had been under surveillance using Israeli spyware. The procedure was to last from February to September 2021. The agency failed to establish who and for what purpose used Israeli spyware against EU officials (Reuters, 2022). Suspicions, however, were directed at Poland and Hungary.


At the same time, 12 IMSI-Cachers testers, i.e., portable suitcases that function as BTS, were purchased. They are used to download information from the entire cellular network and obtain a record of all conversations and transmitted information. Pegasus and IMSI-Catchers are a kind of surveillance harvester that leaves no traces.


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The cited facts prove that there are scandals in Poland unprecedented in the world, and this means the end of the democratic state of law in Poland. They show that PiS won the 2019 elections in an unequal fight, and with its subsequent actions, it lost its moral mandate to exercise power, and its leaders should be held criminally responsible. PiS leaders alternately deny having Pegasus or claim it was used legally with court approval. They did not agree to the appointment of a committee of inquiry in the Sejm to investigate this matter. This just shows that they have a lot to hide. In addition, it should be noted that the use of Pegasus by the Polish special services against their citizens, who have not committed any crimes, jeopardizes the security of the state, as the producer of Pegasus takes into account the surveillance carried out by the Polish services. The information they collect is available to an external entity. This means that the Polish secret services ‘sell’ the collected information to the services of another state (Israel), which is a serious criminal offense. In Poland, since PiS came to power in 2015, thousands of prosecution proceedings have been underway against people, who publicly express opposition views, participants in demonstrations against the so-called monthlies organized every April 10 in Warsaw, participants of protests against the liquidation of the independence of the judiciary, tightening of the abortion law, and other demonstrations of women. Many arrested persons are transported to police stations far from their places of residence, punished with fines, and then released, and the prosecutor’s office directs indictments against them to the courts. Courts usually refrain from taking into account the requests of the politically led prosecution service. Nevertheless, arrests and fines imposed by the police are intended to intimidate citizens and discourage further protests. At the same time, the prosecutor’s office general, Zbigniew Ziobro, the Minister of Justice, interferes in the ongoing investigations. Arrests of people from the political opposition, mainly from the Civic Platform, accused of corruption are also multiplying. At the same time, the prosecutor’s office does not react to reports of corruption among PiS activists and their families. Telephone wiretapping, including the Pegasus system, is used for surveillance of people suspected of opposition attitudes.

4 Consequences for Poland’s Foreign Policy Hungarian researchers rightly claim that ruling right-wing populist parties in Europe have significantly changed foreign policies and advanced criticism against core values of liberal democracy, including dismissive attitude toward the European Union (Varga & Buzogány, 2021). Likewise, illiberalism and nationalism in Poland’s domestic policy have an impact on its foreign policy. The first is Euroscepticism and disputes with Germany and France, the two leading members of the European Union. After coming to power in Poland in 2005 and in 2015, Jarosław Kaczy´nski and other prominent PiS activists spoke of Poland ‘getting off its knees.’ This entailed questioning Poland’s policy within the framework of the EU, including its policy with regard to Germany and France, and with regard to Russia. PiS accused the PO-PSL

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


governments of Donald Tusk and Ewa Kopacz of having ‘capitulated’ to those countries, and this included Russia, relations with which during the tenure of the two previous governments (2007–2015) also left much to be desired. PiS’s criticism of previous governments included the publicly formulated accusation that Poland had become a “German–Russian condominium” (Kaczy´nski, 2010). During the first PiS governments (2005–2007), Poland refused to ratify the Constitutional Treaty signed by the previous government on October 24, 2004, and did not participate in any significant political debate within the European Union. The PiS government, which succeeded in autumn 2015, the government of the PO-PSL coalition, however, resumed the policy that had antagonized Germany and France, and this led once again to the dormancy of the Weimar Triangle. Since autumn 2005, Poland has also criticized Germany for its part in the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline on Baltic Sea floor; and also, from time-to-time, Jarosław Kaczy´nski raised demands for reparations from Germany for World War II. On September 1, 2022, PiS announced that Poland is demanding 1,3 trillion USD in reparations from Germany (Scislowska, 2022). Relations with France worsened sharply in October 2016, when Poland broke a contract worth 3.92 billion USD to purchase French Caracal battle helicopters, as undertaken by the previous government. Polish–French polemics continued as French president Emmanuel Macron publicly condemned nationalism and criticized Poland (and the other members of the Visegrad Group) for lack of solidarity in solving the migrant crisis of 2015–2016 and for blocking EU climate policy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and also when he proposed steps to deepen EU integration and to reinforce the CSDP (for more see Zi˛eba, 2022, pp. 149–150). Given its disinclination toward further EU integration, Poland often criticized the positions of France and Germany. This was caused by Poland’s different vision of the EU’s future as compared to that of most other EU members. In 2016–2017, the government of Beata Szydło demanded a new EU treaty that would strengthen its intergovernmental character. Poland supported the United Kingdom and pointed to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, as the person responsible for Brexit. The PiS government has an à la carte vision of the EU, which it sees as a free trade zone, and is opposed to integration in other areas. It takes no notice of the fact that the EU Treaty binds member states to deepen integration also in noneconomic areas and to respect democratic norms and values. Polish politicians of the government camp protest sharply against all criticism, which concerns infringements on the rule of law and EU norms and values, and which are voiced by other European leaders and from the European Commission. On the other hand, PiS’s governments have represented a nationalistic and greatpower approach toward Russia. Under the PiS governments of 2005–2007, the deterioration of Polish–Russian relations became critical. The disputes about historical issues between Poland and Russia escalated sharply. The nationalism and the Russophobia of the ruling party precluded overcoming the impasse despite several attempts by Russia to find a way out of the situation. The Polish authorities, feeling buoyant at the increasingly closer relations with then USA that followed Washington’s 2006


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proposal to build America’s missile shield in Poland, behaved in an antagonistic manner, not only toward Russia but also toward its EU partners. The issue of the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been a constant point of contention in Poland’s relations with Russia since 2005. PiS believes that it is a dangerous tool in the hands of Russia to implement the policy of superpower pressure on the countries of Central Europe. The fact that the two lines of this gas pipeline were built is blamed on Germany and the former Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk. However, since PiS has returned to power in 2015, its governments only rarely entered into sharp disputes with Russia. The principal issue in Russia-related statements made by government officials is the demand that Russia return the wreckage of the Polish plane that crashed on April 10, 2010, in Smolensk, killing then Polish President Lech Kaczynski along with 95 members of a Polish state delegation on the way to Katy´n. Jarosław Kaczy´nski, and the party he leads, blamed the disaster on Russia, and even advanced that the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had conspired to kill the Polish delegation. While PiS has not been able to produce any evidence in support of this theory, it organized commemorative ‘monthlies,’ i.e., rallies of many thousands of people in the Polish capital to keep the ‘Smolensk religion’ alive. In the meantime, Polish–Russian relations remained frozen. A significant factor explaining this seems to be the similar authoritarian nature of the Polish government and of the Russian one under Vladimir Putin. Politicians and liberal or leftist media protesting against the violation of the rule of law by the Poland’s government and its president allege a ‘betrayal of Polish interests’ and the country’s ‘drift’ toward an eastern satrapy regime. For example, they point to the cooperation that exists between the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán and the Russian president (Lis, 2019). The Russian political scientist Andrei Kortunov goes so far as to state that “the Russians see in PiS a party that seeks to sow in Europe that is in the Kremlin’s interest” (Radziwinowicz, 2019). The PiS government’s domestic policy with regard to ‘protecting’ children from sex education, discrimination, LGBT+, gender, domestic violence against women, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is similar to Russia’s. Despite Kaczy´nski’s Russophobia, the Russian secret services’ penetration (and likely financing) of dispersed right-wing and nationalist circles in Poland can be clearly seen (Poland’s New…, 2017). After the parliamentary elections in October 2019, a small extreme right-wing formation (Konfederacja), whose representatives publicly adopted a pro-Russian stance, entered the Sejm. Poland tried to restore good relations with the authoritarian Belarus. For this purpose, in 2016, Minsk was visited by Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski and Speaker of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski. This did not bring any improvement, and Polish–Belarusian relations remained tense and low, and in the summer of 2021, there was a crisis caused by the Lukashenka regime, which smuggled illegal migrants from the Middle East over the border with Poland. A common foreign policy denominator for the majority of Poland’s political parties is the pursuit of a bandwagoning strategy toward the USA. This was the policy of many Polish governments, both from the right and the left. When PiS

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


was in power, some of its politicians went as far as to suggest a bilateral political– military alliance with the US, to be formed at NATO’s expense. PiS has preferred the bi-lateralization of Poland’s security policy and basing it on bilateral cooperation with the US, even outside the NATO framework and with disregard for the EU. When PiS returned to power in the autumn of 2015, it resumed the policy of subordinating Polish interests to those of the United States. This was expressed in many gestures of faithful submission and in the unquestioning support given to the USA in important international matters. This tendency was strengthened when Donald Trump was the US president in 2017–2021, with an illiberal approach to politics. President Trump supported the Polish authorities regardless of the violation by them of the rule of law and democratic standards. The situation changed when Joe Biden became the US President in January 2021, who made the promotion of human rights one of the priorities of his foreign policy. As the commentator Politico wrote, the position of authoritarian regimes in Poland and Hungary is imperiled by their own policies and “authoritarians also need to worry about public approval, and political isolation will not go down well with populaces of these two countries” (Benjamin, 2021). Generally, since 2015, Poland has concluded several agreements with the US to strengthen strategic partnership and signed controversial agreements for the purchase of armaments (Zi˛eba, 2020). New purchases of weapons in the USA and an increase in the presence of American soldiers in Poland took place after the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, 2022. PiS maintains close contacts with similar populist and nationalist parties operating in other European countries. The closest of these are with Fidesz, the party governing Hungary. Meetings between Jarosław Kaczy´nski and Fidesz leader Victor Orbán, as well as meetings between the two countries’ prime ministers, take place often. Quite early on, after the parliamentary elections of 2011, which PiS lost, Jarosław Kaczy´nski stated that “a time would come when we will have Budapest in Warsaw” (Przyjdzie dzie´n, 2011). Indeed, very quickly after coming to power in 2015, PiS began to encroach on the rule of law and took exclusive control of the Polish public media. Poland and Hungary also have much in common on the international stage. Both countries are opposed to the main EU current, take a firm stand against immigration and are strongly skeptical about deeper European integration. They coordinate common defensive strategies following the European Commission’s initiation of procedures provided by Article 7 of the EU Treaty with regard to the two countries. In December 2020, Poland and Hungary blackmailed 25 other EU member states on the issue of funding from the EU budget that would be linked to compliance with the rule of law. Both countries expressed their vital interest in the development of collaboration between central and eastern European countries and China in a 16 + 1 formula. Only, one factor that weakens the Polish–Hungarian alliance is the two countries’ differing stance toward Russia and toward the Ukraine crisis. Warsaw and Budapest were seeking to expand collaboration within the framework of the Visegrád Group and to build a common front on migration policy and other questions within the EU. However, after parliamentary elections in Slovakia, (2020) and the Czech Republic, (2021), these countries have returned to the EU’s main


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stream, while Poland and Hungary face increasing problems due to violations of the rule of law. This puts the future of V4 cooperation in question (Bayer & Cienski, 2022). Staying in a growing dispute with the EU institutions over violations of the rule of law Jarosław Kaczy´nski and other leading PiS politicians often meet the leaders of extremely conservative, populist, and nationalist parties from other European countries. They are taking concrete steps to create a new alliance of populist forces in the EU. On July 2, 2021, at the same time, the leaders of 17 conservative and right-wing parties from Europe—including PiS, Fidesz, the National Rally and the League—signed in their capitals a declaration of cooperation for a deep reform of the European Union in order to restore the ideas that at its core with the sovereign role of the European nations. The document contained a provision stating that “… it is necessary to create—in addition to the existing principle of granting—a set of inviolable competences of the Member States of the European Union and an appropriate mechanism of their protection with the participation of national constitutional courts or bodies with equivalent competences” (Gotev, 2021). These actions proved that PiS aims to remove Poland from the European Union and thus contributes to breaking the unity of the West in the face of the growing geopolitical dispute with Russia and the intensive logistical preparations undertaken by that country in the fall of 2021 for the war with Ukraine. The ambiguous policy of the Polish authorities in foreign policy is evidenced by the coincidence in time of two important facts; on November 19, 2021, the Director of National Intelligence in the Biden administration, Avril Haines, was on a visit to Poland, who informed Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the ministers of defense and internal affairs as well as the representative of the President of Poland about Russia’s preparations for the invasion of Ukraine, and two weeks later (December 3–4), Jarosław Kaczy´nski hosted the leaders of pro-Russian extreme-right and nationalist parties in Warsaw in order to develop a common vision of Europe, which in practice means preparations for the deconstruction of the EU. The meeting was attended by the leaders of conservative and right-wing parties, including Hungarian Prime Minister Orban and Le Pen. On the first day, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hosted a gala dinner for Le Pen, and a column of cars with invited guests was moving around Warsaw as if they were participating in its heads of state. On the second day, Jarosław Kaczy´nski’s guests debated, at a meeting closed to journalists, on how to change the European Union into a “Union of free and equal nation states linked by close and numerous threads of cooperation.” They stated: “We reject the arbitrary application of EU law, bending and even breaking treaties. Only sovereign state institutions have full democratic legitimacy. European institutions do not enjoy such legitimacy and therefore their role in political architecture must be at the service of the nation state” (Kaczy´nski po spotkaniu, 2021). The meeting in Warsaw of the leaders of the Eurosceptic political parties was received with concern by the democratic opposition in Poland and Hungary. Serious concern over the previous and last meetings was not only about the future of the European Union but was also related to the aggravating international situation in

Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics


Eastern Europe, the migration crisis on the Belarusian–Polish border and Russia’s confrontational policy toward Ukraine and the entire West. Meanwhile, the rulers of Poland, which fell into increasing international isolation under PiS, did not seek an agreement with the European Union institutions and Poland’s most important allies, but with opposition politicians in the EU countries, most of which cooperated with Russia, which acted to weaken EU cohesion. It is difficult to understand and logically explain the fact of the close cooperation of PiS, which considers Russia a state that directly threatens Poland (even militarily), with the French National Rally or the Italian League, cooperating with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This example clearly shows that the European Union remains a serious opponent, or perhaps an enemy, for PiS. On October 22, 2021, Prime Minister Morawiecki met in Brussels with NU leader Marine Le Pen, and two days later, in an interview for the Financial Times, he spoke about the hypothetical World War III that the European Commission would launch against Poland (Poland’s prime, 2021). Once again, Prime Minister Morawiecki met with Le Pen and other leaders of Eurosceptic parties on January 29, 2022, in Madrid, when the crisis in Eastern Europe was at its peak, due to the concentration of troops by Russia around the border with Ukraine. The meeting took place at a time when NATO and the EU were feverishly building solidarity, the Polish prime minister was talking to opponents of the EU, including supporters of Russia (M. Le Pen). International opinion is currently shocked by Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and does not pay attention to the fact that even under the guise of the conflict in Ukraine, in Poland and Hungary, illiberalism, nationalism and authoritarianism, which are dangerous for the entire democratic world, are flourishing. The Polish government, although it took a very firm stand on condemning and stopping Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and advocated building Western unity in the matter of military aid to Ukraine and imposing far-reaching economic sanctions on Russia, was unable neither to dissociate itself from allied relations with Hungary ruled by Orban, nor from supporting the far-right in Western Europe. Although there was no meeting at the summit of the Visegrad Group in Budapest, leading PiS politicians, despite criticizing Orban for his attitude toward Russian aggression, continued to treat him as their strategic partner. Prime Minister Morawiecki was the first foreign politician to congratulate Orban on his consecutive election victory (on April 3, 2022), and at the same time, became involved in the presidential election campaign in France, criticizing the President Emmanuel Macron for his numerous telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin. In response, the French president sharply attacked the Polish head of government in the interview for the daily Le Parisien. “He is a farright anti-Semite who excludes LGBT people,” Macron said, adding that Morawiecki wanted to help Marine Le Pen in the elections in April 2022. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the French ambassador on the matter (Guerre en Ukraine, 2022; Jeong 2022; Macron, 2022; Nussbaum, 2022). In conclusion, one may say that illiberalism and its derivatives have reduced the importance of Poland as a state in Europe and the world. The world’s perception of Poland as it is governed by PiS is increasingly unfavorable among democratic countries and more favorable among other illiberal countries. But not in all of them,


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because the nationalism that accompanies Polish illiberalism makes it impossible to improve relations with other not fully democratic or downright undemocratic countries, especially Poland’s eastern neighbors. Poland’s foreign and security policy is facing serious challenges, some of which Poland created alone and is unable to address effectively. This means that there is a growing problem of incompatibility between Poland’s policies and the changing international order. The chance to rebuild Poland’s international position arose after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, when the USA and other Western allies put strengthening NATO’s eastern flank in the first place. The issue of breaking the rule of law by the PiS government has been relegated to the background, but it has not disappeared from the EU agenda.

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Zi˛eba, R. (2022). Francja w polityce bezpiecze´nstwa Polski. Przegl˛ad Zachodni, (3), 135–156. ˙ Zółciak, T. (2020, July 24). Samorz˛ad, czyli kolejne pole bitwy PO-PiS, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. https://serwisy.gazetaprawna.pl/samorzad/artykuly/1486877,podzial-wojewo dztwa-mazowieckiego-pis-uprawnienia-samorzadow.html. Accessed May 20, 2022.

Ryszard Zi˛eba, Prof. Ph.D. Habil., a full professor emeritus of international relations and security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. The author of numerous books, articles and chapters in collective works, reviews and expertise reports. He has a M.A., Ph.D. and state Ph.D. (habilitation) degrees from the University of Warsaw, and the title of Professor of Humanities conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland.

EU and NATO Eastern Policy Ryszard Zi˛eba

Abstract After the Cold War, western states focused their activities on promoting democracy in the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. These activities are based on the liberal assumption that ensuring democracy, respecting human rights, and building a market economy will create a zone of peace and prosperity. The US addressed its policy of exporting democracy to the CEE region, what in practice manifested itself as supporting pro-Western forces and organizing peaceful ‘regime change.’ The EU has undertaken a policy of partnership with CEE countries and admitting the countries most advanced in democratic and market reforms. On the other hand, NATO pursues an ‘open door’ policy and militarily strengthens its eastern flank. All this eastern policy of the West faces opposition from Russia, which does not recognize the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of states in its neighborhood, as it claims that they are a manifestation of the expansion of the USA and the West at the expense of its legitimate security interests. Russia is particularly opposed to Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO. The CEE region has become a zone of competition for influence between the West and Russia, and this has led to Russia’s policy of aggression toward Ukraine. Keywords Democracy promotion · Regime change · The USA · The EU · NATO · Russia · Ukraine

1 Democracy Promotion The West, which won the Cold War rivalry, guided by liberalism, started a new policy of promoting democracy, ensuring the protection of human rights and supporting the construction of a market economy in the post-communist countries of Central Europe and in the former USSR. This policy was based on the idealistic assumption that these actions would ensure international peace and security and contribute to the development and prosperity of the countries of post-Cold War Europe. The idea R. Zi˛eba (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_6



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of promoting democracy was based on proven political solutions in Western countries and was written in the programming documents of NATO and the European Union. This essentially Wilsonian idea assumed that a democratic zone of peace and prosperity would be built. It was based on the illusion that it would be possible to harmonize the main interests of states, and that contradictions would be resolved through dialog and cooperation, prompted by increasing international interdependences. It was underestimated that in post-communist Europe, the concern for newly regained sovereignty was of great importance, and the disputes and misunderstandings between states, often having their origins in history, hindered the conflict-free expansion of the Atlantic community to the east. The West ignored the ambitions of Russia, which, after returning to the international arena in 1991, is trying to secure itself as a superpower and influence, especially in the area of the former USSR. While for the West, the expansion of democracy as well as NATO and the European Union toward the east seemed a natural action and expected by new sovereign and independent countries, Russia saw this process as ignoring its interests and a detriment to its security, through the West’s return to the construction of the ‘sanitary cordon’ around its borders. The West, by acting in the interests of countries that chose a democratic and pro-Western orientation, obtained very significant economic benefits and the ones for its own security, and on the part of Russia, the sense of violating its vital national interests was growing. Researchers with a liberal orientation generally do not notice this, because for them, the most important thing is to expand the western zone of democracy, prosperity, and security. Meanwhile, researchers using the realistic paradigm see the specific interests of states. Therefore, they indicate that the old Cold War geopolitics was being replaced by a new one, and Western influence was shifting toward the borders of Russia. Observing the developments in post-Cold War Europe, they perceive the rivalry of interests, mainly in the field of security. Therefore, the entire eastern policy of the West, including the US, NATO, and the EU, is analyzed in terms of competition for spheres of influence, and they do not appreciate the aspirations of nations striving to build a democratic system (civil society) and their countries’ affiliation with the structures of the West. In the opinion of western countries, which are member states of the European Union and NATO, the key to lasting peace lies in democratic political systems, respect for human rights, and free market economies. Although, in the 1990s, a strategy was endorsed aiming to enlarge these two of their main international structures. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the promotion of democracy has been among the primary goals of US foreign policy concepts, and it connects these aims with its own national security. The United States uses a wide range of instruments in promoting democracy, soft and hard ones, even if a clear preference for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries can be observed. Washington employed more than military assistance to win them over. It deployed ‘export of democracy’ policy through the National Endowment for Democracy, CIA, and such civil entities as Freedom House, USAID, the Open Society Institute (renamed Open Society Foundations in 2011), created by mega-investor George Soros, the International Republican Institute, and

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other non-governmental organizations. “They served as a front to promote regime change policies without a coup” (Moniz Bandeira, 2017, p. 46). The change of regime of targeted stated is presumed by Washington. Its inspiration derives from the concept of ‘non-violent struggle’ amplified by Prof. Gene Sharp, his publications describe the uses of the non-violent struggle and subversion strategy. He writes that non-violent struggle is conducted by civil society through various means but protests organized by democratic forces need financial and informational support from abroad, and in addition, diplomatic sanctions against authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. His main work, a long essay entitled From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, was originally published in 1993. It has been updated many times, translated into more than 30 languages, and disseminated around the entire world. Above-mentioned institutions participating in the realization of American strategy were involved. The book served as a manual for organizing the ‘color revolutions’ in former communist states and then to inspire and support the Arab Spring. The implementation of Sharp’s ‘subversion strategy’ led to rebellions, revolutions, and popular uprisings, which in their majority remained on the border of legality, without recourse to violence, at least on a large scale. After the Cold War, the United States uses NATO for Central and East European countries, as an instrument of strengthening their security. According to the preamble to the North Atlantic Treaty, the states, which are its signatories, will protect freedom, and the common heritage and civilizational achievements of their nations, based on the principles of democracy, individual freedom, and the rule of law. The adoption of the policy of spreading to the east served as the western countries’ declaration of their aim to broaden the sphere of stability and democracy in Europe. The criteria for admitting new countries to NATO were only generally drafted in the years 1994– 1995. The first was that the candidate country must have a democratic system of governance and provide civilian control over the military and secret services, and its armed forces should achieve interoperability with the forces of the Alliance.

2 EU’s Partnership and Enlargement The European Union’s actions were conditioned by a belief that constituted a base for the integration developments in extremely war-torn Europe at the beginning of the 1950s—that economic integration is essential for guaranteeing peace. At that point, a list of democratic norms and values became a prerequisite for that peace. After the Cold War, the EU adopted the concept of “Wider Europe,” which it began to implement by concluding with its eastern neighbors association arrangements that led to the European Neighborhood Policy (2004) and the Eastern Partnership (2009), and to the admission of new members. The principle of conditionality lies at the basis of this policy; it assumes that the EU offers its partners specific advantages in exchange for the fulfillment of the political and economic criteria that lead to ensuring democracy and a market economy. The so-called Copenhagen criteria were formulated for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and other candidates


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for membership in the EU. They are contained in the following statement of the European Council in June 1993: Membership requires that the candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate’s ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic, and monetary union (European Council, 1993, p. 13). In these criteria, the political and economic conditions needed to be met by a candidate country in order to join the EU are reflected in an obvious way. In addition, the policy implies the creation of a community of security, on the model suggested in 1957 by Karl Deutsch. The above-named criteria are used to a lesser extent by the European Union toward associated and partner states, except the last one. Certain tools such as development aid, ‘general’ cooperation with external entities, and the financing of projects within the framework of the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and political and economic sanctions against the elites of third countries are available for the EU in order to promote democracy (Kotzian et al., 2011, p. 998). The EU makes use of these instruments in its external, bilateral, and multilateral relations with third countries. Actually, the EU exports its values, promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law through involvement in the prevention of conflict, reaction to crises, building or reconstructing peace after conflicts, and this second group of activities is consistent with the EU’s identity as a ‘civilian power,’ as it is defined by its peaceful means of managing crises, multilateralism, and concern for the observation of international law (Börzel & Risse, 2009). The most important instrument for the promotion of democracy and market economy by the European Union is the process of its enlargement to new member states of Central Europe. It was intensive since the end of the 1990s and resulted in a great enlargement in 2004, when 10 countries joined the Union, including 8 from Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) and two Mediterranean countries (Malta and Cyprus). It happened as a result of many years of association of these countries with the community and difficult accession negotiations. Due to the slower pace of adapting to EU requirements, the accession negotiations for Bulgaria and Romania were extended, and these two countries joined the EU in 2007. The accession process of Croatia, which joined the EU only in 2013, turned out to be even more difficult. Whereas, the negotiations with Turkey that were carried out at the same time have been suspended. The process of EU enlargement to include the rest of the Balkans encountered more difficult obstacles than with Croatia. It is hampered by the poor preparation of the candidate countries and neighborhood disputes in the region. Accession negotiations with Montenegro started in June 2012 and with Serbia in January 2014. In February 2018, the European Commission published a strategy for the Western Balkans, in which it concluded that Serbia and Montenegro could join the EU in 2025, admitting,

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however, that that this perspective is a very ambitious assumption. Serbia’s future integration with the EU, as in Kosovo, remains closely linked to the conduct of the EU-supported high-level dialog between Serbia and Kosovo, which should lead to a legally binding comprehensive agreement on the normalization of relations. Albania and North Macedonia are candidates for EU membership, but accession negotiations with them have not yet started. Potential candidates for EU membership are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. In view of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that do not have the prospect of joining the European Union, Brussels has been pursuing a policy of diversified partnership. Partnership and cooperation agreements have served as the major tools of the EU’s policy toward the post-Soviet space (Hillion, 1998). These are so-called third-generation agreements, which incorporate development aid with clauses pointing out at the respect for human rights and hence ‘hooking onto’ matters undertaken by the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The aim of the EU is to secure a friendly neighborhood for itself. In order to standardize the policy toward all neighbors, in June 2004, the Union proclaimed the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Previously, under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) of 1994, which entered into force on December 1, 1997, Russia became an important partner of the EU, and in 1999–2004, it was a strategic partner, as proclaimed by the Union’s Common Strategy toward Russia in June 1999. It extended the partnership program with Russia to all three pillars of the EU (Common Strategy, 1999). In the course of the first 10 years of the PCA, there was an ineffective attempt to extend it, still the agreement remained in force. Officially, the strategic partnership between the EU and Russian Federation was carried put, but quarrelsome issues have always been present in the relations. According to a Swedish researcher, the partnership between Brussels and Moscow has never been neither strategic, nor real, and the two bickered about problems in the spheres of security, trade, and energy (Schmidt-Feltzmann, 2016, pp. 99–103). The beginning of the twenty-first century was marked in Russia by the undemocratic development of political situation, characterized by centralization of power, limitations on freedom of the press, and restrictions on the actions of nongovernmental organizations, which resulted in dissatisfaction and critique of some EU member states. Criticized since the 1990s for its bloody suppression of separatism in Chechnya, Moscow claims that the conflict is its internal affair, and its use of brutal pacification methods fit within the context of fighting terrorism, while its political system has not fully democratic nature that suits Russia’s specific conditions. The clauses on cooperation enshrined in the PCA in the areas of the rule of law and human rights were thus not introduced. Observation of the emerging difficulties and disputes between the EU and Russia have inclined certain authors to opine that many of the political agreements concluded between the sides are solely of a declarative nature and do not imply real activities (Forsberg, 2004). Discontent on the Russian side was growing over the implementation by the West, including the EU, of a policy of promoting democracy and supporting pro-European forces in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. For this reason, Russia refused to join the European Neighborhood Policy. Meanwhile, the policy of


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promoting democracy was continued by the West. After the successful political coup in Georgia in November 2003 (Stent, 2014, pp. 103–110), further ‘color revolutions’ took place in Ukraine at the turn of 2004/2005 (Wilson, 2005; Kuzio, 2006; Stent, 2014, pp. 110–116) and in Kyrgyzstan in spring 2005 (Moniz Bandeira, 2017, pp. 50– 52). On the other hand, the attempt to initiate a similar revolution in Belarus, which remained an authoritarian country ruled ‘hard’ by Aleksandr Lukashenka, failed (Zi˛eba, 2018, pp. 163–165). Russia was very concerned about the Western policy toward the post-Soviet area. The country was afraid of these societies adopting Western standards and norms and ‘tearing’ them out of the Russian sphere of influence. The democratic movements in the post-USSR countries were observed by Moscow suspiciously, since it was convinced that all of that was organized by the US and the EU states in order to establish pro-Western regimes in Russia’s genuine sphere of influence. In Russian vision, the purpose of the ‘color revolutions’ was to restrict Russian influence under the cover of promoting democracy, and these revolutions posed a direct threat to Russia’s ability to project power (Becker et al., 2016, p. 120; Tsygankov, 2013, pp. 160–161; Wilson, 2010, p. 21). In governing circles in Moscow, the opinion is held that Russia has justified interests in the ‘near abroad,’ which is understood to be primarily the countries that at the beginning of the 1990s joined the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia thus perceives attempts to democratize these countries as attempts to draw them into the West’s sphere of influence. The aspirations of these societies—for instance, in Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova—are ignored, and Russia views the West’s support for democratic forces through the prism of real politik: as an expression of the West’s desire to increase its reach. Democratic forces are most often perceived as having been instigated by the West, as foreign agents, as being guided by liberal illusions, or as nationalist or even fascist groups (in Georgia and in Ukraine). Thus, Russia tries to realize a strategy of isolating the post-Soviet countries from Western influences, and the democratic standards promoted by the EU, US, and other entities, such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Russia counters the West’s standards with the idea of ‘sovereign democracy’ (Ambrosio, 2009, pp. 45–72; Jahn, 2012, pp. 110–111; Stent, 2014, p. 142), which President Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov defined as “a form of the political life of a society in which the authorities, their bodies, and actions are selected, formed, and directed exclusively by the Russian nation in all its diversity and integrity for the sake of achieving material well-being, freedom, and justice by all citizens, social groups, and nationalities that form it.” (Surkov, 2006). In the atmosphere of an emerging confrontation between Russia and the West, Moscow rejected the invitation by the European Union to the Eastern Partnership launched in 2009 within ENP. The EU continued its policy of supporting democratic transition in the participating post-Soviet countries, i.e., Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The effect accelerated by the Ukrainian crisis of 2013/2014 was the conclusion by the European Union of new agreements on deepened partnership. In 2014, new association agreements with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova were signed; in addition, they set up the Deep and Comprehensive Free

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Trade Areas (DCFTA). Participation in the Eastern Partnership did not bring Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus closer to European standards, the last in the following years strengthened its cooperation with Russia. On the other hand, Ukraine made a strategic turn by declaring accession to the European Union and NATO (Blyzniuk, 2022, pp. 127–130). In general, Ukraine’s turn to the West prompted Russia to start a war with this country on February 24, 2022. Moscow called the bloody war a ‘special operation’ to free Ukraine from Nazism and militarization. This, in turn, prompted the European Council to announce on March 11, 2022, that it would begin activities aimed at granting Ukraine, the status of a candidate country to the Union. In line with this announcement, on June 23, 2022, the European Council officially granted Ukraine and Moldova, the status of candidates for the European Union. This decision was made in the specific situation of the ongoing war. It announces the accession of Ukraine to the EU, without specifying the dates of actions leading to it. Thus, it has the character of political support for Ukraine defending itself against Russia’s aggression.

3 NATO Eastward Expansion 1. NATO Enlargement In the first years after the end of the Cold War, the liberal idea flourished, within which there were concepts of moving away from the policy of political and military blocs in favor of the idea of a core system of collective security. With regard to Europe, some famous researchers of international relations proposed the creation of a regional system of collective security and modeled on the United Nations and based on the CSCE or the enlarged Western European Union (WEU). However, the new democracies from Central Europe, after regaining sovereignty, sought to establish close cooperation with NATO, and after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in mid1991, they made efforts to join the North Atlantic Alliance. In this situation, the idea of developing a policy of cooperation with these countries was gradually maturing within NATO. In December 1991, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was established, with the participation of NATO members and all European countries, including former adversaries of the Warsaw Pact, and after the collapse of the USSR, all post-Soviet republics. In January 1994, the Partnership for Peace program was established. In September 1995, the NATO Study Enlargement was announced, and in July 1997, three Central European countries, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, were invited to accession talks. The process of NATO enlargement eastward has started and has been consistently carried out despite Russia’s opposition. In March 1999, the three above-mentioned countries became NATO members. The Washington NATO summit the following month proclaimed an ‘open door’ policy. In March 2004, seven more countries were admitted to NATO, i.e., Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and the Baltic republics, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Thus,


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NATO entered the territory of the former USSR. In Russia, the heir of the USSR, this step by NATO was perceived as an expansion of a rival threatening its security interests by ‘approaching’ its borders, and considering the presence of the USA in other adjacent regions (Middle East, Afghanistan, East Asia)—as a continuation of the American policy of encircling Russia from the Cold War years. In this regard, the Duma issued a special resolution on March 31, 2004 condemning NATO enlargement (Alexeev, 2004, pp. 2–4; Russia Condemns, 2004). However, Russia was too weak to prevent the expansion of this politico-military bloc. NATO enlargement despite criticism from Russia continued; in April 2009, it covered Albania and Croatia, in April 2017—Montenegro and in March 2020— North Macedonia. While for the acceding Central European countries, joining NATO meant strengthening their defense, for the USA, it was primarily an offensive action and changed the nature of the alliance from defensive to offensive (Ritter, 2022). In conjunction with NATO’s military interventions in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (war for Kosovo) in 1999, joining support for military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, and the US war against Iraq in 2003 (with the participation of the UK, Poland, and Australia) and NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011, it confirmed NATO’s shift from defensive nature to offensive one. This gradually created the growing anger of Russia as a result of such actions by the West as: (a) supporting the Orange Revolution in Ukraine at the turn of 2004/2005, (b) the continuation by the US and the EU of supporting the democratic opposition in other post-Soviet countries, especially in Belarus, (c) the announcement of the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008 on the admission of Ukraine and Georgia to the Alliance. In this situation, Russia, concerned about the expansion of NATO and the military interventions of the West, began preparations to undertake a policy of containment of this expansion. This was announced by Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Munich security conference on February 10, 2007, in which he accused the US and the West of pursuing a policy of domination, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, militarizing international relations, and violating international law (Vystupleniye, 2007). Western countries continued their policy toward Eastern Europe. The international situation has deteriorated significantly, and it was evident that Russia is moving to a policy of restraining the expansion of the West. In the issued documents defining the strategy of Russia’s foreign and security policy, actions were announced to restore Russia’s position as a global power and to reconstruct the international order to make it a polycentric system. This has been clearly emphasized since the national security strategy of 2009 (Strategiya, 2009). Military spending began to increase, and in July 2008, Russia reacted disproportionately to Georgia’s military attack on Russian peacekeepers (formally subordinate to the Commonwealth of Independent States) stationed in South Ossetia.1


Looking through the prism of offensive realism, the Georgian-Russian War was the manifestation of rivalry between Russia and the USA for domination in the Southern Caucasus, and Russia chose the path of war to restore its domination in that region (Karagiannis, 2013).

EU and NATO Eastern Policy


The main thorn in Russia’s eye was the West’s support for the pro-Atlantic orientation in Ukraine’s policy. Russia did not accept the state coup in February 2014 and the strengthening of the pro-Western course of the new Ukrainian government. As if using the opportunity, it surprisingly annexed Crimea and supported the separatists in the Donbas, who chose the course to break away from this region inhabited by the Russian-speaking population and join Russia. According to President Vladimir Putin’s speech in the Russian Duma in March 2014, Moscow wanted to anticipate the country’s accession to NATO announced by the new Ukrainian authorities (Obrashcheniye, 2014). In both cases, Russia broke international law, but in its actions, it referred to examples of similar actions by Western countries (e.g., the war for Kosovo and the recognition of the country’s independence after separating from Serbia in 2008). The situation in the Donbas has created a protracted armed conflict, especially since both sides failed to comply with the 2014 and 2015 peace agreements of Minsk. The Ukrainian side did not fulfill its obligation to grant autonomy to the ‘rebellious’ republics in the Donbas and did not agree to their participation in the ongoing peace talks. Since the autumn of 2021, Russia has collected over 100,000 soldiers of the armed forces on the border with Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow reminded that the authorities in Kyiv wanted Ukraine to become a member of NATO, and then, with its help, would want to regain the lost Donbas. Western experts predicted the imminent outbreak of war in the form of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There was an unprecedented propaganda of mutual accusations of striving for war. Russia demanded from the USA and NATO negotiations on a new security architecture in Europe, it expected NATO to give up further enlargement and that Ukraine adopts the neutrality status. At the turn of 2021 and 2022, the West rejected Russia’s proposals. The US and other NATO member states ignore Russia’s fears for its own security, which have resulted from the enlargement of the Alliance. Also in the West, there is no understanding of the fact that Ukraine, in the mind of all political currents in Russia, is considered part of Russia, and the Ukrainians are considered part of the Russian nation (just like Belarusians). That is why, in principle, all Central European countries admitted to NATO after the Cold War supported the tough stance of the USA toward the situation in Eastern Europe and emphasized the sovereign right of Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO.2 At the beginning of 2022, during the crisis caused by 2

Certain opposing positions cast a shadow over the United States’ pursuit of ally unity. At the end of January 2022, Croatian President Zoran Milanovi´c fiercely questioned the government’s policy toward Russia. He announced the withdrawal of Croatian soldiers from NATO’s eastern flank in the event of an escalation of the country’s conflict with Ukraine. He also stated that the interests of the Russian side should be taken into account when creating a compromise solution that will allow Ukraine to maintain territorial integrity (or “99% of its present territory”) and provide it with economic assistance. Milanovi´c called the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity a coup in which the United States and the European Union participated, resulting in the occupation of Crimea and the country’s eastern regions. He emphasized that there was no place for Ukraine in NATO and suggested that Ukraine be a neutral state. On the other hand, Hungary, although supporting NATO’s common position, maintained political dialog at the highest level and developed bilateral cooperation with Russia.


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the increased concentration of troops on the border with Ukraine and the RussianBelarusian maneuvers in Belarus, NATO bodies accused Russia of aggression and emphasized the maintenance of the ‘open door’ policy and the principle according to which “any decision on NATO membership is for NATO Allies and aspirant countries to take; nobody else” (NATO Defense Ministers, 2022). However, the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine in fact delayed Ukraine’s chances of joining NATO. Because Art. 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that its parties “may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.” Both mentioned conditions have not been met by Ukraine at the period of Bucharest summit as well as nowadays. Firstly, it still lacks stable democracy. Secondly, should Ukraine become a NATO member, it will cause issues with Russia, since the two countries still have a lot of disputes as a result of divorce after the Soviet Union’s collapse. 2. Strengthening NATO’s Eastern Flank As a result of Moscow’s objection to NATO’s enlargement, a feeling of danger was raising, especially in the Central European states that had before become the Alliance’s members. The Georgian-Russian war of 2008 meant that the countries bordering Russia—and above all Poland and the Baltic countries—began to demand that NATO should concentrate on its basic function of collective defense as described in Art. 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. It is worth remembering that since the beginning of the 1990s, the Alliance engaged in rapid reaction operations on the territory of the former Yugoslavia (Bosna-Herzegovina, Kosovo), after which it began a war in Afghanistan. The accent was shifted to tasks beyond the Alliance’s treaty obligations that meant strengthening its functions that are more characteristic of a collective security organization. During the presidency of George W. Bush, the US treated NATO instrumentally, as a tool useful—like its allies—for the intervention in Afghanistan (the ‘toolbox approach’). NATO’s importance as a guarantee of security for its member countries decreased, and the US unilaterally conducted NATO’s security policy. NATO has become almost exclusively an instrument of US security policy. Concurrently, with the evolution of NATO’s security environment, there were no changes made to its doctrine, the last one dating back 1999, when a new strategic concept had been approved at the summit in Washington. New challenges appeared, if only in the form of Russia’s move to a policy of balancing, while NATO’s infrastructure in the newly admitted countries was not consolidated, and no allied troops were stationed in those states, in accordance with the US political obligations of 1990 (on the occasion of German reunification) (Itzkowitz Shifrinson, 2016) and contained in the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation of May 27, 1997.3 There was also a lack of up-to-date 3

The Founding Act says: “NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary

EU and NATO Eastern Policy


contingency plans. During the financial and economic crisis in the years 2008– 2011, the expenditures on armaments of most of the allies fell, and in 2016 among NATO allies only five countries—that is, the USA, Great Britain, Greece, Poland, and Estonia—had observed the principle that defense expenditures should rise to constitute not less than 2% of the previous year’s GDP. A change in the US foreign policy under Barack Obama’s presidency enabled a consideration of a new strategic concept for NATO. Its adoption took place at NATO’s Lisbon summit on November, 2010 (Active Engagement, 2010). While elaborating this strategic document, the states of NATO’s eastern flank were especially concerned about the enlargement and strengthening of the Alliance’s defense functions. The construction of an anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic was agreed with the George W. Bush administration and had to become a solution for the issue of strengthening of the defense of NATO’s eastern flank. It was planned to build an anti-missile battery in Poland, in Redzikowo near Słupsk (in Pomerania), and radar equipment in the Czech Republic, considering potential ballistic missiles (allegedly Iranian) flying toward the US. Moscow perceived it as the instrument to neutralize its missile potential. Poland and the US signed an intergovernmental agreement on the matter on August 20, 2008; notably, Poland took this step a couple of weeks after the outbreak of the Georgian-Russian war. However, in September 2009, the new president of the USA, Barack Obama, gave up the idea of building such a shield. In exchange, the USA presented a new concept of anti-missile shield, which is supposed to be in the nature of an allied system with major American input. At the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010, it was decided to build such a system in multiple stages. By 2022, three elements of the new anti-missile shield were built. The first one was set up in 2011 and is made of Aegis class ships equipped with SM-3 IA missile interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea and the AN-TPY-2 mobile radar in Turkey for the aim of assuring a point of defense for critical infrastructure and armies in Southeastern Europe against short-range (1000 km) and mediumrange (1000–3000 km) ballistic missiles. The second was dislocated in Romania by 2015 of a land version of the SM-3 IB sea-based system, also a land-based one at the Deveselu facility (the so-called Aegis Ashore), and also very advanced radar systems, ensuring the defense of the majority of European areas against short-range (to 1000 km) and medium-range (1000–3000 km) missiles. The third one—to be placed in Romania and in Poland by 2018 of SM-3 IIA ground-based ballistic missile defense interceptors capable of protecting the entire NATO European territory from short-range, medium-range, and limitedly, medium-to-longer range missiles (3000– 5500 km). On account of many delays in the construction of the anti-missile launching facilities, the date of their deployment in Poland was two times postponed till 2022. Poland’s goal was to have permanent allied bases as well soldiers on NATO’s eastern flank. Since November 2012, the US Aviation Detachment has been placed at Łask, in line with quarterly rotation. Pilots, technicians, and specialists in logistics interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.”


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and communications are the part of the detachment. The Americans ordinarily stay in Poland for about a month and undertake joint flights over the whole state with Poles from different units of the Polish air force. The outbreak of the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s military involvement in it from the spring 2014 made Poland and other eastern allies undertake certain actions in order to enhance the American military presence in the country. Consequently, Poland obtained a small increase in the above-mentioned rotational presence of US and NATO personnel on its territory. Among other things, the US sent additional multipurpose F-16 planes (12), a single-time mission with AWACS long-range reconnaissance aircraft, and additional personnel (250 persons) to the airbase in Łask within the Aviation Detachment operation. American and Polish F-16 and C-130 planes conduct joint training exercises at Lask, Krzesiny, and Powidz airbases, strengthening Poland’s military cooperation and interoperability. The presence of a U.S. Av-Det in Poland also makes it possible for Poland to host other Allied Air Force elements and to serve as a regional hub for air training and multinational exercises. Also Poland has expanded its long-term cooperation with the United States, particularly through the purchase of American equipment for the modernization of its armed forces. The basic decisions to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank were taken by NATO summit in Newport, Wales on September 4–5, 2014. At this meeting, the leaders of the member countries adopted a Readiness Action Plan and decided to strengthen the military presence on the eastern fringes of the Alliance. According to the final declaration of the summit, the RAP is also supposed to address specific threats connected with a so-called hybrid war, conducted with the aid of various military, paramilitary, and civilian means. They decided that NATO would maintain a presence, and activities in the air, on the ground, and at sea, in the eastern outreaches of the Alliance, on the basis of rotating forces and in addition, to better intelligence cooperation, the updating of defense plans, and more frequent military exercises. An agreement was also reached on establishing a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), a ‘spearhead’ of several thousand soldiers, which would be able to react instantly to threats and could be deployed in a very short period of time within the framework of the existing NATO Response Force. The allies accepted the Polish request from 2010 and acknowledged that the duty of collective defense deriving from Article 5 of the Treaty also applied to attacks upon cyber systems. Thus, defense against cyberattacks became one of NATO’s main collective defense aims. Another important decision taken at the Wales summit bound the allies to increase their expenditures on defense to the level of 2.0% of GDP (in relation to the previous year) within ten years (Wales Summit, 2014). The next summit of NATO leaders, in Warsaw on July 8–9, 2016, addressed the concretization and extension of the decision to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. As a result, an enhanced forward presence (eFP) was created in Poland and three Baltic states consisting of four battalions on a rotational basis. It was decided that the US would be the framework country of the battalion in Poland, Canada of the one in Latvia, Germany of the one in Lithuania, and Great Britain of the one in Estonia. Also during the Warsaw summit, it was further resolved to develop tailored forward

EU and NATO Eastern Policy


presence (tFP) in the Black Sea region and to include the Romanian initiative to establish a multinational framework brigade (Warsaw Summit, 2016). Thereupon, a few months after the summit in Warsaw had taken place, the United States has sent Armored Brigade Combat Team (3500 soldiers), as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Croatia, Romania, and Poland (to Latvia) have committed to the eFP. In sum, 4,750 soldiers were sent to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In the middle of 2017, America sent to Europe a Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), whose base is located in Germany, but part of it has been transferred to Poland, Latvia, and Romania. In July 2017, a multinational command headquarters of the newly formed Multinational Division North East were located in Elbl˛ag. Its task is to coordinate and supervise training and preparation activities of the four enhanced eFP Battle Groups. A month earlier, in June 2017, Poland sent a 230-person military contingent for rotational stationing in Romania within the framework of the tFP. As the outcome of the following NATO summit taking place in Brussels in June 2018, the NATO Readiness Initiative was commenced. Considering the growing unpredictability of the security environment, its goal is the improvement of the readiness of current national forces and their capacity to move within the European continent and across the Atlantic. Allies have committed, by 2020, to collectively maintain 30 mechanized battalions, 30 naval combat vessels, and 30 air squadrons ready to use within 30 days. This is not about new forces but about increasing the readiness of forces Allies already have—forces that could be made available for collective defense and crisis response operations. This decision signaled a muchneeded realignment toward preparedness for high-intensity conflict against Russia (Campbell, 2020). NATO’s eastern flank is strengthened by increased spending on armaments, in line with the Welsh summit in 2014. The leader in this regard is Poland, which is one of the captains in increasing the military budget. In Poland, where the political elite is convinced that Russia is threatening its security, there is a consensus of political forces in the parliament on increasing defense spending and maintaining a strategic partnership with the US. On September 15, 2017 the Sejm voted, with one vote against and five abstentions, a law increasing such sending to 2.5% GDP in 2030 and subsequent years. According to president’s Andrzej Duda declaration, the expenditures would earlier increase to 2.5% of GNP by 2024 (PAP, 2018). These are colossal expenses, around 31 billion USD per year. Then pursuant to the Law on Defense of the Fatherland passed under the conditions of the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Sejm, by the votes of PiS and the opposition, decided to increase defense spending to at least 3% of GDP in 2023, more than doubling the manpower of the army (from 143.5 thousand) to approximately 300 thousand soldiers; 250 thousand professional and 50 thousand territorial defense forces. Free-willed (for volunteers) basic military service is to be introduced. The new act entered into force on April 23, 2022. The countries of NATO’s eastern flank purchase weapons mainly on the American market. The largest buyer of weapons is Poland, and the contracts are concluded by the government of the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party without


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any tenders required by law. During the rule of this party, contracts were concluded for the purchase of various components of weapons at a very exorbitant price. In December 2016, Poland and the USA signed a contract for the purchase of 70 JASSMER with a range of up to 1000 km. In March 2018, both countries signed an agreement for the purchase by Poland of two Patriot missile batteries. This contract is the largest arms agreement signed by Poland after 1989; only in the first stage, Poland will pay 4.75 billion USD. On February 2019, Poland’s signed an agreement with the USA for the purchase of 20 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which use guided ammunition capable of hitting targets 300 km away. On January 31, 2020, an agreement was signed for Poland to purchase 32 F-35A aircrafts for the crazy sum of 4.6 billion USD. In February 2022, 250 up-to-date Abrams tanks were bought by Poland in the States, as in a shop (more see Zi˛eba, 2020, pp. 119–121). In May 2022, Poland began efforts (Letter of request) to purchase in the US next six Patriot systems with omnidirectional radars, launchers, and a reserve of missiles. This probably very expensive contract is to serve the construction of the second stage of the Vistula anti-missile defense system (Szef MON, 2022). In addition, this month Poland sent a letter of request to the US for the purchase of as many as 500 HIMARS launchers, which is more than the United States has (approx. 350) (Lesiecki, 2022). Poland which has been seeking to beef up its military in the face of Russia’s invasion on neighboring Ukraine signed in July 2022 framework agreements with South Korea for the supply of South Korean armaments to Polish army. Poland will buy FA-50 light fighters, K2 tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers. This is the first such contract between the two countries. The parties have not announced the value of the entire deal, which South Korean media estimated at up to 15 billion USD (Shin, 2022). On October 2022 Poland signed an agreement to buy 288 artillery rocket launchers in its latest arms deal with South Korea, following shipments of thanks and howitzers. The countries of NATO’s eastern flank demanded an increase in the military presence of US forces and other ‘old’ members of the Alliance. They strove for the current rotational presence to be transformed into a permanent presence. One of the logistical problems was the lack of adequate military bases. Poland, which shows the ambition to be the leading spokesman for strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, submitted in September 2018 a proposal to build such a base for propaganda, called Fort Trump. This was to convince the then US president to increase the presence of the American army in Poland. Following this path, on August 15, 2020, Poland signed an agreement on strengthening defense cooperation with the USA (Poland– United States Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement). This document provided for an increase of the US contingent in Poland by about 1,000 soldiers (up to about 5.5 thousand) and indicated the locations of the bases where they would be stationed. The agreement provides for the creation in Poland of the Forward Command of the 5th Corps of the US Army, i.e., a unit that will be responsible for commanding the US Armed Forces located on the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as the expansion of infrastructure in Poland so that it will allow for permanent stationing of up to 20 thousand American soldiers.

EU and NATO Eastern Policy


When relations between the West and Russia sharply escalated in early 2022, NATO reacted firmly and uniformly. In February 2022, the US sent over 6000 soldiers to bases in Central Europe, including 4700 to Poland from the famous 82nd Airborne Division. Also, the US decided to send an additional 3000 soldiers to Romania, Germany, and Poland. The United Kingdom sent an additional 350 soldiers to Poland, Germany 350 soldiers, and Norway 60 soldiers to Lithuania, while France announced that it would send 1000 soldiers to Romania. Bulgaria has declared that it will accept several hundred soldiers from other NATO countries. At the same time, NATO member states sent large amounts of weapons to Ukraine. Initially, for the sake of appearance, the supplied equipment was called a defensive weapon. The USA, Great Britain, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Lithuania were the leaders in this dubious practice. Then, Germany reluctantly joined in, and this still caused great dissatisfaction in Ukraine and Poland. After Russia started the war with Ukraine on February 24, 2022, NATO significantly increased the military strengthening of its eastern flank, and in early April, NATO member states sent missile sets, infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers, and even tanks and planes (delivered in parts) to Ukraine. As a result, they abandoned the name of weapons supplied to Ukraine as defensive weapons. On the other hand, they consistently refused to implement the constantly repeated by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, the closure of the airspace over Ukraine. They justified it by the fear of provoking Russia to war with NATO. A well-known American expert has described the idea of a ‘non-fly zone’ as “an idea that may sound reasonable but is in fact profoundly reckless.” (Betts, 2022; comp. Agraval, 2022). At the extraordinary NATO summit on March 25, 2022, the situation related to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was discussed, and a decision was made to activate defense plans on the Alliance’s eastern flank. Following the meeting, US President Joe Biden announced that plans for the deployment of additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defense would be drawn up by the next NATO summit scheduled for the end of June in Madrid. He announced that the number of NATO battlegroups on the eastern flank would be doubled from four to eight so far; announced the creation of new battle groups in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, and during his working visit to Poland (March 25–26, 2022), Biden was to agree to send an additional 5,000 American soldiers to Poland. US President signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act on May 9, which facilitates the shipment of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank countries. The law refers to the famous 1941 program by which the US assisted the Allies, including the USSR, in World War II. In addition, the US has allocated an additional US $ 40 billion to Ukraine, of which US $ 20 billion is for military aid. Then, as the war dragged on, the US announced further packages of military aid to Kyiv. The war in Ukraine has increasingly turned into a proxy war, with the US and its allies growing engagement against Russia (Heuvel, 2022). The victims of this war have been the Ukrainians who have been defending their country. In March 2022, 315,500 soldiers were stationed on NATO’s eastern flank, including 25.3 thousand soldiers from other countries of the Alliance (10.5 thousand in Poland). There were 100,000 US soldiers in Europe. There were 40,000


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soldiers under the direct command of NATO, about 140 ships were at sea, and about 130 aircraft—planes, helicopters and drones—were on high alert. Reconnaissance planes fly around the clock over the countries of the eastern flank, whose reconnaissance systems (radars) follow what is happening in the territories of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. There are also refueling planes in the air, ready to provide fuel to the fighters on duty if necessary (Lungescu, 2022). At the Madrid summit on June 29–30, 2022, the leaders of NATO countries adopted a new strategic concept for the Alliance. They departed from treating Russia as a strategic partner and stated that “The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. It seeks to establish spheres of influence and direct control through coercion, subversion, aggression, and annexation” (NATO, 2022). For the first time in the history, NATO referred to China in its strategic document, pointing to its “ambitions and coercive policies,” which “challenge NATO’s interests, security and values.” NATO confirmed the continuation of the alliance’s ‘open door’ policy, strengthening its deterrence and defense potential, conflict prevention and management, and even actions to protect the climate. All these statements indicate the adoption of the American point of view by the allies, which confirms the thesis of realist researchers about the instrumental treatment of NATO by the USA and about NATO’s transition to a new Cold War. Subsequently, decisions were then taken in Madrid to significantly strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense through enhanced forward defense, reinforced battle groups in the eastern part of the Alliance, and a 7.5-fold increase in the number of high readiness forces (from 40,000) to well over 300,000. President Biden said at a press conference that the US would strengthen its forces in Europe, including by transforming the rotating command of the 5th US Army’s Corps, previously established in Pozna´n, into a ‘permanent command,’ maintaining an additional rotating brigade based in Romania, strengthening the rotational deployment of forces in the Baltic States (from battalion to brigade level), sending additional F-35 squadrons to the UK, and deploying additional air defense forces in Germany and Italy. Leaders also agreed to invest more in NATO and to increase common funding. During the Summit, NATO’s closest partners Finland and Sweden were invited to join the Alliance, a significant boost to NATO members security. Allies further agreed on long-term support for Ukraine through a strengthened comprehensive assistance package (Madrid Summit, 2022; Live Blog, 2022). It seems, however, that the implementation of these decisions to strengthen NATO, unprecedented after the Cold War, will be difficult to achieve, and thus, it is not known whether unity among the 30 Allies will be maintained (comp. Kupchan, 2022).

References Active engagement, modern defense: Strategic concept for the defense and security of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon, November 19, 2010. Agraval, R. (2022, March 16). The problem with the debate over helping Ukraine: Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, explains why discussion about a no-fly zone over Ukraine are not framed in the right way. Foreign Policy.

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Appeal by President of the Russian Federation, March 18, 2014. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/presid ent/news/20603. Accessed June 11, 2022. Alexeev, D. (2004). NATO enlargement: A Russian outlook, (Conflict Studies Research Centre), Russian Series, No. 04/33. Ambrosio, T. (2009). Authoritarian Backlash: Russian resistance to democratization in the former Soviet Union. Farham: Ashgate. Becker, M. E., Cohen, M. S., Kushi, S., & McManus, I. P. (2016). Reviving the Russian empire: The Crimean intervention through a neoclassical realist lens. European Security, 25(1), 112–133. Betts, R. K. (2022, March 10), The no-fly zone delusion: In Ukraine, good intentions can’t redeem a bad idea. Foreign Affairs. Blyzniuk, M. (2022). Zachód w polityce bezpiecze´nstwa Ukrainy. Przegl˛ad Politologiczny, XXVII(2), 117–133.https://doi.org/10.14746/pp.2022.27.2.9 Börzel, T. A., & Risse, T. (2009). Venus approaching mars? The European Union as an emerging civilian world power, (Freie Universität Berlin). Berlin Working Paper on European Integration. Campbell, J. (2020). Why NATO should adopt a tactical readiness initiative. Texas National Security Review. Common Strategy of the European Union of 4 June 1999 on Russia (1999/4147/CFSP). Official Journal of the European Communities, L 157, June 24, 1999. European Council in Copenhagen, Presidency Conclusions, June 21–22, 1993, SN 180/1/93 REV 1. Forsberg, T. (2004). The EU-Russia security partnership: Why the opportunity was missed. European Foreign Affairs Review, 9(2), 247–267. Heuvel Vanden, K. (2022, May 24). We need a real debate on about a Ukraine war. The Washington Post. Hillion, C. (1998). Partnership and cooperation agreements between the EU and the new independent states of the Ex-Soviet Union. European Foreign Affairs Review, 3(3), 399–420. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, J. R. (2016). Deal or no deal? The end of Cold War and the U.S. offer to limit NATO expansion. International Security, 40(4), 7–44. Jahn, E. (2012). International politics, political issues under debate—Vol. 1. Wiesbaden: Gabler Verlag/Springer. Karagiannis, E. (2013). The 2008 Russian-Georgian war via the lens of offensive realism. European Security, 22(1), 74–93. Kotzian, P., Knodt, M., & Urdze, S. (2011). Instruments of the EU’s external democracy promotion. Journal of Common Market Studies, 49(5), 995–1018. Kupchan, C. A. (2022, June 29). NATO’s hard road ahead. Foreign Affairs. https://www.foreig naffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-06-29/natos-hard-road-ahead?utm_medium=newsletters& utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=The%20Perils%20of%20Pessimism&utm_content=202 20701&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017. Accessed July 20, 2022. Kuzio, T. (2006). The orange revolution at a crossroads. Demokratizatsiya, 14(4), 477–492. Live blog: NATO summit. Politico, June 29, 2022. Lesiecki, R. (2022, May 27), MON pyta USA o rakiety HIMARS, TVN24.pl, May 27, 2024. https://tvn24.pl/premium/wyrzutnie-rakietowe-m142-himars-co-to-jest-jak-dzialaja-czypolska-je-kupi-5727168. Accessed June 11, 2022. Lungescu, O. (2022, March 17). Ilu z˙ ołnierzy NATO jest w Polsce i krajach s˛asiednich, tvn24.pl, March 17, 2022. https://tvn24.pl/swiat/ilu-zolnierzy-nato-jest-w-polsce-i-na-wschodniej-flanceinfografika-5639659. Accessed June 11, 2022. Madrid Summit Declaration Issued by NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Madrid 29 June 2022, Presse Release, 095 (2022). Moniz Bandeira, L. A. (2017). The second Cold War: Geopolitics and strategic dimension of the USA. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer. NATO 2022 strategic concept. https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2022/6/pdf/290 622-strategic-concept.pdf. Accessed July 1, 2022.


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NATO Defence Ministers reaffirm their strong commitment to open door policy, and the importance of partnerships, February 17, 2022. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_191897.htm. Accessed June 11, 2022. Obrashcheniye Prezidenta Rossiyskoy Federatsii, March 14, 2014. http://kremlin.ru/events/presid ent/news/20603. Accessed June 11, 2022. PAP. (2018, August 15). Prezydent: Polska mogłaby wydawa´c na wojsko 2,5 proc. PKB ju˙z w 2024 roku. https://businessinsider.com.pl/finanse/prezydentandrzej-duda-25-proc-pkb-na-obronnoscw-2024-r/2n9ztq4 Accessed November 7, 2022. Russia Condemns NATO’s Expansion. BBC News, April 1, 2004. Schmidt-Feltzmann, A. (2016). The breakdown of the EU’s strategic partnership with Russia: From strategic patience toward strategic failure. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 29(1), 99–127. Ritter, S. (2022, February 14). The ultimate end of NATO. NewAge Opinion. https://www.new agebd.net/article/162672/the-ultimate-end-of-nato. Accessed June 11, 2022. Shin, H. (2022, August 27). South Korea, Poland sign $5.8 billion tank and howitzer contract. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/south-korea-poland-sign-58-billion-tank-howitzer-con tract-2022-08-27/ Accessed September 23, 2022. Stent, A. E. (2014). The limits of partnership: U.S.—Russian relations in the twenty-first century. Princeton-Oxford: Princeton University Press. Strategiya natsional’noy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii do 2020 goda, Utverzhdena Ukazom Prezidenta Rossiyskoy Federatsii ot 12 maya 2009g. No. 537 [The national security strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020, Approved by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of May 12, 2009g No. 537]. https://rg.ru/2009g/05/19/strategia-dok.html. Accessed June 11, 2022. Surkov, V. (2006, November 20). Natsionalizatsia Budushchego. Ekspert online 43. http://expert. ru/expert/2006/43/nacionalizaciya_buduschego/. Accessed June 11, 2022. Szef MON: Polska zakupi sze´sc´ kolejnych baterii systemu Patriot, PAP, BusinessInsider.com.pl, May 24, 2022. https://businessinsider.com.pl/wiadomosci/szef-mon-polska-zakupi-szesc-kolejn ych-baterii-systemu-patriot/1j8rcdf. Accessed June 11, 2022. Tsygankov, A. P. (2013). Russia’s foreign policy: Change and continuity in national identity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Vystupleniye i diskussiya na Myunkhenskoy konferentsii po voprosam politiki bezopasnosti, Myunkhen, 10 fevralya 2007 goda [Speech and discussion at the Munich Security policy conference, Munich, February 10, 2007]. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034. Accessed June 11, 2022. Wales Summit Declaration Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales. NATO Press Release, 120 (2014) Warsaw Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic council in Warsaw 8–9 July 2016. NATO Press Release, 100 (2016). Wilson, A. (2005). Ukraine’s orange revolution. New Haven-London: Yale University Press. Wilson, J. L. (2010). The legacy of the color revolutions for Russian politics and foreign policy. Problems of Post-Communism, 57(2), 21–36. Zi˛eba, R. (2018). The Euro-Atlantic security system in the 21st century: From cooperation to crisis. Cham: Springer. Zi˛eba, R. (2020). Poland’s foreign and security policy: Problems of compatibility with the changing international order. Cham: Springer.

Ryszard Zi˛eba, Prof. Ph.D. Habil., a full professor emeritus of international relations and security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. The author of numerous books, articles and chapters in collective works, reviews and expertise reports. He has a M.A., Ph.D. and state Ph.D. (habilitation) degrees from the University of Warsaw, and the title of Professor of Humanities conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Ukraine’s Attempts to Join the West Marharyta Blyzniuk

Abstract For over 30 years of Ukraine’s independence, the ‘course to the West’ in foreign and security policy has experienced several changes, moving from ‘virtual Europeanization’ through ‘multi-vector’ policy to inscribing full membership in the EU and NATO in the Ukrainian Constitution. Such lack of consistency in the policy of affiliation with the West is a consequence of both internal and international factors. The obstacles on Ukraine’s way to the West are both resistance within the country itself and processes in the international arena, especially between the West and Russia, which currently resulted in the war that began on February 24, 2022. Despite this, Ukraine’s attempts to move closer to the West are slowly bearing fruit. In this chapter, the author aims to analyze external and internal determinants of Ukraine’s foreign policy toward the widely understood West, applying the perspective of neoclassical realism. Keywords Ukraine · The EU · NATO · The West · Russia · European integration

1 Introduction The issue of choosing Ukraine’s foreign and security policy priorities remains the subject of heated debates throughout the recent history of the country. The Bucharest summit of the North Atlantic Alliance in April 2008, which reaffirmed Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and declared that Ukraine would become a member of NATO in the future, only exacerbated these disputes. Despite three decades of discussions, Ukraine remains nearly one of a few European countries that does not belong to any of the existing systems of collective defense and is forced to respond alone to new challenges and threats in various fields. Admittedly, the fact that Ukraine did not initially move toward the Euro-Atlantic or the Eurasian side destabilized the country. Consequently, the beginning of the twentyfirst century was rather turbulent for the state. However, the country’s European and M. Blyzniuk (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_7



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Euro-Atlantic integration did not move beyond the line marking the beginning of the accession process. Ukrainian hopes in this respect did not materialize either by the Orange Revolution or the Revolution of Dignity. “Intensified Dialogue” was launched in 2005 with NATO on Ukraine’s aspirations to membership and relevant reforms; in 2007, Ukraine became a country included in the European Union’s Black Sea Synergy program, and in 2009, it joined the Eastern Partnership. However, Ukraine did not receive neither the Membership Action Plan from NATO nor the recognition from the European Union (EU) of the state’s aspirations to once become a member of the European community. After the second revolution, it has achieved significant successes in rapprochement with the EU (Association Agreement with the Deep Free Trade Area—DCFTA, visa-free travel and the Common Airspace Agreement); in March 2018, NATO granted Ukraine the status of a candidate—a country that has declared its intention to join the alliance. In addition, in February 2019, the Ukrainian constitution was amended to take into account the goals of NATO and EU membership. Ukraine’s integration with the EU and NATO has never been a straightforward path. Since Ukraine regained independence, internal and external factors have always intervened in this process. There was no agreement between the Ukrainian elite; the Ukrainian society was not convinced, and the West itself did not take an unequivocal position. For years, the constant political line of Western Europe toward Ukraine has been the primacy of Russia’s interests and its reluctance to further enlarge NATO and the EU in particular. And although the Russian factor has always been in the back of the mind, everyone became convinced in its importance only after February 24, 2022, after the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine. As a result, Ukraine’s policy of affiliation with the West has been radically changed once again. This chapter will highlight important aspects that have shaped Ukraine’s relations with the Western structures over the past 30 years, and the subsequent inconsistencies in Ukraine’s policy of affiliation with the West. In spite of that, Ukraine is gradually moving closer to the West, and that process seems to have only accelerated after the beginning of the Russia–Ukraine war.

2 Allegedly Open Doors that Cannot Be Entered Ukraine, like any other independent state, decides on its own how to behave in the international arena and what kind of foreign policy to pursue. However, it does not function in a contained environment. On the contrary, the international system sends particular signals to the state, which have a further influence on the ways foreign policy is conducted (Ripsman et al., 2016, p. 28). Therefore, external factors play a crucial role in the policy of Ukraine’s affiliation with the West and should be thoroughly considered. They include changing international order, lack of the consensus in the West organizations (the EU and NATO) on the enlargement issue and Russia’s influence.

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In 2022, as war in Ukraine continues, in attempts to reach a peace agreement, the return of Ukraine to a neutral status is being discussed. Let’s recall that the “nonaligned, non-nuclear” status of Ukraine was proclaimed in the Declaration of State Sovereignty of July 16, 1990 (Deklaracja, 1990). However, the 1996 Constitution did not enshrine relevant provisions that would define neutrality or non-alignment as a means of achieving national security or as a form of Ukraine’s existence in international system. Why did some of the articles of the declaration become a part of the text of the constitution, and the ones that would directly define neutrality or, conversely, participation in military blocs as a means of achieving national security or as a form of Ukraine’s existence in international relations did not? The explanation is the following: the declaration was adopted in 1990 and the constitution six years later. When the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine was adopted, the Cold War was almost over. However, most citizens and politicians still had a perception of the bipolar world political order formed over many decades of confrontation, especially, since there were still the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. On the other hand, it was also the time of democratic euphoria and romanticism, the rise of national self-consciousness, the hope that with the end of the confrontation of two ideological systems in the world, there would not be more insurmountable contradictions and hence the reasons for global confrontation. Therefore, it was quite natural to note the peaceful nature of the new, independent Ukraine. The proclamation of this intention played a positive role, especially in the first years of independence, when Ukraine was under considerable external pressure. Nevertheless, the transformation of the international system and its components influenced the evolution of the foreign policy of Ukraine. From 1990 to 1996, events occurred in the international order that could not but affect the decision-making that determined the future of the Ukrainian state: The Warsaw Pact ceased to exist; the collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of new independent states, including Ukraine; civil war broke out in the former Yugoslavia; in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine, another pole of political and economic power in the world was formed— the European Union; NATO announced an open-door policy toward Central and Eastern Europe; Ukraine had to renounce its nuclear status in exchange for security guarantees from the United States, Russia, Great Britain, and later France and China. Even then, it became clear that in order for Ukraine to be a neutral state, the desire in Ukraine itself was not enough. It was also necessary that other countries want this and contribute to the realization of Ukraine’s will (Demenko, 2008, p. 130). First of all, the neighbors and countries that have the greatest influence on political and economic processes in Europe and the world. Thus, Ukraine adapted its foreign policy to new realities and responded to changes in the system of international relations. The concept of national security of Ukraine of 1997 confirmed the course of the state to join the system of regional and universal security (Koncepcja, 1997). From the late 90s, Ukraine’s closer cooperation with the West started with the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Ukraine entering in force in 1998 and the signing of the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership with NATO (Blyzniuk, 2022, pp. 120–121). Since, there has never been a consensus between the member states of these organizations on Ukraine’s support


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and how far should its integration with the EU and NATO reach. Among the cases that clearly demonstrate this lack of agreement are NATO piecemeal decisions from 2008, the fruits of which we are now reaping in the form of war. Contrary to expectations and despite positions of the USA and Poland, during the 2008 Bucharest summit, Ukraine and Georgia were not included in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which would allow these countries to join NATO. The NATO resolution merely stated that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members, not mentioning how or when membership would come (NATO, 2008). This was due to the opposition of Germany and France, which wanted to postpone this decision (Zi˛eba, 2018, p. 167). Even given the current war context, former German chancellor Angela Merkel still believes her decision not to admit Ukraine to NATO in 2008 was correct despite criticism from President Volodymyr Zelensky for the policy of concessions to Russia (Lebedeva, 2022). It is also worth adding that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, also took part in the summit in the Romanian capital, giving a speech, in which he recalled the issue of Russian interests in the post-Soviet area and the fact that further NATO enlargement would be a threat to Russia’s security (Vystuplenie, 2008). Similarly, the EU found itself between hammer and anvil in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea. The Union was hesitant as it was considering both member states’ (especially, German and Italian) economic and business ties with Russian Federation and the will to support the democratization of Ukraine. Moreover, the fuel and energy dependence of the EU on Russian exports posed a considerable challenge. Therefore, while the question of imposing sanctions on Russia in response to its policies emerged relatively quickly, it took a long time before the EU actually decided to implement them. The first sanctions imposed in March/April 2014 were a visa ban and an asset freeze against a number of members of the Russian government administration (Ku´zniar, 2015, p. 482). The delay was rooted in deep divisions within the Union, especially in the area of trade. Germany’s attitude in particular was dominated by a deep conviction that it was necessary to conduct dialogue and not to punish Russia. The German position, full of understanding for Russia, was shared by both Italy and the Visegrad Group countries, namely Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The EU was forced to take more decisive action when, on July 17, 2014, the separatists from Donbas shot down a Malaysian passenger liner; most of the passengers—nearly 200 out of 300—were Dutch. The tragedy of the MH17 flight shocked public opinion and made it easier for the EU to take more offensive action (Ku´zniar, 2015, p. 483). However, the importance of economic interests on which significant economic circles in Western Europe depended was well demonstrated by the Netherlands. Being one of the countries in favor of dialogue with Moscow from the very beginning of the conflict, even after the catastrophic loss of so many citizens, the country did not want to worsen relations with Russia by its reaction. Unfortunately, war in 2022 showed that eight years have not brought significant changes in matters of the EU’s member states dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which means that the Union once again suffers from the lack of agreement between countries in terms of sanctions. From the very beginning of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the embargo of the European Union on Russian resources has been

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discussed because the money flowing in a broad stream from Europe to the Kremlin is financing the war and providing Russia with the currency it needs (the euro). However, so far, the countries of the Union have done little toward an embargo on fossil fuels since it would be challenging for some countries. In the case of crude oil, Russia is responsible for around 25% of the EU demand; as for gas, it is responsible for about 40% of the EU demand for this fuel (Embargo, 2022). On the other hand, in a long-term perspective, cutting Russia off the European sales market would be a huge blow to its economy and would make it much more difficult to finance the war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the sanction deadlock continues despite the efforts of the coalition led by Poland and the Baltic States and the evolution of the positions of Paris, Rome, and Berlin, as Hungary remains the most critical member state of both the embargo and the strategy of phasing out fuel from Russia. In early 2014, Ukraine was, on the one hand, destabilized by the annexation of Crimea, conflict in Donbas and new post-Euromaidan government assuming power, but on the other—united as never before in terms of European integration aspirations. On March 21, 2014, the political part of the Association Agreement with the EU was concluded, while the economic part was signed after the presidential elections on June 27 in Brussels (Zi˛eba, 2020, p. 188). However, the event that took place two years later made Ukrainians realize that not everyone welcomed them with open arms in the EU. On April 6, 2016, the Netherlands held a Consultative Referendum on the Association of Ukraine and the EU, in which 61% of voters voted against the agreement (Zi˛eba, 2018, p. 254). The referendum was of a consultative and corrective nature and did not become an obstacle to the implementation of the Association Agreement. Nevertheless, it was a signal that EU societies, similarly as states, did not have an unequivocally favorable position toward Ukraine. Moreover, France in 2005 introduced into its constitution the principle of referendum ratification of each subsequent accession treaty with a country whose population would exceed 5% of the EU population. This proves one more time that the enlargement of the EU to any less developed country would be rejected by voters in the leading countries of the Union. This issue can be also spotted in the essence of such program as the Eastern Partnership (EP). As the eastern pillar of the European Neighborhood Policy, it was established in May 2009. EP became a difficult compromise between the divergent interests of the member states, most of whom were then disappointed with the processes in which post-Soviet countries were carrying out systemic transformation. The initial reluctance of the European Union to engage in Eastern Europe was overcome by the argument of Poland and Sweden about the need to balance the initiative of the Union for the Mediterranean. However, all that has been said in the Prague Declaration on the prospects of the EP countries accession to the EU is that the Eastern Partnership would not harm individual countries’ aspirations with regard to the development of their future relationship with the European Union (Council, 2009). The problem that some of the EU member states have with offering them, and Ukraine in particular, the possibility of membership in the Union was once again clearly illustrated by the situation before the summit of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels, which took place in November 2017. At that time, long discussions were held in order to formulate the


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integration aspirations of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, which was to be included in the final document. The words that the EU recognizes the European aspirations of its eastern partners were particularly problematic for Germany and the Netherlands. For this reason, the English word “recognize” was replaced in the final version of the document with a softer and more compromising word “acknowledge” (Council, 2017).

3 Ambitious Plans Face Ukrainian Reality For most of its independence, Ukraine, to a greater or lesser extent, aspired to integration with the EU and cooperation with NATO. Such aspirations could be found in strategic documents, as well as in the speeches of prominent Ukrainian politicians. Nevertheless, often internal factors have intervened, becoming obstacles on Ukraine’s path of modernization, reforms, and European and Euro-Atlantic integration. First of all, Ukrainian political system should be taken into consideration, especially one of its peculiarities—the development of the oligarchic system, which implies the relationship between the world of business and the sphere of politics. The roots of this phenomenon go back to the economic transformations of the times of Perestroika in the USSR, i.e., the period when the transfers of state property into private hands began. After regaining independence in 1991, Ukraine received a weak government as a legacy from the USSR, with no predisposition to undertake serious reforms. The control of such authorities over economic transformations, and especially over privatization processes, was obviously negligible. The process of creating an oligarchy was favored by such elements as allowing entire sectors of the economy to pass into one hand, which limited or prevented the development of competition. There was also no room for real political competition to develop. The early 1990s was the last moment when it was possible to stop the formation of the oligarchic system in Ukraine by introducing economic reforms and mechanisms separating politics from business and by enabling the competitive development of the political scene without the privileged position of the elites originating from the political establishment of the USSR (Kowal, 2017, pp. 43–47). However, the decade of the presidency of Leonid Kuchma (1994–2004) only strengthened the oligarchy system in Ukraine. Along with the growing influence of business groups, the so-called clans, on the power centers in Ukraine, the importance of state institutions and political parties decreased. Many politicians were already informally subordinated to one of the business groups at that time, most often to a specific oligarch, who was responsible for financing the election campaign of the person under his care, and even for purchasing a place on the party’s electoral list, which gave him a chance to win a seat in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). Another need was a good reputation, which is why TV channels were bought by the oligarchs. Since Kuchma did not only attempt to legally undermine the oligarchs’ property titles to the goods they owned and even continued the transfer of property to their pockets through the appropriate shape of the privatization process, he

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strengthened the position of the group of oligarchs associated with his ruling camp (Kasyanov, 2008, pp. 240–242). This led to the concentration of some smaller oligarchs dissatisfied with the dominance of the older generation around opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who then supported the Orange Revolution in late 2004. As a consequence, it created an opportunity to regroup the oligarchic political circles and diversify the influence of the richest Ukrainians. The period 2005–2010 is characterized by greater chaos and instability in political relations among the oligarchs, as well as between the oligarchs and the government, than in the previous years. The political system was likewise unstable at that time. Its shape was fierce between three groups of influence: Yushchenko’s camp (“Our Ukraine”), Yulia Tymoshenko’s camp (“Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc”), and the Party of Regions led by Viktor Yanukovych. Four governments during Yushchenko’s term of office lasted only from one to two years (Kuzio, 2012, p. 398). Moreover, political parties were still not seen as representatives of social interests, but only as tools of political and business elites that used parties to maximize political influence and financial gains. Despite Yushenko becoming a president and promising a closer relation with NATO in terms of foreign and security policy, an “orange” coalition and government were needed to progress in receiving MAP from NATO. It was formed at the end of June 2005, but quickly disintegrated and was replaced by the Anti-Crisis Coalition formed by the Party of Regions, the Communist Party of Ukraine and the Socialist Party, which appointed Yanukovych as Prime Minister in August 2006 (Kuzio, 2006, pp. 477–494). Consequently, the Party of Regions, which occupied a dominant position in the coalition, has embarked on the road to full control of the government. In the fall and winter of 2006, everything was done to eliminate or discredit “alien” ministers. In November 2006, there was an unsuccessful attempt to fire the “orange” defense minister Anatoly Gricenko, who stood up for the Euroatlantic integration of Ukraine, under the pretext of unclear and unproven abuses. At the end of December 2006, a loud scandal broke out in connection with the resignation of the foreign minister Boris Tarasiuk—the Parliament dismissed him, the president resumed his office, but the minister, whom the prime minister did not like (Tarasiuk openly expressed his opposition to Yanukovych’s stance on relations with NATO), became “homeless"—he was not allowed into the office building (Flikke, 2008, p. 384). As a result, until March 2007, Ukraine functioned without a foreign minister, until the compromise candidacy of Arseniy Yatsenyuk was approved by the Parliament. Moreover, in September 2006 at the NATO headquarters, Prime Minister Yanukovych announced that he would suspend efforts to obtain a MAP for Ukraine. Referring to the results of sociological research, he stated that Ukraine was not ready for its implementation. However, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who accompanied the Prime Minister, made a diametrically opposed statement about the Ukrainian authorities’ readiness to cooperate with NATO in any possible way in the matter of joining the alliance (Kasyanov, 2008, p. 440). Ukraine did not receive MAP at the NATO summit in Riga in November 2006—the alliance could not tie its military–political future to a country where chaos was prevalent at the highest political level.


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There were other examples when some groups had different interests than Ukrainian state, and thus, they resisted Ukraine’s way to the West. After the Orange Revolution, in order to move forward in integration with the EU, Ukraine needed to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ukraine’s planned entry into the WTO in December 2005 was due to the failure to adopt a series of agricultural laws in the Verkhovna Rada in the summer and autumn 2005, which had been boycotted by the agrarian lobby and communists. It was only in December 2006 that the parliament passed the last laws necessary to join this organization. However, there was once again a change in the domestic political level: early elections and the change of government caused purely technical problems, delaying further Ukraine’s entry to the WTO in February 2008 (Kasyanov, 2008, pp. 438–439). The energy sector was characterized by the enormous influence of business groups, in which Ukraine was also highly dependent on Russia. The situation was even more complicated by the lack of transparency in energy supplies, which fueled political corruption. After the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko’s declarations on Ukraine integration with the West could threaten the stability of the existing energy schemes, bringing profits to the clan structures of both countries. In autumn 2005, such a signal appeared—Gazprom announced an almost fivefold increase in gas prices for Ukraine, which caused confusion in the Ukrainian government and in the clan structures involved in the trade in energy resources. The negotiations between two prime ministers were unsuccessful, and on January 1, 2006, Russia suspended gas supplies to Ukraine, causing a political and constitutional crisis (Flikke, 2008, p. 385). The subsequent exhausting intergovernmental negotiations, which were accompanied by negotiations between the clans, led to a highly ambiguous agreement, practically restoring old, unclear patterns of interaction between Russia and Ukraine’s energy lobbies, and strengthening Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russian clan-oligarchic structures. Gas prices have doubled; RosUkrEnergo was legalized as an intermediary in gas supplies in relations between countries. This, in turn, had far-reaching consequences—the emergence of a new powerful group of influence in the economic and political spheres. In 2010–2013, during the presidency of Yanukovych, Ukraine remained a unique example of an oligarchic system due to the scale of the oligarch’ influence. In 2013, the wealth of the top 100 richest Ukrainians amounted to 37.6% of the country’s GDP. However, president’s exuberant financial ambitions and the shortages of political talent prevented him from playing the role of a stabilizer in the rivalry between the oligarchs, as Kuchma once did. Yanukovych dreamed of being equal to the oligarchs—his plan was to force the oligarchs to share their influence. A characteristic motive of that time was the attempt by Yanukovych’s immediate entourage to create a new oligarchic group called “Family” (Familia). The rapid growth of wealth by its members and the increase in corruption in Ukraine were one of the main reasons for the protests in the Maidan. Then most of the oligarchs, who feared for their fate, united against the president. Nevertheless, after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukrainian oligarchs, except for the ones related to the Donetsk clan, have not lost their influence. Thus, from the practical point of view, in Ukraine, apart from the

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legislative, executive, and judiciary, an additional power—an oligarchic one—has functioned (Kowal, 2017, pp. 60–66). Another stumbling block in Ukraine’s affiliation with the West is corruption, which reigns not only at the top of power, but remained from the USSR at every level and in every sphere. Both of the revolutions occurring in Ukraine in last 20 years addressed this issue, but corruption as a systemic phenomenon inherent in undemocratic governance has not disappeared. After each of revolutions, a large number of politicians became the rulers, who quickly discredited themselves with various types of high-profile corruption scandals (Kobilnik, 2009, p. 13). The first such case in independent Ukraine was the one around one of the most influential politicians of that time, Pavlo Lazarenko. He was the ex-governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, prime minister in 1996–1997, the leader of the influential political party Gromada and a deputy (as well as a real competitor of Kuchma and an ally of Tymoshenko) (Kowal, 2017, p. 50). In the late 1990s, a money laundering case was opened against him in Switzerland, after which a criminal case was opened against him in Ukraine for embezzlement of state property on an especially large scale. In the end, the US Attorney’s Office accused the politician of extortion, fraud, laundering 280 million dollars. He served time in prison from 2006 to 2012. Although claims and even suspicions of corruption can be put forward to all the presidents of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych and his “Family” are confidently in the lead. He is still at large, and the current Ukrainian government is only making feeble attempts to punish him. Yanukovych fled to Russia in the last days of the Euromaidan, when he hurriedly collected jewelry and money and left his estate in Mezhyhirya. How much he managed to take out is not known for certain. Different numbers are mentioned, among them: 7.5 billion/12 billion/40 billion dollars, not taking into account his inner circle (Abramec, 2017). Not only politicians were engaged in corruption. The most high-profile corruption scandal of 2015 is the case of “diamond” prosecutors. It concerned the two most influential prosecutors of the Main Investigation Department (MID) at that time: exdeputy head of MID Vladimir Shapakin and former deputy prosecutor of the Kyiv region Oleksandr Korniyets. During the searches, 500 thousand dollars were found, as well as jewelry, firearms, and the famous 35 bags of diamonds, which gave the name to the case (Chervonenko, 2015). The colossal, self-sustaining bureaucratic hierarchy, adapted to its own interests, has continued to operate according to the old rules though temporarily adopting “revolutionary” rhetoric. Bureaucrats successful in corruption have talked about the transparency of power and the control of society over it. According to the reports of Transparency International, in 2013, Ukraine’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) reached 25 points out of 100 (the lower the index, the higher the level of corruption). The corrupt protectionism and the merging of political and business interests were mentioned as the main reasons for such result. Thus, the country ranked 144th out of 177 countries covered by the study, remaining consistently at high-risk group, along with Cameroon, Iran, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and Papua New Guinea. A year after the Maidan, Ukraine remained the most corrupt country in Europe. Having received only one additional point, compared to 2013, Ukraine stayed


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among totally corrupt states. However, since the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has been slowly gaining points, and in 2021, Ukraine’s CPI was equal 32 points. Among the neighbors, Ukraine is still higher than only Russia (with 29 points) (Transparency, 2021). One more issue worth being mentioned as an obstacle for Ukraine’s integration with the West is the public opinion. Though after the Euromaidan as well as after the Orange Revolution, winning political leaders and media were telling that Ukraine had finally made a geostrategic choice toward the West; it was not the case for the significant part of the Ukrainian society, which was as before, stuck to a sufficiently “ambivalent” position with some preference for Russia. Ukrainian nation has become united, also in terms of foreign policy, only relatively recently, following the beginning of the war with Russian Federation. After the Orange Revolution, the ideas of the ruling elite and the population to define their place between the West and East varied considerably. Evidently, at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 in Ukraine, the society did not play an active role in pushing for the European vector, which is confirmed by the data of the Razumkov Center. According to it, only, 32% of the respondents called themselves Europeans; 60% did not consider themselves Europeans (Kasyanov, 2008, p. 442). In addition, according to monitoring polls, in 2004–2007, support for integration with Western structures decreased, but at the same time, the number of opponents increased. For joining the EU in 2004, it was 47.9% of respondents, in 2007—43.1%. The percentage of opponents rose from 11.7 to 17.4%. The situation with Ukraine joining NATO was quite similar: in 2004, 18.8% “for,” 38.5% “against,” in 2007, 13.2% “for,” and 58.1% “against” (Panina, 2005, p. 540). According to the report of the Sociological Group “Rating,” Ukrainians’ support for their country to join the EU as the international economic community has grown from 36% in March 2012 to 58% in November 2021. Interestingly, in February 2014, it was 41%, while in March 2014, it increased to 52%, when it was evident that the Revolution of Dignity has won over Yanukovych and his government. The level of support for NATO has more than quadrupled in 10 years. In 2012, it was 13%, 34% in March 2014 and became 54% in November 2021 (Sociological, 2021). However, nothing has influenced Ukrainian opinions as the current war. In April 2022, 80% were in favor of Ukraine becoming a member of the EU and 59%—of NATO. If in terms of NATO, there are still big differences in opinions of the Western Ukraine (72%) and Eastern Ukraine (37%); support for the EU membership now has the majority both in Western regions (83%), as well as in Eastern (67%). What is more, compared to November 2021, the number of those who do not believe in the European integration of Ukraine and say that Ukraine will never become a part of the EU, has significantly decreased (from 26 to 4% in March 2022) (Sociological, 2022). It is very probable that this change in opinion was fueled by hatred to Russia and no will to have something in common with it, than with the growth of understanding of the benefits from the integration with the West.

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4 Model of Compromise As July 28, 1914, became a turning point for the international order in the first half of the XX century, similarly, as a lot of experts claim, in the first half of the XXI century, new twist was marked by February 24, 2022. Russian invasion of Ukraine was a pivotal moment also for the Ukraine’s policies of European and EuroAtlantic integration, significantly speeding up the first and making the second almost impossible to implement. The Russian factor in practice has proved its importance in Ukraine’s relations with the West, and how wrong it was to underestimate it. Though as for the Ukraine’s affiliation with the European Union, Russia–Ukraine war has brought consequences, which are not exactly in line with the interests of the Russian Federation. Ukraine was preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024 with a view to joining the European Union in the 2030s (Ojczyk, 2022). However, the Russian attack accelerated the course of events. On February 28, while Russian troops were tightening the blockade of Kyiv from the north and west sides, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for Ukraine’s membership in the EU. At the same time, it was mentioned that Kyiv, due to all circumstances, hopes for some special procedure for joining. The next day, on March 1, Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech via video call in the European Parliament was greeted with applause. The speech took place in the background of continued air and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities situated in the combat zones, such as Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mikolayiv. Members of European Parliament (MEPs) saw an unshaven president in a khaki shirt who did not read from the paper because, as he said, his country had run out of paper. In a short (less than eight minutes) but rather emotional message, the Ukrainian leader called for a European future for his country (Droga, 2022). By evening, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that was a political signal about the possible prospects for Ukraine. There was written that the EP called on the institutions of the European Union to work on granting Ukraine the status of an EU candidate (European Parliament, Resolution, 2022). 637 MEPs voted in favor of the document, 13 more voted against, and 26 abstained. However, this does not mean that Ukraine is about to be admitted to the EU. Moreover, the very decision of the European Parliament does not entail direct legal consequences. Still while her visit to Kyiv on April 1, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola promised that EP will recognize Ukraine as a candidate for EU accession officially and quickly (European Parliament, 2022). Speaking about the procedures, Ukraine was accepted as a candidate in a rather short time. Ukraine’s application for recognition by the European Union of the status of a candidate country was assessed by the European Commission, then obtained the opinion of the European Parliament, and after that a decision was taken by the European Council, i.e., the leaders of 27 member states (Bielecki, 2022). Nevertheless, this decision is mostly symbolic, without any consequences. It is not an obligation to admit the state to the membership. Many countries have been candidates for joining the European Union for decades. For example, Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and received candidate status only 12 years later, in 1999, and is still not


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included in the EU. North Macedonia applied in 2004, Montenegro in 2008, Albania and Serbia in 2009. Bosnia and Herzegovina applied in 2016 but has not yet received candidate status. The application for EU membership is the first step in a very long, multi-year process leading to accession (with no guarantee for such a positive conclusion). After granting the candidate status for Ukraine, the European Commission would analyze how the candidate must meet the conditions for accession, in terms of economic reforms, administration, standards of the rule of law and democracy. And on this basis, accession negotiations would begin, which could take several years, depending on the pace of reforms in Ukraine (Droga, 2022). In this matter, firstly, it would be essential to persuade most of the political parties that the country needs the EU membership, as only with their support the laws could be changed. However, for EU membership, it is not enough for Ukraine to fulfill all the requirements that are put forward to it. In addition, the EU itself must have an “absorption capacity” for this. That is a quite challenging issue as it deals with the question of the enlargement. The ongoing war has not influenced much the opinions of 27 member states on this matter, and they still vary a lot, as Charles Michel, President of the European Council stressed (EU Neighbors east, 2022). The heads of eight EU countries—Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia—made a statement calling for granting Ukraine the status of an EU candidate country. A little later, they were joined by Romania and, interestingly, Hungary. Poland behaved following its traditional role of the advocate for Ukrainian affairs in the EU. “Poland supports the express path of Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. Candidate status should be granted immediately, and membership interviews commenced immediately thereafter. Ukraine is also to have access to EU funds for reconstruction. This belongs to Ukraine”—President Andrzej Duda wrote on February 27 on Twitter. The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the EU, Andrzej Sado´s, said that Poland would act dynamically in this matter and wanted Ukraine to quickly obtain the status of a candidate country (Ojczyk, 2022). It is worth noting that the Ukrainian application for EU candidate status has been prepared with the support of lawyers from the Polish embassy to the EU (Bielecki, 2022). Speaking about Lithuanian support for Ukraine’s membership, Andrius Kubilus, Member of European Parliament (MEP), former Prime Minister of Lithuania says that the European Union can and does know how to develop and implement special programs for accelerated integration when it has the political will, and East Germany is an example. According to his words, the whole process of accelerated East German integration was made possible by a special procedure approved on April 28, 1990, which stated that East Germany’s integration into the European Union would take place in parallel with reunification with West Germany, and that the EU was committed to ensuring a smooth and harmonious process (Kubilus, 2022). A similar thought was expressed, by the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger: “There should be a ‘totally new track’ for a country that has gone through a war and ‘wants to be part of Europe’” (Bayer, 2022).

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Referring to less optimistic voices, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Euronews that Ukraine is “one of us and we want them in the European Union,” but now the priority is to end the war (Mc Mahon, 2022). Similar opinion was expressed by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who stated the EU cannot negotiate with a country at war. The French attitude should have been considered also because application for membership should be addressed to the country holding the Presidency of the EU Council, which then was France. “Possible admission of Ukraine and a number of other states to the EU would create additional problems with decision-making in the community, but Brussels should keep the prospect of such a step to support Kyiv,” said Secretary of State at the French Foreign Ministry Clement Bon. In addition, according to Bon, the admission of Ukraine to the European Union cannot happen urgently. The Netherlands share France’s opinion, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, believes that there is simply no accelerated procedure for joining the EU (Makron, 2022). The necessity to encompass different, often contrary positions, was reflected in a compromise decision on Ukraine’s application for EU membership took at an EU emergency summit in Versailles on March 10–11. Europeans once again recognized Ukraine’s “European choice,” as noted in the Association Agreement, and said they were ready to accept it to the “European family,” meaning that Ukraine might become a member of the EU, but when and by what procedure is unclear (Informal, 2022). The leaders of the member states proposed to consider the application submitted by Kyiv to the European Commission, which should evaluate it in accordance with the provisions of the EU treaties. Apparently, Central European EU members, led by Poland, have proposed giving Ukraine a stronger signal for membership in the Union, but their initiative has not been successful. Looking at things more soberly, one can understand the position of some of the EU member states. All the years between 2014 and 2022, Ukraine remained a problem for European security. With the outbreak of a full-scale war, the problem just got worse. The position of most of European states remains the same: do not let the current conflict spread to the EU. Admittedly, a flood of refugees from Ukraine has poured into Europe; they are receiving assistance from the EU member states, while Ukraine—military–technical assistance. Moreover, EU’s support took form of six packages of sanctions imposed on Russia on a previously unseen scale, including assets freeze and travel ban against Russian high-ranking officials and businesspeople, financial measures, especially SWIFT ban for seven Russian banks, restrictions in transport, suspension of broadcasting of Sputnik and Russia Today, diplomatic measures, ban on exports and imports of some goods from raw materials, defense, and energy sectors (European Council, 2022). However, the EU also assesses the scale of the conflict and its consequences for itself. Let’s imagine that Ukraine was offered an accelerated path to the EU and even accepted into it. European Union understands that the flow of refugees to the member states will not decrease, even if the war is over. Many people, having lost their jobs and houses in Ukraine, will go there for a better destiny. Will the EU be able to “digest” the new tens of thousands of people from Ukraine? Give them housing,


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some money, at least for the first time? Such questions are asked by the leaders of European countries. Therefore, they are cautious in their forecasts. Nevertheless, the EU continues showing its support for fighting Ukraine and its democratic European choice. On April 8, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen with Josep Borrell, head of EU diplomacy and Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia, visited Kyiv, where she gave to Volodymyr Zelensky the documents necessary to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate country to the EU (Fon der Lyaen, 2022). After the completion of them by the Ukrainian side, the Commission could formally present to the European Council an opinion on the recognition of Ukraine as a candidate country to the EU. Von der Leyen stressed that this procedure that normally takes years, considering exceptional circumstances, would be carried out in a few weeks and that the goal was to submit Ukraine’s application to the Council in summer 2022. EU Ambassador to Ukraine Matti Maasikas in the interview for CNN said that the European Commission was evaluating Ukraine according to two main criteria for membership—a functioning democracy and a functioning market economy, and the EC intended to complete the evaluation by June (Matti, 2022). Finally, on June 23, 2022, Ukraine was granted EU candidate status. This first step on the path to EU membership appears as a good way to inspire society, increase patriotism, and to give people hope for a decent European future in these difficult days for Ukraine. Still, everybody realizes that a lot will depend on the development of the military situation in the country. As the war accelerated the integration of Ukraine with the European Union, it had the opposite effect on the Euro-Atlantic course and nearly put an end to it. Russian Federation claimed that one of the main reasons of the war had been NATO’s east expansion and the decision of the NATO Bucharest Summit back in 2008. Then, it was stated that “Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO,” which, according to John Mearsheimer, was regarded by Russia as a “direct threat” (Mearsheimer, 2014, p. 3). Soon after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky made a statement to the Joint Expeditionary Forces led by the United Kingdom that Ukraine would not become a member of NATO due to the reluctance of the Alliance itself. Despite the fact that the Constitution of Ukraine enshrines the country’s aspirations for NATO membership, Zelensky stated that this goal is unrealistic (Dorosh, 2022). Who knows, whether we would have to deal with the war at all, if Ukraine acknowledged this at least a bit earlier. The West would like Ukraine itself to abandon NATO, which would help prevent a war and normalize relations with Russia, but at the same time without “losing face” for the alliance itself, which would not have to agree to fulfill Russia’s demand for NATO non-expansion. Nevertheless, Zelensky’s statement became a dim green light for the peace negotiations. Statements began to be made by the participants from both sides about what the country’s status should be and what security guarantees should look like. However, so far, apart from some agreements regarding the creation of humanitarian corridors, the negotiation process is almost not moving forward. Most of all, it is hindered by the question of the post-war borders of Ukraine.

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As the Ukrainian side speaks of peace, immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of all Russian troops from all the territories captured since the beginning of invasion on February 24, 2022, the Russian one has more demands for the adversary. They include “denazification” (prohibition of ultra-nationalist, Nazi and neo-Nazi parties, and public organizations, repeal of existing laws on the glorification of Nazis and neo-Nazis), recognition of Crimea as Russia’s, of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states within the administrative boundaries of the regions and Russian as the second state language in Ukraine. In matters of security, Russians demand that Ukraine refuses to join NATO and acquires a neutral nuclear-free status. According to the information reported by the Russian side of the negotiations, headed by the Assistant to the President of Russia Vladimir Medinsky, Austrian and Swedish versions of a neutral demilitarized state were discussed. They imply for the state non-aligned status and the refusal to host foreign bases (the ban on foreign bases in Ukraine is already present in Ukrainian law), but still—the possibility to have its own army and navy (Nadtoka, 2022). If such a scheme is approved, then it will be necessary to introduce a neutral (non-bloc) status into Ukrainian Constitution. As was earlier mentioned in this chapter, neutral status is not something new for the Ukrainian state. Back in times of the second half of Victor Yushchenko’s presidency, there was a big debate in political and scientific circles about whether the neutral status can or cannot guarantee Ukraine’s independent and secure development. Then, most of the researchers claimed the necessity of Ukraine’s integration into NATO and EU in terms of security policy. Nowadays, in the circumstances of war, non-aligned status and refusal to move toward NATO appears to be not only the best, but also the only choice for Ukraine, since its first and foremost national interest, as for any other state, is survival. Moreover, Russian delegation on negotiations requires the “demilitarization” of Ukraine, which in practice means reduction of the army and the abandonment of strike weapons in exchange for security guarantees from other countries. Consultations are currently underway with countries that have indicated that they agree to discuss the guarantees they can take on. The United States, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, and Italy have publicly declared their readiness to act as guarantors. Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they would not provide Ukraine with guarantees similar to those in the NATO, and the same was stated in France: Guarantees may apply to the supply of military equipment in case of an attack on Ukraine, but not of troops (Bazar, 2022). Certainly, for Ukraine to expect guarantees similar to the ones of Article 5 of North Atlantic Treaty is absolutely unrealistic. Therefore, the Ukrainian security will be guaranteed by an agreement with a number of guarantor countries that will be obliged to make clear legal commitments to actively prevent attacks on Ukraine. Taught by the recent experience, the Ukrainian negotiating delegation insists that such an agreement should include “absolute,” not “protocol,” as “Budapest” guarantees. “This means that the signatories of the guarantees do not stand aside in case of an attack on Ukraine, as today. But, they take an active part on the side of Ukraine in the conflict and officially provide us with an immediate supply of the necessary number of weapons. […] We need direct and firm guarantees that the sky will definitely be closed,” Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser


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to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, described the Ukrainian vision (Nadtoka, 2022). While Ukraine may not have a problem with weapons or sanctions from guarantors in case of a new attack, issues will arise with a “military component” since potential guarantors are not ready to sign an obligation to enter the war on the side of Ukraine. On the other hand, agreements without real preventive mechanisms to avoid war will not work.

5 Finlandization of Ukraine? For more than thirty years of Ukraine’s independence, the country has went through different phases in relations with the West. Ukraine, as well as the EU and NATO, made some steps toward its European and Euro-Atlantic integration, but there were also steps back. The whole process has been influenced by external factors in the international system, but also inside Ukraine. The ongoing war with Russia brought a new twist in Ukraine’s path towards the West: closer to the EU, but out of NATO. From the liberal perspective, it may be considered as failure, but from the realist one, it appears to be a decent compromise. Based on the realities of 2022, it is in Ukraine’s national interests to focus on economic integration, while leaving ideas to join the military alliance behind. This model is nothing else but the so-called Finlandization, which was advised to Ukraine for years, especially in 2014, by many prominent researchers and politicians, including Kissinger (2022), Brzezinski (2014). Speaking in terms of European integration perspective for Ukraine, as had been promised, Ukraine received the status of a candidate for EU membership in 2022. After all, European governments were under pressure from pro-Ukrainian public opinion within the EU. Granting the status of a candidate member of the EU was a sign of solidarity for the Ukrainian society and an attempt to somehow support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people opposing Russian aggression. At the same time, Ukraine is unlikely to gain full EU membership in the coming years. First of all, as is shown above, there is no unity of opinion within the EU, and not all member states support Ukraine’s membership in the EU. Some EU leaders do not want to accept the country into their ranks until the end of the war; others demand reforms; others are against Ukraine generally as part of the European Union. For example, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schellenberg said that it is worth limiting Ukraine’s accession to the EU Single Economic Zone or simply maintaining the current level of the Association Agreement (MID, 2022). Another common view is that Ukraine should not wait for decisions on this issue until the end of the war. Nevertheless, all leaders are in favor of “strengthening ties with Ukraine,” while a consensus on expansion is a much more complicated thing to achieve. Secondly, Ukraine is a very large country, and it will change the internal political balance both within the European Parliament and within the European Council. This will mean both the strengthening of the role of post-socialist countries in the EU and the role of the United States within the EU. Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic countries

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will begin to politically outweigh, in terms of the number of votes and positions, the countries of old Europe, such as Germany and France. Thirdly, the EU will be forced to take on the issue of restoring Ukraine after the war. Hundreds of billions, if not trillions of euros, will be needed to be spent. All this makes the most probable scenario in which Ukraine already in 2022 receives the status of a candidate member of the EU, and a full membership in the EU can only be gained after the war. In addition to the war, there are other obstacles to Ukraine’s early EU membership. A country cannot become a full member of the EU without deep legislative and administrative changes. In 1993, in Copenhagen, the EU set strict entry criteria, among which there are three elements that are definitely missing in Ukraine: the stability of institutions, the observance of the rule of law, and the stable development of the economy. The rule of law is a key part of the first—political—Copenhagen criterion for the EU membership (“Stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities”). This first political criterion for membership must be met before the start of the EU accession negotiations, and as for now, Ukraine cannot be called a champion in its obeying and implementation. The United Nations’ update on the human rights situation in Ukraine points out at a lot of violations and sectors where much improvement is needed. For example, Central Election Committee (CEC) decided not to hold local elections in October 2021 in 18 amalgamated communities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This decision, which was based on security assessments provided by the military– civil administrations of Donetsk and Luhansk region and left about 500,000 people without a right to vote, was not transparent (United Nations Human, 2021). The report also highlights the problems with freedom of opinion and expression. It speaks about attacks targeting media workers, when they are beaten and their equipment is damaged. In addition, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression can be seen in the closure of the media outlets perceived as pro-Russian, namely online sources “Strana.ua” and “Sharij.net” and three TV news channels: 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK. It was done by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council. Thus, it was not made by an independent authority and did not meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality, which means that it was not in line with international human rights standards. Moreover, unlawful arrests without a court warrant continued to be a common practice, which violates both national law and international standards on the right to liberty. In civic space, women human rights defenders and environmental activists were still facing attacks and threats, especially by extreme right-wing groups (United Nations Human, 2021). On the other hand, the new National Human Rights Strategy was adopted on March 24, 2021 (Nacionalna, 2021). It took into account recommendations by the United Nations, including on the necessity to fully integrate gender. However, it still did not consider safeguards for the protection of language rights of minorities, which were pointed out by the Venice Commission. Admittedly, the situation with peaceful LGBTI assemblies became better. LGBTI equality marches were held and secured by law enforcement agencies in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Kryvyi Rih. What is more,


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in Ukraine, homosexual relations, which were equated to forms of risky behavior, were removed from the list of prohibitive criteria for blood donation. There were also positive developments in the field of gender equality. In 2021, Ukraine has increased the responsibility for sexism in advertising; the new rules came into force on January 8, 2022 (Padiryakova et al., 2022). Importantly, there was a resetting of the corruption infrastructure. The Verkhovna Rada returned to the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) the authority to prevent corruption and verify the declarations of officials. The adopted changes fully took into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission. These changes establish financial control measures against judges of general courts and judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU). The NAPC has launched verifications of the declarations and is monitoring their way of life. Hopefully, the situation will change in the near future, but currently, the judiciary is rightly considered one of the most corrupt structures; only, 1.7% of Ukrainians fully trust domestic courts (2021 rik, 2022). This happened, in part, because all previous attempts to reform the system failed, and the bodies entrusted with the cleansing and renewal of the courts, the High Council of Justice and the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, remained unreformed. What is more, it is clear that a warring country, with all its desire, cannot fulfill all the requirements for entry. Moreover, these demands will also be impossible to fulfill if it is only about a truce and a ceasefire and not about a clear peace treaty, which designates the entire format of relations in the Ukraine–West-Russia triangle. If the threat of renewed war continues, the EU is unlikely to rush to admit Ukraine to its membership. In addition, it is not clear what Russia’s position on Ukraine’s integration with the EU will be. Options for a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia discussed in late March in Istanbul included Russia’s commitment not to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU. Nevertheless, already in May, after the words of Joseph Borrell, who made the statement that the outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine will be determined “on the battlefield,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow strongly doubts the “harmlessness” of Ukraine’s aspirations to join the European Union (Nadtoka, 2022). However, as noted before, options discussed while negotiations also implied declaring Ukraine a neutral state (that is, abandoning its course toward NATO) in exchange for security guarantees. Notably, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland are often given as examples that the status of a neutral state can provide reliable protection of national interests. Still, one should keep in mind that three of them are members of the European Union and take an active part in the implementation of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, of which the Common European Security and Defense Policy is an integral part. These instruments might become available for Ukraine only if and when it gains membership in the EU. Moreover, these non-NATO countries work most closely with the Alliance on a bilateral basis. Nevertheless, currently neutral status is perceived as a way out to finish the war, but whether it will be long-term solution is highly debatable. A question might arise about the respect and non-violation of Ukraine’s neutrality by others. Considering

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country’s geopolitical position between Europe and Eurasia, Ukraine ought to be a rather strong state to resist the influence and expansion from both sides, while their clash can destabilize the internal situation in a country. For instance, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stressed that NATO will not abandon the open-door policy, and Ukraine may again try to join NATO in the future (Ostin, 2022). In addition, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk said that Ukraine will not make changes to the Constitution that relate to Ukraine’s aspirations for NATO. In his opinion, these are declarative norms and Ukraine’s perspective vision for future, which are resolutive only when they have an effect that is not the case now (Sobenko, 2022). However, Joseph Borrell, bluntly called the West’s, attempts to bring Ukraine into NATO a mistake (Borell, 2022). That shows that a European consensus is gradually being formed regarding the future geopolitical positioning of Ukraine as a neutral state. And if a strategic agreement is indeed concluded on this issue, which will end the war with Russia; then after that Ukraine can really come close to the prospects of joining the EU and becoming, in fact, the new Finland—a member of the European Union, but not NATO.

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Marharyta Blyzniuk, M.A., holds M.A. of University of Warsaw, B.A. of University of Wroclaw, a young Ukrainian scholar doing Ph.D. at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. Her research interests cover the issues of the political transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Ukraine in particular, and international security.

Russia’s Challenge to Central and Eastern Europe Agnieszka Bryc

Abstract Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shown that what has been viewed as Central and Eastern European countries’ Russophobia is in fact their sensitivity to the challenge or/and threat that Russia poses to its neighbors. The West, which until February 2022 has defined Russia as a partner or at best a problematic neighbor, has been repeatedly receiving signals that the Kremlin does not accept violations of its sphere of influence, the former USSR. Each time, they were ignored or downplayed. Author explains the background of Russia’s revisionist turn, which she claims is the key. Following the neorealist paradigm, she presents the factors that have led Russia to alter the post-Cold War order, challenge the West, and demand recognition of the post-Soviet area as its zone of exclusive interests. Keywords Russia · Central and Eastern Europe · West · Foreign policy · Interests · Revisionism

1 Introduction This chapter attempts to analyze the roots and driving forces of Russia’s desire to keep Eastern Europe, that is the post-Soviet republics as a part of its sphere of influence, and regain its impact on Central Europe that during the Cold War era was part of the Eastern Block. Apart from the Baltic countries (B3), the rest of the former Soviet Union (FSU) republics are seen by Moscow as its so-called close neighbors, where Russia stipulates the right to hold exclusive interests and defend them even by force, especially if the zone is violated by the growing involvement of the West (the US, NATO, the EU). The red line is drawn by Moscow along the border of the FSU. Unlike Central Europe, which despite Russia’s opposition has been mostly integrated with NATO and the European Union, it comes to Eastern Europe Moscow is not only against but A. Bryc (B) Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toru´n, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_8



A. Bryc

also desperate to prevent them from accessing NATO or generally integrating with the West even by using force. The main argument is here that the hardships Central and Eastern Europe face in relations with Russia have their origin in Russia’s shift from cooperative strategy with the West to altering the “rules of the game” of the post-Cold War order. This change was everything, but revolution. Therefore, several signals should have been noticed by the West, not to mention aloud allegations of being betrayed by the West that instead of dissolving NATO like the Warsaw Pact in 1991 has promoted its expansion eastwards. As a result, misunderstood or just ignored signals of Russia’s drift toward revisionism made Russia transform from a complicated neighbor into a threat vis-à-vis Central and Eastern Europe.

2 The Starting Point: Roots of Putin’s Revisionism All the challenges Central and Eastern Europe face in relations with Russia derive primarily from its revisionist ambitions. What used to be so far veiled and remained between the lines was called by its proper name eight months after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Valdai Club, the annual conference, where President Vladimir Putin used to present the Kremlin’s international agenda raised the issue of the “new rules” in the global order. This address the Russian President delivered was a clear message to the West: “We were able to develop rules after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge [new rules] at this new stage of development” (Putin, 2014). What Putin just mentioned, Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs and the director of the Valdai Club has called by its name. Russia—to his mind—has imposed an extremely significant role as a revisionist in the already-formed world order. Actually, the post-Cold War order was not only organized without taking into consideration Russia’s interests but also by increasing pressure on it (Shuper, 2022). More recently, February 2022 was marked by him as the end of a large-scale historical experiment aimed to test whether Russia may be included in the international order created by the Western powers (Lukyanov, 2022, p. 5). Putin’s request for the new rules of the world order is in line with the power transition theory. It claims that the driving force of a revisionist state is twofold: on one hand, the extent of the revisionist aims, and on the other, a risk propensity to challenge the existing order (DiCicco & Levy, 1999). Randall L. Schweller argues that there are four dimensions of revisionism that, taken together, determine whether a challenger poses a dangerous threat or not: (1) the extent of revisionist aims; (2) the nature of revisionist aims (desire to change international norms, territory or gain prestige); (3) risk propensity; (4) the means (powerful or violent) that are employed to further its revisionist aims (Schweller, 2006). Schweller does see a correlation, as well. The more risk-acceptant and limited-aims revisionist power are the more ambitious aims it has. Moreover, risk-acceptant and limited-aims revisionists are usually

Russia’s Challenge to Central and Eastern Europe


more dissatisfied with the status-quo order than are their risk-averse counterparts (Schweller, 2015). With regard to Russia, the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the full-scale war on Ukraine in 2022 confirmed that Russia meets all the prerequisites of being a revisionist state. Not only by challenging the so-called collective West, as it used to call it but also due to taking risks to alter the post-Cold War order. From this perspective, Russia is not just a simple rising power, but an authentic revisionist challenger (Mearsheimer, 2006). Like revisionists, the Russian Federation tends to view security interests in terms of changing the system and/or improving its position within it (Buzan, 2008, p. 241). John Ikenberry argues, however, that due to the military capacity, Russia is not sufficient to undermine the liberal international order, and therefore, the Kremlin might be taken as a part-time spoiler rather than a full-scale revisionist power (Ikenberry, 2014). As of 1991, that is the collapse of the Soviet Union, the frustration and dissatisfaction of the American-led world order were successfully paving the way for Russia’s revisionist shift. The end of the Cold War brought about the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a state and the communist bloc as its geopolitical periphery. Within the post-Soviet Union boundaries, there emerged fifteen states but only the Russian Federation has inherited the status of the successor of the U.S.S.R. Therefore, complexes of a fallen superpower combined with ambitions to regain lost status have been soon manifested in Russia’s foreign policy (Kalb, 2015). A sense of failure was overwhelming. First of all, in terms of geopolitics, Russia was forced to retreat. Territorially, it counted 76.2% of the former U.S.S.R, what meant the loss of 5 million square kilometers. Indeed, the borders of the Russian Federation resembled those before the era of Catherine the Great in the second half of the eighteenth century (Trenin, 2012, pp. 30–33). Furthermore, the population shrank by more than 50% from 290 million in the Soviet Union to c.a 142 million (Marples, 2013, pp. 48–60). Not to mention losing 60% of its economic potential. Despite all the bluster about being an “energy superpower,” Russia’s economy has remained less developed than was the United States more than half a century ago (Nitsevich et al., 2019). In 2021 and after years of rising prices of natural gas and crude oil, Russia’s GDP is comparable to South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Iran, and Spain (GDP, 2021). Moreover, the post-Soviet republics (excluding the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) became part of Russia’s buffer zone perceived by Moscow as the so-called close neighborhood, putting it bluntly, Russia’s sphere of exclusive influence. For a long time, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had a special position in Russia’s foreign policy. Moscow mistakenly assumed that by remaining the strongest state in the region, it would naturally concentrate them in its orbit of influence. Simultaneously, on one hand, the new Russian government wanted to get rid of the burden of the post-Soviet republics’ very painful political transformation, and on the other hand, it wanted to retain full political, economic, and military control over them. Initially, the Kremlin did not even consider relations with them as with fully independent partners and treated the CIS issues as an internal policy (domashniye dela). Finally, the Ministry for CIS Affairs (Ministerstwo po


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Diełam Sotrudniczestva s Gosudarstwami Sodruzhestva) which had very unclear competence was canceled in 2000, and the issues of the former Soviet republics were transferred to the MFA (Adamishin, 2021, pp. 212–218). The disintegration of the Soviet Union has made Russia withdraw also from Central Europe. The process was sore because the Autumn of the Nation in the late 1980s brought the disintegration of both, the Soviet Union and the dismantling of the Eastern Block (Zi˛eba, 2018, pp. 21–23). Accordingly, the Kremlin was trying to stop the process of post-communist states’ integration with NATO and the EU by attempting to keep them as long as possible either in a “gray zone” somewhere in between Russia and the West or to regain the impact on their domestic politics. Nevertheless, under Yeltsin, Russia has acknowledged its lack of capabilities vis-à-vis “the relict of the Cold War,” as it perceived NATO and agreed to sign The NATORussia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security signed on May 27, 1997 (Founding Act, 1997). In the Kremlin’s eyes, it was merely a “damage control,” because Russia was incapable to halt NATO enlargement. It accepted an offer made by Alliance members even in return for an unwritten agreement to expand it in 1999. Of course, Russians sat at the table and co-decisioned in the newly set up Russia-NATO Permanent Council but had no veto on key issues (Braun, 2008, pp. 55–70). In spite of the special status, it got in relations with NATO, and Russian complexes have only deepened. Since the very beginning, the border of the former U.S.S.R has been Moscow’s red line. The opportunity to block the risk of Georgia and Ukraine becoming member states emerged when the Alliance did not offer a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine at the 2008 Bucharest Summit due to France and Germany’s opposition. Russia decided to use a several-month window of opportunity as NATO members postponed their decision till December 2008 foreign ministers’ meeting (NATO, 2008). Russia escalated tensions in South Ossetia as early as July 2008, when an Ossetian village police chief was killed by a bomb. On August 8, Dmitri Medvedev, the then Russian President, denounced Georgia’s incursion into South Ossetia by claiming that “most of dying in South Ossetia are citizens of the Russian Federation” and concluded that “we shall not allow our compatriots to be killed with impunity” (Whither, 2008). Prior to escalation, Moscow had carried out a campaign of passportiztion of South Ossetians (Gulina, 2020) and carried out Kavkaz 2008 military exercises that had an escalator effect on the Georgian government and pre-positioned troops and equipment for the military invasion. At the end of the day, the first to strike turned out to be Georgian troops, but this fact did not matter indeed, as Russia had escalated the crisis and the outbreak of an open war was just a matter of time (McFaul, 2018). Unfortunately, the five-day war that broke out between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia took most of the Western world by surprise (Engvall, 2019). Vladimir Putin admitted as early as 2012, that the plan for military action against Georgia was prepared in 2006 and approved by him in 2007 (Felgenhauer, 2012). In other words, Russia was ready for several years to put into action its revisionist strategy. The West’s appeasement afterward has only convinced Russia that the strategy of challenging the West did work, as neither the U.S nor NATO was interested in confronting Russia.

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Moreover, instead of being punished, the Barack Obama administration proposed two years later to do a reset in Russia-West relations. Once again, the conclusion for the Kremlin was as simple as that Moscow was reworded by a rapprochement with the leading global power.

3 Russia’s Strategic Culture The key to understanding the essence of a challenge or/and a threat Russia is posing to its neighbors is its historically shaped strategic culture, which is framing Russia’s mindset. Of particular importance, there are here a few elements. Firstly, buffer zones. The legacy of the Mongol Yoke has brought to Russian political thinking a very specific fear of losing sovereignty and territorial integrity and later on to what Catherine the Great stated famously “to defend its borders through expansion.” (Kollmann, 2017, pp. 335–354). According to this logic, Russia strives to hold buffer zones that are capable to protect its interior from enemies from abroad. Like the Poles, who captured Moscow during the Polish-Russian War of 1609–1618. To celebrate the anniversary of the expulsion of the Polish army from Moscow in 1612, the 4th of November has become National Unity Day in Russia since 2004. Then Napoleon, who does remain in the collective memory of Russians as that one whose troops were unable to reach the capital in 1812 and were doomed to a murderous winter retreat from Moscow. Next, the threat of Nazi Germany was also coming from the west, though Russians tend to neglect the fact that beforehand Stalin and Hitler had collaborated and almost simultaneously committed aggression against Poland in 1939, Nazi Germany on September 1st, and the Red Army on 17th. In their interpretation, there was a preventive action, but aggression. And finally, the Cold War rivalry strengthened their belief that the USSR was holding back both the imperial USA and NATO (Zubok, 2021). Secondly, a “rightful” place in world affairs. Given Vladimir Putin’s realiststyle worldview, international politics is still dominated by major powers. Fully “sovereign”—in his eyes—are only those states that are able to exercise genuinely independent choice, like the United States, China, and Russia, plus other players with significant influence in selected areas, such as the leading Europeans (Germany, France), India, and Brazil (Trenin, 2011, pp. 411–414). Depriving Russia of such a status is by an axiom a humiliation and disgrace (Tsygankov, 2012). There is no coincidence that President Putin, either personally or through his head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov, demands from the U.S. treat Russia as a partner. Officially, however, this request is framed by the concept of a multipolar world. In fact, President Putin has been continuing the Primakov doctrine, which dates back to 1996. Yevgeny Primakov, the Minister of Foreign Relations under Boris Yeltsin, presented Russia’s new multilateral strategy at the 51st session of the UN General Assembly (Primakov, 2004, pp. 140–141). His concept was based on the assumption that in spite of being weak Russia should use all of its old Soviet contacts, in particular those who face


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contradictory interests with the U.S to undermine American hegemony and set up a multilateral and more democratic world order. When Russia speaks about a multipolar and more democratic world, it actually thinks about the retro construct of the Concert of Powers. Certainly, President Putin is inspired by the Concert of Europe developed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, when the victorious empires established a long-lasting authoritarian peace to consolidate their defeat of Napoleon (Kagarlitsky, 2008, p. 200). In President Putin’s mindset, the current global politics has been determined by the same nineteen-century rules, that is, great powers determine the arrangements and rules of international politics; smaller states know their place and frame national policies with regard for the interests of the major powers, and security—or at least their security—is collective and indivisible (Lo, 2015, p. 43). Likewise, a more democratic world order Russia understands by virtue of weakening the hegemonic U.S in favor of the group of the Concert of Powers, so including Russia (Lo, 2015, p. 42). As early as 2003 Vladimir Putin was stating, “either Russia will be great, or it will not be at all.” (Shevtsova, 2003, p. 175.). Thirdly, uniqueness conviction. Since the fall of the Byzantine empire in the midfifteenth century, Russia proclaimed itself to be the Third Rome. From then on it has been claiming its special status as a supreme power responsible for Christian Orthodox and Slavic nations (Curanovi´c, 2012). “When Kievan Rus adopted Christianity from Constantinople in 988, the Eastern Slavs were consecrated into a single civilization and given the task of constructing Holy Rus”—said Patriarch Kirill in 2009 (Vystupleniye, 2009). Thereby, Central and Eastern Europe find the currently promoted idea of the “Russian world” rather as a rebranding of the old-fashioned Third Rome. It is pretty clear that it implied a close unity—not only spiritual and cultural but also geo-economic and geopolitical—of the three “Russian” (as that word was understood in the nineteenth century) states, like Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and in a wider interpretation the Russian-speaking nations also in Moldova, the Baltic states, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and Transcaucasia. The so-called compatriots are, after all, constituting a diaspora in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel. What is interesting, the latter President Putin used to call just “another Russian-speaking republic” (Israel, 2019). The problem is that “the Russian world” seems to be a resource, which sometimes the Kremlin uses as a pretext to put political pressure or use military force like in 2008 in Georgia. As a matter of fact, President Putin used this argument also to support the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the following war in Donbas. He officially underlined that Russians were the world’s biggest divided nation and reminded the concept of Novorossiya for the Russian-speaking southern and eastern provinces of Ukraine who—in his opinion—would like to integrate with “Matushka Rossiya” [Motherland] (What exactly, 2014). In this respect, he was recalling the historical term “New Russia” devoted to the northern Black Sea coast conquered by Russia from the Ottoman Empire in the late eighteenth century. Shortly after the annexation of Crimea in the address to the Federal Assembly on December 4, 2014, Vladimir Putin was very explicit, “for Russia, Crimea, ancient Korsun (Khersones), Sebastopol have enormous civilizational and sacral meaning—just as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has for those who profess Islam and Judaism. […] This territory is strategically

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important because it is the spiritual source of the formation of our multifaceted but monolithic Russian nation and the centralized Russian state. It was in this very place, in Crimea, in ancient Khersones, or as Russian chroniclers called it, Korsun, that Prince Vladimir was baptized, and [he] then baptized all of Rus” (Krym, 2014).

4 Doomed to Be an Enemy The driving force that has emboldened Russia to challenge the West and defend its national interests by force was growing disbelief and a sense of being betrayed. The idea of West’s betrayal has indeed been used as an argument for implementing a more assertive politics. Since Russia’s liberal-democratic transition failed in the nineties and NATO has not given up its eastwards march this belief was being only fueled. Consequently, the Russian public has remained convinced that the Americans broke the unwritten promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev by then US Secretary of State James Baker that the U.S would not extend NATO membership to former Warsaw Pact nations. The controversy was solved, however, by Mikhail Gorbachev in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines on October 16, 2014. The last Soviet leader being asked by the journalist Maxim Kórshunov whether Baker had promised him the alliance would never expand stated bluntly: “The topic of NATO expansion was not discussed at all, and it was not brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a single Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders did not bring it up, either. Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces from the alliance would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement, mentioned in your [journalist] question, was made in that context. Kohl and [German Vice-Chancellor Hans-Dietrich] Genscher talked about it.” (Kórshunov, 2014). Yet Gorbachev’s explanation did not change the Kremlin’s policy. Another allegation against the West is about humiliating and marginalizing Russia. Moscow did not accept the status of a junior partner in relations with the West. At least twice the Kremlin’s objection was ostentatiously ignored. Firstly, when Russians could only protest against further waves of NATO’s eastern enlargement: in 1999 (Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic), 2004 (Slovakia and the Baltic States), 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania), 2009 (Albania, Croatia), 2017 (Montenegro), and 2020 (Northern Macedonia). Secondly, in 1999 when NATO decided to start a military intervention against Federal Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), Russia’s ally, without taking into consideration Moscow’s position. What made the story more complex was that the Russian government was at that time involved in negotiations with Belgrade. Exactly, this fact became then a symbol of the weakness of the Yeltsin’s Russia. It has also to be added that the then Prime Minister Chernomyrdin supported the West in putting pressure on Slobodan Milosevic exactly when in June 1999, Russia got a 400 million dollar loan from the IMF (Antonenko, 2007, p. 10).


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When Vladimir Putin was coming to power, at first as a Prime Minister, later as acting president, and finally in May 2000 as an elected head of state Russia, its public was in the throes of a dispute about the extent of this prestigious failure. Nonetheless, at the very beginning, Vladimir Putin seemed to be rather pragmatic in his criticism of the West. In 2001, he fully supported the U.S after the terrorist attacks 2001 (Tsygankov, 2014, pp. 135). But unlike Gorbachev or Yeltsin, Putin was not eager to replicate Western democratic or liberal values on Russian soil. He saw his country rather as a modern great power capable of adapting to a changing world under state leadership (Putin, 2000, pp. 209–219). By the time, however, challenging Washington was no longer part of bargaining with the United States and became an extension of domestic politics. By anti-American slogans, he was trying to regain lost—during his Prime Minister term—mass support, and in this way, he has become like the previous Russian rulers, such as Tsar Nicholas I, Lenin, and Stalin, who used to exploit the idea a fortress besieged by enemies from abroad and traitors from within (Lo, 2015, p. 15). The conservative ideology has been developed to give foundation of the new political strategy in the second decade of the 2000s. Its main objective was at that time to stabilize the regime by consolidating society around this project, diverting people’s attention from the economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the complicated domestic situation, as well. The Kremlin used anti-Western sentiments also to legitimize its confrontation with the “degenerate” West and facilitate its search for anti-American allies (Rodkiewicz, 2015, p. 5). Such a strategy has brought quick benefits by neutralizing the public’s discontent with the Kremlin’s policy and redirecting its frustration against the West (Rodkiewicz, 2015, p. 6). At least since 2012, Putin has anticipated a cold reception for the West. He already returned to the post of a head of state and took the lesson from the Bolotnaya protests of 2011/2012. After the electoral fraud in the Duma elections that has sparked massive social protests, Putin radicalized his politics toward the liberal opposition. Simultaneously, he accused the White House, literally Hilary Clinton the then Secretary of State of inspiring the protests to bring down the Kremlin’s power. Certainly, this logic was a result of his belief that Bolotnaya protests, just like the “color revolutions” that swept through the FSU (2003 Georgia, 2004 and 2014 Ukraine, 2005 Kyrgyzstan) and the Arab Spring in the Middle East (2010–2013) were inspired by the U.S (Stepanova, 2016, pp. 23–35). From the Kremlin’s perspective, “democracy promotion” was merely a façade for the spread of American influence. At that time, the EU was on the way to improving relations with Ukraine. Not surprisingly, this process was seen in Moscow as another attempt of disintegrating its exclusive interests within the close neighborhood. While NATO was openly recognized as a military threat, the EU’s open-door policy launched in 2008 has been defined rather as a geo-economic challenge. Kyiv was under double pressure because on one side was planning to sign an Association Agreement with the EU and on the other side was pushed by Russia to join the Eurasian Economic Union and reject plans to sign European documents. Hence, when the Maidan protest happened Moscow accused Brussels of being responsible for “picking up Ukraine from its close neighborhood.” Russia expected that this time the West would react firmer if it took military

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measures, but surprisingly for both Russia annexed Crimea without a single shot and with no immediate reaction from the West.

5 Signals Missed The West should have not been taken by a surprise. After all, Russia has frequently demonstrated its desire to alter the Western-led order. Most of the signals were either ignored or underestimated. The first wake-up call that the West could not have failed came on April 25, 2005. While delivering the annual state-of-the-nation address President Vladimir Putin admitted remarkably: “The collapse of the Soviet Union was the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” (Annual, 2005). Initially, these words were primarily taken as an attempt to lift the declining popularity of Vladimir Putin, and a warm-up of Soviet nostalgia was supposed to improve his public sympathy. On the other hand, however, President Putin was definitely linking this comment with the recent wave of mass protests that toppled a few governments in the post-Soviet republics like Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan the following year. Evidently, his state address was a signal that he would not tolerate another “color revolution” in the country. Apart from the Tulip revolution in Kyrgyzstan which turned out to be a kind of clan rivalry, the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine have alarmed the Kremlin because they helped the new pro-Western rulers, like Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia and Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine to promote reducing Russia’s influence. Hence, Russian elites viewed them primarily in terms of a new political technology launched by Americans. Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s spin doctor and author of an idea of the “sovereign democracy” in Russia, was worried about a likely “color revolution” in Russia itself. “In 2008, we will either preserve our sovereignty or be ruled externally,” he announced in the United Russia party meeting in Krasnoyarsk in November 2005 (Zygar, 2016, p. 113). The second warning call should have been noticed two years later. President Putin took part in the 2007 Munich Security Conference, where he announced Russia’s return to neo-imperial policy. “I do believe that for the modern world the unipolar model is unacceptable”—he said and was continuing what we see today is an almost unrestrained, excessive use of force in international affairs, military force, dragging the world into an abyss of conflict (Speech, 2007). Nothing but, this should have rid the West of any illusions that Russia was ready to cooperate with NATO. “NATO is not a universal organization, as opposed to the UN. It is first and foremost a military and political alliance.” Following this, he has defined NATO and its policy of eastward enlargement as provocative and threatening. Therefore concluded rhetorically: “Is it necessary to put military infrastructure on our borders during this expansion?” (Speech, 2007). Unfortunately, once again the sign of Russia driving into revisionism was ignored or underestimated by the West. This time for at least two reasons, indeed. Firstly,


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there was nothing spectacular at that time about Putin’s accusation of hypocrisy against the United States after it invades Iraq in 2003. Such a critique was by then fairly common in Germany, France, and to some extent in the U.S. Secondly, the real moment of revelation was his broader conclusion that the U.S.-led liberal order had no value for Russia did not convince those who had put a lot of effort into working with Russia and who had believed in “dialog first” with Russia.

6 The Point of no Return The 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas have ended the era of cooperation in Russia-West relations and opened a new period of confrontation (Trenin, 2014, p. 10). Ukraine by going West was seen as the next step of the West’s expansion in Eastern Europe. In other words, from Russia’s perspective, the West has once again crossed the red line. Thereby, Russia decided to take offensive measures. First of all, to interrupt the process of anchoring Ukraine in the West. Secondly, Putin was attempting to present it as a success of “recollecting Russian territories.” It is worth reminding that control over Ukraine is absolutely vivid for any ambitions of restoring an empire exactly as the former U.S national adviser, Zbigniew Brzezi´nski, famously wrote: “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire.” (Brzezinski, 1999, p. 46). Thus, from the very beginning, Russia was attempting to realize two tasks—first of all, to take the opportunity of capturing the Crimean Peninsula, what was expected to be welcomed by Russians. Then, to keep Ukraine destabilized just to convince its society that its government is not able to solve the crisis. By the escalation in 2021 followed by a full-scale war in February 2022, the Kremlin strategy was based on three elements: keeping the negotiation track of the Normandy process with the involvement of Germany and France; criticizing the Ukrainian government for lack of implementation of the Minsk agreement, and destabilizing the Donbas through backing the separatist movements there. Moscow was attempting to push Kyiv enough to make it reject the Minsk process that would allow Russians to change its strategy into a more offensive and realize the goals that had failed in 2014. In other words, the Russian government had to find a pretext to capture the whole Donbas, as there was only one-third of its territories in hands of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics, and finally connect Donbas by a land corridor with the Crimean Peninsula. The latter one was originally planned as Novorossiya along the Black Sea coast (Basora & Fisher, 2014). At least, the deadlock of the Minsk process and the calculations that the West was weak and corrupted enough that would not be able to solidary back Ukraine while Russia’s “special operation.” But previously, the Kremlin had to justify its aggression with an appropriate pretext, which was best served by the demands it made to the U.S. and NATO in midDecember 2021. Three of them were viewed by Moscow as non-negotiable. First, no more eastward NATO expansion. What was literally understood by the West as “hands-off Ukraine!” (and Georgia). Second, no offensive systems in areas bordering

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Russia, such as Poland, the Baltics, and the Black Sea basin near Crimea. Third, it is the pullback of NATO troops back from countries that joined the alliance after 1997. The head of the Russian delegation in Geneva, Sergey Ryabkov, went on to put these demands even more frankly: “NATO should pack up its stuff and withdraw to the lines of 1997” (Russia, 2021). If accepted, this would mean that current NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe would once again find themselves in a geopolitical gray zone. This would make them vulnerable to the Kremlin’s desire to reconstruct its historical sphere of influence. The timing of the Russian demands was certainly appropriate. The most immediate prelude to the 2022-Ukraine war was the escalation in April of the previous year, which followed a similar scenario and was designed to test possible Western countries’ reactions. Russia understood that there was a window of opportunity open until 2024 at most when the next presidential elections will take place and the Kremlin will be fully concentrated on domestic issues. Firstly, because of the post-election situation in Germany, where the coalition still had no clear position on Russia. Secondly, due to the impression that the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul in August 2021 was indeed a debacle and a further confirmation that U.S. power is waning. Thirdly, Moscow currently enjoyed its political scene free of opponents. While Alexei Navalny was sent to a penal colony in January 2021, media outlets critical of the Kremlin had increasingly found themselves labeled as “foreign agents.” The worldwide known NGO “Memorial” was even made illegal in December. Finally, the wider stalemate over Ukraine has also encouraged this crisis. Last but not least, the Ukrainian army, now regularly rearmed and trained by the West, increased its defensive capabilities (Bryc, 2022). The decision to start a full-scale war against Ukraine has also to be analyzed from the perspective of losing Russia’s grip on power in the close neighborhood. Over the last three decades, it has been increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to maintain its influence in the post-Soviet space. The FSU republics have learned how to operate without Russia’s protection. Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan have managed more or less to reduce their ties with Moscow and to look for new, not so offensive, allies. It is worth noticing that during the last 2020 war over Nagorno Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia, thanks to the spectacular support of Turkey Baku was able to win and make Russia no more a kind of supreme power but merely a huge neighbor (Isachenko, 2020). Russia’s limited options in the so-called close neighborhood were pushing Moscow to turn more and more to forceful solutions. Although it has attempted to stop several countries from leaving Russia’s “near abroad” via Soviet-style methods (Georgia and Ukraine in 2008 and 2014, respectively), the most common method recently was the carrot and stick policy. The best example was the case of Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who after the fraudulent presidential election in 2020 and the mass protests of Belarusians had to deepen his dependence on Moscow to remain in power. Nevertheless, although currently, Lukashenko is under an extreme control of Russia and had to lend their country’s territory to the Russian army for the war in Ukraine, which according to international law evidently does make Belarus a state participating in the aggression, even though Lukashenko was able to skillfully


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balance, since 1994, between falling into overdependence on Moscow and opening Belarus to Europe and the West. One of the most useful instruments in Russia’s pressure on FSU republics used to be a gas tap. Allies are supplied with gas at attractive prices as long as they do not challenge Russia’s interests like Moldova’s new pro-democracy government led by Maia Sandu that clashed with Gazprom in November 2021 (Całus, 2022). Since the contract expired the previous autumn, the gas giant raised prices dramatically. The crisis turned out to be critical for this very small post-Soviet republic, as it had been completely dependent on Russian supplies. Fortunately, this crisis has undermined public confidence in the new pro-western authorities. The compromise was finally reached, and a five-year contract was signed, according to which the Kishinev will have to deal with more expensive gas and a delay in energy market reforms. The essence of this crisis was definitely the message the Kremlin wanted to send to the rest of the post-Soviet republics, that leaving Russia’s grip will be neither easy nor cheap. In recent years, Putin has been more and more concerned about gradually limiting Russia’s influence in the neighboring states. At his annual December press conference, he made clear: “Our enemies have been trying for centuries to defeat Russia, but what they can do is only to destroy it from within” (Vladimir Putin’s, 2021). That is exactly how at the very beginning of the year he explained the political crisis when Kazakhs came out to protest. He was convinced that these were “Maidan technologies” and commented during a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that “organized and well-managed militant groups, whose actions should be considered an attack on Kazakhstan, were prepared in terrorist camps abroad” (Kazakhstan, 2022). Kazakh crisis made the Russian President revive the largely defunct CSTO alliance, which originally was envisaged as the post-Soviet equivalent of NATO. Officially, a request for “brotherly” assistance was made by Kazakh President KassymJomart Tokayev on January 5th. One day later, the first mirotvorcy (peacemakers) supported by troops from Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan appeared in Kazakhstan. Overall, it made no difference whether the protests were spontaneous or pushed by Tokayev in order to purge Kazakh politics of the influence of his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev. What mattered most was the demonstration that Russia is the guarantor of security and order in the former Soviet space, especially vis-à-vis neighboring China. Despite “brotherly assistance” from Russia and the CSTO in January 2022, Kazakhstan has maintained an ambiguous stance on Russia’s February 24 war against Ukraine. On one hand, the Nur-Sultan government has been maintaining good relations with both countries, Russia and Ukraine, and on the other, one time refuses to condemn the Russian aggression, and another time President Tokayev does not want to recognize “quasi-state territories which, in our view, is what Luhansk and Donetsk are,” as he stated at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on 17th June 2022 (Kazakhstan-Russia, 2022). Besides, unlike Belarus, it did not vote against the March 2 U.N General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, thus it abstained like other Russia-dependent post-Soviet republics

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Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan avoided the vote, whereas Moldova and Georgia—which are directly affected by conflicts involving Russia—supported Ukraine.

7 Implications for Central and Eastern Europe Ultimately, though, Russian aggression has been strengthening the FSU republics’ concerns about Russia’s ambitions in the region. Naturally, it is also making them keep balancing in front of Russia and looking for external partners, like China, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Eastern Europe—the EU and NATO. Clearly, the latter would feel increasing pressure to define their position with or against Russia and thus a real risk of military intervention. As for Central Europe countries, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine did not come as a surprise either in 2014 or 2022. The Baltic states (B3) and Poland used to warn against the Kremlin’s expansionism (Oldberg, 2016, pp. 7–9), even though they had been criticized for their Russophobia or hysterical approach ˙ 2015). Prior to the war with Ukraine, to the Kremlin (Darczewska & Zochowski, the Central Europe states were challenged by a set of Russia’s measures ranging from economic ties as the majority of them is dependent on deliveries of Russian natural gas and crude oil; encouraging ethnic tensions (Russian-speaking compatriots); political meddling (propaganda, disinformation), and support for populist and ultra-conservative governments, to covert or deniable actions of Russian intelligence (Czech Republic) (Cohen & Radin, 2019). As the escalation grew, so did the Central European states’ concerns about their security. Prior to February 24, the most radical response to increased Russian hostile activity was made by the Czech Republic. The breaking moment happened in April 2021 due to the report that proved the Russian involvement in the Vrbˇetice explosions. However, in the opinion of Pavel Havlíˇcek and Kai-Olaf Lang, experts of the Association for International Affairs, a think tank based in Prague Russia-Czech bilateral ties had been following a negative trend for a longer time and the attribution of attacks on ammunition depots on the Czech territory to Russia’s military intelligence GRU only delivered the last nail to the coffin of the bilateral relationship (Havlíˇcek & Lang, 2022, p. 3). The Kremlin labeled Czechia an “unfriendly” nation, together with the United States as the only two countries in the world at that time. Its new policy on Russia is unquestionably significant because so far Prague was rather a symbol of pragmatic relations with Russia. So, one of the most essential ramifications for Central Europe is a rising concern about the destabilization of the region. It has become evident that while in 2014, the Central Europe counties bordered a conflict area, since 2022, they found themselves next to a war zone. Definitely, the eastern flank remains the most exposed to the risk of a spillover effect, e.g., Poland, Romania, and Slovakia (Pawłuszko, 2021). They are worried about the fatigue effect, that means that the Russia-Ukraine war would be changed soon into a war of attrition and for years destabilize the states along with Europe and Russia’s borders.


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Barbara Von Ow-Freytag, a member of the Board at the Prague Civil Society Center, argues that the biggest casualty of the war is trust among the EU members (Dempsey, 2022). Namely, there is a visible division between the Central and the Western European states caused by differences in the attitude that should prevail in relation to Russia. To seek dialog or to isolate Putin? The countries bordering Ukraine do not share Germany’s cautious stance and President Emmanuel Macron’s over-the-top activity vis-s-vis Russia (Putin wil not dictate, 2022). Although in May 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that President Vladimir Putin would not dictate the terms of any peace agreement, and the governments of the Central European countries remain in a more firm position. Of course, what might justify France’s engagement with the Kremlin was the French EU presidency at that time; presidential and parliamentary elections in 2022, where Macron was struggling for being reelected; traditionally pro-Russian sentiments of the French public, and finally French interests undermined by Russia’s growing activity in Africa. Another ramification of Russia’s aggression is the risk that apart from divisions among the EU members, the populist governments in Europe would follow the path of Viktor Orban’s Hungary. For example, Poland, Hungary’s ally within the EU, has a problem with the evidently pro-Kremlin policy of Viktor Orban’s government. The ruling party in Warsaw, the Law and Justice, officially distances itself from Budapest, but at the same time redirects all the criticism toward Berlin and Paris, claiming that Hungary’s stance does not really matter in contrast to the two EU leading states. What is more, both [Warsaw and Budapest] are under pressure from two hegemonic powers of the European Union—Germany and France, that are intending to “overthrow the legitimate governments of Poland and Hungary, which have a strong democratic mandate, renewed in successive elections, and subordinate the policies of Warsaw and Budapest” as stated one of the prominent advisers of the government, Przemysław ˙ Zurawski vel Grajewski. He reflects the government coalition’s view by saying that “Poland and Hungary mutually need each other to avoid succumbing to EU blackmail. Maintaining Polish-Hungarian solidarity on the EU forum is crucial for this process” ˙ 2022). It is clearly evident that the necessity of maintaining solidarity (Zurawski, with war-ravaged Ukraine obliges Brussels to make compromises not only with Budapest but—as the opposition in Poland fears—also with the Law and Justice (PIS) government and that Brussels will eventually give in in the dispute over the PIS government’s violation of the rule of law. Last but not least, it is rather likely that there is no return to the “business as usual” policy with Russia. Linas Kojala’s, a Director of the Eastern Europe Studies Center in Vilnius summed up, that first, it will be politically toxic to even consider reversing the current sanctions regime until Ukraine clearly states it is victorious. Secondly, Europe is becoming less dependent on Russian energy, and finally, businesses will never see Russia as a reliable partner (Dempsey, 2022).

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Agnieszka Bryc, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toru´n, Poland. A former member of the board of the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW). Editor-in-chief of The Copernicus Journal of Political Studies. She specializes in Russia’s foreign policy and Israeli security.

Militarization of Security Policies in Central and Eastern Europe Tomasz Pawłuszko

Abstract Pawłuszko explains the process of militarization of security policies in the CEE region since the Crimea Crisis. According to the Copenhagen School, he focuses on reconstruction of the Central-Eastern European Security Complex and draws attention to the changes in military policies of states in the region. Pawłuszko explores theoretical implications, as well as practical consequences of the NATORussia rivalry on the “eastern flank” of Europe. The chapter concludes with a study of perspectives on geopolitical agenda of the CEE region. Keywords Militarization · Security · CEE · Eastern flank · NATO · Poland

1 Introduction This chapter considers the problem of the militarization of security policies in the region of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). After 2014, the Russian Federation carried out the legally unrecognized annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea and also led to the establishment of two unrecognized separatist republics in Ukraine of Donetsk and Luhansk. In 2022, the full-scale Russo-Ukrainian war broke out. The situation of the permanent threat of conflict in the period 2014–2022 led to the development of the securitization process, which led to a reorientation in the security policies of Central and Eastern European countries. The text will carry out a theoretical analysis of this process from the perspective of the concepts of the Copenhagen School (Buzan et al., 1998). The hypothesis of the text is that the period 2014–2022 was an attempt to build a new regional security complex that can be called the “Eastern flank of NATO.” This process had several elements. Firstly, the countries of the region began to perceive the security policy of the Russian Federation differently and decided to strengthen their armed forces. Secondly, due to the scale of the threat, politicians began to perceive the security of the region as an international political problem. This agenda T. Pawłuszko (B) University of Opole, Opole, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_9



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penetrated the rest of NATO countries and led to political decisions. Subsequent NATO summits after 2014 led to an increase in states’ spending on armaments. This process was recorded in all countries of the CEE region. Third, the CEE region has gained a new forum for political debate, the Bucharest Nine Initiative (B9), which has become a new format for regional security cooperation. Fourth, the level of modernization of the armed forces of the member states increased during the period in question. Fifthly, after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the countries of the CEE region began to expand their military infrastructure and support Ukraine in its defense against Russia. Sixth, due to the ongoing process of securitization, the issue of civil protection has become an important topic for the media and think tanks. There were many expert opinions directly dealing with the issues of military security in the CEE region (See: Dempsey, 2017; Fabian et al., 2019; Grigas, 2016; Hodges et al., 2018; Svárovský, 2019). As a result, it should be assumed that the period in question was characterized by the development of structures responsible for the political and military foundations of the regional security complex. In 2022, in connection with the launch of economic sanctions against Russia (economic security), the change in the EU energy policy (environmental security) and support for several million Ukrainian refugees in Central European countries (social security), all five security sectors, originated in the regional security complex theory. In future, this may mean an increase in security interdependence in the CEE region. The structure of this chapter is as follows. First, the theoretical framework will be presented. The process of the militarization of the region can be well explained thanks to the theory of regional security complexes. This concept was developed in the work of the Copenhagen School in the 1990s in order to explain the regionalization of security in the era of globalization. In addition, attention should be paid to the issue of securitization, the process of giving priority to security concerns, as mentioned above. In the next section, the process of creating a political community in the region’s states after 2014 will be examined. The Three Seas Initiative and B9 initiatives are the examples of the development of such a community. Then, changes in military spending in the CEE region will be analyzed. In the last section, an attempt to summarize the collected material will be presented and conclusions for further research will be presented.

2 Theoretical Framework During the Cold War, the theory of international relations sought a general explanation of the power politics. Globalization has led to an interest in regional studies. The systemic theories dominating in the twentieth century began to give way to mid-range theories. The world was undergoing political fragmentation. Writing 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen indicated that the scientific community did not reach a consensus on a new scope of research in international security studies (Buzan & Hansen, 2009, p. 9). Buzan and Hansen emphasized also

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that the rivalry of superpowers ceased to be the main thread in the structure of the contemporary international system and special attention should be paid to the development strategies of regional powers. To explain the new rules of the international order, Buzan proposed the regional security complex theory (RSCT). The RSCT was supposed to be a theory that would allow to understand the new structures of international security and open the theory of international relations to the so-called a “multipolar world.” According to the definition, regional security complexes are areas where there is a comprehensive security interdependence of states. In this notable “copy” of the idea of complex interdependence developed earlier by Josepf Nye and Robert Keohane (Keohane & Nye, 2011), Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver moved from the Cold War “global” understanding of security to dividing the world into several regions linked by security linkages. The RSCT proposes a synthesis of materialistic and constructivist approaches, assuming that the study of social reality consists of both: (1) the analysis of knowledge about facts and (2) the analysis of the very thinking about facts. An example of a materialistic approach is the neorealistic interpretation of the distribution of power resources that make up the structure of the international system (Waltz, 1979, pp. 79–101). A constructivist complement is the theory of securitization proposed by Wæver, which discusses the process of creating the security agenda in the state (Wæver, 1993). The theories of neorealism and globalism developed during the Cold War offered mainly universalist attempts to explain the actions of the most important elements of the international system. However, RSCT is a response to a new critical understanding of territoriality and the massive circulation of ideas (Agnew, 1994). Security is no longer seen primarily as a system of solid political rules. Instead, it is viewed as a process of social construction of meanings. The theory of regional security complexes refers to both the state level and the global level but also creates an independent level of analysis—the regional level (Buzan et al., 1998). The regional level is the arena of the greatest number of events in international relations. Most of the events in international relations take place in the regions (Buzan & Wæver, 2003, p. 41). According to Buzan, the theory of regional security complexes may be useful for at least three reasons (Buzan & Wæver, 2003, pp. 45–47). First, it introduces a key level of analysis in the field of international studies. Second, it offers great opportunities for empirical research. Thirdly, the theory allows for the creation of analyzes, diagnoses, and forecasts in the field of security policies. In accordance with the concept of securitization, social practices that determine the “production” of security are reproduced in each region. According to this concept, security issues are made by acts of securitization, which are framed by the so-called “mental maps.” With their help, people can create specific fields of meaning and organize important matters in their life. States in international relations can also operate in order to interpret the ideas and behaviors of others through specific “points of view.” The regional security complex is a framework that maps all these elements and their interrelationships. The RSCT offers four levels of analysis. They concern intra- and interregional relations (Buzan & Wæver, 2003, p. 51).


1. 2. 3. 4.

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internal level (wthin the states of the region); interstate level (necessary for the creation of the region); interregional level (relation of the region to other regions); global level (the importance of the global game for a given region).

In this approach, the region becomes the main unit of analysis of international relations. The most general levels of the analysis indicate extra-regional determinants of security, but the region remains the main unit of analysis. Besides, each region is different, and its position—unlike in Cold War systemic theories—is reconstructed as a separate case study. Relating the levels of the analysis to the case of the CEE region, it can be observed at different levels: 1. internal level: increase in military spending in all CEE countries’ policies; 2. interstate level: increased cooperation between the countries of the CEE region (TSI and B9 initiatives); 3. interregional level: the increase in the political importance of the CEE region in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war (for instance, within the NATO); 4. global level: increasing importance of the CEE region for the leading global powers (USA, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, China). An advantage of the RSCT approach is that this theory allows for the mapping of international relations issues. RSCT signals the need to combine data from many areas of science. To analyze a region, you need to know its geography, history, economy, politics, and technology. Historians of international studies can easily see that this approach is modeled on the systemic approach (Albert & Cederman, 2010). The analogy becomes noticeable when the elements that make up the conceptual structure of the RSCT are distinguished. These concepts include boundaries, anarchy, poles (distribution of resources in the regional system), and social constructions (patterns of perceiving phenomena). It is a simplified version of the neorealistic view of international relations, supplemented with the concept of a social construction of constructivist provenance (Wendt, 1995). The RSCT allows us to draw attention to the fact that the CEE region has certain boundaries—it is the region of the former Eastern Bloc, which today belongs to the Western integration structures. It consists of the following sub-regions: the Baltic States, the V4 countries, and the Black Sea countries: Romania and Bulgaria. This region does not have a clear leader but is demographically and militarily dominated by two countries: Poland and Romania. These are the poles of regional security policies. Among the social constructions of this region is the community of history. The CEE region is a poorer region than Western Europe, and for centuries, it has been on the fringes of world politics because its status was peripheral (Zarycki, 2014). The incorporation of the CEE countries into NATO and the EU made it possible to partially rebuild the political status of the region. Nowadays, the CEE region has become important for the EU (European stability, Germany-V4 trade), for the USA (Washington gained the unipolar status of a global leader after the CEE region was freed from Soviet domination), for China (trade routes, 16 + 1 relations), and also

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for Russia (energy routes, trade cooperation). Therefore, there are reasons to treat CEE as a separate region where the interests of many countries intersect. The state-centrism of the theory and its political science roots is noticeable, placing interstate relations at the center of the process of describing and explaining international phenomena in the region. The authors of the theory also point to the possibility that, despite good preconditions, the regional security complex will not be builtæ (Buzan & Wæver, 2003, pp. 53–62). This situation occurs when regional actors do not create patterns of interdependence in any of the five security sectors. A regional security complex may not arise in at least two situations: (1) the dominance of a large state in the region (e.g., Eastern Europe during the USSR domination) or (2) the presence of too many small or geographically isolated states (e.g., Eastern Europe in the interwar period). In conditions of high dispersion or conflict—states do not create regional relations or structures in the area of political, economic, or other security issues. The RSCT does not explain why some regions have failed to create a functional framework for cooperation as each region has its own historical specificity. Buzan and Wæver only emphasize that this is probably due to the low interaction capacity, and a key role in this process may be played by transport infrastructure and communicationæ (Buzan & Wæver, 2003, p. 67). The requirement for the creation of a regional security complex would be a higher potential of states’ ability to interact with their neighborhood.

3 The Position of the CEE Region The CEE region has its own specificity, which results from its geographical location and history. Most of the independent countries in this region collapsed at the end of the Middle Ages and revived at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For centuries, the countries of the region were under the rule of multinational empires, such as the Habsburg Empire and Turkey. The fall of Poland in the eighteenth century also strengthened Russia and Prussia, which, after defeating France, proclaimed themselves empires. The CEE region experienced the collapse of all these empires. It was in the territory of CEE that numerous battles of both world wars took place. Most of the countries in the region were occupied by Nazi Germany, and then by the USSR. The CEE region has never been conquered or united by any of its countries. Neighboring countries, neither Germany nor Russia, have managed to do this either. Only during the USSR period did Moscow have significant influence here, which made the countries in the region reluctant to relate to the Kremlin’s neo-imperial policy (See: Hodges et al., 2020a). Nowadays, none of the countries in the region has a permanent advantage over the others. The similar wealth, history, and structure of the region’s economies indicate their mutual competitiveness, not complementarity. Throughout history, a region has become central if it has the resources it needs to dominate some key area of international politics. Today, such resources are produced


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by new technologies: knowledge, science, innovation, and energy (Wojciuk, 2018). The CEE countries are not leaders in any of these areas. The countries of this region, however, have common interests of military and economic security. Over the years, they were not properly articulated, because the main goal of the local elite was modernization and integration with the political structures of the West (Pi˛atkowskI, 2013). The location on the “Eastern Flank” of NATO and the EU has led local politicians to conclude that there is a need to build regional forums for cooperation. In the twentieth century, several ideas were formulated to strengthen the region of Central and Eastern Europe. They included the Jagiellonian idea, as well as the ideas of federalism or Prometheism (Pietrzyk-Reeves, 2017; Reeves, 2017; Schmidt, 2017). A broader idea was the Intermarium project, which was to lead to an agreement between countries from Finland to Romania. This project collapsed after the Rapallo treaty. All political settlements in the region were threatened by continual ethnic and border conflicts. During World War II, the CEE region was dominated by Germany. After the fall of the Third Reich, the Soviet Union gained dominance in CEE. In the second half of the twentieth century, the USSR torpedoed all horizontal agreements between the countries of the Eastern Bloc. After the collapse of communism, the main goal of the region’s policy was to join NATO and the EU. By 2007, this goal had been achieved for most CEE countries. The ideas of building common political and economic projects in the CEE region appeared in the intellectual circles of the Polish right in 2014–2015 in opposition to the liberal pro-European policy pursued by the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. In 2016, the new right-wing government, based on the earlier concept of the Eastern Partnership, decided to refer to the interwar idea of the Intermarium, which was mentioned above. The new project was called the “Trimarium.” In 2016, the Dubrovnik Declaration was adopted (The Joint Statement on The Three Seas Initiative, 2016). Polish politicians deliberately supported a smaller state as the initiator of the project to avoid being accused of Polish “imperial” ideas. Ultimately, the project was presented as a regional lobby in the European Union to promote the development of European infrastructure in the North-South belt.1 In the following years, the TSI project adopted the formula of annual summits of the leaders of the states in the region, which gave the impression of a political bloc and increased the importance of partners thanks to the synergy effect. However, none of the countries, including Poland, had the potential to finance large new initiatives or integrate the region on new rules. As a result, the US and EU representatives were allowed to participate, from where funds for investments in the region were also to come. Both the US President (Donald Trump in 2017) and the President of the European Commission (Jean Claude Juncker in 2018) participated in TSI summits. The adoption of the name of the Three Seas Initiative suggested that the project was of an infrastructural nature—connecting a region located between three seas (the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Adriatic Sea).


More see the Chap. 13 of this volume.

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In light of official documents, the Three Seas Initiative is currently a grouping within the EU, the aim of which is to strengthen infrastructure, energy, and economic cooperation (The Three Seas Initiative Summit, 2022). Controversial political and military topics were beyond the official agenda of the TSI conference. However, the concept of the “new Europe” bloc turned out to be a good format for a discussion about the subjectivity of the region and created the possibility of a critical reference to the issue of “multi-speed Europe.” As a result, the goal of the Three Seas Initiative would be to accelerate the development of CEE, strengthen regional cohesion, and enrich transatlantic ties (especially in energy cooperation). These are goals that can develop a regional security complex in economic terms. The TSI draft has not been able to fulfill the geopolitical vision so far due to the relative weakness of the countries involved. The legacy of the region’s economic peripheral and institutional weakness will remain a significant burden until the economic potential of the Three Seas Initiative countries reaches the EU average. The ability of the countries of the region to cooperate and define common challenges is already a historic achievement in itself (Bajda, 2020). However, there are no tools to stimulate further cooperation at the level of interstate relations. TSI has managed to set up a small grant fund so far and organize various regional business forums (Business Forum, 2022). Former Polish minister Paweł Kowal emphasizes that the main problems of the Three Seas Initiative are the lack of plans to institutionalize cooperation, dependence on the current conditions and external actors, the lack of a stable financial base, the lack of a common list of priorities and the existing historical past (Kowal & OrzelskaSt˛aczek, 2019). Each of these problems requires a specific “roadmap,” containing suggestions of potential solutions over time. It was not possible to work out such an initiative. Importantly, the flagship projects of the Three Seas Initiative, i.e., energy terminals and expressways (Via Baltica, Via Carpathia), are financed mainly by external entities. As a result, the region depends on support from the US, EU, and China, without itself creating new initiatives on a pan-European scale. The very concept of the Three Seas Initiative covers a group of CEE countries that cooperate within the EU to improve the conditions for development. The need for dialog on this issue results from the historical economic backwardness of this part of Europe (Aslund, 2012). Finally, we note that the symbolic role of cooperation between the countries in the region has been strengthened by objective challenges: the economic crisis, the migration crisis, the COVID-19 crisis, and the crisis of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Uniting the region’s decision-makers against external transnational processes may be the basis for formulating a new regional cooperation agenda. This is the basic factor for the creation of a regional security complex in Central and Eastern Europe. The second area of importance for any regional security complex is the common military agenda, which results from the interdependence of the region’s states in the military field. The vast majority of CEE countries belong to both NATO and the EU. The Bucharest Nine initiative appeared in 2015 as a joint project of Poland and Romania. Its formula is very similar to the TSI project: two CEE countries are trying to build a platform for intergovernmental consultations in a selected field. The


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proposed formula is again a conference diplomacy, i.e., meetings of state leaders in the form of summits. Conference diplomacy is usually a prelude to building a common political agenda. There are more similarities to the TSI. The TSI draft covers 12 countries in the region, and the B9 project covers 9 countries. While the key issue in the TSI draft was to overcome backwardness (in the EU), the aim of the B9 project is to strengthen the military position of the region (in NATO) (Pawłowski, 2020). Also in this situation, the united region needs a political patron, as the small CEE countries do not have a significant military potential. All the B9 countries collectively spend as much on armaments as one large European country such as Italy. During Donald Trump’s tenure, Polish politicians sought to conclude as many political and military agreements as possible in order to position themselves as the region’s leader and its representative in relations with the US. The cooperation between Poland and the USA in 2015–2020 resulted in several contracts for the supply of arms and energy resources from the USA to Poland (Wilczek, 2020). The United States undertook to support the NATO Eastern flank region militarily and as expected by the Polish authorities, expressed a negative opinion on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Polish authorities assume that the presence of American troops may increase the deterrence potential of the Polish Armed Forces and that energy cooperation effectively diversifies the energy supply to the Polish economy. Both sectors are key to strengthening Poland’s resilience to Russia’s actions, which is also mentioned in the new National Security Strategy of the Republic of Poland of 2020 (National Security Strategy of the Republic of Poland, 2020). The B9 initiative allows the CEE region to independently define and articulate security interests vis-à-vis international powers and organizations, which is consistent with the RSCT idea. The strengthening of the activity of Poland and the entire region in the area of security was also caused by the Crimean crisis and Russia’s aggressive policy toward Ukraine after 2014 (Kofman et al., 2017). Let us recall that as many as 6 of the 9 countries of the B9 initiative have a land or sea border with Russia. Poland and the region belonging to NATO, the so-called the “Eastern Flank” increased military spending. The B9 countries also refer to the declarations of the NATO summits in Wales (NATO, 2014), Warsaw (NATO, 2016) and Brussels (NATO, 2018) and want to increase NATO military spending as soon as possible, strengthen solidarity by increasing the military presence of allies on the Eastern flank and—as in the TSI project—count on the expansion of communication infrastructure in the region. In this case, it is especially about military infrastructure (Baranowski et al., 2020; Hodges et al., 2020b). At the summit in Wales, NATO decided to increase the activity on the eastern flank of the Alliance, increased the capabilities of the NATO Response Force, and created the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). During the summit in Warsaw, NATO leaders agreed to establish an enhanced forward presence (eFP) in the three Baltic states and in Poland. At the NATO Summit in Brussels, Alliance leaders launched the NATO Readiness Initiative, through which they agreed to make available for NATO operations 30 major naval combatants, 30 heavy or medium manoeuver battalions, and 30 kinetic air squadrons in 30 days or fewer. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, NATO countries significantly strengthened

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their military presence on the territory of the Alliance’s Eastern flank. An additional 25,000 soldiers were deployed in the Eastern Flank (around 8000 in the Baltic states, over 10,500 in Poland, almost 3000 in Hungary and Slovakia, and over 4000 in Romania and Bulgaria) (Foy, 2022). Some countries in the region, such as Poland and Czechia, have handed over to Ukraine, invaded by Russia, numerous weapons from the times of the Eastern Bloc (tanks, howitzers, ammunition). The countries of the CEE region have also obtained significant financial and institutional support from the European Union (Cenusa, 2022). The challenges for the B9 project remain similar to the TSIs. These include the lack of stable financial support, the difference in potentials of the countries in the region, military and technological weakness, differences of interests and high susceptibility to the actions of external entities. The energy dependence of the CEE region means its susceptibility to the influence of Russia, the USA, the EU, OPEC, and other institutions creating the rules of energy policy (Pawłuszko, 2018). During the Russian-Ukrainian war, the import of energy resources from Russia was limited. US energy supplies have grown in importance. The B9 project as the voice of NATO’s Eastern flank may strengthen the region’s status in the works on a new NATO Strategic Concept, which will be adopted in June 2022 at the Madrid summit. Summarizing this section, it should be noted that in the CEE region, there are many reasons to build a regional security complex. The political agenda of the countries in the region was developed under the TSI and B9 initiatives and led to the strengthening of cooperation at the time of the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in 2022. Politicians from the countries of the region coordinate their political activities, participate in setting the agenda in all security sectors, and the CEE region began to be perceived as a whole, also outside its territory. The region’s cohesion has been strengthened by the EU, NATO, major European powers, and the United States (President Joseph Biden visited Warsaw in March, 2022) (Remarks by President Biden, 2022).

4 Militarization of the Security Policy in the CEE Region The state’s security policy concerns the creation and development of military and nonmilitary security systems. States usually conduct this policy through the ministries of defense, internal affairs and foreign affairs. Security systems include the institutions of the army, police, penology, civil defense, crisis management, or intelligence. The process of militarization of security policy means that the development of military system is becoming a priority for the state. In 2014, at the Wales summit, NATO members made a commitment that they would spend at least 2% of GDP on defense, and one fifth of this expenditure would be spent on military modernization and new technologies (NATO, 2014). According to SIPRI, in 2014, only 2 out of 26 European NATO members spent 2% of GDP on defense, and only 5 countries complied with the principle of allocating one fifth of resources to military modernization. In 2021, 9 European countries spent 2% of


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GDP on defense, and as many as 19 countries applied the 20% rule for modernization (Lopes Da Silva et al., 2022). After 2014, the region of Central and Eastern Europe is one of the most active regions in the world when it comes to increasing military spending. According to SIPRI’s calculations, about 40% of the region’s expenditure is borne by Poland, which in 2020 spent USD 13 billion on defense, which is as much as 60% more than in 2011. Warsaw has also decided to increase its military spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2024. The statistics of expenditure in the region are presented in Table 1. In neighboring Ukraine, defense spending in the period 2012–2021 increased by 142% and in 2021 reached about 3.2% of GDP (i.e., almost USD 6 billion). The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces in February 2022 led to an additional increase in defense spending across the region. The table shows that all countries have increased their defense spending since 2014 (Defense Expenditure, 2014–2021). In 2020 and also in 2021, five of them will spend 2% of GDP—these are Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Romania. Significant growth in recent years has been recorded in the Baltic states—Lithuania and Latvia. The small Baltic states are expanding NATO infrastructure on their territory and have acquired the presence of multinational battle groups. NATO units in the Baltic states include, for example, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Table 1 Defense expenditure in the CEE region after 2014 Country Estonia Lithuania Latvia Czechia Slovakia Hungary Poland Bulgaria Romania































































































Source Defense Expenditure of NATO Countries (2014–2021)

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Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn (since 2008); STRATCOM in Riga (since 2014); and the NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence in Vilnius (since 2012). These countries host several thousand soldiers from other NATO countries as part of the NATO’s enhanced forward presence program (NATO’s military presence, 2022). The battle group in Estonia numbers over 800 soldiers and its framework state is Great Britain. The battlegroup in Latvia numbers over 1500 troops, and Canada is the framework state. The battle group in Lithuania numbers over 1200 soldiers and the framework state is Germany. After 2014, the highest increases in military spending were recorded in Poland and Romania. Both of these countries spent over $ 2 billion more than in 2014. In the case of Poland, this amount results from a consistent process in defense policy. In the case of Romania, there has been a sharp increase in recent years. Romania’s spending has more than doubled. This is also seen in the growing percentage of defense GDP. Poland increased its contribution by approx. 0.15% of GDP, and Romania at the same time by almost 1% of GDP. Specific changes in military systems and challenges in the modernization of the army should be discussed separately. Table 2 shows the structure of modernization expenditure among the B9 countries in 2014–2021. The collected material confirms that the increase in defense spending of the B9 countries translated to a large extent into the modernization of the army. All countries in the region have recorded a jump in this type of investment since 2014 (Defense Expenditure, 2014–2021). In 2021, all B9 countries planned to allocate a pool of 20% of expenditure on military equipment and armaments. It can be noticed, however, that among the countries on NATO’s eastern flank, only three—Lithuania, Romania, and Poland—regularly allocate 20% of the state’s defense budget to the modernization of the military. Lithuania’s policy in this respect seems to be exceptionally impressive, where in recent years, these outlays have fluctuated around 30%. Table 2 Expenditure on military equipment of the B9 countries in 2014–2021 Country

2014 (%)

2015 (%)

2016 (%)

2017 (%)

2018 (%)

2019 (%)

2020 (%)

2021 (%)































































Poland Bulgaria


















Source Defense Expenditure of NATO Countries (2014–2021)


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The modernization of the Baltic states’ troops focused primarily on building anti-aircraft and anti-tank capabilities—the purchase of Spike (Latvia) or Javelin (Lithuania and Estonia) anti-tank missiles and a battery of NASM short-range air defense systems. The increase in defense spending also enabled the Baltic states to purchase nearly 250 armored personnel carriers (88 Boxers for Lithuania, 123 CVR (T) vehicles for Latvia and 44 CV90 vehicles for Estonia). In May 2021, the defense ministers of the Baltic states informed about the ongoing analytical and conceptual work aimed at the joint purchase of MLRS after 2025. Lithuania decided to restore compulsory military service in 2016 after an 8year hiatus. Rapid reaction forces were also established, and the concept of total defense, modeled on the Scandinavian countries, was implemented (See: Seimas, 2021). Similar processes are taking place in Latvia, which, apart from the territorial defense forces, is also developing Host Nation Support capabilities (See: Report, 2022). The most advanced militarization processes take place in Estonia, which has not abolished conscription. In addition, Tallinn decided to create an additional infantry brigade and expand the territorial defense forces to up to 60,000 soldiers (including 21,000 soldiers capable of mobilization in 48 h). Estonia is also developing the capacity to host additional NATO troops under Host Nation Support (See: Basic National Defence Documents, 2022). Similar processes can be observed in the Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary. These are small countries that for centuries were ruled by the Habsburg Empire but are now characterized by dynamic economic development and are rapidly increasing military spending to 2% of GDP. The Czech Republic has kept a strong arms industry and sells as much as 90% of its weapons abroad. Until 2014, Prague relied on expeditionarytype military operations—as many as 15,000 Czech soldiers had experience in peacekeeping operations. However, the main priority of the Czech security policy at that time was the development of intelligence and special services. This situation changed after 2014. The strategic documents of the Czechia confirm the fears of other countries that after 2014 international law is being undermined in Eastern Europe, state institutions are being undermined, and so-called active measures are used to conduct information warfare (See: National Strategy for Countering, 2021). Slovakia had 14,000 soldiers in 2011, but a decade later, it planned to increase their number to 21,000. The Slovak specialization in NATO is sapper troops. Over the years, Slovakia has focused on the development of diplomacy rather than the army. Defense issues met with the indifference of the majority of society. Until 2014, the Slovaks did not perceive Russia’s policy as a threat to the security of the region. They only paid attention to the risk of energy conflicts. The situation changed after 2014. Bratislava focused on the development of collective defense and the development of operational capabilities. Slovakia’s armed forces were largely obsolete, but in recent years, the purchase of 14 F-16s and 9 UH-60 M helicopters was financed. In 2021, Slovakia adopted the government’s revised security and defense strategies. These are the first new versions in 16 years (Defence Documents, 2021). For years, non-military issues have been a priority in Hungary’s security policy. Budapest maintained a small army (around 20,000 soldiers and 10,000 border guards), and the priority was the issues of migration, terrorism, and political problems

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in the Balkans and former Turkish lands. The increase in military spending is planned for the period until 2026. During this time, the army is to be doubled and number almost 38,000 soldiers. Recently, Hungary bought 36 Caracal helicopters in France, and 44 Leopard 2 tanks in the latest version in Germany, as well as 24 howitzers. Military policy has become an important political need of the state authorities. From 2020, Hungary has the R-SOCC, i.e., the Regional Command of the Special Operations Component for the Balkan region. The government of Hungary adopted a new National Security Strategy (NSS. 2020) titled “Secure Hungary in a changing world” in April 2020 (Csiki Varga, 2021; Government Resolution, 2020). Changes are being made in Poland and Romania in a completely different dimension. These countries have the greatest military potential in the region. In their defense concepts, both countries give priority to the purchase of systems capable of breaking Russian A2/AD capabilities. Poland and Romania purchased the most modern medium-range air and missile defense system Patriot and the HIMARS missile artillery system. In its modernization priorities, the need to purchase new fighters has recently been emphasized. Romania and Bulgaria intend to acquire additional F-16 fighters. Romania builds its security strategy based on the premise that its main guarantees are NATO membership and the privileged relationship with the US, a partner that shares its perception on the level of threats in the area of the Alliance’s eastern border (Military Strategy of Romania, 2021; National Defence Strategy, 2020). The strategy received a sharp reaction from Russia, where local media and politicians emphasized that Romania had deemed Russia an “enemy,” despite the fact that this term does not appear in the document (Całus, 2020). 90,000 men and women currently comprise the Romanian Armed Forces, 75,000 of them being military personnel. The development of the Black Sea strategy remains one of NATO’s main tasks (Hodges, 2021). Poland is the main country in the CEE region (See: Zaj˛ac, 2016). Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Poland was classified as the 22nd economy in the world, the 23rd military force in the world, and was ranked 33rd in the global quality of life ranking. The economic and political history of Poland shows well the specificity of the CEE region. Polish politicians understand the concept of a regional security complex, i.e., the recognition that most threats to states come from their close environment. The liberals assume that Warsaw’s strong economic and diplomatic position would allow it to be one of the European leaders, which would also strengthen Poland’s position vis-à-vis Russia. The thinking of the nationalist parties is rather geopolitical. In this perspective, the priority is not economic relations, but political, military, and energy relations. Polish politicians know that their country is too weak to openly declare itself the leader of the region. Therefore, they are trying to win the favor of their neighbors by means of various geopolitical projects, such as TSI in the sphere of economy and B9 in the sphere of security. The success of the agreements could also strengthen the diplomatic strength of Poland as the largest CEE country. For several years, Poland tried to take advantage of the growing antagonism between the US, Russia, and China to maintain the US interest in the CEE region as NATO’s Eastern Flank (Zi˛eba, 2020). The main European allies were treated by the Polish government with reserve, because Warsaw, due to its historical memory, is uncertain


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about the behavior of Germany and France in the event of a possible conflict with Russia. Polish defense spending is dependent on technical modernization programming processes. In March 2018, a contract worth over 20 billion PLN was signed for the first two (out of eight planned) batteries of the Wisła medium-range missile system. The contract for the remaining six batteries was announced in May 2022. In February 2019, Polish Ministry of National Defense signed an order for the first HIMARS rocket launcher squadron (of the planned three). Polish Government also upheld the plan to upgrade 128 Leopard 2A4 tanks to 2PL version and ordered to upgrade over 300 older generation T-72 tanks (ultimately, the T-72 tanks were handed over to Ukraine for defense against the Russian invasion in April–May, 2022). In 2016, the contract for 96 “Krab” howitzers with accompanying vehicles was closed, which was the largest order in the Polish armaments industry in the term 2015–2019. In 2020, Poland signed an agreement with the US for the supply of 32 fifth-generation F-35 combat aircrafts. In April 2022, Polish government has decided to buy 250 American Abrams tanks (Abrams for Poland, 2022). Polish authorities have also announced a plan to expand the army to nearly 300,000 soldiers (Buhanan Ponczek, 2022). Poland regularly organizes large military exercises with the participation of tens of thousands of soldiers (i.e., “Defender Europe 2020”). Allocation of Polish expenditures on military modernization remains ambitious. To cover this agenda of further needs, Poland launched the new 15-year modernization plan (2021–2035), which the Ministry of National Defense estimated at over PLN 524 billion (Szopa, 2019). However, Poland has serious problems with reforming its crisis management and civil defense systems. Further plans for the CEE cooperation with US are in progress. For instance, in 2019, the Pentagon’s military investment on NATO’s Eastern flank was more than USD 920 million—the US spent almost 7 times more than in 2017 (See more: Pawłuszko (2021). This shows that maintaining US military presence in NATO and strengthening military infrastructure on NATO’s Eastern flank is a priority. US provided funding for a number of projects in European countries, particularly on NATO’s Eastern flank. The construction of ammunition storage and handling installations is underway at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase near Constanta, Romania, at Novo Selo range near Burgas, Bulgaria, and at the Malacky airport near Bratislava. An operational and training base for the US special forces have been created in an undisclosed location in Estonia.

5 Consequences of Militarization How is the regional security complex formed? An analysis of security affairs in Central and Eastern Europe allows for a partial explanation. First, the countries in the region must share certain common values that allow them to perceive the world in a similar way. These values may result from the history of mutual relations or the experience of ongoing cooperation. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe have

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similar historical, political, and economic experiences. Many of them have negative experiences with Russia’s military expansion in the past. Most of the countries in the region are small countries that more willingly refer to international norms and institutions. Secondly, the countries of the region must see similar threats to each other and identify their security interests with the security of the region. Due to Russia’s aggressive policy in Eastern Europe, there has been a convergence in the perception of opportunities and threats to regional security. The CEE countries believe that war must not be allowed to become an acceptable tool for resolving international disputes. Former powers and colonial countries should not enjoy privileges in international relations. There is a risk that the military domination of great powers would lead to a regression of international relations in Europe. As soon as the security interdependence is noticed, the process of creating a regional security complex begins. It begins to function as a social construct among the regional elites. Thirdly, the countries of the region take active steps to promote international agreements and engage Western powers for the security of the region. This is how the initiative of the Bucharest Nine was born. The countries of the region also tried to influence NATO in order to increase financial and military involvement in CEE. As a result of this policy, battle groups were established in the three Baltic states and in Poland. The regional security complex quickly creates a political structure based on a common perception of reality and the convergent interests of the states of the region. These structures allow for creating political messages, creating strategies, making decisions, and engaging stakeholders to support political activities in line with the interests of the whole region. Fourth, all countries within a short period of time decide to increase their military involvement and modernize their military capabilities. Fifth, military spending is increasing as a result, which causes interest in the region on the part of arms exporters. This leads to the development of technological and armaments cooperation. The regional security complex gains a real military component. Thanks to a similar perception and deepened political cooperation, the increase in new military capabilities does not arouse a feeling of threat to the neighbors. On the contrary, arming in the region increases trust and the development of a sense of shared responsibility for regional security. Sixthly, the CEE countries began to expand their logistic capabilities and military infrastructure, which, at the outbreak of the war in 2022, made it possible to effectively relocate numerous allied troops from other countries to the lands of allies from the B9 group. The countries of the region have also managed to permanently link their security interests with the interests of influential powers, such as the USA, the United Kingdom, or France, which have engaged in support, arms delivery and training of allied troops. At this stage, the regional security complex is already becoming a recognized political fact in global politics. The emergence of a new security complex is legitimized by recognized international organizations, powers and established cooperation networks. A new flow of information and a network of international practices are being created that support the resulting complex.


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Seventh, in the next stage, deepened regional specialization is created in the area of development of the regional security complex. Politicians, elites, and the media already have enough information to function within the new regional security agenda. This is also where the expert discourse on regional security and the directions of its development is consolidated. It is within this discourse that further securitization processes are already emerging.

6 Summary The hypothesis of the text was that the period 2014–2022 was an attempt to build a new regional security complex that could be called the “Eastern flank of NATO.” In summing up this issue, it should be admitted that the process of militarization of the security policy can be considered the main element in the development of the regional security complex of the CEE region. The process of militarization combines the declared goals and measures of state policy. It also combines the theory and practice of ensuring security. Military security is still recognized as the traditionally dominant security issue in general. However, the process of building the regional security complex has not been completed due to numerous weaknesses of the CEE countries. The accelerated process of militarization revealed various problems of the countries in the region. These include peripherality, dependency, limited resources, shallow modernization, low-power elites, underfunding, insufficient strategic thinking, and little military capacity, which is complemented by support from outside forces. The CEE region is dominated by small states which, until the end of the twentieth century, did not have extensive traditions of political nor military cooperation. After the end of the Cold War, there was a significant reduction in military potential in Europe. This process was particularly strong on the CEE “front line” of the Cold War. Military spending in many countries often fell to less than 1% of GDP. The size of armed forces has been reduced, and the military service has been professionalized. The illegal annexation of Crimea has led to the remilitarization of the CEE region under NATO conditions. The attack of Russian army on Ukraine led to an increased role of security problems in the political discourse in all countries of the CEE region. After several decades of peace, the war has become a real threat to states and triggered rapid changes in the perception of all security sectors. The unprecedented scale of information development and international cooperation in the twenty-first century allows for a comprehensive response to threats—this is how the regional security agenda has been created. For decades, international theory has dealt with the global strategies of great powers. Contemporary theory requires the development of tools for studying all kinds of subjects in world politics. In the Internet age, most political processes have become transnational in nature. Therefore, scientists in the field of International Relations need to develop comprehensive research into public policies. Security policy is one

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of them, as it concerns the shape of the institutions and the means of securing the key interests of each nation.

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Foy, H. (2022, May 4). NATO’s eastern front: Will the military build-up make Europe safer? Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/a1a242c3-9000-454d-bec7-c49077b2cc6c. Accessed May 10, 2022. Government Resolution 1163/2020 (21st April) on Hungary’s National Security Strategy. https://hon vedelem.hu/hirek/government-resolution-1163-2020-21st-april.html. Accessed April 10, 2022. Grigas, A. (2016, February 9). NATO’s vulnerable link in Europe: Poland’s Suwalki Gap, Atlantic Council. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/nato-s-vulnerable-link-in-europe-pol and-s-suwalki-gap/. Accessed April 20, 2022. Hodges, B., Bugajski, J., & Doran, P. (2018, July). Securing the Suwalki corridor, strategy, statecraft, deterrence and defense. Washington: Center for European Policy Analysis. Hodges, B., Lawrence, T., & Wojcik, R. (2020a, April). Until something moves: Reinforcing the Baltic region in crisis and war. Tallin: International Centre for Defence and Security. Hodges, B., Bugajski, J., Wojcik, R., & Schmiedl, C. (2020b, May). One flank, one threat, one presence. A strategy for NATO’s Eastern Flank. Washington: Center for European Policy Analysis. Hodges, B. (2021). The Black Sea... Or A Black Hole? CEPA Strategy Paper. Keohane, R. O., & Nye, J. Jr. (2011). Power and interdependence (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Kofman, M., Migacheva, K., Nichiporuk, B., Radin, A., Tkacheva, O., & Oberholtzer, J. (2017). Lessons from Russia’s operations in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation. Kowal, P., & Orzelska-St˛aczek, A. (2019). Inicjatywa Trójmorza: geneza, cele, funkcjonowanie, [The three seas initiative: Genesis, aims, functioning]. Warsaw: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN. Lopes Da Silva, D., Tian, N., Béraud-Sudreau, L., Marksteiner, A., & Liang, X. (2022, April). Trends in world military expenditure, SIPRI Fact Sheet. Military Strategy of Romania, Ministry of National Defence—Romania, Bucharest 2021. National Defence Strategy 2020–2024, Romania—Presidential Administration, Bucharest 2020. National Security Strategy of the Republic of Poland 2020, National Security Bureau. https://en. bbn.gov.pl/en/publications/publications/769,National-Security-Strategy-of-the-Republic-of-Pol and.html. Accessed April 10, 2022. National Strategy for Countering Hybrid Interference, Ministry of Defence & Armed Forces, April 22, 2021. https://www.army.cz/en/ministry-of-defence/strategy-and-doctrine/defence-str ategy-of-the-czech-republic-135549/. Accessed April 10, 2022. NATO’s military presence in the east of the Alliance, March 28, 2022. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/ natohq/topics_136388.htm. Accessed April 15, 2022. NATO, Wales summit declaration. Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales, September 5, 2014, Press Release. NATO, Warsaw Summit Communiqué. Issued by the heads of state and government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw, July 8–9, 2016, NATO Press Release. NATO, Brussels summit declaration. Issued by the heads of state and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, July 11–12, 2018, Press Release. Pawłowski, K. (2020). Bucharest nine: Cooperation of the countries of NATO’s Eastern Flank. Lublin: IES´ Policy Papers, 4/2020. Pawłuszko, T. (2018). Energy security and the problem of peripherality: Case study of the CEE region between Russia and the EU. The Copernicus Journal of Political Studies, 1, 1–22. Pawłuszko, T. (2021). The rise of geopolitics in Poland and Eastern Europe: The three seas and the Bucharest nine initiatives. The Copernicus Journal of Political Studies, 1, 5–26. Pi˛atkowskI, M. (2013, October). Poland’s new golden age. Shifting from Europe’s periphery to its center. The World Bank. Policy Research Working Paper no. 6639. Pietrzyk-Reeves, D. (2017). The revivals of the Jagiellonian idea: Political and normative contexts. Politeja, 6(51), 79–93. Reeves, Ch. (2017). The Jagiellonian idea and Poland’s eastern policy: Historical echoes in today’s approach. Politeja, 6(51), 141–163.

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Remarks by President Biden on the United Efforts of the Free World to Support the People of Ukraine, March 26, 2022. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/ 03/26/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-united-efforts-of-the-free-world-to-support-the-peo ple-of-ukraine/. Accessed April 30, 2022. Report of the Saeima on Approval of the National Security Concept, Riga, 26 September 2019. https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/309647-on-approval-of-the-national-security-concept. Accessed April 10, 2022. Schmidt, A. (2017). From intermarium to the three seas initiative—Regional integrations in Central And Eastern Europe and the Hungarian foreign policy. Politeja, 6(51), 165–189. Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. Resolution amending resolution No Ix-907 of the seimas of the Republic of Lithuania of May 28, 2002 on the approval of the National Security Strategy, December 16, 2021. https://e-seimas.lrs.lt/portal/legalAct/lt/TAD/3ec6a2027a9a11ecb2fe9975 f8a9e52e?jfwid=rivwzvpvg. Accessed April 10, 2022. Slovakia’s New Security and Defence Strategies, PISM Bulletin, no. 40, February 26, 2021. https://pism.pl/publications/Slovakias_New_Security_and_Defence_Strategies. Accessed April 10, 2022. Svárovský, M. (2019). The NATO eastern flank and the US military presence in the region. Prague: European Values Center For Security Policy. Szopa, M. (2019). Poland to spend USD 133 Billion on modernization of the armed forces. October 14, 2019. Defence24.com. https://defence24.com/armed-forces/poland-to-spend-133-billion-onmodernization-of-the-armed-forces-new-f-16-to-be-ordered. Accessed April 20, 2022. The Joint Statement On The Three Seas Initiative (The Dubrovnik Statement), Dubrovnik, August 25, 2016. The Three Seas Initiative Summit. http://three-seas.eu/about/. Accessed May 10, 2022. Waltz, K. N. (1979). Theory of international politcs. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Wæver, O. (1993). Securitization and desecuritizaton. Working Papers, Centre for Peace and Conflict Research, No. 5, Copenhagen 1993. Wendt, A. (1995, Summer). Constructing international politics. International Security, 20(1), 71–81. Wilczek, P. (2020). Poland-U.S. cooperation in the years 2016–2020. Facts And Figures, June 17, 2020. https://warsawinstitute.review/news-en/poland-u-s-cooperation-in-the-years-2016-2020facts-and-figures/. Accessed April 07, 2022. Wojciuk, A. (2018). Empires of knowledge in international relations. Education and science as sources of power for the state. London: Routledge. Zaj˛ac, J. (2016). Poland’s security policy: The West, Russia, and the changing international order. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Zarycki, T. (2014). Ideologies of Eastness in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge. Zi˛eba, R. (2020). Poland’s foreign and security policy: Problems of compatibility with the changing international order. Springer.

Tomasz Pawłuszko, Ph.D., an international security and government analyst, an assistant professor at the University of Opole. He previously taught at the Military University of Land Forces in Wrocław. Holds a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from University of Warsaw.

A Fragile Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina Marlena Drygiel-Bielinska ´

Abstract This chapter draws attention to political situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as post-conflict state. Tensions continue to exist in Bosnian society and institutions, including the armed forces. The state’s consolidation following the Dayton peace agreements and the effective peacebuilding process run into obstacles. This is expressed in the separatist tendencies that are still present. Activity at the local and regional levels, cooperation with international organizations (NATO, EU), neighboring states, bilateral relations with other states are crucial. This chapter examines the content, determinants and evolutions of international and Bosnian institutions in peacebuilding process. However, the effects of weak statehood and civil war led to threats (e.g., political instability, terrorism, organized crime). Keywords Peacebuilding · Bosnia and Herzegovina · Separatism · Civil war · Western Balkans

1 Introduction The proclamation of independence by the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 1, 1992 was the embodiment of tensions that have flared into the breakup of Yugoslavia. The complex ethnic structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina clearly illustrates the conflicting nature of relations between Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslims (who are here considered to be a separate national group) at the time when attempts were made to delineate the boundaries between them. These events have predated the outbreak of the civil war. The bloody conflict was marked by horrific ethnic cleansing (the most notorious of which was the Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, in which over 7000 Muslims were murdered by Serbian troops in July 1995. This massacre is considered the worst episode of mass murder in Europe after the end of World War II). M. Drygiel-Bieli´nska (B) Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, Siedlce, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_10



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Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognized as a sovereign independent nation by the European Community in 1992. This conflict also exposed the indolence of the emerging Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). An armed intervention contemplated by France was strongly opposed by the United Kingdom. Attempts to add a military dimension to the Western European Union failed as the WEU Council did not accept any of the proposals put forward by a dedicated working group that was setup under the pressure of France. This put an end to the possibility for the European Community to independently resolve this conflict across the territory of the former Yugoslavia (Glenny, 2000, pp. 634–662; Pavkovi´c, 2019, pp. 157–161; Zi˛eba, 2007, p. 137). The European Community abstained from any military interventions in its attempt to resolve the conflict and limited its efforts to purely diplomatic initiatives (Cousens & Cater, 2001, p. 25). Responsibility for resolving this conflict was vested solely in the UN by means of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) peacekeeping mission, and was later taken up by NATO and was ultimately handed over to the EU in 2004 (when the EU deployed EUFOR Althea).

2 Threats in the Western Balkans as the Backdrop for Building Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks first among all other states of the Western Balkans in the Fragile States Index it is ranked 77 out of 179 countries according to the 2021 Fragile States Index edition (Failed States Index, 2021). In fact, stability indexes show how much the situation improved in the Western Balkan countries. In this context, the international community’s peacebuilding strategies can be considered effective and contribute to the stability of state institutions. In terms of state stability, the countries of the Western Balkans are also coming closer to being classified as states of liberal democracy. For this reason, the nature of the challenges they face and the threats they generate is dynamic. Armed conflicts have been the most common threat typically associated with the Western Balkans, which reflected the stability of the regional states. These conflicts escalated over ethnic, national, religious, cultural, and territorial matters. A military conflict poses a specific security risk due to its long duration and often extreme manifestations (it can involve ethnic cleansing) (Rohde, 1998; Schnabel, 2001, p. 2). However, this is no longer considered an immediate threat to the European security. Since 2008, armed conflicts worldwide have unfolded themselves outside the European continent (SIPRI Yearbook, 2021 pp. 121–135). However, the end of hostilities does not always translate in the absence of security risks. Risks to the security are still lurking beneath the surface, although they are different in terms of form and intensity. Unresolved conflict evolves and takes up a different form, and still leaves the possibility of using military forces in the future.

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An ongoing conflict fuels and amplifies further threats to national and international security. International terrorism is one of such threats (Gasztold, 2018, pp. 35–54). Already in the early nineties of the twentieth century, the Islamic ideology penetrated from the Middle East directly in the Western Balkans. Wahhabism was one of the most powerful movements of this kind. Wahhabism is a term derived from the name of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. This religious and political movement is based on fundamentalism, extremism, radicalism and a literal interpretation of the Koran. In some studies it is compared to the fascist and Nazi ideology. This movement should not be equated with Islam as a whole (which sometimes happens to political decision-makers or media representatives). Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and waws used in the activities of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was believed to be its follower (Delong-Bass, 2007, pp. 3–5). These ideas were specifically popularized by members of charity organizations from the Middle East, who often supported the Bosnian Muslims during the most intense period of the conflict in Bosnia. Members of the Bosnian diaspora living in Western European countries also disseminated the radical Islamic ideology. Religious radicalism can be particularly dangerous in a country where religion has been used as an instrument in the service of an armed conflict (Mincheva, 2008, pp. 47–57). Radicalization of attitudes may contribute to the emergence of direct threats to both regional and international security. Firstly, it may trigger a confrontation with state structures (specifically Serbian authorities, but this confrontation may also be taken advantage of by Albanian extremists to destabilize Kosovo). In the previous decade, incidents inspired by the operations of radical Muslims took place in Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and in the Sandzak region in Serbia. Secondly, there is a risk of cooperation with international terrorist organizations that use religion to justify their violent actions (as part of Islam) (Stanisławski, 2005, pp. 4–5). Transnational organized crime is another threat to the European security emerging in the Western Balkans. This region is currently undergoing numerous transformation processes and is troubled by poverty and unemployment resulting from local conflicts and animosities, which created conditions conducive to the spread of criminal activities. The Western Balkans is believed to be a region with one of the highest crime index worldwide.

3 Internal Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina After the Start of the Peacebuilding Process Despite the initiation of the peacebuilding process, the Western Balkans continued to be the least stable piece of land in Europe. The animosities on grounds of nationality between the local states have not been wiped out. Search for those responsible for war crimes is still underway. The internal situation in the region has been undeniably impacted by the continuing presence of international organizations and third countries. Political crises emerge, often manifested by the aspirations for independence,


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and accompanied by new challenges, such as the aspirations of the local states to integrate with the European Union. The conflict in Bosnia was resolved with a Peace Agreement signed in Paris and concluded in Dayton in 1995. On this basis, a joint multi-ethnic government was formed, and a political system was set up, with an imperative to stage free elections. The state was divided into the Muslim-Croatian Federation and the Republika Srpska within the present-day borders. The Peace Agreement established the Human Rights Commission to deal with cases of violations of these rights. Refugees and displaced persons were offered a safe return to their earlier place of residence, and a chance to recover lost goods or seek compensation. The arrangements intended to end this phase of the conflict included both military and civilian measures (Burg & Shoup, 1999, pp. 319–377). It was therefore necessary for the international community to engage in a wide variety of peacebuilding tasks. The challenges and threats to European security originating in the Western Balkans definitely motivated the international community to become involved in the peacebuilding process. The emerging state structures were made vulnerable by the armed conflicts enfolding in the Western Balkans. The local states became categorized as weak, failing and failed states. This phenomenon involves mainly the developing countries (in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America). Post-Soviet regions (Caucasus), as well as South-Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) are also more likely to fall victim to this process (Fukuyama, 2005, p. 138; Rotberg, 2002, pp. 85–96). The concept of a failed state was popularized in the 1990s. It means a crisis of state structures. According to Georg Sorensen (Brock et al., 2012, pp. 6–7), the features of failed states include: deficit of internal order, complete disintegration of social structures, dismantling of state-legal infrastructure, economic catastrophe, poverty, hunger, humanitarian disasters (mass migrations, ethnic conflicts), violation of basic civil rights, and they also create conditions for the development of organized crime and international terrorism. They are participants whose governments are unable to exercise control over their territory, cannot fulfill the basic functions that every state organization should fulfill (ensuring the safety and basic social needs of citizens, compliance with the law, fulfillment of international obligations). Currently, there are about forty of them. Their occurrence is a decline in the colonial period and the processes leading to the end of the Cold War. These countries also favor the emergence of regional conflicts. The dysfunctionality of these entities is based on the violation of human rights, fueling waves of migration. The difficulty of the problem is emphasized by the fact that the international community cannot find a constructive solution to the problem in question, and failed states cannot function without outside help.

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4 Involvement of International Institutions in the Stabilization Process of Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.1 United Nations Peacekeeping operations are the core activities carried out by the UN in the Western Balkans. The United Nations has conducted (or still conducts) eight operations in individual states of the Western Balkans, five of which were peacebuilding operations (although formally all of them related to peacekeeping). The region of Western Balkans was the main beneficiary of peacekeeping operations in Europe since the end of the Cold War era. These operations mainly consisted in supervising the ceasefire and implementing peace agreements (UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia (1992– 1995), UNPREDEP in Macedonia (1995–1999), UNCRO in Croatia (1995–1996), UNMIBH in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995–2002), UNTAES in Croatia and Serbia (1996–1998). UNPSG (1998) was designed to supervise the activities of the Croatian police toward refugees returning to Croatia. UNMOP was a mission whose mandate was to build confidence measures and demilitarize the Prevlaka Peninsula in the period 1996–2002 (Drygiel-Bieli´nska, 2016, pp. 164–166; Flory, 1993, pp. 639–640).

4.2 The European Union For the EU, the peacebuilding in the Western Balkans is centered around the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) and the prospective integration of the regional states with the EU in order to encourage them to implement reforms. In light of these declarations, the European Union’s role is to motivate the regional states to negotiate new or respect the existing mutual cooperation agreements, especially the arrangements concerning the status of national minorities. The EU is also expected to take the necessary steps to secure effective and successful implementation of the arrangements made within the framework of approved projects (Presidency Conclusions, 1993). It is also interesting to explore what the Balkan population expect the prospective accession date to the EU would be. The implicit time horizon for joining the EU was the longest among the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2020), and the shortest in Croatia (2013), which is the only regional state whose citizens are in fact skeptical about the integration with the EU (partly because Croats identify themselves closely with their state, are skeptical whether the integration with the EU would bring significant benefits for their country, and anticipate the accession negotiations to be difficult. The treaty between the Member States of the European Union and the Republic of Croatia on the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union was signed on December 9, 2011 in Brussels). The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes the multidimensional approach in the EU’s policy toward this country. The involvement of military and


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civilian resources and operations in Bosnia is also appreciated by the European Commission. A peacebuilding process that can be initiated shortly after the conclusion of a peace agreement may include a military dimension. It is related to the overall functioning of an army in a given country and is not necessarily limited to military operations. The European Union has undertaken this kind of operations when it assumed responsibility for the implementation of the EUFOR ALTHEA military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On July 12, 2004, the Council of the European Union decided to implement another European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace the NATO, which formally concluded its Stabilization Force (SFOR) mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2004. The mission was sanctioned in the UN Security Council Resolution 1575 adopted unanimously on November 22, 2004. This Althea mission is part of a coherent EU approach to peacebuilding in Bosnia. Hence, it is by no means a mission strictly addressing the military dimension of the state. The key tasks of the EU under the Althea mission relate primarily to the creation of a security environment, based on the provisions of the Dayton Agreement of 1995. EUFOR Althea has the main peace stabilization role in terms of the military aspects of security, also in order to create working conditions for the police forces and the living environment for citizens. In addition, the EU mission is to support the operations of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY. Under this mission, the EU also pursues the political goals of involving other actors in peacebuilding in Bosnia and supports its efforts to integrate with the Euro-Atlantic security system. The cost of this operation is estimated at EUR 72 million (Sweeney, 2018, p. 13). EUFOR Althea is still ongoing and it is too early to draw any final conclusions as to its impact on the peacebuilding process. Nevertheless, it undoubtedly contributed to the deeper international involvement in the region, also through the participation of twenty-four EU member states and non-EU countries (Zi˛eba, 2007, p. 142). This mission was necessary in order to make room for further peacekeeping activities in Bosnia. As an organization responsible for stabilizing post-conflict situations from the military perspective, the UE did not enjoy much confidence, especially among its partners from the Balkan states. When a now former British diplomat, Robert Cooper, attempted to reassure Bosnian Prime Minister, Adnan Terzi´c, that the EU would make sure that the security situation did not deteriorate, Terzi´c responded: ‘That is what you said last time. I guess, I will just have to trust that you will do it this time’. However, this does not imply that the citizens and authorities of Bosnia are not willing to cooperate. Peace was the goal everyone shared, hence the support for the mission. However, a positive attitude toward EUFOR is not equivalent to a positive attitude toward the EU. Providing such support for the mission is essential to achieve its goals and the ultimate results (Peen & Wolff, 2012, pp. 145–146). This operation has had and continues to have an impact on the entire Western Balkans, although “regional” actors have not actively supported its implementation.

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Still, none of these actors felt compelled to directly orchestrate the security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presence of EU forces was not contested at the regional level (unlike the UN-led UNPROFOR mission, which some analysts believe may have contributed to its final defeat) (Peen & Wolff, 2012, pp. 146–147). As a result, EUFOR Althea had a positive impact on the security of the entire region, as the prospects of EU accession did, despite the fact that the European Union was not, by definition, associated with any military operations or a mission to stabilize post-conflict situation by means of a military force. In July 1991, the decision was taken to deploy the European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM) to the former Yugoslavia. This mission operated until 2000 under the Brioni Agreement concluded in 1991 by the former Yugoslav states and the European troika, and was implemented under the auspices of the European Union. The EU assumed responsibility for the mission, and its first task was to monitor the withdrawal of the Yugoslav federal army from the territory of Slovenia. The ECMM also operated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. As the conflicts in the region began to escalate, the territorial scope of ECMM was expanded to include Bulgaria, Hungary, and Albania (Bogoeva, 2017, p. 79). The Council of the European Union adopted the ECMM mandate in 2000, and extended it in 2004 for the new European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) (Council Joint Action, 2004) in the Balkans, which brought together nearly 120 international observers and 75 representatives from the countries of the region. The Council of the European Union further prolonged the mandate of the EUMM, which was wound up in 2007. It lasted the longest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Serbia (including Kosovo) (Mays, 2010, p. 112). The flagship goal of the mission was to collect and analyze intelligence about political changes and the security environment as a convenient tool to formulate future assumptions of the EU’s policy toward the Western Balkans. The objectives of EUMM were formulated in a flexible manner, which allowed the EU to adapt the predetermined solutions to the dynamically changing international environment. Efforts were made to implement an image-building strategy for the mission. Its personnel was meant to be close to the citizens and to be made of independent experts. Members of the mission were to be perceived as fully committed to the tasks they performed, and their work was thus to be seen as more natural and credible. Despite the adopted methods of operation, EUMM perceptions among the citizens of the Balkan states varied considerably (Gross, 2007, p. 148). The ECMM reported directly to the EU Presidency and the Council of the European Union, so that the presiding member state had a real impact on the way the mission operated. This modus operandi was obviously disadvantageous to the stability and continuity of ECMM operation due to the rotation between member states holding the presidency of the Council. The ECMM performance was in fact weakened as each new presiding member state had to learn of all the intricacies of the mission from scratch. EUPM was by definition a police mission, especially in the post-Dayton period, involved in peacebuilding activities. After the military operations were extinguished, structural problems emerged that threatened the proper operation of the security


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sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The legacy of the Yugoslav period and the war of the 1990s made it necessary to undertake efforts to adapt to the new conditions for the sake of state security. The inner ethnic divisions presented a significant issue in Bosnia and naturally contributed to the establishment of different cultural and organizational police models that were to start operating within a single country. The ensuing lack of interoperability and cooperation resulted in considerable confusion and chaos and created favorable conditions for the spread of criminal activities, further fueled by the distinctive geographic location of the Western Balkans crossed by transit routes conducive for drug trade, smuggling, and illicit arms trafficking (Mühlmann, 2008, p. 45). As agreed with the authorities in Sarajevo, members of the Council of the European Union decided to undertake the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM) starting from January 1, 2003. Undertaking the mission was important not only for Bosnia and the Western Balkans, but also for the security of the EU itself, which was then ready to develop new instruments in the field of the emerging European Security and Defense Policy and to engage in combating threats, including for threats to the EU itself, emerging from ethnic conflicts, organized crime, or terrorism (Mühlmann, 2008, p. 46). The main goal, however, was to implement the peace process in Bosnia. EUPM was to rely heavily on independent police force, which would act as a guardian to ensure compliance with human rights and the safety of citizens, thereby bringing Bosnia closer to the EU (Osmanovi´c-Vukeli´c, 2012, p. 13). However, the EU also envisaged the possibility of accelerating the development of the EU’s “external identity”. It is worth noting that the EU also invited non-member states to cooperate in this mission, and the implementation of the mission’s goals was to be based on cooperation with other international organizations involved in the peacebuilding process in the region (primarily NATO and the OSCE). According to these assumptions, the specific objectives to be pursued by EUPM included the fight against organized crime, corruption, building independence of the police and its responsibility for the tasks entrusted to it, improving the financial situation of the local police, and supporting the institution-building process (Osmanovi´c-Vukeli´c, 2012, pp. 32–33). The defined EUPM mandate was limited, in contrast to the subjective scope of the EUPM (countries such as Bulgaria, Russia, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Romania, Switzerland or Ukraine also took part in the mission). However, EUPM was not operational, which means that its members were not involved in the implementation or supervision of police operations. It has become an established practice that, for example, if any illegal activities were suspected, they were first dealt with by the internal authorities, and were later escalated to the EUPM Commissioner. Only in cases where the national disciplinary process was suspended did the Special Representative become responsible for providing information to the EUPM Commissioner. This procedure has been used several times during the operation of the EUPM. However, the Special Representative did not always agree to the dismissal of police officers whose departure was recommended by the EUPM. This could affect the EUPM’s overall performance. Many EUPM

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members representing the EU and the officials in Brussels argue that the EUPM’s mandate was not tailored to the realities of the stabilization process in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Juncos, 2007, p. 70). Ultimately, the EUPM mandate proved difficult to fulfil. According to the Joint Action, the EUPM was to pursue its goals through mentoring, monitoring, and inspecting in line with the best European and international practices. However, no guidelines were provided on how to implement the given tasks. The main challenge was to translate the program goals into operational goals. The term “European standards” was too vague and could be interpreted in various ways by individual states participating in the mission. To tackle this problem, programs were signed with each of the states involved that explained the doubts that may have arisen (Juncos, 2007, p. 70). In this context, further attention should be paid to the difficulties in working together between the EUPM, the European Union Special Representative (EUSR), and the Delegation of the European Commission in Bosnia. Often, EUPM representatives were forced to “fight” for the opportunity to present their arguments to other partners. Collaboration between the EUPM and the Commission was fairly satisfactory. However, some of the EUPM’s operations have not received the necessary funding by default, which undoubtedly affected its overall performance (Mühlmann, 2008, p. 53). Also, the rotation of personnel seconded to the EUPM limited its capacity to respond to the current needs. It took some time to build the trust between the new EUPM staff and the environment in which they operated. This affected the consistency of the EUPM operations. The personnel seconded to the EUPM pointed out that there was a difference in the level of competence between each new allocation of arriving officers (Juncos, 2007, pp. 71–72). The mandate of the European Union Police Mission expired in 2012. As evidenced in a public opinion poll, the general public know little about the EU, its operations and specifics. On a scale from 1 to 10 (where 1 means know nothing at all, and 10 means you know a great deal), the highest number of responses was around 3. Opinion polls also showed that the EUFOR mission is believed to have played the most important peacebuilding role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as pointed out by over 90% of respondents. As for the EUPM, the response rate was over 80% in 2012. However, the Delegation of the European Commission in Bosnia and Herzegovina was perceived as the most important. In the public perception, unemployment, the economic situation, and crime were considered the most important issues faced by the state and the international institutions. Therefore, not surprisingly, the citizens of Bosnia felt that the key challenges were the ones that affected them directly. Operations by countries such as France and the UK were believed to have the most profound impact on the political, social and economic situation. Interestingly, the impact of the EUPM was rated higher than that of the EU itself which was ranked the last (EUPM, 2012). In 2008, Bosnia made significant progress and became much more active on its path to the EU integration. In particular, Bosnia (and Albania) concluded a visa


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free travel agreement for its citizens traveling to the EU, and entered into the European Partnership. A Special Representative was also appointed in Bosnia, as was in Kosovo. The mandate of the Special Representatives in Bosnia and Kosovo is based on the same values and is focused on peaceful and pro-European development of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mandate also encompassed the EU’s support for the political reform process, including the pursuit of the EU’s political and economic priorities. The tasks of the Special Representative also include the implementation of EU projects concerning the rule of law, reforms in the security sector, and support for missions carried out locally. The Special Representative should also partake in promoting integration with the EU, building a civil society, and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Also, the cooperation of the government in Sarajevo with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is essential in the peacebuilding process by the Special Representative. The Special Representative’s mandate is also focused on close cooperation with other international institutions involved in the peacekeeping process in Bosnia. Finally, the Special Representative should ensure that the EU policy objectives vis-à-vis this country are implemented consistently (EUPM, 2012).

4.3 Cooperation with North Atlantic Alliance In response to the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its bloody consequences, the North Atlantic Alliance felt compelled to extend the concept of NATO’s post-Cold War role to include conflict resolution and peacekeeping operations. This argument prompted the decision to intervene in Bosnia in 1993 and to engage in the post-conflict reconstruction process, which in turn contributed to the strengthening NATO’s presence in the Balkan region (Ratti, 2004, p. 148). During the conflict in Bosnia, NATO cooperated with the United Nations in humanitarian operations, with the UN as the leading partner. John Kriendler, Deputy Assistant Secretary- General for Political Affairs, wrote in June 1993 that “NATO is not prepared to undertake a peacekeeping operation on its own initiative; it is unlikely that such an approach would find consensus among the Allies” (Smith, 2003, p. 155). Pursuant to the Dayton Peace Agreement concluded in November 1995, after the most severe phase of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina was over, NATO started its military mission with the Implementation Force (IFOR), followed by the Stabilization Force (SFOR). The mission’s core task was to create conditions in which the military presence of the NATO forces in their present capacity would never be needed again. To this end, efforts were made to ensure security, unification and democratization of this state, to reconstruct its economy, and facilitate a safe return of exiles (Kupiecki, 2000, pp. 112–116). In November 1995, the Military Committee adopted an operational plan for IFOR. In the Declaration on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the peacekeeping campaign called “Operation Joint Endeavor” was presented as a proof of the NATO’s capacity to

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extend its functions to include peacekeeping and crisis management tasks. The special importance of Russia’s participation was highlighted. This mission was seen as a test for NATO and other stakeholders involved in resolving this conflict in terms of the future security architecture in Europe, before any other missions could be undertaken (Neville-Jones, 1996 97, pp. 48–53). The IFOR mission proved successful, with most of the Dayton Peace Agreement being fulfilled. The IFOR mission mandate expired after a year, but there is no doubt that the time horizon for peacebuilding tasks is very distant. The NATO missions in Bosnia have proved that the Alliance was beginning to fulfill the tasks usually ascribed to collective security organizations, which might as well undermine NATO’s main function (Zi˛eba, 2003, p. 138) and change the nature of cooperation with the EU. In 2004, NATO concluded the SFOR operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its mandate was transferred to the European Union, the mission’s name was changed to European Union Force (EUFOR) ALTHEA, but its military character was upheld. NATO and the EU are also jointly committed to rebuilding the political and military sectors, which are crucial for integration into the Euro-Atlantic security environment. It was also considered important to focus the efforts of the countries of the region, including Bosnia, on the introduction of the rule of law and judicial reforms, including the fight against organized crime, corruption and illegal migration. Intensive cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is essential to the effective implementation of these tasks. The North Atlantic Alliance and the EU are also engaged in joint activities to combat terrorism, by facilitating consultations between the countries of the region. Border control is another area of cooperation in which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also marks its presence. Arms control for small arms and light weapons is another example of joint projects. Both organizations recognize the need for mutual consultations and meetings also involving other organizations (EU and NATO, 2003). In addition, they are quite flexible in selecting the tasks. This is also the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the EU is responsible for the “hard” security, and NATO actively trains the armed forces (Gjana, 2008, p. 52).

4.4 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe The OSCE was also involved in the peacebuilding operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OSCE mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in a decision of the Ministerial Council and its mandate covered processes and operations of the state covered by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina was aimed at building a civil society through the participation of citizens in the activity of local communities. Education is another area in which the OSCE has been providing its support. The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Building Bridges project initiated in 2002 is designed to combat stereotypes and create positive models of cooperation


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for young people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds by disseminating knowledge about other cultures, traditions and religions in Bosnia (Building Bridges” Project, Focus Area 1). The OSCE Mission’s mandate also includes OSCE involvement in the establishment of the rule of law. Another important aspect is the OSCE’s commitment to cooperation in the field of security as it is central to the collaboration between the OSCE and other international stakeholders already active in this field.

4.5 Involvement of Global Superpowers A US strategic document dated in 1998 stated that the goal of US policy in the region is to maintain its stability and peace as it would otherwise threaten the security of Europe as a whole. In this context, the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement in relation to Bosnia is in the vital interest of the US, with particular emphasis on support for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the conciliation of the conflicted parties (President, 1998). The policy vis-a-vis Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed at maintaining stability in this multi-ethnic country is a major challenge for the US cooperation. This cooperation was to be strengthened in the ‘Butmir Process’ (the name comes from the military base on the outskirts of Sarajevo, where talks between representatives of ethnic groups living in Bosnia and Herzegovina were announced). This initiative was led by Carl Bildt and was initiated in October 2009. Its goal was to bring about an agreement between the representatives of the three nations living in Bosnia as to how to reform the political system by amending the Constitution, which was considered a priority for the Americans. The EU representatives were determined to close down the Office of the High Representative, to be replaced by the EU Special Representative for the Balkans. As a consequence, this process did not have any lasting impact on the relations between the conflicted groups. The efforts to begin cooperation between both stakeholders failed, which can also be traced back to the lack of consistency in the proposals of individual EU member states (Bieber, 2010; Chivvis, 2010, pp. 97–110; Larrabee, 2011, pp. 11–13). The Russian Federation strives to maintain stability in the region while pursuing its own political interests, which may become a field of competition with external actors, but also makes both entities interdependent (Böhme, 2011, p. 257). On the role of Russia more threads will be taken below—in the context of separatism in BiH. On April 24, 2010, the presidents of Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia met in Istanbul. They adopted a declaration in which Serbia committed to respect the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the signatories pledged to work toward peace, stability and the strengthening of security in the Western Balkans. As pointed out by analysts in a follow-up to this meeting, Turkey insisted on the rapprochement between the two Balkan states. It was a very important step on the path to closer relations between Serbia and Turkey, because, according to Turkish experts, Serbia plays a vital role in maintaining stability in the Balkans. Relations

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between these partners crucially depend on the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Rüma, 2011, pp. 135–138; Türbedar, 2010, pp. 1–2).

4.6 The Outbreak of Separatism in the Face of the War in Ukraine The participation and involvement of many partners and international institutions in the peacebuilding process in Bosnia appears to be very broad. The long and diverse involvement of the international community has not, however, been able to contain the growth of separatist movements, efforts to overthrow the constitutional order, and the deepening of divisions. The advocates of these ideas believe that the EU and the United States will not be able to take firm actions to defend Bosnia and Herzegovina in its current institutional shape. On December 10, 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, in its capacity as one of the entities forming one state (in addition to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), adopted resolutions aimed at establishing its own institutions (including the armed forces, which so far consisted of three national components) and to exclude the Republic of Serbia from the jurisdiction of the central authorities. This was another manifestation of increasingly hostile rhetoric that grew from 2021 and was pursued by Milorad Dodik (Hasi´c, 2020, pp. 17–41), the current Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the collective federal head of state), former prime minister and president of Republika Srpska, the leader of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (Savez nezavisnih socijaldemokrata), who is continuously consolidating his nationalist position by invoking nationalist slogans, although he was initially perceived as a pro-Western politician. For the leader of the Republic, threats of secession became a convenient means of limiting state reforms aimed at curbing the autonomy of this political movement. As such, the resolutions do not bear any hallmarks of secession. However, many observers believe this is nevertheless a step toward secession because of the political discourse and the political climate surrounding these resolutions. Paradoxically, the dysfunctional political system is the key element that stabilizes the situation in Bosnia. From the point of view of internal politics, the current political system is a matrix that allows ethno-political parties to delve into never-ending disputes without having to find an ultimate resolution. It is a challenge to keep nationalism at bay so as to avoid major upheavals (Mu´s, 2022). The prospective accession of Republika Srpska to Serbia proper is a common argument invoked by those who defend the idea of the breakup of BiH. This scenario seems unlikely as it is disadvantageous for the authorities in Belgrade. Currently, they are trying to strike a balance between the East (Russia, China) and the West (European Union, United States) in order to achieve the greatest possible benefits, as well as to deepen integration with the European Union (Mu´s, 2022).


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With the current balance of political power, Bosnia and Herzegovina constitute a major outlet for Serbian and Croatian products, as well as a source of cheap labor for countries such as Croatia and Slovenia. Secession and its consequences, such as acts of political violence or institutional paralysis would significantly reduce the purchasing power of BiH citizens, disturb the chains of foreign and internal trade, and significantly increase political risks. In a likely move, Russia could fuel separatist aspirations (Mu´s, 2022). Therefore, following its aggression against Ukraine, Russia is much more resolute in trying to intensity separatist tendencies in Bosnia. Dodik openly manifests his ties with the leader of the Russian Federation. In the context of Russia’s failures in its military assault on Ukraine, Russia may seek further opportunities for an easier victory and Bosnia may become the next target, as noted in March 2022 by Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, who called Bosnia a possible target for “further Russian intervention” (Press, 2022). Moreover, Bosnia refused to follow the international community and introduce any sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. NATO intervention in Bosnia as part of the Deliberate Force mission in 1995 was portrayed by Russia as humiliating for the Bosnians. In the face of the conflict in Ukraine, it would be risky for Bosnia to rekindle its efforts to again approach the Euro-Atlantic structures as it could perhaps induce a harsh reaction from Russia. Notably, Russia’s ambassador to Sarajevo, Igor Kalabukhov, threatened in a TV interview that his country could ‘react’ if Bosnia were to join the Western military alliance, invoking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia, China and Turkey all have vital geopolitical interests in the Balkans, and are quickly filling up the void created by the neglect or absence of the West. However, the threat from Russia and the war in Ukraine forced the US and the EU to revive their interest in this region. The US imposed sanctions against the Republika Srpska in January 2022, and was followed by the UK in April. The EU refrained from using any punitive measures but its current troop level of 1100 in Bosnia almost doubled. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany is allegedly contemplating sending troops back to Bosnia. Even before the elections scheduled to take place there in October, a Bundeswehr contingent could support the EU stabilization mission EUFOR Althea (Baerbock in Sarajevo, 2022). During his visit to Bosnia, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced on March 16, 2022 that the peacekeeper force called EUFOR in Bosnia, with a base near the capital of the country, Sarajevo, would be beefed up from 600 to 1100 personnel. Borrell also pledged to “reinvigorate the enlargement process” of the EU by starting formal negotiations on the accession of North Macedonia and Albania, and warned Russia against further interference in the internal situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (European Union External Action).

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5 Conclusions Bosnia and Herzegovina is an independent state, a member of the United Nations. Since 2000, the EU has been actively involved in the peacebuilding process in this country. As a result, many areas of the state operation are not directly decided by its citizens and the authorities they elect. For this reason, there is a risk of society being excluded from the transformation process, of which citizens are part. Citizens generally support their country’s efforts to join the EU, but there is no real public debate about the costs and benefits of integration with the EU. This could be perhaps attributed to poor legitimization of the state in the society (Chandler, 2006, p. 40). In his book: How enemies become friends, Charles Kupchan argues that democratization should not be taken for granted in post-conflict states, and should not be considered a universal remedy for all the ills. He concludes that states and democratic institutions are not unique in their peacebuilding capacity. Non-democratic countries can also participate in this process, with positive results. As an example, the author recalls the US involvement in the Balkans, which has fueled the tensions. Culture is important, but its role should not be overestimated. Peace depends primarily on politics (Kupchan, 2010, pp. 1–8). Any actor who engages in the peacebuilding process should bear these dilemmas in mind. Without support for the country’s stability, especially as it concerns the broader Euro-Atlantic project, the overall task of democratizing the BiH state will fall by the wayside. If that happens, it will once again be the most reactionary element in the country who will determine BiH’s, and the region’s, future. That will mean chaos for both the Balkans and Europe (Mujanovi´c, 2019, p. 176).

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Türbedar, E. (2010, April)). Trilateral Balkan Summit in Istanbul, TEPAV Evaluation Note, Economy Policy Research Foundation of Turkey. Zi˛eba, R. (2003). Unia Europejska jako aktor stosunków mi˛edzynarodowych. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar. Zi˛eba, R. (2007). Wspólna Polityka Zagraniczna i Bezpiecze´nstwa. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.

Marlena Drygiel-Bielinska, ´ Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Institute for Security Studies, Faculty of Social Science, Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities. Her research is focused on the field of French foreign and security policy, peacebuilding in Western Balkans and international relations theory.

Energy Security of Central and Eastern European Countries Remigiusz Rosicki

Abstract The main purpose of the text is to present a selection of energy security problems affecting Central and Eastern European countries, including a selective comparative analysis in relation to Western European countries. In the first place, a comparative analysis is applied to some general issues concerned with energy security, so that in the end included is a special dimension of energy security, i.e. gas security understood as gas supply security. The comparative analysis covers three dimensions of energy security: (1) socio-economic, (2) innovative and technological and (3) geopolitical (and geoeconomic). Besides, the analysis performed makes use of, as a background and inspiration, theoretical aspects of historical materialism, structural approaches as part of the dependency paradigms of research into international political and economic relations, as well as the presuppositions of the research programme concerning energy security by Cherp and Jewell. Keywords Security · Energy security · Energy supply security · Energy policy · Central · Europe

1 Introduction The material scope of the research problem addressed in the chapter covers selected issues concerned with energy security in Central and Eastern Europe. The analysis specially focuses on the differences and similarities between the countries in the region in question and Western European countries, which to some extent reflects the political relations between the “new” and “old” European Union countries. With regard to the ongoing energy transformation in the European Union, the analysis of energy security includes the significance of the factors that make it easier or more difficult. In the context of energy security, of undoubtedly great significance for the relations between the Central and Eastern European countries (as well as the Western European ones) are the following factors: the energy policy of the European Union, R. Rosicki (B) Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna´n, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_11



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internal policies of the countries, historical policies of the countries, geographical location, bilateral relations, socio-economic disproportions, supply diversification of gas and other energy carriers. The main purpose of the text is to present a selection of energy security problems affecting Central and Eastern European countries, including an organic comparative analysis with regard to Western European countries. In the first place, a comparative analysis is applied to some general issues concerned with energy security, so as to conclude with a special dimension of energy security, i.e. gas security understood as gas supply security. In order to elaborate the objective scope of the research problem, the following research questions have been presented in the text: (1) Which of the factors substantially condition the level of energy security in Central and Eastern European countries?, (2) In relation to what factors conditioning the level of energy security will there be differences between the Central and Eastern European countries, and the Western European countries? The text is chiefly an overview of a conceptual character with regard to the analysis of energy security in Central and Eastern Europe. The problematic issues have been divided into a theoretical, a comparative, and an evaluative one with regard to the risk to energy security in the territory in question. The theoretical issues include: (1) theoretical aspects of the geographical conditions (including the issue concerned with the geographical conditions as limiting or conducive to specific political and economic decisions related to the energy sector), (2) theoretical aspects of historical materialism and structural approaches (including selected issues concerned with Marxist historical materialism and the dependency paradigms of research into international political and economic relations). The invoked theoretical issues, along with the cited references concerning the perception of the categories of energy security, inter alia in Cherp’s and Jewell’s approach, constitute a background to and inspiration for further analysis. The comparative issues encompass analysis of the three dimensions of energy security: (1) socio-economic, (2) innovative and technological and (3) geopolitical (and geoeconomic). The comparative study of energy security is presented with the aid of indicators ascribed to the individual dimensions of energy security with regard to Western European countries, as well as Central and Eastern European countries. The final element of the analysis is the evaluation of the risk to energy security in Central (and Eastern) Europe, which focuses on gas security understood as the security of supply of this resource.

2 Energy Security as an Analysis Context Noteworthily, despite a multitude of presented definitions, the category of energy security has not been unambiguously delineated or separated from other similar categories. This can be illustrated with the interchangeable use of the categories of energy policy and energy security in numerous scientific and opinion texts, which results in analyses making use of identical features that are expected to characterize them, or indices the values of which are expected to serve as evaluation.

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In quantitative research, it is common practice to devise various operative definitions. With regard to various features and their attendant indicators, the operative definitions of energy security take various forms, as well as draw on various scales and assessments. Undoubtedly, in the context of quantitative research widespread exploration is conducted with regard to the issue of construction of synthetic indices of energy security, which are an effect of the combination of other statistical values that are measurements of various parameters recognized as relevant by individual researchers. Statistical research also makes use of other instruments characterizing energy security, e.g. methods of multidimensional comparative analysis or methods of quantitative forecasting. In research into security of this type, frequent use is made of the following indices: a level of energy resources, energy production, energy consumption, a share of individual energy carriers in the structure of energy production or consumption, diversification of directions and sources of energy supply, energy import, emissions performance of the energy sector or of its individual types, energy efficiency, a condition of energy infrastructure (e.g. transmission and distribution lines of electricity or fuels, as well as commercial power plants), a structure of the energy market, energy prices for household and industrial consumers, fiscal burdens in the energy sector or on energy end users, energy poverty (for more see: Baumann, 2008, pp. 4–12; Chester, 2010, pp. 887–895; Frondel et al., 2012, pp. 29–42; Gupta, 2008, pp. 1195–1211; Kruyt et al., 2009, pp. 2166–2181; Löschel et al., 2010, pp. 1665–1671; Obadi & Korˇcek, 2017, pp. 113–120; Rosicki, 2017a, pp. 383–398; Rosicki, 2017b, pp. 45–60, Sovacool, 2012, pp. 835–840; Sovacool & Mukherjee, 2011, pp. 5343–5355; Stirling, 2010, pp. 1622–1634). In the analysis of the issues concerned with energy security, political and economic sciences literature frequently presents various energy structures of countries and regions, a level of import, as well as the influence of internal and external political factors on decision-making processes within the energy industry. As for the latter, political processes in the energy sector are presented by way of highlighting the significance of either institutional solutions or activities undertaken by various sociopolitical entities viewed as formal or informal interest and pressure groups. As for the international issues, attention is drawn to the fact of the existing threats to the stability of energy resource supplies on account of import dependence on other countries and regions. Hence, energy diversification in respect of directions as well as sources of supply is an indispensable element in energy security. A good example is furnished by the European Union and its member states, which on account of their limited reserves are dependent on supply of energy resources, not infrequently from regions that politically are hardly stable (see Kał˛az˙ na & Rosicki, 2010, pp. 165–214; Mišík, 2022; Proni´nska, 2012; Rewizorski et al., 2013). A good illustration of the problematic issues concerned with the stability of energy resource supplies is provided by the relations between European countries and the Russian Federation. In this respect energy is viewed by some analysts and political commentators as an instrument of foreign policy, or even as a peculiar weapon, which can be particularly seen in the case of the “policy of gas pipelines” pursued by the Russian Federation in the territory of Europe (cf. Panyushkin & Zygar, 2008; Stegen, 2011, pp. 6505–6513). This makes for conflicts within the European Union that are


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connected with the divergence of positions between the old and new member states, between Western European countries, and Central and Eastern European, and are concerning the credibility of the Russian Federation as a supplier of resources. The problem festers every time the resources are used as leverage, e.g. in energy conflicts with Ukraine and Belarus. Apparently, the act of aggression and the war crimes committed by the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine in 2022 clearly point to the insouciance of some Western European countries, especially Germany, in providing conditions for the treatment of this country as a reliable energy supplier and partner, and generally an economic partner (cf. Andrzejewski, 2022, pp. 1–5; Eser et al., 2019, pp. 816–830; Heinrich & Pleines, 2021; Lee, 2017, pp. 199–209; Mišík, 2022; Ostant, 2009, pp. 1–7; Ostant, 2012, pp. 154–173; Pirani, 2019, 2021; Pirani & Sharples, 2020; Proni´nska, 2012; Rosicki & Rosicki, 2012, pp. 139–156; Stegen, 2011, pp. 6505–6513; Tóth et al., 2020). A synthetic and systematic approach—which at the same time acts as a framework for the research programme—to the category of energy security has been presented by Cherp and Jewell. These authors have classed as belonging in the three main energy security research perspectives the works related to the following fields: (1) political science, (2) life and technical sciences and (3) economic sciences. Cherp and Jewell have associated individual disciplines with a particular kind of research paradigms concerning energy security. The first paradigm connected with political sciences is sovereignty, which is related to risk minimization by way of energy infrastructure protection, to performing political and economic surveillance functions with regard to the energy system, to the use of trusted energy suppliers, as well as to the exploitation of own energy resources. The second paradigm, which is connected with life and technical sciences, is that of reliability and stability of energy supply from the technical viewpoint as well as the viewpoint concerned with access to the deposits of energy resources. It is related to risk minimization by way of proper maintenance of the energy infrastructure, development of safe energy technologies, and the use of available and diverse energy resources. Finally, the paradigm connected with economic sciences is about the elasticity of energy markets and their resilience to energy crises. The greatest challenges in this regard include energy transformation-related elasticity, management and regulation of energy markets, resilience to economic crises, as well as change prediction (Cherp & Jewell, 2011, pp. 202–212). Hence, one can recognize that the general concept of energy security denotes a state of the economy that provides for covering the current and future demand for energy and fuels in an economically and technically justified manner, while complying with the requirements concerned with the natural environment protection. The security of energy and fuel supplies can be seen as such capacities of energy and fuel systems that enable provision of operational security of the energy and fuel infrastructure, as well as balancing the supplies of energy and fuels against the demand for them (cf. Kał˛az˙ na & Rosicki, 2010, pp. 14–23, 160–164; Rewizorski et al., 2013, pp. 58–69).

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3 Theoretical Assumptions 3.1 General Assumptions About the Theoretical Aspects of Geographical Conditions The problematics of the geographical conditions have come to be reflected in the wide-ranging studies of geopolitics and political geography (cf. Agnew, 1998; Flint, 2006; Okunev, 2020; Taylor & Flint, 2000). The role played by geographical conditions in determination of other phenomena and events, e.g. political and economic decisions, has become a point of scientific debate. Hence, geographical conditions may be treated as definitive, relative or even random determinants. The division between them results from adoption or rejection of a fatalistic, teleological and direct relationship between geographical conditions and volitional decisions made by individuals, social or political entities. Undoubtedly, pointing out those of the geographical conditions that have direct or indirect relevance for making decisions, e.g. political or economic decisions, including ones concerned with energy policy and security is debatable. Still, one should point to the most recognizable and widely accepted conditions which include location, natural resources (organic and inorganic, renewable and non-renewable ones), populations and atmospheric conditions (cf. Agnew, 1998; Czajowski, 1998, pp. 97–111; Flint, 2006, pp. 1–31; Goł˛ebski, 2003, pp. 157–171; Jean, 2003, pp. 31–59; Parker, 2008, pp. 3–23; Peet, 1978, pp. 360– 364; Peet, 1985, pp. 309–333; Peet & Watts, 2004; Radcliffe et al., 2010, pp. 98–116; Taylor & Flint, 2000). Spatial conditions and related resources have the greatest relevance for the analysis of the problematics concerned with energy security in the European territory. Therefore, it is assumed that the spatial conditions, understood as a set of restrictive or conducive features, affect decisions. Hence, it is no revealing statement to say that lesser resource deposits in the majority of the European countries will affect decision-making processes as to the energy policy and energy security. Nor is it a revealing fact that the dissimilarities with regard to the resource base and methods of energy resource supplies affect various solutions with regard to the energy policy and energy security. Undoubtedly, the differences between European countries, e.g. between Western European countries, and Central and Eastern European countries, will affect political conflicts, including ones within the European Union. This is particularly visible in the approach to the climate policy, energy transformation, and the attitude towards the natural resources relations with the Russian Federation (cf. Lindberg et al., 2019, pp. 1–15; Mikulska, 2020, pp. 403–420; Romanova, 2021, pp. 1–11; Rosicki, 2018, pp. 230–261; Rodríguez-Fernández et al., 2020, pp. 1–9; Sauvageot, 2020, pp. 1–13; Stulberg, 2017, pp. 71–85).


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3.2 The General Assumptions Behind Historical Materialism and the Structural Approach Historical materialism is often reduced to a synthetic formula comprising a presupposition whereby existence determines consciousness. The category of existence is understood as a specific historical form of socio-economic relations, which are essentially about a specific mode of production. A specific mode of production is related to social divisions, which in turn bring about social conflicts, which are an immanent part of society. The general assumption of historical materialism gives rise to a deterministic influence of the mode of production upon non-economic institutions, social practices and social consciousness. In the dogmatic approach to historical materialism, modes of production constitute a fatalistic and teleological determinant of all social phenomena (cf. Klawiter, 1978, pp. 35–36). The very mode of production comprises productive forces and relations of production that interact with one another, with the proviso that in the dogmatic approach it is assumed that productive forces constitute a fatalistic and teleological determinant of relations of production. Productive forces have come to be recognized as the society’s productive capacity, which encompasses science, technology, engineering, people and their skills and knowledge, objects of labour (e.g. land, resources and materials) as well as means of labour (e.g. enterprises, workplaces or other types of production plants). Relations of production have come to be seen as specific interhuman relations arising during the production process. These include organizational and structural elements of labour and production, i.e. labour division, production division, and the exchange of goods and money (Cohen, 1978; Kozyr-Kowalski & Ładosz, 1974, pp. 39–96; Łastawski, 1986, pp. 64–84). As mentioned before, historical materialism presupposes abrasiveness of social relations, which in the dogmatic approach results from appropriation of surplus value. The surplus value is obtained by the increase in the value of currency in circulation, and hence transformed into capital. For this to be possible, the value of currency is earlier associated with labour, which is a good whose property in itself consists in generating value. The surplus value, i.e. one that is appropriated, is the difference between payment and the real value of labour, which in turn becomes the object of struggle between the exploiter and the exploitee. In the classical approach to historical materialism, this process leads to conflict between the haves and the have nots, which in turn constitutes a mechanism of interformative transitions. However, in revisionist approaches, the mechanism of interformative transitions is based on, inter alia, the conflict between one group of haves and another, which results from the fact that productive forces may block or dynamize the changes in relations of production (cf. Amin, 2013; Czerwi´nska, 1992, pp. 194–258; Luxemburg, 2003; Robinson, 1956). Remarkably enough, the conflict-type approach based on non-symmetrical relations between the economically privileged and the marginalized or the ones stranded on the sidelines of the global economic system, has also been employed by representatives of dependism and structural neo-Marxism in political and economic paradigms of international relations (cf. Burchill, et al., 2001, pp. 110–136; Czaputowicz, 2007,

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pp. 141–173; Gourevitch, 1978, pp. 881–912; Payne & Philips, 2010, pp. 56–84). These studies have, in an explanatorily effective manner, combined the problematics of geographical conditions and non-symmetrical economic relations between individual regions and countries, exploring various dependence aspects. The representatives of the dependist current have accepted that there is a negative influence of highly developed regions and countries on countries classed as belonging to the periphery. The main rationale behind this approach is based on the assumption that the global system centres influence the underdevelopment and exploitation of the periphery (cf. Hopenhayn, 1982, pp. 287–294; Prebisch, 1976, pp. 7–73; ParraPeña, 1979, pp. 1233–1242). The dependist current was intellectually continued in the peculiar form of the studies of world systems, represented by, inter alia, Amin, Frank and Wallerstein (Amin, 1976, 2004; Frank, 1980; Wallerstein, 1974, 1980, 1989). In Wallerstein’s approach the world system comprises world empires, world economies and mini systems. It is composed of regions sharing the same politicoeconomic structures, shaped over longer historical periods. One of the structures, the world-economy, is of a complex, multi-element and hierarchical character. Still, in it, power is not decentralized or dispersed in various countries, and its integrity is based on market mechanisms, and especially spatial division of labour based on unequal exchange and accumulation of capital (Wallerstein, 1991, pp. 13–26, 37–46). As a consequence of such assumptions it is to be posited that political and economic decision-making processes feature deep and structured historical and institutional interrelations. Hence, the decisions made and solutions adopted in earlier periods may substantially determine current and future decision-making processes in both economy and politics. Even though these interrelations may be of varied characters, e.g. institutional, organizational and technological, of greatest significance are the economic ones. Invoking historical materialism as an analytical tool, one should point to its explanatory value as to the problematics of energy security. The energy sector, which comprises various types of energy companies, must be reckoned among the productive forces sensu largo, or—while taking into account ownership relations—among means of production. Hence, the energy sector is a major element in the entire system of means of production, as it participates in the dynamic of processes following from the synthetically invoked laws of historical materialism. The energy sector has always been strongly connected with the state, which has not been changed even by the process of liberalization of crucial sectors lasting for several decades. From the model perspective of historical materialism, the energy sector participates in the appropriation of the surplus value; however, in post-industrial countries, this value is also obtained through processes of externalization of costs of a different type. Next to labour force, the value is obtained through exploitation of natural resources, including deposits of energy resources, not infrequently at the expense of the natural environment. The fact that energy companies in Europe are unable, for objective and normative reasons, to exploit energy resources on a previous scale results in the necessity to tap resources in other regions and countries, including non-democratic states. And so there arises a certain mechanism of synergy between democratic and non-democratic states in the processes of division of energy


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production both at the local and global level. The capital of energy companies has a special feature of internationalization, which can be seen in its scale and capital links. In the context of Europe’s energy security, it was the special kind of relations between Western European energy companies and the Russian Federation that gave a cause for considerable concern. The special kind of relations representing this state of affairs include, inter alia: (1) joint investments by European energy companies and Russian entities in such projects as Nord Stream 1 and 2, (2) European energy companies’ investments in the territory of the Russian Federation, (3) exchange of shareholding between European and Russian companies, (4) joint circulation of elites effected through functions performed or advisory services, which can be best illustrated by such figures as Schröder (former German chancellor), Fillon (former French prime minister), Lipponen (former Finnish prime minister), Schüssel (former Austrian chancellor); Kneissel (former Austrian foreign minister), Schelling (former Austrian minister of finance), Rönnholm (secretary of the Social Democratic Party of Finland), Voscherau (member of the German SPD and former mayor of Hamburg), Scheller (head of the energy policy department at the German Ministry of Economy), Haller (former German ambassador and head of the economics department at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs). It is also worth emphasizing the consequences of adopting the unorthodox interpretation of historical materialism concerned with interformative transitions. In a case like this, the conflict does not so much directly concern the conflict between producers, i.e. owners of the means of production and workers, as between owners of the means of production themselves on account of the willingness to transform and preserve certain relations of production. This type of processes can be illustrated by conflicts between various energy sectors, i.e. old and new energy paradigms. As regards Poland, the dominant energy paradigm is the coal paradigm, which on account of its structural positioning will delay the energy transformation based on green technologies. The negative impact of the old paradigms is linked with path dependence, and is aimed at preserving the status quo with regard to the accumulation of capital. Thus, the old types of productive forces are trying to preserve the old relations of production. Similar processes are to be observed in the European Union itself, but in this case, strong normative processes in the form of successive energy packages as well as climate and energy packages enforce considerable changes compared with other regions. As for the structural approaches within the paradigms of international political and economic relations, energy security is to be associated with the necessity of having and being able to access resources, as well as with the ability to maintain energy production and operation of the entire economy. These approaches presuppose the existence of asymmetrical relations in the regional or global system of energy production, which comes to be expressed in the exploitation of countries affluent in resources, which are at the same time peripheral or semi-peripheral to the world economy. Asymmetrical relations and the exploitation of resources make it possible to obtain the surplus value on account of, inter alia, externalization of the environment and payment costs. It appears that the relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation can serve as a good example of asymmetrical relations with

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regard to exploitation of resources. The only valuable resources that the Russian Federation, which economy wise is poorly developed, can offer are cheap labour and natural resources. On the other hand, such countries as Germany, in order to maintain the competitiveness of their economy and export advanced technologies, including energy technologies, take advantage of the possibilities offered by the Russian Federation. These economic and energy relations also give rise to negative consequences, which were partially mentioned above (e.g. the synergy between the political and economic elites of the European democratic systems and the elites of the Russian Federation, which can hardly be defined as a model democracy; development of energy relations at the expense of the energy security of the other European Union member states, including Central and Eastern European countries; irrational energy dependence on one direction, which is neither stable nor predictable).

4 Central and Eastern Europe from the Overall Perspective of Energy Security The analysis of energy security should include the following dimensions: (1) socioeconomic, (2) innovative and technological and (3) geopolitical and geoeconomic. Approximately, this division corresponds to the three research paradigms of energy security presented by Cherp and Jewell. However, these dimensions, along with their features and indices, can overlap. In the first place, attention should be drawn to the differences in the socioeconomic level between Western Europe, and Central and Eastern Europe. Compared with Central and Eastern European countries, Western European countries are characterized by: (1) a higher mean value of the median equivalized disposable income, (2) a lower mean value of the Gini coefficient, (3) a lower level of risk of poverty and social exclusion (see more on this: Equivalized, 2022; Gini, 2022; Rosicki, 2018, pp. 261–283).1 The socio-economic dimension of energy security falls within the research perspective which Cherp and Jewell connected with the elasticity of energy markets and with their resilience to energy crises. As regards social aspects associated with the energy issues, compared with Central European countries, Western European countries are characterized by the following features: (1) as for the percentage share of selected costs in the final electricity gas and other fuel expenses incurred by households, they have a more than 45% higher mean value of these costs, (2) as for the percentage share of selected personal means of transport costs in the final expenses incurred by households, they have a considerably higher value of these costs, (3) they have a lower mean value of the energy poverty indicator understood as the inability to keep a proper temperature at home (in three groups: general population, lonely people, general population above 65), (4) they have higher mean values of electricity 1

The analysis does not include differences between countries in the individual groups, i.e. in Western European countries and in Central (and Eastern) European countries themselves.


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prices for medium-sized household and industrial consumers, (5) have higher mean values of gas prices for household and industrial consumers (for more on this see: Final, 2022; Rosicki, 2018, pp. 261–283). A variety of innovativeness indicators serve as indirect indicators relevant to the assessment of energy security understood dynamic- and process wise, e.g. from the aspect of socio-economic susceptibility to energy transformation. As regards innovativeness, it is to be noted that compared with Central European countries, Western European countries are characterized by: (1) a higher mean value of the GII index, i.e. Global Innovation Index, (2) a higher mean value of the GERD indicator, i.e. gross expenditure on R&D, (3) a higher mean value of the HRST index, i.e. human resources in science and technology, (4) a higher mean value of the HTE index, i.e. high technology exports (for more on this see: Gross, 2020; Global Innovation Index, 2020, 2021; Intramural, 2022). Such characterization of economic potential may also point to asymmetrical relations between Western European and Central European countries. This can be seen in the situation where the process of energy market liberalization in Central Europe predominantly involved investors from Western Europe, and not the other way round. The technological advantage of Western Europe may also give rise to the treatment of Central Europe as the market for more advanced technology, including energy technologies. Undoubtedly, for some of the researchers, more direct indicators illustrating energy security are those that fall within the research perspective that Cherp and Jewell described as a sovereignty perspective. Apparently, it can also be termed a geopolitical and geoeconomic perspective given its direct or indirect relation to geographical conditions. As regards the geopolitical and geoeconomic perspective of energy security, it is to be noted that compared with Central European countries, Western European countries are characterized by: (1) a higher mean of solid fuel import scale, (2) a higher mean of petroleum and natural gas condensate import scale, (3) a higher mean gas import scale, (4) a lower level of dependence on gas import from Russia. Also, it is noteworthy that Central European countries are characterized by a high level of dependence on gas supplies from the Russian Federation. As we consider the level of import dependence on hydrocarbons from Russia in the individual European Union member states in four brackets (0–25, 25–50, 50–75 and 75–100%), one can conclude that among the eleven Central European countries as many as nine are dependent on import from Russia in the 75–100% bracket. This means that when compared to the others, Central European countries are significantly dependent on import from the Russian direction. The other group includes two cases like this—Austria and Finland. An undoubted problem, especially in connection with the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine in 2022, is the considerable dependence of the European Union member states on the import of energy resources supplied from the eastern direction. In 2020, Russia was the single largest supplier of gas (41%), LNG (20%), petroleum (27%), hard coal (47%) to the European Union (for more on this see: Energy imports, 2020; Rosicki, 2018, pp. 230–247).

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5 Central and Eastern Europe from the Gas Security Perspective It is worth performing an analysis of energy security with regard to the security of gas supply to Western European countries, and Central and Eastern European countries. The calculations made by such Western European countries as Germany and France in relation to the assessment and directions of risk minimization in gas supply are based on the faith in market mechanisms, and on absence of reflection on political factors resulting in the disruption of the chains of supply of this resource. It appears that the individual gas crises initiated by the Russian Federation, including the one in 2021 as well as the crisis related to the aggression against Ukraine in 2022, clearly demonstrate that the philosophy of energy security construction only on the basis of free market rationality is hardly a good solution. However, it is not true that reflection on the physical and infrastructural gas security among the European Union member states is non-existent, because it is to be observed in the processes aimed at developing a common gas market, a transnational transmission infrastructure, as well as in the growing importance of requirements concerned with storage of energy resources. Undoubtedly, the disruption of the chain of gas supply, given the meagre energy resources, inadequate storage capacity, a lack of transmission infrastructure, a lack of gas substitution, a lack of cooperation, solidarity, etc., may give rise to an emergency situation that will in turn breach energy security. In 2014, the European Commission presented results of the tests aimed at assessing the short-term resilience of the European gas system in the event of possible disruption of gas supplies from the Russian direction (it must, however, be noted that ever since many European Union countries have progressed with regard to the development of their gas infrastructure). As part of the analyses performed for the European Commission tested were two main scenarios of the development of situation where the supply disruption would last six months, with two additional variants. The first scenario was termed “cooperative”, while the second one– “non-cooperative”. The scenarios of the disruption of gas supply to the European Union were also analysed by ENTSO-G in 2017. The analysis included a division of the countries into specified risk groups that covered the main routes of gas supply to the European Union, e.g. the northern, eastern, southern and south-eastern route (ENTSOG, 2017, pp. 5–59; European Commmission, 2014). According to the tests run by the European Commission in 2014, in case of a gas supply disruption lasting six months, with a concomitant change in the supply structure, system shortages to the amount of 5–9 bn m3 were found. It was demonstrated that the only mechanism for covering the lack of such a quantity of gas is diversification of import sources and directions. Crucial instruments of use in an emergency are storage capacities and limiting consumption by specific end users of gas. According to the European Commission, around 61% of the shortage of gas supply from the Russian direction can be substituted for by LNG infrastructures and underground gas storage facilities. The supplies from the Russian direction accounting for further


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35% shortage may be substituted for by import of gas from Norway and North Africa (European Commission, 2014). The first variant of the scenario of gas supply disruptions presupposes that the European Union member states cooperate with a view to resolving the emergency. Cooperation consists in adopting relatively equal burdens. The other of the scenario variants concerned with gas supply disruptions presupposes that the European Union member states limit or halt internal export to other states. The conducted tests allowed for the necessity to provide gas supplies to Ukraine and Moldova in the event that the two countries should be cut off from gas supplies from the Russian direction. The tests demonstrated particular consequences for Central and Eastern European countries. Should there be no cooperation, over a summer period of six months there will be severe shortages in the gas systems of Bulgaria, Romania, as well as in western Balkan countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia). It was demonstrated that the countries in this area are highly threatened in the event of both gas transmission over the Ukrainian infrastructure being halted and gas supplies from Russia being entirely cut off. A similar level of shortages will be the case in the event that the supplies of Russian gas to the Baltic countries, i.e. Estonia, Lithuania as well as Finland, are cut off. Regarding Poland and Hungary, the shortages will amount to 20 and 30% respectively. Essentially, the only method for shortage minimization consists in optimization of cooperation between the European Union member states, which will not, however, solve the problems of gas shortage in the north-eastern part of Europe, where it can reach even 20–60%; a similar problem may afflict the Baltic states, and the worst situation would be in Finland, where the shortage might soar up to 80–100% (G˛edek et al., 2015, pp. 131–134; European Commission, 2014). There is no doubt that the test results point to the necessity for developing transmission infrastructure, which is related to the states’ own substantial financial outlays, and ones coming directly from the European Union. It seems that the best solution for coastal countries, e.g. Baltic ones, consists in development of LNG technology, or following transformation in the direction of other energy technologies. As regards Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Sweden, the solution would be to strengthen the energy and fuel transmission systems as part of the already known concept of the so-called Baltic Ring, or to expand the nuclear and RES generating capacities. Additionally, in the context of threats to gas supplies from the Russian direction, of great significance is the development of storage infrastructure; however, in this case too, it will entail some costs, because maintenance of high gas reserves is unavoidably costly. As for gas cooperation between the Baltic states, one might invoke the example of the 2020 agreement between the ministries of energy, energy market regulation offices and transmission system operators in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, which was concerned with the devising of a roadmap for future integration of energy markets in these countries. These activities are projected to result in a common gas market encompassing the four countries (Jakstas, 2019, pp. 4–17; Roadmap, 2020). A scenario less favourable to the European Union member states is about cutting off gas supplies in wintertime. In a case like this even cooperation between the countries is not likely to resolve the problems of gas supplies to some of the Western

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European countries, Central European countries, or Western Balkan and Scandinavian countries. On the other hand, in the event of absence of cooperation, transmission shutdowns will affect some Central European, Western Balkan and Scandinavian countries (European Commmission, 2014). In the context of the tests conducted, a worse situation would be one in Central and Eastern European countries. It is clearly visible that in the wintertime Austria, Germany and Italy will act as guarantors of gas security in Central and Eastern Europe. And so in order to increase gas security in Central and Eastern Europe, it is advisable to strengthen inter-systemic connections in the region. While comparing Western European countries with Central and Eastern European countries, it is noteworthy that the former ones are characterized by higher resilience to risks of gas cuts from the Russian direction. In a variety of scenarios and variants, the countries most threatened are Western Balkan, Baltic and Scandinavian countries, as well as Poland, Romania and Hungary (European Commission, 2014). The ENTSO-G analyses performed prior to the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2022 indicated the considerable significance of Ukraine’s transmission and storage infrastructure for the gas security of Central Europe and the Western Balkan countries in the wintertime. Still, it should be noted that the forecasts about the effects of gas supplies being cut off will differ depending on the level of demand for this type of fuel. Hence, in the wintertime scenario with the variant of the longest heightened demand for gas, the countries that might be afflicted with considerable curtailment of the supplies will be Bulgaria and Romania. This threat will last even in the event of ongoing cooperation with neighbouring countries with a view to its minimization. In the variants of shorter periods of increased demand in winter, gas supply shortages will concern Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Romania. One of the potential mechanisms to be employed while solving the problem of gas supply shortage is management of the distribution of deliveries from other countries such as Austria, Czechia, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Slovakia (ENTSOG, 2017, pp. 25–28). With regard to the gas security of Central and Eastern Europe Germany’s involvement in the construction of Nord Stream 2 is disputable. There is no doubt that Germany had a vested interest in the construction of this gas pipeline, given the absence of possibility of energy transformation within the modified Energiewende by 2050. In the wake of the nuclear energy shutdown programme, Germany has virtually lost the possibility of applying nuclear energy to energy transformation, and so, the only remaining source is natural gas (Nuclear, 2022). It seems that closing the road of parallel use of two kinds of transition carriers in transformation, given the highly energy-intensive economy, is hardly rational from the economic viewpoint. No Central or Eastern European country could afford such a solution. This is crucially important, because Germany is the country that burns the most coal in the commercial energy industry, and is the largest CO2 emitter in the European Union (cf. Rosicki, 2017a, pp. 383–398; Rosicki, 2017c, pp. 59–87). The rationale behind Germany’s involvement in Nord Stream 2, with concomitant harm to the gas security of Central and Eastern Europe, is essentially related to: (1) shutting off other possibilities of energy transformation, (2) the will to dominate as the gas hub in Central Europe,


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(3) synergy with the Russian economy, (4) interrelated Russian and German interest groups influencing each other’s political and economic decisions. It seems that the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against Ukraine, with its parallel operation of gas blackmail in 2022, will substantially revise (or should revise) the rationale of the German foreign and energy policy. The will of the German gas sector to dominate Central Europe by strengthening gas connections with Russia has a strictly financial dimension, apart from the effects on the region’s energy security. According to the analyses by Eser, Chokani and Abhari the realization of the Nord Stream 2 project would result in the Russian gas being redirected straight to Germany, omitting the transit through Poland and Ukraine. Regarding Ukraine, this change would mean reducing the transit volume by 13% compared with the 2014 value, which would in turn result in a loss of e170 million in transit fees. Poland would lose 23% of the transit volume compared with the 2014 value, which means bigger economic losses than in Ukraine. According to these authors, even though Nord Stream 2 has a negative influence on Poland’s and Ukraine’s position in the European gas transit, it offers stable and low costs of the growing demand for gas in Europe. The Nord Stream 2 gas, when compared with the developing LNG technology (and this type of gas in general), does not involve the necessity of incurring higher expenditure on proper transmission infrastructure, or costs related to unstable prices of liquefied natural gas. So one can recognize that when viewed from this perspective, Nord Stream 2 is economically more attractive to Germany, but geopolitically costly or even detrimental to the stability of Central and Eastern Europe (for more see: Eser et al., 2019, pp. 816–830; Hauser, 2021; Umland, 2022, pp. 78–94). The ENTSO-G analysis reckons among the threats to the gas supply from the eastern direction also the shortages of supply provided via the Yamal pipeline, i.e. from the Belarusian direction. The wintertime scenario provides for a shortage of supplies to Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. However, this analysis does not provide for disruptions of gas supplies via Nord Stream 1 and the mutual Polish-German gas connections. However, in the event of the eastern direction deliveries being completely suspended, varying degrees of shortage—depending on the demand— will affect Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, the plight of Finland being the worst. The Gas Interconnection Poland–Lithuania (GIPL) bi-directional pipeline, which was constructed in 2022 and connects as an interconnector the Polish and Lithuanian transmission systems, is a factor strengthening gas security in this area (Entsog, 2017, pp. 35–36; Energy, 2018, pp. 151–153; Nacionalin˙e, 2018, pp. 45; The PolandLithuania, 2022). The fact that the development of transmission and other infrastructure is significant for gas security is demonstrated by Poland. At the turn of 2022 and 2023 Poland will attain the technical import capabilities of about 48 bn m3 , including the connection from the eastern direction and the Baltic Pipeline project currently under construction. This state of affairs means that Poland will attain sufficient technical capabilities of eliminating gas supplies from the Russian direction; this situation will not be changed by this country’s gas supplies being cut off by Russia in April 2022. Poland’s high level of technical capabilities for import means that the eastern direction will only

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account for a potential share of 21%. To illustrate this state of affairs, it is worth noting that in 2022 Poland has used 20 bn m3 , whereas the LNG Terminal has reached its technical capabilities of 6.2 bn m3 , the western direction (from Germany) has a technical import capability of 7 bn m3 , and ultimately the Baltic Pipeline is to attain the technical capabilities for import at around 10 bn m3 (Sprawozdanie, 2020; Zdolno´sci, 2022).

6 Summary and Conclusions The main purpose of the text is to analyse a selection of energy security problems affecting Central and Eastern European countries, including an organic comparative analysis in relation to Western European countries, and an assessment of the risk of threats to gas supplies. The text makes use of, as a background and inspiration, theoretical aspects of historical materialism, structural approaches as part of the dependency paradigms of research into international political and economic relations. Given the need to elaborate the material scope of the research problem, the text features two research questions related to the following conclusions: (1) Which of the factors substantially condition the level of energy security in central and eastern European countries? In the first place, attention should be drawn to the geographical location of Central and Eastern European countries, which becomes increasingly significant in a longer historical perspective. Undoubtedly, the divisions of the cold-war world and the contemporary spheres of influence have given rise to various strategies in the relations with the Russian Federation in the present. One of the strategies consists in protesting the role of the Russian Federation as a reliable partner in the economic and foreign policy. The other strategy is about partnership, or better—strategic partnership. A similar division, while taking into account the dynamic of political changes, can be delineated in relation to Western European countries. The division into sceptics, pragmatists and partners in relations with the Russian Federation was emphasized in the literature about the shape of the EU energy policy already at the time when the energy packages proceedings were discussed (see Leonard & Popescu, 2008). The change that has ever since taken place in Central and Eastern Europe is that there are more sceptics, which is hardly surprising given the use of natural resource weapons (including gas) by the Russian Federation against the neighbouring countries (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). It seems that the attitude of pragmatism and partnership towards the Russian Federation, in the context of energy policy, is a real threat to general security, and the energy security of Central and Eastern Europe, which was thrown into relief by the aggression against Ukraine in 2022. Undoubtedly, the mechanisms for limiting the threat from the Russian Federation include domestic strategies, as well as the EU policy on strengthening the energy infrastructure, especially with regard to transnational connections, interconnectors, gas storage systems and LNG technologies. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that


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in the case of some of the Central and Eastern European countries, the noble policy of low emission energy generation may in fact lower the level of energy security when viewed in the traditional sense. This is because swift energy transformation is not possible in every case, which can be exemplified by Poland and Germany; this requires economic technology or an energy carrier that would serve as backstop resources or backstop technology. Noteworthily though, much neglect with regard to the transformation of the electric power industry is sometimes to be blamed on Central and Eastern European countries themselves. Next to the geopolitical (and geoeconomic) factors, one should point to socioeconomic factors as well as innovative-technological ones. Regarding the latter two, noteworthy is their interrelation, because inappropriate socio-economic conditions substantially affect the state’s innovative and technological potential. Analysis of mean values of the indices characterizing the quality of life and economy in Central European countries clearly shows disproportions between them and Western European countries. This is of considerable relevance for energy security as viewed socially, because worse socio-economic conditions affect greater vulnerability to, inter alia, energy poverty. Adverse socio-economic conditions also affect the possibilities for energy transformation, and by extension energy security as regarded processually, because the costs of transformation are usually shifted to ordinary energy users. An inappropriate level of innovativeness in Central and Eastern European countries results in the absence of possibilities for effective realization of domestic energy strategies on the basis of own solutions, which could be implemented locally, The consequence is dependence on energy technologies imported from countries that have them. This problem does not only concern RES technologies, but also individual elements in the construction of gas infrastructure (e.g. construction of the Baltic Pipeline through Poland) or nuclear infrastructure (e.g. the programme of nuclear energy development in Poland, or the nuclear infrastructure expansion in Hungary). Obviously, dependence on external energy technologies is not only the domain of Central and Eastern European countries; similar problems are to be observed in regard to the construction of nuclear reactors at Hanhikivi and Olkiluoto power plants in Finland. (2) In relation to what factors conditioning the level of energy security will there be differences between central and eastern European countries, and western European countries? The factors discussed in the text and synthetically presented in relation to the conclusions from the first research question give rise to specific consequences. They may be associated with the main thesis about the structural approaches as part of the dependency paradigms of research into international political and economic relations, and into major mechanisms of historical materialism. As a consequence of pointing to the disproportions between Western European countries, and Central and Eastern European countries, there emerges a structural system involving stronger economies of Western countries and peripheral (or semiperipheral) economies of Central and Eastern European countries. Therefore, it may

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be posited that the peripheral (or semi-peripheral) economies become the target with regard to the externalization of the labour and environment (including energy) costs. Interestingly, it is the absence of energy transformation in countries with energy system monocultures, e.g. Poland that is conducive to the situation. But the EU energy policy itself increases energy costs in Central and Eastern European countries, especially in the countries that have neglected the energy transformation processes. As a result, in this respect the economies of Central and Eastern European countries may become hardly competitive in relation to some of Western European countries. A further consequence of this process may be the consolidation of asymmetrical relations with regard to direct labour costs and the reproduction of labour force. This mechanism can be seen as pragmatism evinced by such countries as Germany and France, which at different levels effect synergy with the economy of the Russian Federation, which is visible, inter alia, in investment processes in the energy sectors. The Russian Federation is becoming a space for even greater externalization of labour and environment (including energy) costs. The costs of the political and economic pragmatism shown by some of the Western European countries include lesser care for the energy security of Central and Eastern European countries, which can be clearly seen in the Nord Stream 2 investment process. Another consequence of the disproportion between the economic potential of Western Europe and the one of the Central and Eastern Europe is the dominance of certain energy companies over investment processes. It is noteworthy that the energy packages implemented by the European Union have in the first place caused the takeover of other companies of this type in Europe, thereby leading to the takeover of energy market segments along with a package of their service users. As regards Central Europe, the energy sector investors have most often been entities from Western European countries, which has in reality led to greater accumulation of capital by these companies, but has not positively contributed to the domestic economies. As regards the revisionist approaches to historical materialism, in which the real conflict is one concerning mainly the owners of the means of production, one can also observe a peculiar division. Conflicts based on the relations between the old productive forces and the emergent, new relations of production in the energy sector concern both domestic and regional markets. However, regarding the asymmetrical economic relations between Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe, the entities with greater economic, innovative and technological potential are beginning to set directions for energy transformation as well as finance and investment processes, thereby consolidating the exclusion of energy entities from Central and Eastern European countries.


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Remigiusz Rosicki, Ph.D., Habil., an associate professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism, Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna´n. His research interests include: security studies, law and criminal policy, energy economy and policy, technology assessment and methodology.

Visegrad Group–Real Entity or Mirage Andrea Schmidt

Abstract The Visegrad Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in February 2021. Since its establishment, this cooperation experienced booms and crises in the past three decades. After the regime change, the countries of the region had the opportunity to establish a sub-regional cooperation that was not directed against anyone, the main goal of which was then primarily Euro-Atlantic integration, i.e. accession to NATO and the European Community. The mission of this group changed several times in the past decades. After the Euro-Atlantic integration this group served as a litmus paper showing the troubles and challenges within the European Union. This chapter analyses whether the V4 is a real entity, or a geopolitical marriage of necessity, a model for further integrations and if this group can find its new position within the changing global order. Keywords Visegrad Group · Regional cooperation · Integration · Geopolitics · Alliance V4 is an ad hoc reaction to a very concrete situation and for preparations for NATO. We had to ask ´who we are´? We are all Central Europe and V4 and Central Europe, is not only the regional operation, it is based on specific historical and spiritual identity that we now call Central Europe. (GLOBSEC, 2013)

The Visegrad Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in February 2021. Since its establishment, this cooperation experienced booms and crises in the past three decades. Back in the autumn of 1991, there was a general view within the European Community that “ideas in the (Visegrad) proposal fully corresponded to their ideas for further development of cooperation between the Alliance and Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary”. By 2016, the 25th anniversary of the Group, this has changed to a perception that “Visegrad is like a bad word”, (Schmidt, 2016) or there are more and more signs that the power of cohesion kept these countries together has diminished. In 2021 the Visegrad Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in an entirely A. Schmidt (B) University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_12



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different condition. By 2020 there were more and more signs of the internal cleavages of the group, however, the V4 countries had to face a much greater challenge regarding their cohesion with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2022 February. The formation of the Visegrad Group contributed to the enhanced stability in Central Europe, and in the past three decades deepened cooperation amongst the member states in the areas such as education, culture, science, environment, fight against organised crime, regional development, civil society development, transport. Advocating regional cooperation and supporting each other in the effort to gain EU membership, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary significantly increased their chances of being admitted to the EU.

1 The Redrawn Central and Eastern Europe after the Collapse of the Bipolar System Until the last years of socialism, the foreign policy, and the orientation of the members of the Soviet Bloc were subordinated to the Brezhnev Doctrine. These principles prohibited amongst others the leaving the Bloc, becoming neutral, and following their orientation. However, especially in the second half of the 1980s, new geographical stories and new spatial representations could capture and codify the cartographic chaos of the former Eastern European space (Bialasiewicz & O’Loughlin, 1999). The political conditions of the decades preceding regime change left little room for the countries of the region to develop and maintain Central European relations based on Western or mutually beneficial national interests, in addition to their forced orientation towards the East. After the change of regime, the countries of the region had the opportunity to establish sub-regional cooperation that was not directed against anyone, the main objective of which was then primarily Euro-Atlantic integration, i.e. accession to NATO and the European Community. In 1989, the year of “Autumn of Nations” (Czy˙zewski, 2012), or “Annus Mirabilis” (Kornai, 2005) a variety of mixed ideas were present including the Hungarian, Czech, Slovakian-Habsburg myths of Central Europe, or the tradition of the contribution going back to the 14th century. The first free elections and the rapid and peaceful transformations raised a number of questions and doubts regarding the future and the stability of the collapsing socialist satellite states. Getting loose the control coming from the East and parallelly the longing to the western values were combined with the challenge of the fragility of gained independence. The generally accepted strategic aim after 1989 was to avoid the “twilight zone” of uncertainty and to anchor Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary permanently in the western security system–i.e. NATO, and European political, legal, and economic structures, in other words, the European Union. “Europeanisation” was thus the doctrine of Polish, Czechoslovakian, and Hungarian transformation after 1989. These aims were effectively realised by all presidents and governments whatever their

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political colour. As one of the first steps towards Europeanisation both Poland and Hungary joined the Council of Europe right after the transformation, whilst the Czech and Slovakian Republics joined in 1993 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.1 Early in the next decade, the new democracies of Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, thus, set out to pursue a new model of Central European cooperation symbolised by their formation of the Visegrad Group (Ash, 1999). This challenging situation faced troubles and opportunities at the same time at least for the member states. There were no territorial claims from each other after a cataclysm, and nobody wanted to question the existing borders. And, at last, nobody had the pressure on any formal socialist country arguing where to orientate and with whom to set an ally. Paradoxically, whilst Western Europe was focussing on the deepening of their integration Central and Eastern part of Europe was struggling with the problem of disintegration. The CEE countries were also waiting to be invited and received into the European Economic Community but in the early 1990s, there was no sign of the acceptance of their efforts. The Visegrad cooperation focussed on economic, cultural, and security issues but its chief task was helping member states on the transformation path. The establishment of the Visegrad Group in 1991 was an adequate answer to this specific situation. The cooperation, which was established to express the common interest of the founding states, aimed at the European and the North-Atlantic integration at first and to strengthen the economic and cultural cooperation in this region (Ash, 1999). Whilst the Group was established partly for practical reasons, as Ash remarks, there was another explanation for this alliance: They believed in the idea of Central Europe, which Vaclav Havel and the new Hungarian president, Árpád Göncz, had preached in the 1980s, and wished to preclude any return to the petty nationalisms of the interwar years. But it was also because this tight little regional cooperation would win their countries’ favour in the West (Ash, 1999; comp. Schmidt, 2016). The idea of such a cooperation is strongly connected with the recent President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel. In initiating the cooperation, he aimed to break free of the isolation in which the Central and Eastern European countries found themselves after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The birth of the Visegrad Group was based on the search for a natural alliance to strengthen the position of the weak successor states after the collapse of the bipolar system. The establishment of such cooperation can be treated as proof of the history lesson that the European continent cannot be considered a homogeneous entity; there are various cleavages from cultural to economic. Focussing on historical roots, the president of Czechoslovakia put together a cooperation initiative that referred to the success of a historic meeting of Bohemian, Polish, and Hungarian kings in 1335. In a message to the Polish and Hungarian prime ministers and presidents, he put it: “We should not compete with each other to gain admission into the various European organisations. On the contrary, we should assist each other in the same spirit of solidarity in which, in darker days, you protested [against] […] our persecution as we did against yours (quoted in Lengyel & Surányi 1

Hungary joined as the first post-socialist state in 1990, while Poland in 1991.


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2013)”. No longer part of the Soviet zone, these states had only just begun to confront the challenges of independence and were reluctant to give up this position and take on a Euro-Atlantic orientation (Lengyel, 2006). Visegrad states, or in a wider context, Central Europe represents a relatively fragile entity, a conflict zone that appears its in-between position allows adopting Western values whilst keeping Eastern traditions at the same time (Denni, 2009), or can also be defined as a geopolitical unity and with a common past and interests. Located at the borders of the great powers’ sphere of interest, a group of states existed in a semi-peripheral position commonly experiencing the structures of global inequality. These states are facing economic, social, and political challenges and solutions. Furthermore, Central Europe can consider an area of dreams, rebellion, and a story-sensitive narrative (Közép, 2014). From the geopolitical perspective, the Visegrad region served several times as a playground for the two neighbouring great powers: Germany and the Soviet Union. The Communist Soviet Union almost entirely covered the unstable group of independent and weak successor states from the interwar period (Snyder, 2019). The other distinction is based on the tripartite structure of Europe with an additional region between East and West that has a special geopolitical location, and development path and differs from the East and West by its special strategic goals (Wallerstein, 1983). During the Cold War, the region is located “culturally in the West and politically in the East” (Kundera, 1984). The region, that is not defined entirely, can also be referred to as an experiment that belongs to an imagined reality. As Timothy Garton Ash writes, Central Europe, unlike North America, is not a geographical unit but rather a spiritual or mental entity. Central Europe exists in an imagined construction, a mental approach to distinguish people from this region from the Orthodox, less developed Eastern neighbour, a political-cultural distinction against the Soviet East (Kaplan, 2012), or whereby “geographical imaginations” play constitutive roles in space-society relationships. Furthermore, it can be a cultural community or a pure desire for economic cooperation that can lead to economic, or in the future, political integration (Schmidt, 2020). The inauguration meeting organised by Havel took place in Bratislava in 1990; its main task was the development of a security policy since the end of the bipolar system and the collapse of the Soviet Union called for a new orientation within foreign policy. This model of regional integration was a natural consequence of historical forces. Regional integration was useful since there was no external actor who could assist with the transformation and orientation of these countries, let alone other issues. Accepting Haas’s review of regional integration, the Visegrad cooperation might be seen as a good example of a process whereby nation-states “voluntarily mingle, merge and mix with their neighbours so as to lose the factual attributes of sovereignty whilst acquiring new techniques for resolving conflicts amongst themselves” (Haas, 1971). The end of the bipolar system and subsequent transformation years unleashed a sequence of unresolved questions in the post-socialist world. For independent states in the region, the new challenges concerned how to balance integration with a state

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of total or partial isolation. In creating Visegrad Group, the founding states, thus, had to focus on a very special form of integration that would reduce the meaning of internal borders whilst suggesting the potential for new external boundaries. The natural course of this cooperation would have been some kind of permanent institutional structure, however the founding partners concentrated on a looser approach entailing limited norms and a less institutional structure. Referring to academic analyses of regional integration (Dobson, 1991), this process recalled the most intensive form of inter-state interaction with common inter-state policies. The aims of this Visegrad integration may be understood in various ways. Whilst the Group was established partly for practical reasons, as Ash (Ash, 1999) remarks, there was another explanation for this alliance: The great challenge for CEE countries initially was moving away from traditional isolationism. The next step entailed joining or activating membership in multilateral economic institutions and encouraging various regional initiatives. Sometimes these efforts all took place at the same time. At the outset, there was common agreement across Europe that the political objective for the CEE countries was the introduction of democracy based on a multi-party political system, respect for human rights, and the principles of a market economy. A second common interest was security. Whilst the collapse of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the Warsaw Pact were generally welcomed, many in Central Europe believe Russia’s retreat from Central Europe was only temporary. Building closer security ties to the West was, therefore, an important goal of the CEE states. A third shared interest was environmental issues. The EU had a strong interest in cooperating more closely with Eastern Europe in order to resolve a variety of environmental problems that had plagued the CEE countries for decades (Drabek, 1997).

2 From Economic To Political Initiatives With the collapse of CMEA and the disappearance of the Soviet Union as the main trade partner of the majority of the CEE states, CEFTA had to guarantee economic cooperation in order to support the region, and it did this by eliminating taxes and tariffs on international commercial activity. Later, with European integration, CEFTA would lose its original members, who enjoyed tax-free trade within the European Union. The CEFTA arrangement then took on a new orientation, gradually expanding its area of interest to include other satellite and even post-Soviet states. Nevertheless, the framework for economic independence remained a key problem. In the beginning, it was obvious that the Visegrad region needed financial resources from abroad in order to help these states’ ruined economies whilst Western European countries required extended markets in which to sell their goods. It was merely a side effect that in adapting to the principles of a market economy, this region gradually integrated market economics. Seeking new perspectives, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia agreed on December 1992 to establish their own sub-regional trade


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initiative—the Central European Free Trade Arrangement (CEFTA)—in March 1993 and they invited Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia to join. If we are looking at the economic performance of the region it was rather successful. As it appears in the investigation dedicated to the Visegrad 2025 project, all four states benefited from the transformation and the economic reforms including the European integration (Our Future, 2025). According to the data, if the V4 were a single country, then its total population of 64,301,710 would make it the 22nd largest state in the world and the fourth largest in Europe. From the standpoint of economic potential, the Visegrad Group is the world’s 15–16th largest economy (GDP, 2022). The Visegrad cooperation had its own special integration mission to accomplish. This was not the reconstruction of a petite entente as there was no great power working behind the scenes to control the member states or even coordinate their cooperation. Similarly, there was no push to revive the Yalta system, which was the structure that the newly independent states most wished to avoid. The integration sought not to pit the states against one another but to provide a proactive tool for their cooperation. As there was no existing model for such habitual use, only limited rules were adopted. In fact, this system of cooperation remains special since it continues to lack of the following elements: 1. An organised structure. 2. Fixed and written rules of cooperation (The system is flexible). 3. Official headquarters (Through a special annual rotation system, each member state takes on the tasks of the presidency every fourth year. Each presidency begins on the 1st of July and ends on the 30th of June the following year). 4. A strict agenda (Annual meetings take place amongst different experts and sectoral policy representatives at the ministerial level). 5. More than one functioning organisation (The Group’s organisation, International Visegrad Fund (IVF), is based in Bratislava and has an annual budget of 8 billion Euro that is paid by the four member states. This is also the basis for the scholarships offered by IVF). This system of cooperation lacking written and fixed rules was strongly influenced by the representatives of the member states. In the Kromˇerˇíž Declaration of May 2004 (Visegrad, 2004), the Visegrad Group declared it would further exist despite achieving its primary goals, introducing newly declared ones—enlargement to the Western Balkans, the eastern vector of EU policy, and the issue of energy security.

3 The Visegrad Group in the European Union–Mission Completed Although originally not every V4 member state was amongst the first group of EU as in 1998 accession negotiations began with the following countries: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, and Slovenia. However, in 2004 all four

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Visegrad countries became full members of the EU (Szent-Iványi, 2020). With the attainment of EU membership, CEFTA membership was phased out. The Visegrad Group has become an indispensable player within the EU and in the next decade, the Visegrad brand recalled various reactions from the European leading politicians.2 In the middle of the refugee crisis, “Visegrad” was identified with something that is very bad, but even the member states’ politicians confessed their controversial position. That is a candidate states Central European cooperation has had a political impact on the Union as a whole far greater than its own weight, and the cooperation itself has been a model of federal policy-making. The prime ministers of the four countries met and consulted separately before each EU summit. The Visegrad format was particularly effective when the leaders of all four countries thought much the same about the world. Robert Fico, Andrej Babis, Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orbán had very similar approaches to politics. The Big Four were in power together for a short time, Fico was the first to leave, which in itself was a fracture in the Visegrád Four. The four countries turned their attention to the European Union, in addition to their common regional policy: The Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks, and Poles agreed to their common position almost every time before EU summits and important decisions in Brussels. But as EU policy evolved, it became increasingly clear that individual interests often overrode common positions. In addition to building its position as a model and mediator of “Europeanisation” and European policies towards the group of candidate Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership states, the Visegrad Group has attempted in the last decade to promote itself as an alternative or—neutrally speaking—an additional group of countries that introduces agenda within the EU and profiles itself as a significant collective actor (Cabada & Waisová, 2018). The V4 is characterised by three clearly declared goals that are incorporated into V4 policy: 1. The support of the Eastern and South-eastern directions of EU enlargement; 2. The support of the Eastern dimension of European neighbourhood policy; 3. A shared vision of regional energy policy. Each member state takes the chair on a yearly rotating basis. The priorities of each presidency included collaboration on energy, the Eastern Partnership project, defence cooperation, and the development of a digital economy. Based on the backwardness in infrastructure, other important topics are transport infrastructure development, the social dimension of European integration, and the fight against tax evasion. The crisis in Ukraine in 2014 and the acceptance of the embargo against Russia have shown that member states’ interests may vary. Whilst Polish foreign policy has tried to ensure Poland avoids all cooperation with Russia, Hungary has made moves to strengthen ties through economic cooperation. At a meeting of prime ministers in Bratislava in May 2014, the Polish prime minister expressed his negative standpoint to the Hungarian partner, claiming that the V4 cooperation is more than a symbolic 2

As Szent-Iványi mentions Chancellor Merkel once said angrily that if she heard the term Visegrad, she would be upset. (Szent-Iványi, 2020).


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representation of a common past and future and the threats from Russia cannot be ignored. Hungary’s position on the question facing the new Ukrainian government about whether to give “full collective rights” and dual citizenship to Hungarians living in the Zakarpattia Oblast has also impeded the chances of agreement amongst the Visegrad Group member states and Ukraine. Orbán has himself expressed his support for maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine; in the context of the Ukrainian–Russian conflict, this aligns with Russian rhetoric since it suggests that the government in Kyiv is undemocratic and guilty of discriminating against ethnic minorities in Ukraine (Sadecki, 2014). Orbán has also been blamed for the pending Hungarian position on the Ukrainian–Russian conflict. Although Hungarian diplomats co-authored both the Visegrad Group and EU declarations which condemned the annexation of Crimea by Russia and supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as Sadecki (Sadecki, 2014) points out, the Hungarian prime minister has emphasised Hungary’s neutrality as regards the Ukrainian–Russian conflicts and tried to avoid any friction in relations with Russia since Hungary is in the process of building closer cooperation with the energy sector.

4 The Public Opinion on Visegrad Group The Visegrad Group is based mainly on political cooperation (Gyárfášová & Mesežnikov, 2021). The comparison of the level of public awareness of the V4 in 2015 and 2001 reveals interesting trends. Whilst in Slovakia the level of public awareness of the V4 has remained almost unchanged, i.e. the highest in the Visegrad Group, in Hungary and Poland it decreased considerably. In the Czech Republic, on the contrary, the proportion of those who have heard of the Visegrad Group slightly increased. The decreased level of public awareness of the V4 in Poland and Hungary may have different reasons. Compared to its partners within the Visegrad Group, Poland is a regional power, and a key political actor, and the Poles can feel that they are in a different league. In the past, the destiny of the Polish nation and Polish statehood directly depended on the development of relations between Poland on one hand, and Germany and Russia on the other hand (as well as on mutual relations between the two states). The public views of the state’s foreign policy have been definitely shaped by the attitudes of a significant proportion of the Polish political and cultural elite, which attach special importance to the interaction of Poland and the two countries with respect to Poland’s current position. Another influential factor can be the current global events with active participation, be it positive or negative, of Germany and Russia. The two countries have recently become visible mainly in connection with the Russia–Ukraine conflict–Russia as an aggressor, and Germany as a proponent of Western Europe’s firm stance on Russian aggression. In Hungary, the decrease in the level of public awareness of the V4 might have been caused by inner political changes and foreign policy priorities other than those relating to Central Europe. A common denominator of the decreasing trend in the

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Do you feel that the Visegrad group is still important and has a mission to fulfil? “ (% of answers “certainly yes” + “rather yes”) 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Hungary

Poland 2003

Slovakia 2015



Fig. 1 Source Oˇlga Gyárfášová & Grigorij Mesežnikov (2021)

two countries can be the feeling of reduced relevance of the V4 compared to the period when the countries joined their forces to cope with individual milestones of European integration and the common action within the region represented an added value. A different case represents the Czech Republic. In the mid-1990s the Czech society basked in the EU’s favourable approach, relishing its “star pupil of integration” title. Václav Klaus, as a Prime Minister and later also as a President of the Czech Republic, repeatedly labelled Visegrad cooperation as an obsolete concept. Today, the situation is quite different. The Czech political elite’s revived interest in cooperation within the V4 format is clear, which is reflected in the support of the general pub. Overall it is visible that the trust towards close neighbours and old allies increased in the past years as it is indicated in Fig. 1, and as is also visible from the current polls, the sympathy towards the V4 group amongst Hungarians is quite high as this alliance enjoys the widest support from the population as it is indicated in Fig. 2.

5 The Visegrad Group After 2015 “In other words, the engine of the European economy will be the V4 countries” (Viktor Matis to Turkey, 2022). The first five years after the entrance of its member states into the EU, the V4 gave the impression of an exhausted community that would fulfil the optimistic forecasts (pro-Westernisation) or sceptical predictions (becoming geopolitically absorbed) on the dissolution or disappearance of the Central European region. Looking at the position of the Visegrad Group within the European Union it was regularly raised


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Move closer of move further to the following powers from the Hungarian point of view (in 2017 and 2022) China 2017 China 2022 Russia 2017 Russia 2022 EU 2017 EU 2022 V4 and neighbouring countries 2017 V4 and neighbouring countries 2022 Germany 2017 Germany 2022

further no data closer







Fig. 2 Source https://telex.hu/belfold/2022/06/08/oroszpartisag-nyugat-putyin-megitelese-kozvel emeny-kutatas-zavecz-research-kreko-peter

the question of whether there was a threat that the Visegrad Group might obstruct the European Union’s decision-making. In this regard, it is highly relevant whether the Group remains an entity with four member states or it opens up to absorb more states. The role of this cooperation also often comes into question. V4 supporters usually agree that the Group will remain a cohesive bloc at the EU level on some key issues such as energy and migration. On the question of their position within the European Union, it is clear that V4 countries are now being taken more seriously than they were previously. This is partly because of these states’ opposition to EU migration policy, an area where common EU policies have failed to deliver results. In part, this failure reflects the reluctance of member states, who are the main parties responsible for implementation. The first— then minor—break came with the 2015 migration wave. Although the V4 countries initially stood together against binding EU quotas—Hungary and Slovakia filed a joint case with the EU Court of Justice—their positions drifted apart over time. At the time, Bratislava and Prague were more flexible on the issue, whilst Warsaw and Budapest continued to stick to the original version. Aside from the restrictive approach to migration, the V4 became infamous for its controversial constitutional steps taken by governments in Budapest and Warsaw. These non-liberal tendencies have only strengthened the image of the Visegrad as a backward group of post-communist countries that are unable to integrate into a modern and multiculturally conceived Europe (Cabada & Waisová, 2018) As they mention the V4 is in a situation that is clearly dominated by the Germany-France duo and generally by the “Western” portion of the EU and is condemned to the role of the brake. This, however, can be a brake that can be destructive and subversive on one hand and a “healthy and constructive regulation” on the other.

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Although it could serve as good practise for Central Europe, however, it was also challenging how to find common interests between Poland that were preparing for the position of the “regional leader”, or “Nordic secondary power” or Hungary, whose frames of orientation were still the no longer existing boundaries of the Carpathian basin and was still fighting for its position against the West and opening its doors to the East (Kaczorowski, 2017; Neumann, 2014). “Four small (Central European–author’s note) countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia–author’s note) are linked to the Danube Region, whilst Poland is linked to the Baltic Region. These differences lead to dissimilarity in the perception of regional foreign policy interests. Poland is active in Belarus and Ukraine, countries which are remote to Slovenia. On the contrary, Poland and other V4 countries and Austria are much less engaged in Balkan affairs” (Cabada & Waisová, 2018). Stances on Russia amongst V4 states also differ, as the situation has become more intense after the Russian occupation of Crimea and in general after Russia’s involvement in the internal development of Ukrainian policy. “Contrary to Poland, the other three V4 countries have not been strongly active in formulating an EU position towards Russia. Furthermore, the top representatives of these countries have occasionally made statements that have cast doubt on their unified European position” (Kucharczyk & Mesežnikov, 2015). On several occasions, the necessity of this cooperation and its effectiveness has been questioned; leading politicians have put the success of the Group at risk by subordinating it to their personal ambitions. Nevertheless, these occasional common threats–along with shared goals, international events, and the obstacles of everyday operations–have also deepened the cooperation. The final mission, the Euro-Atlantic integration was fulfilled with the EU and NATO membership and it was seen as an ultimate sign of their Western orientation (Cabada & Waisová, 2018). Common interests of Central European countries are not a pure cliché. They are very real, and Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary are fully aware of that. This does not mean that the national interests of every V4 country necessarily correspond to the interests of the V4 as a whole; however, there are many areas of overlapping interests. An example from the recent past can serve as a good illustration: in the 1990s, when Slovakia was excluded from the group of countries included in the first wave of NATO enlargement as a result of inner political problems, its Visegrad neighbours tried their best to help Slovakia to gain NATO membership and join the European Union. The Euro-Atlantic integration was in the interest of both Slovakia and the V4 as a whole. V4 cooperation within the EU was already so effective before Viktor Orbán’s second term in office that in 2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy complained that the Visegrad countries were regularly consulting each other. But it was the refugee wave of 2015 that made the V4 really spectacular when they united against “illegal migration” (As it turned out from the polls, 2022). If the reaction to the embargo against Russia in 2014 divided the member states, the fear of increasing numbers of migrants helped to strengthen and deepen their cooperation. The anti-migrant sentiment thus united the Visegrad group of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. As regards the future of Visegrad cooperation and its relationship with the European Union, the growing tension between the strengthening of nation-states and deepening integration and the fragility of the


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Union itself could lead to further unpleasant incidents. The refugee crisis has led to a renaissance of the Visegrad Group as the threat of an increasing number of migrants from the south-east has required a coordinated reaction. The Hungarian prime minister was the first to argue for prioritising national interests, and this standpoint was soon taken up by the three member states. In January 2016, the states made a joint declaration concerning a common security policy, closer cooperation with Romania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, and the plan to stop the refugees at Greece’s borders (The text is accessible, 2022). A so-called line of defence was to be set up under this agreement. Andrzej Duda, the Polish president has also drawn attention to the increasing power of the Visegrad Group-based largely on the migration crisis. Moreover, Zeman and Duda have agreed on the importance of strengthening ties with northern and southern states in the CEE region. Notwithstanding this situation, the year 2015 saw important changes in the bilateral relations between Poland and Hungary when after eight years of governance, Poland’s Civic Platform party (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) lost the country’s presidential and the parliamentary elections; these were both claimed by the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawedliwo´sc´ , PiS) in October 2015. After an extended period of controversial relations between Poland and Hungary, the new governing party and Hungary’s FIDESZ have, thus, revived their friendship. Whilst the issue is critical, the Hungarian attitude to Russia remains almost the only point of conflict between the two party leaders. The landslide victory of Poland’s conservative PiS has allowed the new political elite in Warsaw to make changes at an unprecedented pace. Though Polish–Hungarian relations have reached a new peak after the change of the Polish government, both states have become and remain targets for the European Union. It would seem that the priorities of the V4 states have been closely determined by the internal and external challenges facing the European Union. It must, however, be pointed out that these priorities have been partly derived from the specific internal problems and geopolitical location of each V4 state. Amongst other things, the annexation of Crimea has called into question attitudes to Russia, and the region’s economic policy has been affected by the embargo on Russian products since August 2014. Visegrad Group members have accepted this restriction ambivalently given the effects on energy security: after all, all these states were dependent on gas supplies from Russia and a huge share of their export activity focussed on the Russian market. Regarding the future of the Visegrad cooperation and its relations with the European Union, the increasing support for nation-states and the fragility of the Union itself may still lead to unpleasant incidents. As the Hungarian ambassador to Italy, Péter Paczolay explained in February 2016 at the conference in Rome. The results of the Hungarian referendum that was held in October 2 (2016) are beyond the scope of this study, and thus, we need only note that participation in this referendum did not reach the expected threshold. Only 43% of the population took part. Nevertheless, the results showed that the majority (98%) of participants wished to stop these migrants at Hungary’s borders (Schmidt, 2016).

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6 Alternatives for Visegrad Cooperation From time to time there are internal and external approaches to reshape the nature of the cooperation, new allies, and enemies appear, and new forms of cooperation are initiated from outside the V4 Group, from the European Union, and beyond. There are also discussions about whether this cooperation can be enlarged by inviting new members, or instead of the existing V4 group, it is reasonable to speak about V2 + 2 or V + 1, especially when the discussions focus on the behaviour of one or two V4 members in the EU platforms.3 The Visegrad Group also served and is serving as a model for various regional arrangements within and beyond the European Union. It was argued how the cooperation could be maintained without having strict formalised regulations and rules, however, the Visegrad Group countries have since their own accession to the EU is one of the most active European actors advocating for further EU enlargement towards South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. The V4 countries provided them support on their path of European integration with the transfer of know-how based on the V4’s own successful experience with economic and political transformation, regional cooperation, and Euro-Atlantic integration (Juzová, 2019). The fact that the Visegrad 4 is slowly being replaced by Visegrad 2 + 2 has become clear in the debates on the rule of law. Whilst the Czech and Slovak governments–where a more Western-oriented government led by Petr Fiala and Eduard Heger has come to power in the meantime–have sought cooperation with Brussels, the Polish and Hungarian leaderships have opted for increasingly serious and open confrontation. In response to the attacks on democratic institutions, the European Commission launched Article 7 proceedings against Warsaw in 2017, and a year later the European Parliament did the same against Hungary. “The V4 is currently dominated by the Polish-Czech tandem, with the Czechs, who are preparing for the EU presidency, trying to take the lead. But Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala does not want the kind of V4 cooperation that Orban is defining” (As it was analysed, 2022). Of course, Orbán’s pro-Russian policy is not unknown to Poles, but the ruling PiS party they have tried to sweep it under the carpet and has sought a pragmatic relationship. The war in Ukraine, however, has brought to the surface differences between the Polish and Hungarian governments to a level that has led to open confrontations. The rift could widen further if Warsaw succeeds in gaining a better position within the European Union based on its stance against Russia and its willingness to compromise. If this happens, the Hungarian prime minister could lose his most important ally, both in Brussels and within the V4.


In 2020 winter time Poland and Hungary were treated as black sheep of the European Union in connection with their threatening to veto the new multiannual budget of the European Union, and since the mid 2010s Hungary and Poland also had to face one by one the negative responses from the EU institutions in connection with the Rule of Law, the freedom of speech, media, the independence of the legal institutions.


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The Russian invasion has completely upended not only EU policy, but also Polish-Hungarian and, with it, the V4 alliance. Whilst Viktor Orbán has proclaimed “strategic calm” and stressed in every forum that Hungary (2022) must stay out of the war. Warsaw is taking one of the toughest stances against Moscow not only at home but also on the international stage.

7 Slavkov Triangle In 2015 in the baroque castle of Slavkov in Moravia–where France and Austria signed the armistice of the Battle of Austerlitz in December 1805, which led to Napoleon’s brilliant victory–the members of the so-called Slavkov Triangle met again two years after their formation. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and new Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern discussed cross-border cooperation, the joint development of the three countries’ road and rail networks, common education, and labour policies, and the rapprochement of old and new Europe (Slavkov, 2015). For those who do not remember, in 2015, during the Ukrainian crisis, the traditional Polish-Hungarian diplomatic friendship also faded. Budapest, in a diplomatically incomprehensible way, started talking about the need for Hungarian autonomy in Ukraine when the Russians invaded Crimea and armed fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine. The Polish-Hungarian estrangement was crowned by President Putin’s visit to Budapest in February 2015. From a “Polish perspective”, one might ask: why did the Slavkov group not reckon in 2015 with a Hungary that was in favour of lifting sanctions? Was Budapest even invited to join the group? The Czech Republic and Slovakia as a whole would have preferred to be associated with an openly pro-Putin regime as little as possible. Bratislava and Prague did not want to identify with the far-right public discourse in Budapest (and Warsaw) and the toxic atmosphere in Visegrad over the refugee crisis. Visegrad was created to prevent the developments we are witnessing today. The return to Europe was, after all, the dominant slogan at the time. However, the slogan alone was far from enough; the reality was complex and the future difficult to predict. The Warsaw Pact was on the verge of being dissolved, the European Community was looking for the next integration leap in the form of the later Maastricht Treaty, which only just established the European Union as we know it today. After the September 2016 V4 meeting in Bratislava the Czechs and Slovaks were observed to have moved away from the Hungarian-Polish nationalist-populist axis and the 2 + 2 norm within the V4 was perpetuated: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Czechs and Slovaks support deeper integration of the EU Prague says Hungarian and Polish society deeply divided Opinions on Russia remain divided V4 lacks a common positive message to the outside world

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The responses to recent events from Prague and Bratislava are not likely to surprise Orban. Although all members of the Visegrad Group share certain outlooks—none is especially enthusiastic about climate action or LBGTQ rights—both the Czech Republic and Slovakia are now led by governments that have pledged to reassert a Western orientation. This shift had already essentially turned the club into the Visegrad 2 + 2 with the group limping on by simply avoiding its many points of disagreement. However, a split with Poland over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could leave Orban on shaky ground. For years, Hungary and Poland have supported each other in confrontations with the EU over democratic standards and the rule of law. But Warsaw’s position towards Moscow threatens that arrangement. “My assessment is unequivocally negative”, as Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s deputy prime minister, and de facto leader, said in spring, 2022. “When Prime Minister Orban says that he cannot see clearly what has happened in Bucha, then he should be advised to go and see an eye doctor. We cannot continue to cooperate as we have so far if it continues like this” (Gosling, 2022). Hungarian officials have also expressed anger. “Poland cannot blackmail us. We will not let them back us into a corner”, Zoltan Kovacs, Orban’s spokesperson, told Foreign Policy, (2022) before insisting that the pair’s mutual support regarding “the EU’s political witch hunt will not change”. Regardless of any deal that Kaczynski reaches with the EU—and some politicians argue it would be a misstep for the bloc to give his violations a pass—it seems that the conflict in Ukraine has dulled the Visegrad Group’s potential as a launch pad for an illiberal force capable of undermining the European Union. But this is not likely to quash Orban’s dream of an international populist alliance. He may turn his attention towards EU accession candidates in the Western Balkans, which already receive Hungarian investment (Ukrinform, 2022). On the other hand, Orbán may harbour hope that the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which will leave neighbouring countries hosting large numbers of refugees as their economies suffer, could eventually revive the populist tide.

8 Tensions Within the Visegrad Group “Cooperation between the Visegrad countries is the closest and most effective within the EU, and has become a global brand”, boasted Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó in 2017 (Király, 2017). In comparison, today there are hostile statements, ministerial meetings are cancelled, and even Magyar Nemzet, which is hardly critical of the government, says that cooperation has “collapsed”. Viktor Orbán said meanwhile that the Czech-Polish-Hungarian-Slovak intergovernmental cooperation was established “so that we can jointly represent Central European interests in EU debates, whether on economic or values issues”. The V4 has always been challenged by the fact that the four countries have different views on Eastern policy. But the V4 is not a geopolitical organisation, nor was it


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created for that purpose, but to be able to represent the interests of Central Europe together in disputes within the EU, whether economic or on issues of values. The V4 will continue to fulfil this original mission well in the future, and there is no difference of opinion on this point (Csermely, 2022). The 2015 refugee wave masked the differences because all four governments thought the same way. Even in the growing debate on the rule of law, they were initially on roughly the same side, because although they belonged to four different party families, the (still) People’s Party Hungarian, the Eurosceptic Polish, the liberal Czech, and the socialist Slovak governments were all criticised. The V4 members also had to face various challenges. Concerning the future of European integration, the expectations of the Visegrad Group member states are quite diverse and fragmented. Whilst the Poles and the Czechs foresee more differentiated integration, the Hungarians believe that the larger member states will dominate increasingly and that the Slovaks, the only Eurozone country in the group, anticipate a reinforcement of the Euro area. But in the last two years, disillusioned Czech and Slovakian voters have thrown their populist leaders out of office. The centrists that replaced them have made clear their commitment to the EU and NATO, as well as their doubts about Orbán. Late last month, one of Orbán’s closest regional allies, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, lost elections in a surprise victory for the Freedom Movement, a green party founded last year. “Orban now sees his allies losing power”, said Milan Nic, an expert on the region at the German Council on Foreign Relations (Gosling, 2022). The Visegrad Group has long held divergent views towards Moscow. Although Orban is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the EU, Poland’s Law and Justice party government is one of Europe’s most hawkish on Russia. For years, the Visegrad Group put these differences aside, but the invasion of Ukraine sparked a rampage. The conflict has revealed the links between Russia’s support for populism and its own imperial ambitions. “Putin has been supporting right-wing populists in Europe for years”, said Daniel Freund, a German member of the European Parliament. “Now that he’s sending tanks and troops, many realise what we have been calling the “crisis of democracy” is part of the Kremlin’s aggression” (Gosling, 2022). The Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia are now front and centre in efforts to help Ukraine. All three countries are sending heavy weapons to Kyiv, and Poland is the main player pushing for an EU embargo on Russian energy. Meanwhile, Hungary has held up EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas and refuses to allow weapons bound for Ukraine to transit through its borders. The response from its regional peers has been furious. In late March, the trio forced the cancellation of a Visegrad Group defence ministers’ meeting in Budapest, Hungary. “I have always supported the V4, and I am very sorry that Hungarian politicians now find cheap Russian oil more important than Ukrainian blood”, Czech Defence Minister Jana Cernochova tweeted at the time (Kszysztoszek et al., 2022). After all, the Visegrad Group is undermined by the fact that it excludes Germany, Central Europe’s economic and political powerhouse. “The V4 has never meant much. But the region will now turn even more to Germany, which is the prime

Visegrad Group–Real Entity or Mirage


partner for all”, a Czech government source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Foreign Policy. Others have noted that alternative formats for regional cooperation are growing stronger, such as the Slavkov Declaration (Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) or the Three Seas Initiative a U.S.-backed group of 12 Central and Eastern European states that aims to improve regional infrastructure.4 In 2020–2021, however, parties with anti-corruption agendas took power in the latter two countries. They were increasingly burdened by the illiberal image associated with the V4 and the brand that the Hungarian government in particular tried to build on the V4. “Hungary and Poland are now in a serious dispute with the rest of the EU, whilst the Czech Republic and Slovakia are not playing the same game”. — said Czech EU Affairs Minister Mikuláš Bek in early January (Politico, 2022). The governments of the two countries also disagreed with the Polish-Hungarian EU budget veto over the rule of law mechanism at the end of 2020. The Slovaks also objected in late 2020 when Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga launched a legal comparison network under the V4 name. Her Slovak counterpart Mária Kolíková was “shocked” by the initiative, which offered a “Central European” perspective on the rule of law. “As if it should be different from the EU’s”, she said of the idea, which she said misused the V4 brand. (It was not the first Hungarian initiative packaged as a V4 initiative, the V4NA news agency was launched in 2019.) Meanwhile, the government in Prague has been embroiled in a dispute with the Warsaw leadership over the border coal mine in Turów, which was finally settled in February 2022 (Reuters, 2022). The conflict between the two countries sourced the relationship between Poland and the Czech Republic. Whilst the former populist Czech government led by Andrej Babiš was a friendly ally for Warsaw, the centreright Petr Fiala is following a more distant strategy.5 The Turów problem describes the internal problems of Poland’s energy sector that are coming under severe pressure after putting off for decades reforms that would reduce the country’s reliance on coal and lignite. The reforms in the Polish energy sectors are needed, however, the war in Ukraine also gave an impulse in favour of the emphasis on the use of renewal energy. However, the question of the specific interpretation of the rule of law has already been at the centre of attention in both countries in the summer of 2020, and it is this intention that has led them to establish a governmental institution called the “V4 Institute for Comparative Law”. The Ferenc Mádl Institute for Comparative Law, established in 2019, was designated to coordinate the joint institute, which would be accompanied by the V4 + Professors’ Network and the V4 + Junior Programme


Fore more see Chap. 13 of this volume. Poland is in a bind over Turów. The CJEU-imposed fine has already climbed over e50 million, but there’s no real chance Poland will turn the lights off at the mine, which feeds lignite to the nearby power plant, an important element of the country’s power supply system. https://www.politico.eu/ article/poland-digs-in-over-mine-spat-with-eu/. Accessed June 14, 2022. 5


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for young Ph.D. students. The Hungarian government has also earmarked generous state funding for this (Magyark Kozlony, 2022). The original idea was to open up the Institute to all countries outside Central Europe, to all those who perceived unfair treatment by the EU in the interpretation of the law. They wanted to set it up under the Visegrad umbrella, but Slovakia was strongly opposed. Their foreign minister saw the creation of an institution to provide an alternative approach to the rule of law as nonsense in principle, and their justice minister interpreted it as an act of violence against the V4 alliance. The Polish foreign minister saw the institute as a testing ground for “EU debate and transparency”, whilst the Polish opposition compared the Polish-Hungarian debate on the rule of law to a case of two cannibals discussing the treatment of their prisoners. The V4 members also had to face various challenges over these three decades. Up until now, the expectations of the Visegrad Group member states are quite diverse and fragmented in various issues, even concerning the future of European integration. Whilst the Poles and the Czechs foresee more differentiated integration, the Hungarians believe that the larger member states will dominate increasingly and the Slovaks, the only Eurozone country in the group, anticipate a reinforcement of the Euro area. From time to time, internal and external circumstances try to reshape the nature of the cooperation, new allies, and enemies appear, new forms of cooperation are initiated from outside the V4 Group–from the European Union, and beyond. As it happened in the past decades, nowadays there are also discussions about whether this cooperation can be enlarged by inviting new members, or—instead of the cohesion of V4 group—it is reasonable to speak about V2 + 2 or V3 + 1, especially when the discussions focus on the standpoint of one or two V4 members (in the past years Hungary’s and Poland’s behaviour was criticised) in the EU platforms.6 Today the international milieu is substantially different, given the American military presence, the existence of NATO and the EU, and the fact that Germany is now an allied democracy. Russian challenge, however, remains a factor in the region. The Visegrad Group member states are members of both the EU and NATO, and in particular, Poland has a different responsibility towards its Eastern borderland. Three of the member states share a common border with Ukraine, except the Czech Republic, thus neighbourhood policy and the stability and security at the borderland is a key issues in the V4 cooperation. Being far the largest member state of the Visegrad Group, Poland also acts as a regional leader in the Central and Eastern European region. The National Security Strategy of Poland issued in 2020 pays attention to the bilateral, regional, and global cooperation to strengthen Poland’s position in the international security system. Whilst Poland is treated as a buffer zone between Russia and the European Union, particularly because it intends to act as a bridge between Ukraine and the European Union, and as a potential intermediator between Russia and the European Union, 6

In the 2020 winter time, Poland and Hungary were treated as “black sheep” of the European Union in connection with their threat to veto the new multiannual budget of the European Union, and since the mid2010s, the two countries met with severe criticism from the EU institutions in connection with the rule of law, the freedom of speech, media, or the independence of the legal institutions.

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Hungary rather performs as Russia’s and China’s Trojan horse.7 Hungary rather focuses on the West Balkan region and since 2018 holds an observer status in the Turkic Council (2020) or the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States. Moreover, in 2019, the Hungarian Government opened the Council’s European office in Budapest. In November, 2021, Hungary proposed a joint summit with the at the highest level in Budapest to be held in the first half of 2022.8 Instead of a political and economic vacuum, cooperation could serve as a natural solution already at the beginning of the 1990s. Since the early 2000s, when the V4 countries became NATO and EU members, they had to face new challenges resulting from the Eastern neighbourhood. Whilst the Visegrad Group served as a flagship project in transforming Central and Eastern Europe, the founding members reached their aim by 2007 when all the four countries became members of the European Union and NATO. The threat of economic and security vacuum thus seemed to disappear. However, after the war in Georgia in 2008 and the financial and economic crisis in 2008/2009, together with the multiply crisis in the European Union, reopened new discussions amongst the member states. Poland had the ambition to act as an intermediator between the European Union and the Soviet successor states, whilst Russian politicians had growing ambitions that could be recognised in the intervention in the war in Georgia and the intention to get back the power of control of newly independent states. This Russian effort was reminiscent of historical times just in Poland’s unstable neighbourhood. The field of interest beyond the borders of the European Union can be recognised in its attitude towards the Caucasus, i.e. the concept of Eastern Partnership that was also initiated by Poland together with Sweden, as a part of the European Union’s global strategy and neighbourhood policy.9 The quintessence of this cooperation was the perception that “this is more than a friendly support, or a partner-based cooperation, as it is a familiar support”, as Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs declared. Cooperation with the Eastern Partnership is an obvious choice both for Poland and the Visegrad Group since three of the four Visegrad member states share borders with Ukraine, and the event of the Orange Revolution, the period of Ukrainian political instability, created new threats along eastern borders. These are also the eastern borders of the European Union, which has led to a greater focus on the security question. 7

It can be seen, e.g. in the nonconformist Hungarian vaccine diplomacy that was against the European Union’s practice, the Paks II Nuclear Power Plant investment with the help of Rosatom, or the fact that the International Investment Bank is located in Budapest and the employees received diplomatic status. As for China, Hungary’s positive attitude towards this country is recognised, e.g. in the construction of the Budapest–Belgrade railroad financed by Chinese loan and the planned campus of the Shanghai-based Fudan University in Budapest that is opposed by the majority of the Hungarian citizens (Panyi, 2021). 8 Hungary Proposes the Joint Summit of the Turkic Council and the V4, 2021. November 15. http://www.turkkon.hu/EN/2021/11/15/hungary-proposes-the-joint-summit-of-the-turkic-cou ncil-and-the-v4/. Accessed November 19, 2021. 9 The Eastern Partnership, between resilience and interference. (2021, Mach 29). https://www. robert-schuman.eu/en/european-issues/0589-the-eastern-partnership-between-resilience-and-int erference Accessed November 18, 2021.


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9 Pandemic and Ukraine War In recent years, especially with the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the idea of a Europe without borders has also been called into question. The Visegrad Group tried to find an adequate answer to the economic, social, political, and health crises caused by the pandemic, however, there were different routes how to handle this issue.10 According to the Fitch Ratings, the region managed to handle the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and by the turn of 2021 and 2022 foreseen a positive future for 2022. That was interrupted by the War in Ukraine (FitchRatings, 2021). The tension over the conflict in Ukraine has led some analysts and politicians to suggest the alliance has run its course. According to some political analysts, representatives of other V4 countries will tend to distance themselves from the political leadership of Hungary or will prefer to cooperate in different spheres (The Slovak Spectator, 2022). The ambition to become an alternative “core” or motor for the EU was thus overshadowed by the image of a problematic group that is capable of powerfully and also relatively effectively destroying (in a temporary sense) the efforts for an EU-wide solution (i.e. a one-sided solution that was mostly forced by member states) to the wave of migration. From a medium-range perspective, however, such behaviour has blocked the path to introducing agenda and dealing with other policies. The aim to modify various European policies or promote its own priorities–of which energy policy has seemed in the past and present to be crucial, as well as policies concerning further EU enlargement and the EU’s relationship towards Eastern neighbours located between the present EU and Russia–has thus been degraded. This includes the risk that rational V4 propositions will be refused due to the fact that they are being promoted by countries that are seen as problematic by the European mainstream. Whilst the V4 as “laggards” whilst the countries of Central Europe see themselves as “pioneers”. Or, as the BBC correspondent warned in 2018, as the UK exits the EU it leaves behind a gaping hole–not just in the EU budget–but also in terms of the balance of power. It is not clear yet who will fill the vacuum, the federalist, the pragmatist, or more nationalist-minded governments (Adler, 2018).


Despite the fact that the member states focused on cooperation regarding the easing of border crossing, they could not work out a common vaccine policy partly because of the unilateral Hungarian openness towards the „Eastern vaccines” from China and Russia. Although the Slovakian formal Prime Minister was also in favour of the acquisition of the Sputnik V Russian vaccine, it generated a government crisis and the abdication of the Prime Minister. Poland does not recognise neither the Russian and Chinese vaccine nor the Hungarian „Immunity Card” which can hamper the traffic between Poland and Hungary.

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10 Conclusions The Visegrad Group is in a unique position in the eastern part of the European Union. This cooperation is based on a long friendship that goes back almost six centuries. Over the past three decades, this cooperation has experienced booms and crises. The legacy of this cooperation has often been questioned both inside and outside the European Union. The territory of the V4 member states has repeatedly been the dividing line between East and West, South and North, and has been (and still is) a playground for great powers in past centuries and today. It is a unique construct because, in the absence of formalised rules and regulations, it is crucial to maintain a spirit of negotiation. Perhaps this specific element can serve as a pledge for peaceful and successful coexistence, as Géza Jeszenszky, formally Hungarian Foreign Minister, once mentioned in a speech dedicated to the 25th anniversary of cooperation.11 As this paper has shown, the Visegrad Group can and has shared its experience and can be a good example for the countries in the eastern and southern neighbourhood to learn how to establish such cooperation, how to find the main goals, and how to achieve them, not only with the help of the great powers but also by relying on their own capabilities. The goals have changed several times over the past three decades, as the original goal of Euro-Atlantic integration has been achieved for all three (or four since 1993) countries. The financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent economic crisis of 2009 affected all four countries, and the EU’s smaller and larger crises have also affected the region. The otherwise loose alliance was forged again during the refugee crisis of 2015 when they showed a kind of counter-pole, inescapable unity within the European Union by their strong joint action. The key to the alliance’s survival, according to some analysts, lies precisely in the fact that, apart from the creation of the International Visegrad Fund, there is no close institutional network linking the members. There are no written rules, but there are common interests, cooperation, and trust. This loose, but at times tightly cohesive group has served as an example for other forms of cooperation that have been established, whilst at the same time showing inescapable unity within the European Union, and has on several occasions tried to outline alternative models for its members. The Visegrad Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021 when the three decades of cooperation were remembered with nostalgia everywhere. This alliance, which could also be interpreted as a “planned marriage”, strategic cooperation, suffered an unforeseen accident in the early hours of February 24, 2022. The war in neighbouring Ukraine completely redistributed the roles, with the Czech Republic, which occasionally looked outside the alliance, Slovakia, which was more westwardlooking, and Poland and Hungary, which had enjoyed centuries of friendship, now playing different roles. The question remains to be answered whether Visegrad cooperation is in fact a marriage of convenience born of geopolitical considerations, a strategic alliance, or the continuation of dreams from three decades ago. 11

This event was held in Pécs, Hungary, organised by the University of Pécs.


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References According to the data from 2020 the total GDP of the four states is between Spain’s and Mexico’s data, where Spain is the 15th, while Mexico is the 16th largest GDP. https://tradingeconomics. com/country-list/gdp?continent=g20. Accessed May 16, 2022. Adler, K. (2018, January 30). Visegrad: The clash of the euro visions. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/ news/world-europe-42868599 Accessed June 14, 2022. [1] This event was held in Pécs, Hungary, organised by the University of Pécs. Among others this was the core of his arguments when it was asked whether Hungary as willing to deploy NATO troops (lately agreed). More bout this in: https://insighthungary.444.hu/2022/03/ 10/nato-troops-in-hungary-opposition-protests-against-public-media-madame-president-and400-hufeur. Accessed April 14, 2022. As Ash points out, in the first half of the twentieth century, the debate about who did or did not belong to Central Europe had real political significance, much like it does today. Being ‘Central European’ in contemporary political usage means to be civilised, democratic, and cooperative— and therefore to have a better chance of joining NATO and the EU. The argument threatens to become circular: NATO and the EU welcome ‘Central Europeans’ so ‘Central Europeans’ are those welcomed by NATO and the EU. Ash, T.G. (1999). The puzzle of Central Europe http:// www.visegradgroup.eu/the-visegrad-book/ash-timothy-garton-does. Accessed May 20, 2022. As it turned out from the polls. https://euobserver.com/news/28928. Accessed April 17, 2022. As it was analysed in: https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/05/10/ukraine-conflict-visegrad-grouporban-hungary-illiberal/. Accessed June 12, 2022. Ash, T. G. (1999). The puzzle of Central Europe. http://www.visegradgroup.eu/the-visegrad-book/ ash-timothy-garton-does. Accessed May 20, 2022. Bialasiewicz, L., & O’Loughlin, J. (1999). Reordering Europe’s eastern frontier: Galician identities and political cartographies on the Polish-Ukrainian border. Boulder: University of Colorado. Cabada, L., & Waisová, Š. (2018). The Visegrad Group as an ambitious actor of (Central-) European foreign and security policy. Politics in Central Europe, 14(2), 9–20. https://doi.org/10.2478/pce2018-0006. Csermely, P. (2022, April 2). Háború vagy béke. Magyar Nemzet. Czy˙zewski, K. (2012). Reinventing Central Europe. In L. Donskis (Ed.), Yet another Europe after 1984: Rethinking Milan Kundera and the idea of Central Europe. Amsterdam - New York: Rodopi. Declaration of Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic, May 12, 2004. https://www.visegradgroup.eu/calendar/2016/ joint-declaration-of. Accessed April 13, 2022. Denni, K. (2009). Central Europe as a transition zone between West and East. Traditiones, 38(2), 59–71. https://doi.org/10.3986/Traditio2009380205. Dobson, W. (1991). Economic policy coordination: Requiem or prologue? Washington: Peterson Inst for Intl Economics. Drabek, Z. (1997). Regional and sub-regional Orbán in Central and Eastern Europe: An overview. Regionalism and the global economy: The case of Central and Eastern Europe. Fondad: The Hague. www.fondad.org. FitchRatings. (2021, April 13). Visegrad 4 Economies Appear Resilient to Covid-19 Third Waves. https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/visegrad-4-economies-appearresilient-to-covid-19-third-waves-13-04-2021 Accessed June 7, 2022. GLOBSEC summit (2013, April 19). From the formal Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miroslav Lajˇcák’s speech. https://www.euractiv.pl/section/all/news/globsec-visegrad-makes-usstronger-said-lajcak/. Accessed May 21, 2022. Gosling, T. (2022, May 10). The war in Ukraine undermines Orban’s illiberal project. Foreign Policy. Gyárfášová & Mesežnikov. (2021). Visegrad four as viewed by the public: Past experience and future challenges. Bratislava: Inštitút pre verejné otázky.

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Haas, E. B. (1971). The United Nations and Regionalism. International Relations, 3(10), 795–815. https://doi.org/10.1177/004711787100301006. Juzová, J. (2019). Visegrad in the western Balkans: Losing grounds? Policy Brief , January. Kaczorowski, A. (2017). Farewell to Central Europe. https://www.aspen.review/article/2017/far ewell-to-central-europe/. Accessed November 10, 2021. Kaplan, R. (2012). The revenge of geography. New York: Random House. Király, A. (2017, June 25). Szijjártó: Világszerte brand lett a visegrádi együttm˝uködés, 444. https://444.hu/2017/06/25/szijjarto-vilagszerte-brand-lett-a-visegradi-egyuttmukodes. Accessed June 12, 2022. Kornai, J. (2005). Közép-és Kelet-Európa átalakulása, siker és csalódás. Közgazdasági Szemle, LII. Közép Európa. Felejtsük el? 2000 folyóirat, 2014/12. http://ketezer.hu/2015/05/kozep-europa-fel ejtsuk-el-5/. Accessed May 12, 2022. Kszysztoszek, A. et al. (2022, March 29). V4 meeting cancelled over Hungary’s Ukraine policy. Euroative https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/v4-meeting-cancelled-over-hun garys-ukraine-policy/ Accessed June 12, 2022. Kucharczyk, & Mesežnikov. (Eds.). (2015). Diverging voices, converging policies: The Visegrad states’ reactions to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. Kundera, M. (1984). The tragedy of Central Europe. New York Review of Books, 31(7). http:// www.kx.hu/kepek/ises/anyagok/Kundera_tragedy_of_Central_Europe.pdf. Accessed January 15, 2022. Lengyel, L. (2006). Illeszkedés vagy kiválás? Budapest: Osiris. Lengyel, L., & Surányi, Gy. (2013). Határátkelés - Beszélget˝okönyv, Budapest: Pesti Kalligram. Neumann, I. (2014). Közép-Európa, felejtsük el? (2014) 2000, 10. http://ketezer.hu/2015/02/kozepeuropa-felejtsuk-el-3/. Accessed April 18, 2022. Our future: Visegrad 2025. https://visegradinsight.eu/our-future-visegrad-2025/ Panyi, S. (2021). Hungary could turn into China’s Trojan horse in Europe. Balkan Insight. https://bal kaninsight.com/2021/04/09/hungary-could-turn-into-chinas-trojan-horse-in-europe/. Accessed November 20, 2021. Sadecki, A. (2014). In a state of necessity, how has Orban changed Hungary. Warsaw: Center for International Studies. Schmidt, A. (2016). Friends forever? The role of the Visegrad Group and European integration. Politics in Central Europe, 12(3), 113–140. https://doi.org/10.1515/pce-2016-0019. Schmidt, A. (2020). From intermarium to the Three Seas Initiative—The implications of the Polish orientation over the Central and Eastern European region on Hungarian foreign policy. In O. Bogdanova, & A. Makarychev (Eds.), Baltic-Black Sea regionalisms. Cham: Springer. Schmidt, A. (2021). A lengyel vétó. Ellensúly, 1–2 Slavkov Triangle threatens to isolate Hungary from its European allies, March 20, 2015. https:// budapestbeacon.com/slavkovtriangle-threatens-to-isolate-hungary-from-its-european-allies/ Accessed June 10, 2022. Snyder, T. (2019). A szabadság felszámolása (The Road to Unfreedom). 21. Század Kiadó. Szent-Iványi, I. (2020). Metamorphosis visegradiensis: The transformations of the Visegrad Group. In D. Mikecz (Ed.), The future of the liberal Visegrad project, ELF. The referendum was held on October 2, 2016. About the results see: https://www.valasztas.hu/20. Accessed April 23, 2022. The Slovak Spectator. (2022, April 7). Orbán wins re-election, but faces isolation within the region https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22879619/orban-wins-re-election-but-faces-isolation-wit hin-the-region.html. Accessed June 14, 2022. The text is accessible: https://www.visegradgroup.eu/calendar/2016/joint-declaration-of. Accessed April 13, 2022. These were the words of the Hungarian ambassador, Viktor Matis to Turkey. https://www.aa.com. tr/en/europe/visegrad-group-to-be-engine-of-european-economy-hungarian-envoy/2504291. Accessed June 7, 2022.


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Wallerstein, I. (1983). A modern világgazdasági rendszer kialakulása. A t˝okés mez˝ogazdaság és az európai világgazdaság eredete a XVI. században. Budapest: Gondolat.

Online Sources https://444.hu/2017/06/25/szijjarto-vilagszerte-brand-lett-a-visegradi-egyuttmukodes. Accessed June 12, 2022. https://magyarkozlony.hu/dokumentumok/b3b43e11e55803b6b43a660017c0582556f77062/meg tekintes. Accessed June 12, 2022. https://magyarnemzet.hu/belfold/2022/04/haboru-vagy-beke. Accessed June 14, 2022. https://spectator.sme.sk/c/22879619/orban-wins-re-election-but-faces-isolation-within-the-region. html. Accessed June 14, 2022. https://telex.hu/belfold/2022/06/08/oroszpartisag-nyugat-putyin-megitelese-kozvelemeny-kutataszavecz-research-kreko-peter. Accessed June 21, 2022. https://www.economist.com/europe/2016/01/28/big-bad-visegrad. Accessed April 12, 2021. https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/v4-meeting-cancelled-over-hungarys-ukr aine-policy/. Accessed June 12, 2022. https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/visegrad-4-economies-appear-resilient-tocovid-19-third-waves-13-04-2021. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://www.politico.eu/article/central-europe-divided-visegrad-v4-alliance/. Accessed May 14, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/czech-polish-leaders-reach-deal-end-turow-mine-dispute2022-02-03/. Accessed June 14, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3511194-hungary-to-support-eu-candidate-status-forukraine.html. Accessed June 21, 2023.

Andrea Schmidt, Ph.D., Habil., an associate professor at the University of Pécs, Hungary, Department of Political Science and International Studies and former visiting lecturer at the Josai International University, Tokyo (Japan), and at Ivan Franko National University in L’viv (Ukraine). She is the member of the scientific board of joint MA program Europe from the Visegrad Perspective. She is author of several articles and book chapters related to Central and Eastern European and post-Soviet region.

Three Seas Initiative Ryszard Zi˛eba

Abstract Central European integration is a recurring theme in Polish foreign and security policy. The most recent manifestation of it is the Three Seas Initiative, which Poland has been applying for since 2015. This initiative draws on previous attempts to organize cooperation between the countries located between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas (Intermarium), under the leadership of Poland, and is an expression of Poland’s desire to become the power it once had in its distant history. In practice, the TSI is limited to cooperation in building of the infrastructure of 12 countries located on the eastern periphery of the European Union. The author discusses the origins, essence, and program of the TSI, and its expected international functions, as well as obstacles in its functioning and development. Keywords Three Seas Initiative · Intermarium · Poland · UE eastern peripheries

1 Origins In conducting foreign policy, Polish right-wing governments have mostly found it difficult to maintain good relations with Poland’s two largest neighbors—Russia to the east and Germany to the west. They also struggle to come to terms with Poland’s role as a medium-rank state in the modern and increasingly interdependent world. Concepts from the past keep surfacing in the thinking of right-wing politicians: ideas which give pride of place to notions like full sovereignty and which place Poland in the role of a Central European leader, or even a regional power. Polish political thought has held onto the memory of the old Commonwealth’s greatness and of its ‘golden century’ (the sixteenth), when the power and influence of This chapter is an updated version of Chap. 7 on the title “Make Poland Great Again”: The Meanders of the Three Seas Initiative from my book Poland’s Foreign and Security Policy: Problems of Compatibility with the Changing International Order, Springer, Cham 2020, pp. 201–215. R. Zi˛eba (B) University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_13



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the Polish-Lithuanian state stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and when the Jagiellonian dynasty sat on the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary (Comp. Orzelska & Kowal, 2019). Beginning in the second half of the seventeenth century, the power and influence of the Commonwealth of Both Nations, and its territorial extent, gradually decreased. In the end, this process led to the disappearance of the Commonwealth in 1795 after it had been partitioned by its three neighbors—Prussia, Russia, and Austria. During the partition period, Polish intellectual elites and pro-independence activists dreamt of rebuilding the state within its pre-partition borders. But the eastern regions of the former Commonwealth were inhabited by peoples of a non-Polish ethnicity, notably by Lithuanians and Ruthenians (Ukrainians), who sought to establish their own states. When Poland was restored after the First World War, Polish politicians adhered to one of two fundamental ideas with regard to their eastern neighbors. The first was held by Poland’s socialist chief-of-state, Józef Piłsudski, and called for the formation of a federation of nations, among which Poland would have the leading role. The second was advocated by the leader of the National Democratic Party, Roman Dmowski, and was incorporative. It entailed the creation of a strong Polish state on lands where Poles were a majority (Balcerak, 1970, pp. 32–39; Fary´s, 1981; Snyder, 2003, pp. 58–60). The federation concept infused Polish political thinking during the interwar period. Initially, Piłsudski imagined the creation of a Polish–Lithuanian–Belarusian– Ukrainian federation, with the possibility of admitting Latvia and Estonia, and even Finland (Dziewanowski, 1969). The project was fundamentally harmed during the process of settling the borders of the newly established Polish state. In the autumn of 1918, armed conflict broke out between Poland and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic over Lwów (Lviv) and Eastern Galicia and lasted until the spring of 1919. Further to the north, the Poles’ occupation of Vilnius in April 1919 ultimately scuttled the idea. After the collapse of the federation idea, in the years 1921–1926 Poland tried to implement another concept of regional cooperation in the area between the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic. This was the idea of the “Intermarium” (Izdebski, 1999; Okulewicz, 2001), which was accompanied by the concept of Prometheanism, consisted in supporting secessionist movements on the territory of Russia and the USSR (Cieplucha, 2014; Kornat, 2012; Mikulicz, 1971). Numerous territorial issues with Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and the USSR stood in the way, however. Only with Latvia and Romania did Poland not have border disputes. Hungary’s border disputes with Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) greatly undermined the idea. In the 1930s, Poland was set on closer cooperation with Romania and Hungary, but such collaboration became practically impossible not only due to the Hungarian–Romanian conflict over Transylvania but also because of Nazi Germany’s expansion to the southeast, in pursuit of the idea of Mitteleuropa. The Polish concept of Intermarium was also not favored by France, which had created a system of alliances (with Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania) allowing it to control the situation in Central Europe. Great Britain did not take any special interest in the region and in the 1930s, when Berlin moved openly to a policy of territorial expansion, its policy was one of appeasement.

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To summarize, it can generally be said that the Polish federation and Intermarium concepts were unrealistic because of the numerous territorial disputes, the tense relations, and the diverging geopolitical concepts current among the countries lying between the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic. These countries had their own views of what constituted a threat to their security and as they did not believe they could obtain credible security guarantees through regional arrangements, they sought cooperation and alliances with powers from beyond the region, especially France and Great Britain, but also Germany and the USSR. During the Second World War as well, the London-based governments-in-exile of Poland and Czechoslovakia held talks about creating a Central European federation after the war. A declaration on the two countries’ intent to form a close union was even signed on November 11, 1940, as was an agreement to establish a confederation between the two, on January 19, 1942. However, these efforts fell through given the two governments’ different views about Soviet policies, and because of the pressure the USSR exerted on the Czechoslovak government (Duraczy´nski, 1997; Kisielewski, 1991). In April 1943, Moscow broke off diplomatic relations with the Polish government-in-exile, and the Czechoslovak government signed, on December 12, 1943, a treaty of alliance, friendship, mutual assistance, and postwar cooperation with the USSR. Polish and Czechoslovak politicians tried to revive the idea of a Central European federation at the beginning of the Cold War, after an alliance agreement between their countries was signed in March 1947. Similarly, Josip Broz Tito and Georgi Dimitrov, the communist leaders of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, respectively, were working toward the creation of a Balkan federation. This undertaking came to an end at the beginning of 1948, however, when the USSR intervened through party channels and brought about the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the emerging Eastern Bloc. In the successive decades of the Cold War division of Europe, there was no room for Central European governments to attempt a return to the idea of a regional federation. The idea of Central Europe could still be discerned in certain initiatives of the Polish People’s Republic: for instance, the well-known plans for partial arms limitation in that part of Europe, laying at the junction of the cleavage lines in Europe; or even in a broader regional context, such as the Rapacki plan of 1957 in the matter of establishing a nuclear-free zone on the territory of Poland, both German states (the FRG and GDR), and Czechoslovakia; Gomułka’s 1963 plan calling for an armaments freeze in the same area; or Jaruzelski’s plan in 1987 to reduce arms and increase confidence in Central Europe (expanded to include Hungary, Denmark, and the Benelux countries) (Zi˛eba, 1988, pp. 48–49). The proposals emerging in 1979 from the opposition groups of the Young Poland Movement (RMP) and the Confederation of Independent Poland (KPN) made direct reference to the idea of a Central European federation (Ištok et al., 2018, p. 16; Sienkiewicz, 2016, p. 140). After the collapse of real socialism in Poland and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the idea of organizing regional cooperation, especially between the states lying along the former dividing line in Europe, was revived. In the years 1989–1993, a whole array of small formalized subregional groups arose, such as the Quadragonale (renamed the Pentagonale, and then the Hexagonale, after successive


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expansions, ultimately to become the Central European Initiative—CEI—in 1992); the Baltic Council in 1990; the Visegrád Group in 1991; the Council of the Baltic Sea States—CBSS—in 1992; Black Sea Economic Cooperation—BSEC—in 1992; and the Barents Euro-Arctic Region—BEAR—in 1993. These groups played a positive role in the process of drawing the Central European countries closer to the European Union and NATO and in rebuilding international cooperation. They also acted as channels for the exchange of information and for consultations between participating states. Poland was a co-founder of the Visegrád Group and the CBSS; it joined the Pentagonale and obtained observer status in the BSEC and BEAR (Zi˛eba, 1992; Pawlikowska, 2006; for more see Zi˛eba, 2004, pp. 251–293; Cottey 1995, 1999, pp. 126–135). Poland attached great importance to the Visegrád Group (the V4), treating that semiformal group as a vehicle to facilitate cooperation with and accession to NATO and the EU. After joining these two major European structures, cooperation among the countries in the V4 format was maintained, although its intensity diminished. The Visegrád Group increased in importance again at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, when Poland used the group to promote the proposed confirmation of NATO’s defensive function during work on the Alliance’s new strategic concept for the years 2010–2020, and in later efforts to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. Poland also expanded consultations and cooperation with the V4 with regard to creating the Visegrád EU Battle Group. Poland continues to attach a great deal of importance to cooperation within the Visegrád Group, which seems to be the core of broader cooperation within the Central European region. On the other hand, after the EU expanded to the east, the importance of the other subregional multilateral cooperation structures diminished. The original model for the concept of the Three Seas Initiative, which Poland is currently implementing, was the policy pursued by the first PiS governments in the years 2005–2007 and by President Lech Kaczy´nski (2005–2010). Poland concentrated then on bringing together a group of countries in Central and Eastern Europe with a clear anti-Russian orientation. Of central importance in Poland’s policy were Ukraine, Lithuania, and Georgia. Poland wanted to diversify the sources of its energy supplies, working against Russia’s policy of maintaining a sphere of influence in the post-Soviet area, and supported GUAM, a group competing with Russia within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In its policy toward Central and Eastern Europe, Poland’s main ally and supporter was the USA, whose policy under the presidency of George W. Bush was to ‘push’ Russia out of Europe. After PiS lost the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2007, the governments that followed it greatly toned down this policy and it was abandoned altogether after President Kaczy´nski’s tragic death in April 2010. Although interest in cooperating with other Central European countries has been a permanent trend of Poland’s foreign policy since 1989, new qualitative traits appeared in the middle of the 2010s. First, such cooperation has been an important foreign policy aim for the nationalist right which has come to power in the autumn of 2015, after years spent questioning the fundamental foreign policy aims of the previous, POPSL government, and even to a certain degree of all the governments of democratic

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Poland, with the exception of those of which the political parties of the Kaczy´nski brothers (first Center Agreement—PC, then Law and Justice—PiS) formed a part— the governments of Jan Olszewski (1992–1993) and the two PiS governments of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and Jarosław Kaczy´nski (2005–2007). President Andrzej Duda and prime ministers Beata Szydło and Mateusz Morawiecki, all three PiS politicians, have been implementing the party’s program of ‘good change.’ The program involves the wholesale contestation of the majority of the previous governments’ domestic and foreign policies and achievements. Its aim is the wholesale overhaul of the state, including a departure from liberal policy and the pursuit of conservative and populist policies entailing violations of the rule of law and curtailments on democracy. The ruling party tosses about the idea that it is acting ‘in the name of the sovereign.’ It often mentions that its aim to defend Polish sovereignty, supposedly threatened by the EU, while accusing the previous governments of having betrayed Poland’s national interests. Perhaps the leaders of PiS suffer, like their electorate, from a complex—a deep-seated provincialism syndrome—and are seeking ways to increase Poland’s sovereign international role. However, they seem unaware that they are contributing to the realization of an American project of expansion in Europe and furthering the hegemonic interests and ambitions of the USA. The government’s policy, as Jarosław Kaczy´nski often emphasized, is supposed to signify that Poland is ‘getting off its knees’ with regard to Brussels and Moscow. This policy involves casting doubt on Poland’s previous policy within the EU framework, including toward Germany and France, which lead the EU, and also toward Russia. PiS has accused the governments of Donald Tusk and Ewa Kopacz of ‘capitulating’ before all three countries (even though those governments did not have the best of relations with Moscow). PiS’ criticism of the previous governments suggests—and the accusation was even explicitly and publicly stated—that Poland was a ‘GermanRussian condominium.’1 In PiS’ propaganda the choice of Donald Tusk to be head of the European Council in 2014 is supposed to confirm the accusation that he is carrying out the will of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. In addition, Kaczy´nski and his most zealous followers (Antoni Macierewicz, for instance) accuse Tusk of having fomented a plot with Vladimir Putin to precipitate the April 2010 air crash that killed the Polish delegation led by President Lech Kaczy´nski. The support of the USA is very important for Polish politicians. As rightly shown by Marlene Laruelle and Ellen Rivera, from the end of the first decade of the twentyfirst century, the concept of a new Intermarium was created in the USA in terms of NATO enlargement to the east. In Poland, the concept of George Friedman—the founder of the private think tank Stratfor—met a particular interest. This geopolitical analyst of Hungarian origin predicted that Poland’s becoming a power on the Vistula River and advised Warsaw to distance itself from the European Union and organize the Intermarium as a bloc of Central- and Eastern-European countries between 1

This term was used by the chairman of the Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczy´nski, in an interview for the right-wing daily Gazeta Polska on September 8, 2010. This slogan was repeated by leading PiS politicians after they came to power in autumn 2015. The right-wing presidential candidate Jerzy Braun during the election campaign in 2015 claimed that Poland under Donald Tusk’s rule was a “German-Russian condominium under Jewish trusteeship.”


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Germany and Russia. The idea was shared by another American backing the NATO think tank, called the Institute of World Politics and administration-related experts advocating a strengthening of NATO’s presence in Central and Eastern Europe (Laruelle & Rivera, 2019, pp. 13–17). It was favored by the decisions of NATO summits after the 2014 Ukraine crisis. In such circumstances, the coming to power in Poland by PiS, a right-wing and a nationalist party, was a decisive factor in taking the initiative of Intermarium. The Poland’s authorities, anticipating the disputes with Germany, France, and EU institutions and a crisis in relations with Russia in practice return to the theory of two enemies, in the form of Russia and Germany. In spite of the obvious facts pointing to Poland’s deep structural ties to the EU, the Polish authorities began to distance themselves from the EU and to return to Poland’s geopolitical situation of distant historical periods, especially of the interwar period. In such circumstances, PiS leaders decided to build a geopolitical ‘springboard’ in the form of the Three Seas Initiative, and to seek support for it from the USA. Donald Trump, who held the office of president from 2017 to 2020, was hostile to the EU. Or perhaps Polish politicians only accepted the role of executor in the American project to weaken the EU? In justifying the Three Seas Initiative, Poland’s rulers generally refer to the need to face the challenges and threats emanating from the international environment, including the crisis and the disadvantageous evolution of the decision-making process in the EU (including the creation of a two-speed EU), and the neo-imperial policy of the Russian Federation.

2 The Program of the Three Seas Initiative The proposal to establish a forum of cooperation shared by the countries lying between the Baltic, the Adriatic, and the Black Sea was elaborated by President Duda’s chancellery and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the autumn of 2015. Twelve Central European EU member countries were included in the Three Seas Initiative (TSI)—Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Croatia. The latter showed great interest in the project and should be considered the co-initiator with Poland. A fundamental novelty in this project, in comparison with its Polish original version of 2005–2007, was Poland’s focus on cooperation with Central European countries while omitting Ukraine and Georgia. In regard to the former, this was a departure from Warsaw’s unconditional support for Kyiv. Instead, the Polish authorities began to insist that Ukraine come to terms with the crimes Ukrainians had committed against the Polish population in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia during the Second World War. As for Georgia, Poland lost interest for being an advocate for that country after President Mikhail Saakashvili, a politician with a strong pro-American and pro-Polish orientation, was removed from office in 2013 and accused of abuse of power.

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The first and founding meeting of the representatives of twelve Central European countries took place in Dubrovnik on August 25, 2016,2 and the Joint Statement on the Three Seas Initiative was adopted. The document justifies the Three Seas Initiative on the grounds that it will complement the construction of a common European market by “connecting Central- and Eastern-European economies and infrastructure from North to South,” and by “expanding the existing cooperation in energy, transportation, digital communication, and economic sectors.” It was agreed that the “momentum behind a comprehensive Adriatic–Baltic–Black Sea area cooperation, both within the European Union and across the broader transatlantic space has to be reinvigorated, without creating a parallel structure to the existing mechanisms of cooperation.” It was decided that the Three Seas Initiative would be an “informal platform for securing political support and decisive action on specific cross-border and macro-regional projects of strategic importance to the States involved in energy, transportation, digital communication and economic sectors in Central and Eastern Europe” (The Joint Statement, 2016). The text of the declaration signed in Dubrovnik clearly restricts cooperation within the Three Seas Initiative to infrastructure and economics, within the framework of the EU. It mentions modernization projects which are to serve to level differences in development between the western and eastern parts of the EU, thus furthering the deeper integration of the common EU market, while also countering the emergence of a two-speed EU. At the same time, Polish politicians of the governing camp and the media that support it stress the political dimension and importance of the cooperation between the twelve countries. PiS politicians refer directly to the interwar idea of the Intermarium. They advocate a strong Poland in the region, which they would like to integrate. Polish politicians dreamed of such a bloc throughout the 20-year interwar period. PiS politicians are dreaming of it now also, launching highway projects such as the Via Carpathia and the Via Baltica, or the gas transportation corridor from ´ Swinouj´ scie to the Croatian island of Krk. Beginning with infrastructure projects, they would like to unite the countries of Central Europe in one bloc under the strong Polish strategic leadership. They see such a bloc as an opportunity to bring together the demographic and economic potential of the region, which would allow it to have greater independence from both Russia and Germany. In this manner they pushed through the idea, deriving from distant past, of Poland as a great power. This clearly indicates that Poland sees the Three Seas Initiative as a geopolitical project realized on the eastern fringes of the EU and the Atlantic community. Krzysztof Szczerski, the head of the president of Poland’s political office, has said many times, pretentiously, that what is most important in the Three Seas Initiative is the political message that Central Europe should be an even more integrated part of a united Europe and that Poland is the region’s natural leader. “The model that we would like to realize is a strong Poland in the region, [and] a strong region within 2

Despite announcements to the contrary, the presidents of all 12 countries did not show up. Only presidents Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovi´c (Croatia), Andrzej Duda (Poland), Janos Ader (Hungary), Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania), Borut Pahor (Slovenia), and Rosen Plevneliev (Bulgaria) came to Dubrovnik. Other countries sent ministers or deputy ministers.


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the entire area of Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe” (Szczerski, 2016). In June 2017, he said that “We are the zone of Europe that is driving Europe. The zone of ambition. […] The Three Seas is a project in development, an investment project. […] Our region is weakly integrated” (Szczerski, 2017). Representatives of the ministry of foreign affairs have made statements in the same vein. Poland’s intentions were laid bare the following year. The second Three Seas summit was expected to be held in June 2017 in Wrocław. However, Poland decided to politicize the summit by moving it to Warsaw (The Second Summit, 2017),3 so the president of the USA, Donald Trump, could be a special guest when he visited the capital on July 6, 2017. The Three Seas Initiative thus gained the political support of the USA—a fact that was especially telling given that Trump had earlier issued a series of critical remarks about the European Union and Germany. Trump’s visit to Warsaw preceded his participation in the G20 meeting in Hamburg, which in itself was a signal that the American leader was supporting the disintegration of the EU. In Hamburg, Trump openly criticized Germany for agreeing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In such circumstances, the Polish–Croatian initiative acquired significance as a geopolitical project in competition with the EU, which is perceived by Poland’s current leaders as an integration structure serving chiefly the interests of its founders and leaders, that is, France and Germany. In his speech at the Warsaw summit of the Three Seas Initiative, the president of the USA adopted a business approach and encouraged the politicians of the countries present to buy American LNG gas and arms from the USA. He supported the decision of the twelve countries to create a Three Seas Business Forum (Remarks, 2017). Generally, the results of the Warsaw summit were meager, and commentators concentrated on the diverging interests of the participating countries. Above all, attention was drawn to the fact that on the eve of the summit Hungary had signed an agreement with the Russian gas exporter Gazprom to build a new gas supply route to Hungary from a pipeline to Turkey that Russia is laying at the bottom of the Black Sea (the TurkStream) (Szczyt Trójmorza, 2017). The third Three Seas summit was held in Bucharest on September 17–18, 2018. It was accompanied by the newly established Three Seas Business Forum, which was attended by over 600 businesspeople. The summit participants signed a letter of intent with regard to the Three Seas Investment Fund, but the participating countries and other entities did not offer significant financial contributions. On the other hand, President Trump and the spokesperson of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, among others, expressed support for the initiative. A TSI Network of Chambers of Commerce was also established on this occasion (Joint Declaration, 2018; Zbinkowski, 2019, pp. 115–16). The fourth summit of the Three Seas Initiative took place in Ljubljana on June 5–6, 2019. During the summit, the TSI Investment Fund was set up. It is to be an 3

The presidents of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, and Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, did not attend the meeting in Warsaw. The Czech Republic was represented by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáˇcek, and Austria by the Ambassador to Poland, Thomas M. Buchsbaum.

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additional tool for financing investments in the TSI region, in addition to EU funds and national budgets. For the first time, the meeting was attended by the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker attended for the second time. The next TSI summit was held in Tallinn on October 19, 2020. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, it was partly a remote (online) meeting. Only the presidents of Poland and Bulgaria came to the capital of Estonia. The discussion at this meeting focused on the issue of strengthening economic cooperation between the participating countries, including energy, development of transport links, business, and tourism (President, 2020). The problems of economic cooperation were also discussed at the sixth TSI summit in Sofia on July 8–9, 2021. The meeting was combined with the Business Forum. New partners of the Three Seas Initiative emerged—Greece, France, Great Britain, and Japan joined the USA, Germany, and European institutions (Joint Declaration, 2021). The seventh summit of the TSI was held on June 20, 2022, in Riga. The main topic of discussion was relations with Ukraine in the context of the Russian invasion and the contribution of the Three Seas countries to preventing the food crisis. During the meeting, President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke remotely. The TSI has decided to create a “new, special kind of partnership with the Three Seas countries” which has been awarded to Ukraine (Declaration, 2022).

3 Functions of the Three Seas Initiative The TSI is assessed differently in the participating countries. Due to the fact that Poland is the most engaged in it, it is worth paying attention to the assessments in this country. Generally speaking, the statements of Polish politicians indicate that they have five expectations for this project. First, the idea is to build an effective anti-Russian barrier by using the potential of twelve member countries of the European Union. Of the countries participating in the Three Seas Initiative, only Austria does not belong to North Atlantic Alliance, while the rest are NATO members and, broadly speaking, are from its eastern flank, which has been strengthened militarily in the past few years. Poland’s partnership with the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), as well as Romania, is particularly important and is reinforced by its strategic partnership with the USA. The militarization of NATO’s eastern fringes is now supported by an attempt to engage the Central European countries in joint infrastructure and business projects. Second, the Three Seas Initiative is a kind of subgroup within the framework of the EU; some of the countries associated with the Visegrád Group, and Austria, have not shown solidarity in the face of the migration crisis and ignored their obligation to accept illegal immigrants in the quotas established by the EU. Additionally, these countries have been moving away, in various degrees, from a liberal domestic policy in the direction of populism and conservative nationalism. Two of them, Hungary and


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Poland—and to a lesser extent also Romania—are violating the rule-of-law and the democratic standards that are EU founding principles (Grgi´c, 2021). In addition, the countries of the Visegrád Group have to varying degree different views of the EU’s internal crisis and see the future of the EU as an integration project differently than do the ‘old’ member countries (especially France and Germany). The Visegrád Group countries are focused on maintaining the common market but resort to the excuse of defending national sovereignty to oppose greater political integration. The countries of the Three Seas Initiative, with the exception of Austria, are less developed than the rest of EU member states and are seeking a way to accelerate their own development; they want equal opportunities within the EU framework. They are critical of the EU’s present multi-speed integration policy. Finally, an important factor that facilitates, or even inclines, the majority of the countries making up the Three Seas Initiative toward closer regional cooperation, is their strong pro-Americanism, which is due, among other things, to fears about their own security and a reliance on the US security guarantees. All this means that the Three Seas Initiative—even irrespective of the intentions of the countries engaged in it—has a disintegrative effect on the EU, which has been weakened by the economic crisis and Brexit. Third, the Three Seas Initiative is a policy that allows Poland to distance itself from Germany. Thus when in August 2018 Germany declared that it wanted to participate in the work of the Three Seas Initiative in the character of a ‘partner country’ Warsaw did not respond with enthusiasm, and unfriendly commentary about Germany appeared in the right-wing press (Gójska, 2018), but in the end, Warsaw agreed (Szczerski, 2018). The well-known PiS party politician, Ryszard Czarnecki, an MEP and a former vice-president of the European Parliament, said to the weekly Do Rzeczy that “Poland has invested the most in this new geopolitical project. It is obviously the leader in geopolitical and geographical terms. First Germany wanted to ignore the project. Then to discredit it. Then to oppose it. And finally, it recognized that it would be better to be inside it” (Czarnecki, 2018). Fourth, the program written into the documents from summit meetings indicates that the Three Seas Initiative is to be an instrument of politics in the region laying between the three seas. Infrastructure undertakings, such as a highway connecting ´ the north to the south of Europe, a gas pipeline system from Swinouj´ scie to Croatia, and other projects, have already been started and could help to level economic differences between the eastern and western parts of an integrated Europe. None of this is controversial and could be part of the EU’s regional policy. Fifth, Polish right-wing politicians see the Three Seas Initiative through the perspective of their illusions that they will rebuild Poland into a great power, or at least give Poland a leading role in Central Europe (Comp. Ištok et al., 2018, p. 23; Bartoszewicz, 2021). Such illusions are a reflection of distant history and the result of a lack of real vision for Poland’s future role in the region, in Europe, and in the world. These kind of imaginings are also due to politicians’ lack of understanding of the nature of the EU (of which Poland is a member), to their inability to talk with Russia, and to their overestimation of Poland’s international position due to notions from the past and to the mirage of special relations with the USA. Polish nationalist politicians need to achieve success at all costs, also at the international

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level, and they thus take their dreams for reality. Poland’s supposedly leading role in Central Europe and the Three Seas Initiative is one such illusion. In the meanwhile, the international order has been changing rapidly in the past few years and Polish politicians do not comprehend this change. They are seeking solutions and geopolitical constructs that are not presently realistic. Poland lies in Central Europe only geographically, while geopolitically it is in the European Union. Cold calculation suggests that nothing should be done to weaken the Union, and allies should not be sought across the ocean or among those European countries such as Hungary, which are similarly unwilling to adapt to EU standards. On the contrary, Poland should work to strengthen the EU and to cooperate more closely with the countries that are most interested in doing so as well, like Germany and France. It should take advantage of Brexit to take the UK’s place within the group of countries which are EU leaders. In addition, some partners from TSI, particularly the Czech Republic, are reluctant to Poland’s dominant presence and central role in the initiative (Dostál et al., 2021). Like its revision of the tried foreign policy of its first 26 years, Poland’s involvement in the Three Seas Initiative betrays that Poland is to a degree ill-adapted to being one of the western democratic countries. It should also be said that the words written several decades ago by Milan Kundera are still apt and that the tragedy of Central Europe lies in that it belongs culturally to the West but politically to the East (Kundera, 1983). Today, in spite of over 30 years of transformation, Poland is returning to an authoritarian system and to geopolitical conceptions similar to those that are triumphant in contemporary Russia. If we were to try to evaluate, from today’s fairly short time perspective, the benefits of the Three Seas Initiative, they can primarily be seen in the realization of infrastructure and energy projects, and other projects of an economic nature. With the exception of Austria, the countries participating in the Initiative are lagging economically behind the western part of the European Union. Some of the projects did obtain financial support from EU funds, as occurred in the case of the Via Carpatia highway project. Nevertheless, the realization of other undertakings may be threatened by limitations connected not only with the smaller pool of funds available for cohesion policy following Brexit, but also with the implemented by the European Commission policy of conditionality of financing dependent on member states’ observance of the rule of law and other EU norms. From 2021 such approach is applied to Hungary and Poland breaking the norms and principles of the European Union. In this context, it is worth recalling that a disciplinary procedure with regard to Poland and Hungary was initiated at the request of the European Commission, under Art. 7 of the Treaty on the EU, which provides for suspending the rights of EU members that seriously threaten EU norms. Neither country responded constructively to the numerous recommendations of EU institutions concerning observation of rule-oflaw standards and democracy. Brussels is also concerned about respect for the rule of law in Romania.


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On the other hand, the interest President Trump (announced in February 2018) declared in the projects realized within the Three Seas Initiative framework has not been backed by any real confirmation in the form of an engagement of American funds. The next US president, Joe Biden, also announced that the USA will be an ‘unfailing partner’ of the TSI (President, 2021), but this was not reflected in the financial transfer of funds to projects implemented under the TSI. Trump’s Administration pledge is to match 30 percent of TSI combined contributions up to $1 billion. At the fifth TSI summit, in October 2020, it announced a $300 million initial investment in the Investment Fund, i.e., three times less than Poland ($910 million) (Kochis, 2021). The last very important factor on which the success of the Three Seas Initiative depends is the lack of political unity among the twelve participating countries, particularly in relation to the reforms that are to reinvigorate the EU as an integration project (Cabada, 2018; Górka, 2018; Kornis, 2022). Poland, which calls itself the leader of the Three Seas group, is critical of the vision of accelerated integration in all areas, as advocated by Germany and France. It speaks of defending sovereignty within the EU framework, and thereby, among other things, justifies its own illiberal and authoritarian domestic policy. Poland’s stance on the question of the rule of law is supported only by equally authoritarian Hungary. Poland diverges sharply from Hungary in the key question of energy cooperation with Russia (the purchase of gas and the Russians’ construction of a nuclear power plant in Hungary). Poland has close relations and engages in strategic cooperation with Romania and with the Baltic States, but their positions on the future of integration differ. Poland’s disrespect for the rule of law is not shared by the Baltic States. It should also be noted that the EU member countries, including those engaged in the Three Seas Initiative, are being ‘played off’ against each other by outside entities, especially the USA and Russia. This is already proving a serious hindrance to building unity among the Three Seas countries—the unity on which Poland is seeking to build its future leadership in the region and a bloc to compete with the EU from within. As observers often comment, the specter of Polexit hangs over the entire situation. The fear is that Warsaw will conduct a policy within the EU framework that will lead—regardless of Jarosław Kaczy´nski’s or Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s declarations about Poland’s interest in remaining in the EU—to the EU’s de facto deconstruction or to the majority of member countries deciding to exclude Poland from the organization. In the event, the Three Seas Initiative rather will not survive as a vehicle making Poland into an international power. Moreover, another factor worthy of note that weakens the Three Seas Initiative is the existence in Central Europe of other multilateral cooperation platforms which do not include Poland (the Austerlitz Triangle—Hungary–Croatia–Slovenia; and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region—EUSDR).

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Zi˛eba, R. (1992). “Nowy regionalism” w Europie a Polska. Sprawy Mi˛edzynarodowe, 45(1–2), 25–44. Zi˛eba, R. (2004). Instytucjonalizacja bezpiecze´nstwa europejskiego: koncepcje—struktury— funkcjonowanie. Warsaw: Scholar.

Ryszard Zi˛eba, Prof. Ph.D. Habil., a full professor emeritus of international relations and security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw. The author of numerous books, articles and chapters in collective works, reviews and expertise reports. He has a M.A., Ph.D. and state Ph.D. (habilitation) degrees from the University of Warsaw, and the title of Professor of Humanities conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Central and Eastern Europe in U.S. Foreign Policy Ewelina Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk

Abstract U.S. interest and involvement in Central and Eastern European countries have gone through various phases, from an intensification, when the spread of democracy in countries of the former USSR became a priority of American foreign policy, through a period of decidedly weakened engagement of the United States in this region and focus on other areas, to a phase of renewed attention by American policymakers to the domestic affairs of European countries, on the one hand because of the democratic crisis and the ongoing process of democratic backsliding in many countries, and on the other hand with Russia’s increasingly aggressive actions against Ukraine, culminating in the military attack launched on February 24, 2022. The author analyzes how the US foreign policy toward this region has changed over the past two-plus decades, both in the conceptual sphere and in the actual foreign assistance activities undertaken. Keywords U.S. foreign policy · Central and eastern Europe · George W. Bush · Barack Obama · Donald Trump · Joe Biden

1 Introduction The intensive U.S. foreign policy conducted in the second half of the twentieth century resulted in the successful transformation of the political and economic systems in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Since then, they have been united by a unique alliance that provided the U.S. with loyal allies, allowing the United States to gain support in the fight against the spread of communism and gradually strengthen its position in the region and build a new sphere of influence. It also brought measurable benefits to European countries in the form of economic, military, and political support, e.g., accelerating the path to joining NATO (Zi˛eba, 2007, p. 16; Zaj˛ac, 2014, pp. 29–40). At the same time, this alliance could not be described as a partnership, but rather a dependence on the US, with governments from E. Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk (B) University of Bialystok, Białystok, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_14



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the countries of Central and Eastern Europe seeking to establish a unique partnership with the USA, which appeared to them as a guarantor of security and the leader of the democratic community. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bipolar system, the United States set clearly defined goals to be achieved in the CEE region, which included supporting the development of democracy (Zi˛eba, 2018, p. 153 et seq.); assistance in building a free market economy; and stabilizing the region and strengthening security by expanding NATO’s activities to the east (Szydłowski, 1996). At the same time, according to declassified documents published by the National Security Archive, President Bill Clinton’s tactic in the 90’s was to “have his cake and eat it too,” which in practice meant striving to expand NATO to the east while trying to improve cooperation with Russia at the same time (Savranskaya & Blanton, 2021). As Charles-Philippe David and Frédéric Ramel point out: “Throughout the history of post-war international relations, the image of Europe held by successive American administrations has been defined by a longstanding ambivalence between recognition of Europe as an equal partner and reduction of Europe to secondary status” (David & Ramel, 2003). The fact is that the interest and involvement of the United States in the CEE region have gone through various phases, from intensification, when the spread of democracy in the countries of the former USSR became a priority of American foreign policy; through a period of decisive weakening of the United States’ involvement in the region and focusing on other areas of the world, which was especially felt in the first decade of the twenty-first century; to a phase of renewed interest in the internal affairs of European countries by American decision-makers, caused by the growing crisis of democracy around the world and the ongoing process of regression of democracy in many CEE countries, as well as the increasingly aggressive actions of the Kremlin authorities in this region, culminating in Russia’s military attack on Ukraine in February 2022. The purpose of this chapter is to present how U.S. foreign policy toward this region has changed during the start of the twenty-first century, both in the conceptual sphere and in the concrete actions taken. The analysis is designed to answer the following research questions: What place did Central and Eastern Europe occupy in the agendas of individual White House administrations? Are the countries in the region treated as strategic long-term allies or short-term instrumental partners by the U.S. government? What actions have been taken as part of U.S. foreign policy in the region over the past two decades?

2 You Are Either with Us, or Against Us—Bush’s Agenda At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it seemed that the goals set by the Bill Clinton administration would largely be continued by his successor. However, the statements made by President George W. Bush at the beginning of his term testified to the increasingly bold declarations of the USA in the context of NATO enlargement to the countries of Eastern Europe, which were not yet members of

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the Alliance, up to the borders of Russia. “All of Europe’s new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe as Europe’s old democracies” (White House, 2001a, b, June 15). President Bush described Poland as the “center of Europe” which functioned as a bridge to new democracies in Europe. Moreover, referring to the historical divisions into spheres of influence of various powers dividing Europe into East and West, he pointed out that the goal of the U.S. was to erase false dividing lines and build an open Europe. Particular attention should be drawn to the fragment of the U.S. President’s speech referring to the previous Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and allies of the USSR (Bulgaria, Romania), and going a bit further in the speech, the addition to the list of countries that at the time were applying for NATO membership, the country of Ukraine, which in his opinion should also be included in the Alliance. Although Bush assured the Russian authorities that this was not a new confrontational strategy, the media reported that the position of the new U.S. president was firmer and more aggressive than any of his predecessors, on an issue that would certainly upset Moscow, which had long opposed the absorption of neighboring countries into NATO (Bruni, 2001). The U.S. president even gave Russia an ultimatum, either it becomes a friendly partner in democracy and an ally that embraces freedom, a country that enhances the security of Europe, or it would be left isolated. President Bush’s statement sent a clear message—the United States was going to strive to build an open Europe by expanding NATO’s borders, supporting democratic processes and the development of a free market economy in more of the countries in the CEE region. These declarations were confirmed by American government documents from that period, which emphasized the significant role of the U.S. in ensuring peace, security, and development of Europe (Department of Defense, 2001). During the Bush administration, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe repeatedly showed zealous support for American policy, not only by sending their troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, but also by taking part in the program of secret CIA prisons around the world, which resulted in people suspected of terrorism being detained in the territories of Eastern European countries in Lithuania, Romania, and Poland (Open Society Foundations, 2013; Gasztold, 2022). Although the actual involvement of CEE allies was much smaller than that of Great Britain or the USA itself, it was symbolically important, especially at a time when the Americans needed it most, to show that they were not alone in the war with Iraq, even with the opposition of the main NATO members. The loyalty of CEE countries was not only rewarded symbolically by U.S. authorities in the form of public praise, but also through measurable benefits, such as the transfer of some American troops stationed in Germany to Bulgaria; the signing of agreements in 2008 on the deployment of anti-missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic1 ; as well as the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. From the point of view of the CEE region, the reaction of Washington to the so-called


This significantly deepened tensions between Russia and the US (Hansen et al. 2009, p. 45).


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“color revolutions”2 was important. Strong U.S. support for the democratic uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan did not please the Kremlin authorities, who saw this as a desire to limit Russia’s influence in the region (See Włodkowska-Bagan, 2013, p. 147). Before the change of government in the White House, the U.S. relationship with the CEE region was subjected to two important tests, the first of which concerned Kosovo’s proclamation of independence on February 17, 2008. While the United States was a strong supporter, the announcement was met with fierce opposition not only from Serbia, but also from Russia, which considered this a threat to its national interests. The U.S. made strenuous efforts to support Kosovo’s autonomy during negotiations that took place in 2006–2007, including negotiations at the UN Security Council, where they entered into a dispute with Russia and some EU countries,3 sending a clear signal that the United States unilaterally recognized Kosovo’s declared independence. On the one hand, this issue led to the weakening of the international position of Russia, whose position on Kosovo was ignored by the U.S., and on the other hand, to a hardened stance of Kremlin policy, which turned its attention to Georgia.4 The major test of U.S. relations with the CEE region took place six months later, concerning the five-day war in South Ossetia, which broke out on the night of August 7–8, 2008, between the armed forces of Georgia, separatists from South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Russian forces. President Bush called on Russia to immediately cease fire and withdraw its troops. He stressed that “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people,” while threatening that Russia’s actions threaten its place in international organizations (White House, 2008). The involvement of the United States had a diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic dimension. And although experts (like Frederick Kagan form AEI) argued that U.S. aid was insufficient and very conservative (McKinnon & Champion, 2008), the Bush administration had a different opinion. Recalling these events ten years later, Condoleezza Rice, who was Secretary of State in 2008, pointed out that U.S. efforts were focused on stopping Moscow from overthrowing the new democracy (Gabekhadze, 2018). While the change of government in the White House in 2009 was met with enthusiasm from the European Union, which hoped for a renewal of commitment and cooperation between the U.S. and the EU (Walker, 2008), faithful American allies from Central and Eastern Europe feared that they would lose their seemingly privileged position in American foreign policy, in favor of so-called “old Europe.”


The political events that took place at the end of 2003 in Georgia in 2004 in Ukraine and in 2005 in Kyrgyzstan are popularly known as the Rose, Orange, and Tulip Revolutions or collectively as the Color Revolutions. 3 For example, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus expressed their doubts. 4 It is worth adding that at the NATO Summit in Bucharest on 2–4 April 2008, Ukraine and Georgia were assured that in future, they would be invited to full membership in the Alliance.

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3 CEE on the Margins of American Politics—Obama’s Agenda The new White House administration had a dilemma as to which direction U.S. foreign policy in Europe should go, since it had two competing goals. On the one hand, they had allies from Central and Eastern Europe who expected U.S. support. On the other hand, there was Russia with which they did not want to return to the relations of the Cold War period. One of the priorities of U.S. foreign policy set at the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency was to improve relations and strengthen ties with traditional allies in the European Union (Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk, 2017). And although President Obama’s first term in office was dominated by issues related to the global financial crisis, the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and Washington’s response to Arab Spring (Wordliczek, 2013, pp. 129–151), a number of decisions were made that directly or indirectly affected Central and Eastern Europe, causing discontent. The first decision was an attempt to appease the Russian “bear” by the authorities in Washington. For this purpose, a reset button was literally pressed, which was to symbolize a new era in the relations between the two nations (Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk, 2019). This raised fears that the warming of U.S.-Russian relations could come at the expense of U.S. relations with its allies from CEE. In June 2009, 22 leaders, including Václav Havel and Lech Walesa, sent a public letter to Barack Obama, in which they pointed out the dangers of resetting relations with Moscow (Gazeta Wyborcza, 2009). Another crucial decision was the abandonment of the Obama administration’s plans to deploy elements of the anti-missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland, which was perceived as a “betrayal of allies and succumbing to pressure from Russia” (Baker, 2009). The focus was on the strategic shift of U.S. policy toward the Pacific and Asia, which was announced in 2011 (Clinton, 2011). The American declaration was not favorably received in Europe, which feared a reduction in the superpower’s involvement in solving European problems, especially since, confirming the change of priorities in January 2012, President Obama announced the liquidation of bases and the withdrawal of brigades from Europe (White House, 2012). To refute allegations of a lack of U.S. interest in the CEE region, the White House made diplomatic efforts in the form of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Warsaw, Prague, and Bucharest in October 2009 and consultations with representatives of eleven countries from the region in Prague in April 2010 (before the signing of the New START Agreement with Russia) and with 18 regional partners in Warsaw at the end of May 2011. In addition to diplomatic efforts, a number of actions were undertaken (or were continued) to support the region, such as NATO’s contingency planning initiative for the defense of new allies, which involved a series of multinational military exercises in and around the Baltic states. In addition, a C-17 air transport consortium was created in spring 2009 in Papa, Hungary, comprising of twelve countries; and an agreement was signed with Poland on the regular rotation of American F-16 fighters and C-130 transport aircraft to this country from 2013. In addition to security, the attention of the Obama administration was drawn to issues related to democracy in the region, especially in


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Albania (the U.S. called for a reform of the electoral system), as well as Hungary and Romania (in both cases, there were concerns about the threat to the independence of democratic institutions). U.S. support for countries in the region also addressed economic issues, with annual development aid of about $400 million directed to the Balkan countries, Moldova, and Ukraine (Rhodes, 2012). During Obama’s second term, international problems began to grow, and the U.S. had to face increasingly aggressive actions from terrorists in the Middle East,5 as well as address the increasingly expansive policy of Russia in Eastern Europe. After Viktor Yanukovych took over the government in Ukraine, Kyiv ceased its aspiration to NATO membership. This was a worrying signal for the U.S., indicating a slowdown in democratic transformation and the suppression of pro-Western aspirations in the region. The culmination was the so-called “Euromaidan Revolution” (2013/2014), which received unequivocal US support for pro-Western-oriented demonstrators protesting the anti-European policy of the pro-Russian authorities in Kyiv. Opting out of the option to use U.S. armed forces, the Obama administration desired to show the political and economic consequences of Russia’s actions to the Kremlin’s authorities, by isolating Russia on the international arena through economic sanctions, weakening its position on the energy market, supporting Ukraine’s defense sector (without handing over offensive combat systems)6 and strengthening the military capacity of NATO’s eastern flank. From that moment on, one could notice a hardening of the White House’s rhetoric toward Russia, who had been increasingly aggressive about entering the territory of Ukraine, finally announcing on March 18, 2014, the annexation of Crimea by Russia. President Barack Obama condemned these actions (for more see Zi˛eba, 2014). The change in the U.S. government’s approach to Russia was reflected in strategic documents, which marked a clear departure from the phase of establishing close cooperation with the country to classifying Russia as one of the greatest threats to global security alongside terrorism (See: Wa´skoOwsiejczuk, 2019), p. 89). The reaction of U.S. authorities gave hope to CEE countries that this region would once again take a prominent place in American foreign policy. In addition to political declarations and condemnation of Russia’s actions, U.S. authorities have engaged in building international support for their position on the annexation of Crimea, seeking to isolate Russia, imposing economic sanctions on Russia together with various EU countries, which contributed to a drop in GDP of up to 4% and a massive outflow of capital from Russia (Jure´nczyk, 2019, p. 13). In June 2014, President Barack Obama announced the European Reassurance Initiative—ERI, assuring allies that the presence of their air, land, and naval forces was necessary in Central and Eastern Europe, especially in the era of “the worrying 5

At the request of the Iraqi Government, in August 2014, Obama issued the decision to launch airstrikes on jihadist positions in Iraq. In September, he expanded his campaign against ISIS to Syrian territory (Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk, 2017, p. 40). 6 It is worth emphasizing that contrary to the impression of strengthening U.S. support for Ukraine in the period after 2014, the annual amount of U.S. support did not change, oscillating around $300 million—from 2010–2013. Only in 2016 did Ukraine receive the largest financial assistance from the US in history in the amount of $511 million, of which $227 million went to the security sector. See: Jure´nczyk (2019), p. 10–14.

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Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea and provocative actions in Ukraine.” The task of the ERI was to increase the readiness and ability of NATO forces to react quickly to emerging threats. Additional funds in the form of a billion dollars were to be allocated for exercises, training, improving infrastructure, increasing equipment, and military presence, especially on the territory of new US allies. The Americans were to focus on building military capabilities in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, which was to enable the countries to defend themselves and better cooperate with the USA and NATO (White House, 2014). However, the European countries’ concerns about the marginalization of this region in foreign policy seemed to be confirmed by Washington’s decision in January 2015 with the closure of fifteen military bases in Europe. Although the U.S. government assured allies that the changes did not weaken Europe’s security, there were opinions that this decision sent a worrying signal about the weakening commitment of the superpower to ensure transatlantic security, which might embolden U.S. opponents to take aggressive action. The U.S. emphasized that the liquidation of these bases did not mean a weakening of its commitment to ensuring security in Europe, but a change of tactics. Thus, the closure of military bases with traditional US allies in Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal meant being able to focus attention on new allies in Eastern Europe. It was also emphasized that the closure of fifteen bases was not tantamount to reducing the number of soldiers who, according to the Initiative to Strengthen Military Presence in Europe, were to engage in training, exercises, and building the military capabilities of US allies in the region (Coffey, 2013; Knigge, 2015). The last decision of the Obama administration, which was announced at the NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016, was to send NATO troops to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as part of the strengthening of the Alliance’s eastern border with Russia. Four NATO battalions were to begin their mission from 2017, while President Obama assured that Europe can always count on the U.S., “in both good times and bad.” He declared support for European allies in combating terrorism, in solving the refugee crisis, and in responding to Russia’s aggressive actions (Landler & Lyman, 2016). Even though in his last speech, Barack Obama called on Americans to always defend democracy (White House, 2017a, b), critics accused him of reacting too coldly to the Russian annexation of Crimea, the destabilized state structures in Ukraine and the erosion of democratic institutions in Poland and Hungary (Nowak, 2021), which, together with the setting of new priorities and goals in American foreign policy, resulted in relations between the U.S. and CEE countries to become significantly weaker.

4 American Interests First—Trump’s Agenda The change of administration in the White House raised many questions and doubts in the context of U.S. commitment to European security. Still, during the election campaign Donald Trump claimed that the NATO was a relic of the past, criticized


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the excessive involvement of the U.S., and at the same time announced a reduction in spending on the organization and a focus on domestic affairs. According to statements made by the new president, the region would not be a priority for the superpower (Waxman, 2017; Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk, 2018a, b). European leaders were concerned about the warming of relations between Washington and Moscow and Donald Trump’s undisguised sympathy for President Putin (Pengelly, 2017). For European countries, U.S. policy toward NATO and Russia was of paramount importance. Some of the statements made by the new president during his election campaign were unacceptable to the superpower’s CEE allies, especially when he said he would be willing to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and lift sanctions for the sake of better relations with the U.S., or when he declared that Ukraine mattered less to the United States than other NATO countries, or when he complained that the solution to this problem should not lie with the United States. However, it quickly turned out that President Trump can change his mind quite often. After his first year in office, he changed his rhetoric in the context of NATO, the EU, and Russia. He upheld Barack Obama’s decision to increase U.S. presence in Europe, including the transfer of a heavy armored brigade to NATO’s eastern flank. In March 2018, the United States sent special forces instructors to work with the Baltic troops on guerrilla warfare techniques. Since this took place during planned exercises focused on more conventional tactics, experts reported that the US decision was a clear signal to Russia that even a quick victory by conventional troops in the Baltic states would not end the conflict. In addition, Trump proposed increasing the budget of the European Reassurance Initiative from $3.4 billion to $4.8 billion in 2018, which allowed for even more exercises led by U.S. troops with European allies. There was also an increase in conventional U.S. forces in the region. In May 2018, the Americans tested their ability to quickly move heavy military equipment to Europe using the mass displacement of 87 Abrams tanks and more than 500 other armored vehicles. The clearest signal, or declaration of U.S. support for the region, can be considered the U.S. plans to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group in the Mediterranean as a special deterrent to Russia, which would allow other U.S. Navy ships to patrol the Baltic and Black Seas. Despite President Trump’s earlier declarations that the U.S. was indifferent to the fate of Ukraine, during his presidency, there was an increase in the military presence and assistance to the country through the sale of anti-tank missiles. The decision to provide Ukraine such weapons was seen as a radical change in the position of the U.S., since during the Obama administration Ukraine was denied such support. Other examples pointing to increased U.S. involvement in the CEE region include the initiative to build a naval operations center on the Black Sea coast in Ochakiv, Ukraine. Although the official reason was “maximizing European reassurance initiatives” and “ensuring flexible naval capabilities in the full range of military operations,” experts point out that building such a facility in such close proximity to the disputed Crimea region and the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, encroached on the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. In addition, the US was gradually undermining Russia’s influence in Europe by exporting gas to the region, which will likely gain momentum in future with the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG)

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installations in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria, thus changing the structure of available gas resources. And although during the Trump administration, the amount of American gas going to Europe was small, and the reduction in Russian influence caused by the U.S. was disproportionately large, due to the limitation of Russia’s ability to raise gas prices for political purposes (Selden, 2018). Even though a number of decisions made by President Trump “hit” traditional U.S. allies, especially Germany, France, and the UK,7 unlike his predecessor, Trump decided to emphasize the importance of CEE in American foreign policy. Some say that the Trump administration even turned its back on Western Europe in favor of greater involvement in the east and south of Europe in order to counter the influence of Russia and China (Wright, 2018). A signal of support for the region was, for example, the participation of the US president in the Summit of the Three Seas Initiative in Warsaw (July 2017), where he promoted the import of American LNG to Europe and pointed to Russia as a source of destabilization (Zi˛eba, 2020, pp. 208–209). President Trump’s break with tradition and the decision to visit Poland as the first country in Europe to visit, instead of “traditional allies” such as the United Kingdom, France, or Germany, could at first be seen as a signal that the CEE region began to occupy an increasingly privileged position in American foreign policy. However, the media assessed this decision as a purely tactical one, with President Trump choosing to visit the staunchly pro-American country of Poland because he simply counted on a warm welcome, thanks to which he could feel “good politically” (Wprost, 2017, July 2). There were other signals that Trump supported this part of Europe. President Trump’s rhetoric in the context of Russia also sharpened, which was manifested in his references to the annexation of Crimea and accusing Barack Obama of being too lenient toward the Kremlin authorities (Hall McKirdy, 2017). The growing negative attitude of the US toward Russia was reflected in the National Security Strategy of December 2017, which listed China and Russia among the threats to US security (White House, 2017a, b). The media pointed to the tilt of US foreign policy toward Central and Eastern Europe and the deliberate solicitation of Washington for the support of countries from this region, bypassing their stance on the rule of law. “America is back. This is the main message that Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State) announced this week in Central and Eastern Europe. He repeated these words in Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland” (Lepiarz, 2019). The lack of interest and “moral contempt of the previous governments in Washington toward right-wing populists in Warsaw and Budapest caused them to turn to Russia and China.” The United States, striving to bring CEE countries into its sphere of influence once again, was ready to “turn a blind eye” to matters concerning the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, or to the erosion of democracy in Serbia. An example to illustrate the reconciliation between the countries was the participation of the United States in the 7

The problems that arose between America and Europe as a result of the actions of the new administration concerned fundamental issues, such as security, economic relations, mutual trust, and credibility. For example, U.S. relations with some EU countries have been worsened by the law on sanctions against Russia, which allows the imposition of penalties on European companies financially involved in Russian energy projects. The act strikes at the implementation of the gas pipeline North Stream 2, financed by German, British, and French companies (Kiwerska, 2019).


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“Conference on Iran” in Warsaw (February 2019), a meeting which was ignored by many important actors from Europe and the Middle East (Zi˛eba, 2020, p. 123). At the end of Donald Trump’s term, economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo were also normalized, which was described as a great breakthrough in relations between the parties, who for more than two decades had been engaged in one of the longest-lasting territorial disputes in Europe. And although President Trump only saw successes in bringing the warring parties to talks at the same table, the media pointed to the erosion of democracy in Kosovo and turning a blind eye to the nascent authoritarianism of Russia’s ally Serbia, while stressing that “the visit to the White House rewards two people whose opponents accuse of undermining democratic institutions” (Kingsley & Vogel, 2020). In addition, experts claim that most of the American pressure was exerted on Kosovo, not on Serbia. Examples include the freezing of $50 million in aid by the U.S. to Kosovo, or suggestions to withdraw U.S. troops from Kosovo, all meant to force Kosovo authorities to lift tariffs on Serbian goods. The Trump administration’s style of diplomatic resolution of the dispute between the two sides has been called intimidation, not negotiation. It should be emphasized that this was a fundamental change in the tactics used by U.S. authorities, with the previous U.S. presidents conducting joint actions with the European Union to resolve such conflicts. The departure from tactics of multilateral negotiation was seen as another example of the split between the politics of the United States and the European Union (Kingsley & Vogel, 2020). To show gratitude for President Trump’s commitment to leading the talks between the warring parties, at the suggestion of the U.S. envoy, the Kosovo authorities, in agreement with Serbia, decided to change the name of Gazivode Lake to “Trump Lake.” And while the proposal to rename the lake was met with criticism in Kosovo, with people commenting that “almost everything America proposes will be accepted, no matter how stupid it is” (Higgins, 2021), this example illustrates the overzealously pro-American governments of Pristina and Belgrade, which were part of a broader trend of CEE countries that saw an opportunity to obtain potential economic benefits, as well as a guarantee of security “under the umbrella” of the United States, and sought to gain the protection of a strong ally.

5 Renewing the Role of the United States in Europe?—Biden’s Agenda Joe Biden’s win of the presidential election in 2020 was not received with the same enthusiasm in Central and Eastern Europe as in the case of Western Europe, which hoped to renew the previous role of the US in Europe. There was fear in Eastern Europe that the rise of right-wing figures, which took place under Donald Trump, would be halted. During his election campaign, Joe Biden pointed to the democratic crisis in the CEE region: “You see what is happening in Belarus and Poland and Hungary, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world,” a comparison which

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was sharply criticized by the addressees (TVP World, 2020). President Trump’s style of governing and declared values was water for the mill for the authorities of Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia, which, recognizing him as a powerful ally, used his actions to justify their own positions on policies dealing with immigration, the rule of law, Russia, and democratic standards (Gherasim, 2021). While Western European authorities rejoiced at Joe Biden’s victory, it was difficult for the governments of some CEE countries to accept the change of guard in the White House. In Poland, the authorities in Warsaw delayed the official recognition of Biden as president-elect despite the General Services Administration (GSA) in the United States confirming the results. At the same time, the media pointed to the fact that Biden’s victory for countries such as Poland (Mathers, 2020) was extremely troublesome and might result in pressure from the new administration to respect the rule of law, which the European Commission accused them of violating. In addition, CEE countries feared a return to the policies pursued by the previous president on behalf of the Democratic Party, who initially sacrificed the interests of the region to improve relations with Russia. This did not mean that the CEE countries did not have any hopes in connection with the victory of Joe Biden; it was expected that the new U.S. president would focus more on regional security in the face of the threat from Russia, as well as support EU integration in the Western Balkans (Gherasim, 2021). The fact that the new U.S. president chose Great Britain for the first country in Europe to visit, and then Belgium, ending his trip in Switzerland, heralded a return to the continuation of close relations with the Old Continent. Concern arose about Joe Biden’s personal meeting with the President of Russia in Geneva. Critics of the decision claimed that a meeting with the Russian leader at such an early stage of Biden’s term could raise Vladimir Putin’s profile on the world stage (Liptak, 2021). The other side assumed that the US president wanted to show his European partners that he would pursue a decisive and consulted policy toward Russia. This meeting could also be seen as a signal to the Kremlin authorities where the red lines were for America, including the recent Russian cyberattacks, non-observance of human rights in Russia, and violations of international law. President Biden made it clear that Russia’s continued aggressive actions against the U.S. would be met with a decisive response (Legucka & D˛abrowski, 2021). It is worth adding that President Putin refused to take responsibility for human rights violations or the invasion of part of Ukraine, offering assurances of a desire to improve relations with the United States, but without assurances that he planned to change anything about Russia’s behavior (Sanger et al., 2021). After more than a year in office for President Joe Biden, there is certainly a change in the style of governance of the new White House administration, which is more focused on cooperation and integration. Certain trends in U.S. foreign policy after the Trump administration continue, including China’s centrality, more protectionist trade policies, and a confirmed withdrawal from the Middle East. President Biden redirected American foreign policy to the re-accession of the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as tried to settle trade disputes with the EU (Kandel, 2022). The Biden administration has also placed greater emphasis on multilateralism and resumed efforts to work with the NATO


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alliance and G7. And while many European diplomats are already infatuated with Biden and show satisfaction with the level of U.S. involvement (Brattberg, 2021), others remain restrained and even skeptical, emphasizing that “Biden’s administration wants to be polite (…) and then it will do what it planned” (Landler, 2021). There have been lofty declarations of friendship from the new U.S. president, yet many European officials are treating Biden’s declarations that “America is back” in Europe with a grain of salt (Landler, 2021). Europeans have also expressed some disappointment with the first examples of the new U.S. president’s approach to NATO, which showed that Biden did not turn out to be Trump’s antithesis. The main allegation was Washington’s announcement of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, without prior consultation with other allies who provided most of the NATO troops in the country. It was assumed that when U.S. authorities talk about consultations within the alliance, it meant more than just informing the members of the alliance about a decision made unilaterally by the Americans to implement within NATO (Bond, 2021). It is worth noting that even after critical voices addressed the Biden administration in the context of the decision-making process, NATO voted unanimously to support the U.S. plan. This is just a confirmation of a certain pattern that is noticeable in European-American relations, which boils down to the fact that Europeans, even if they are dissatisfied with their limited contribution to the American decision-making process, will not do anything about it (Shapiro, 2021). Skepticism was even greater toward the new president among the governments of CEE countries. They believed that the Biden administration’s plan to strengthen transatlantic relations did not apply to the whole of Europe, but only to Berlin and Brussels. The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs—Zbigniew Rau described the state of US-Polish relations under the new White House administration as “not good,” citing the fact that the authorities of Warsaw found out from the media about President Biden’s decision to drop sanctions on the Baltic pipeline Nord Stream 2, a project which Warsaw and Washington had been trying to stop for years. “Our American allies did not find the time to consult the region most exposed to the consequences of this decision. (Bielecki, 2021)” In addition, Georgia and Ukraine, the two countries most exposed to Russian aggression, were not invited to the summit in Brussels, indicating that these countries were no closer to joining the Alliance than when they were promised membership in 2008 (Bond, 2021). One of Joe Biden’s major electoral commitments was the announcement of the global promotion of democracy and opposition to authoritarian states, especially China and Russia. At the same time, President Biden’s first year in office was limited to a discussion on the level of democracy in the world and a declaration that the United States is taking steps to stop the trend of retreat from democracy. For example, at the beginning of November 2021, The Helsinki Commission at the U.S. Congress held a special hearing on the erosion of democracy in Hungary and Poland (Newsweek Polska, 2021, October 28). At the beginning of December of the same year, at the invitation of the US Congress, the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, took part in a hearing on democracy in Poland and Central Europe. The discussion covered the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the justice system in Poland (TVN24, 2021,

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November 25). Moreover, in December 2021, the United States held a remote Summit for Democracy over the Internet. It was attended by representatives of 110 countries and the EU (Department of State, 2022a). The aim of the summit was to discuss challenges in three areas: strengthening democracy and countering authoritarianism, combating corruption, and promoting respect for human rights on a global scale. The summit also aimed to demonstrate the support and attachment of the international community to democratic values. The summit participants were asked to make certain commitments on their own, related to the state of their own democracy, the fight against corruption, or respect for human rights. The U.S. announced its own initiative to support free media, fight corruption, promote democracy, and strengthen electoral processes around the world, as well as provide more than $400 million for the world’s electoral processes. A further meeting is to be held next year to take stock of the countries’ progress on their commitments (Piotrowski, 2021). The U.S. president’s initiative caused a stir for two main reasons. Firstly, the list of invited leaders raised doubts from the beginning for some, due to the inclusion of countries considered not fully democratic, criticized for violating the rule of law, lowering democratic standards, limiting freedom of speech, or with growing levels of authoritarianism. Ukraine and Poland were cited as examples of such countries in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Hungary was pointed out as the only EU country that did not receive an invitation. This could indicate that the White House, when sending invitations, considered not only a country’s adherence to democratic standards, but also its bilateral relations. And so, in the case of the Hungarian government, which has been criticized for years for undermining the democratic system, its close economic and political relations with Russia further damaged its image, while the summit for democracy was perceived as an attempt to consolidate the democratic world in the face of the Russian and Chinese threats. The invitation of the Ukrainian authorities is explained by the close partnership with the US in order to oppose the invasion of Russia (Feldstein, 2021). In turn, the inclusion of Poland on the list was interpreted as a desire to balance the influence of Russia and China in the region of Central and Eastern Europe (Mackinnon, 2021). The reason the U.S. initiative caused such a stir was its dubious effectiveness. Critics said the meeting had no practical significance and was merely a PR event. “This is a typical example of a situation where politicians think it is appropriate for them to speak out on an issue, although they know very well that it will not change anything” (Zalewski, 2021). Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the discussion will continue, and concrete actions will be taken in the coming months, but the very formula of such a summit for democracy, with no set, clear goals, and the failure of participants to make any joint commitments, calls into question the usefulness of such an initiative. The first months of Joe Biden’s presidency showed that the CEE region no longer occupied the special position in American foreign policy that it had enjoyed under The Trump administration. The media pointed out that president “Biden now risks repeating the mistake of his predecessor in the Democratic Party, confusing Europe with Germany and the leadership of the European Union in Brussels and pushing other strategically important European allies into the background” (Mitchell, 2021). At the same time, the reasons for the cooling of relations between the USA and


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some of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were explained by some as a result of CEE countries’ retreat from democratic principles and standards that have always been on the agenda of American foreign policy (with the exception of the episodic rule of Donald Trump), and which Joe Biden had committed to defend ´ ecicka, 2021). Others believe that the United States does not see Europe as an (Swi˛ equal partner that is able to take on the burden of maintaining its own security and support U.S. efforts in the implementation of its geostrategy, the main element of which is focusing on competing with China for international influence. Some claim the U.S. sees Europe as an ally that requires constant support and care, as a region that is internally divided and even conflicted, which only weakens the importance of Europe in US foreign policy (Shapiro, 2021). However, it seems that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has somehow forced the U.S. government to redefine its foreign policy and set new priorities. As evidenced by the statement of President Joe Biden during his visit to Warsaw in March 2022, when he described the president of Poland Andrzej Duda as a “brother” and praised his leadership, even if in his election campaign Biden mentioned Poland as a nation among “totalitarian regimes.” The U.S. president’s visit to Poland was interpreted as showing the rapidly changing nature of relations between the two countries, heading toward a close partnership. President Biden stressed that “the single most important thing that we can do from the outset” to force Putin to stop the war “is keep the democracies united in our opposition” (The First News, 2022). The U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine took the form of political pressure on the Kremlin’s authorities, economic sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs, state officials, banks, and other entities (Department of State, 2022b), hoping that the cumulative effect will force Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukrainian territory, as well as humanitarian and financial support, supplies for refugees8 and military aid.9 At the same time, some leaders from CEE countries believe that the sanctions introduced by the West are insufficient since they have not yet managed to force Vladimir Putin to negotiate and lead to a ceasefire in Ukraine. Thus, they are in favor of much tougher sanctions, imposed at a faster pace than before. Russia’s war with Ukraine should not be seen only in terms of another pressing international problem that the U.S. must face, but more broadly as a challenge to the leadership of a superpower in a world built on democratic values.


President Biden announced that the U.S. will take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide nearly $300 million in humanitarian aid, and provide tens of thousands of tons of food, water, medicines, and other essentials. See: White House 2022. 9 President Biden stressed during his speech in Warsaw that at the time of the invasion, the USA allocated $1.35 billion for weapons and ammunition for Ukraine. Before the conflict, they provided support of more than $650 million, in the form of weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-tank equipment. In May 2022 Congress decide to deliver nearly $40 billion aid for Ukraine.

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6 Conclusions U.S. foreign policy toward the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the twentyfirst century resembles a sinusoid, from intensification, to cooling, to re-engagement. This is the result not only of the changing geostrategy of the USA, which, taking care of and implementing its national interests, doses out its support and commitment to the affairs of this region, often instrumentally approaching its allies, whose dependence on American economic and military aid often takes the form of passive acceptance of US policy implemented not only in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in other parts of the world. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clearly shows that Europe, polarized on many issues—from migration to policies toward Russia, to the standards of democracy—needs the United States, and the United States needs Europe—since the moment of American unipolarity is quickly coming to an end. Without deeper U.S. commitment to solving the problems on the European continent, the United States risks losing its sphere of influence that it has patiently built since the collapse of the bipolar order, and which Russia and China are effectively trying to redefine in tandem, overshadowing cooperation in all fields. The “diplomatic dance” practiced by the U.S. toward Russia over the past two decades has not encouraged the Kremlin authorities to cooperate and abandon their imperialist plans. As former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski points out “The West is realizing that successive governments of Poland and Central Europe have been warning against Putin for 20 years” (Carnegie, 2022). And although today it is not known whether the noticeable warming in relations between the USA and CEE countries will last a long time, it is important that both the countries in this region where the erosion of democracy is progressing, as well as the United States, realize that they are currently facing a common challenge, which is the desire of Russia and China to overthrow the current order based on democratic principles and values, whose foundation American power is based on. Although the US-European partnership is not equal, and can often be tiresome and burdensome, it is needed for both sides.

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Ewelina Wa´sko-Owsiejczuk, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Faculty of History and International Relations, University of Bialystok. Her research focuses on US foreign and security policy and post-conflict peace building. She is the author of three books and several dozen scientific articles published in Poland and abroad.

Central and Eastern Europe in Germany’s Foreign Policy Aleksandra Kruk and Beata Molo

Abstract The growing crises and threats at the end of the first quarter of the twentyfirst century—especially those instigated by the Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, the diversification of energy supplies, the adherence to democratic standards and the decisions on the enlargement of the European Union—have entailed a prompt redefinition of German policy, whose long-lasting symbol of stability was Chancellor Angela Merkel. For several years, Germany was guided by the assumption that by supporting reforms and Europeanisation, backed by the USA within the framework of the transatlantic security community, it would foster stability across Central and Eastern Europe. The goal of the chapter is to discuss the continuity and change of Germany’s position towards the main challenges that Central and Eastern Europe has been faced with. The authors look at the place of Central and Eastern Europe within the key tenets of German foreign policy, as well as at the practice of the country’s foreign policy towards this region. Keywords Germany’s foreign policy · Central and Eastern Europe · Crisis of democracy · War in Ukraine

1 Introduction The growing crises and threats that occurred at the end of the first quarter of the twenty-first century resulted in the need to redefine Germany’s policy, which had for years been epitomised by Chancellor Angela Merkel. At that time, Germany was guided by the assumption that by supporting reforms and Europeanisation, with the support of the USA within the framework of the transatlantic security community, it would help to enhance stability in the area of Central and Eastern Europe. The A. Kruk (B) University of Zielona Góra, Zielona Góra, Poland e-mail: [email protected] B. Molo Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, Cracow, Poland e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023 R. Zi˛eba (ed.), Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe, Contributions to Political Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4_15



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aim of the chapter is to show the continuity and change of the position of Germany towards the key challenges in the region of Central and Eastern Europe through the lens of the neorealist perspective, advocated by Carl Masala, who shows an increase in international politics resulting from questioning the principle of democracy or questioning the quality of the functioning of international institutions. Masala points to problems in striving to create standards in which EU rules would be followed and binding (Masala, 2018). The authors look at both the place of the Central and Eastern European region in the concept of German foreign policy and the practical implications of German foreign policy towards the region. Difficulties in conceptualising Germany’s policy towards Central and Eastern Europe begin already when defining the boundaries within which the region is located. In a narrow sense, in Germany, it is believed to encompass Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, which Werner Weidenfeld calls the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, treating the Balkan countries as countries from the south of Central Europe (Weidenfeld, 2017). A similar distinction has been applied by Polish political scientist Bogdan Koszel, who in his best-known work “Mitteleuropa rediviva …” talks about the policy towards Central and South-Eastern Europe in Germany. He mentions the perception of these countries as Mittellage in the politics of Germany (Koszel, 1999, 2004, p. 313). Heinrich August Winkler claims that “Russia, Belarus and the East of Ukraine belong to Eastern Europe in a cultural sense. The eight continental countries that became members of the European Union in 2004 are part of Central Europe and also the old Occident, the Church of Western and Latin Europe (…) The ByzantineOrthodox East and South East of Europe turned early on to a road that had significantly changed from Latin Europe differs” (Winkler, 2017, p. 147). More broadly, the policy towards Central and Eastern Europe concerns the countries located between Germany and Russia, in which political and economic transformation took place after the demise of the Cold War. With regard to Central and Eastern Europe, Germany has seen an increase in the tendency to create interregional alliances, i.e. the Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia), the Bucharest Nine (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary), the Three Seas Initiative (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary), the Lublin Triangle (Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine), the Craiova Group (Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia), whose members established the Varna Four in 2017, or the Slavkov Triangle (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria). The perception of the functioning of these negotiation formats indicates the roles performed, e.g. lobbying your own interests. At the same time, disputes and conflicts arise within these alliances, e.g. on the issue of admitting immigrants after 2015, members of the Visegrad Group expressed different opinions. Hungary and Poland protested against the compulsory admission quotas, while the Czech position was closer to the European Commission (Lang, 2022).

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2 Central and Eastern Europe in Programing Documents German policy towards the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is not as precisely and scrupulously included in German strategic documents as the policy towards France, the USA, Russia, the region of Africa and Latin America. Berlin’s policy was to bring it closer to Central and Eastern Europe through the influence of Europeanisation, based on the approval of the treaties adopted. The political manifesto of the coalition agreements of 2013 (CDU, CSU and SPD), 2018 (CDU, CSU and SPD) and 2021 (SPD, Greens and FDP) contains, in scattered fragments, guidelines for the conceptualisation of the policy towards the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Specific references in all agreements were made in the case of Poland. The importance of Polish–German reconciliation and shared responsibility for Europe was emphasised too. In the coalition agreement of 2013, the CDU, CSU and SPD called for deepening the trilateral dialogue Poland—Germany—Russia (Deutschlands Zukunft, 2013; Ein neuer Aufbruch, 2018; Koalitionsvertrag, 2021). On November 7, 2019, German liberals put forward a motion at the Bundestag forum by the name of “Cooperation with Central Europe requires a new dynamics”, in which they emphasised the importance of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s presence at the V4 Summit in Bratislava on February 9, 2019 and supported the “Declaration of the Visegrad Group and the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of historic changes in Central Europe”. Christian Lindner advocated multi-faceted cooperation with Central European countries, the establishment of an office for cooperation with Central Europe and the expansion of institutional cooperation with Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In order to improve economic cooperation with the V4 countries, he postulated the creation of common economic zones, recognition of the qualifications of the workforce and support for technological and scientific cooperation (Antrag, 2019). From Angela Merkel’s perspective, it was important to signal the will to build strategic partnerships with the Visegrad countries, especially with Slovakia (Kálnoky, 2019). The analysis of Germany’s policy towards the countries of Central and Eastern Europe can be carried out through the assessment and observation of the quality of the functioning of the European Union itself. Germany operates within the framework of the strategies implemented at the European Union forum, i.e. the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region: a Concordant Response to Common Challenges, or the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. As part of the strategy, actions are taken in the areas of transport, energy, culture and environmental protection. The Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which started on July 1, 2022 (the first one took place in 2009), refers in its aims to the words of Vaclav Havel: “Europe as a task” and aims to respond to the growing Euroscepticism in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in a situation of threats to economic and political security as a result of Russia’s aggression. The discourse on the represented postulates and articulated interests is worth attention. Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic in 2003–2013, commented before the start of the German presidency in the second half of 2020: “Germany has dominated the most important EU


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decisions. It rules through EU bureaucracy. Germany dominates (…) by the German currency” (Deutschland und seine, 2020). The priorities of the Czech Presidency with regard to overcoming the migration crisis, supporting Ukraine, ensuring energy security and defence capabilities, economic potential and the quality of institutions in Germany were positively received. Bilateral German policy was more focused on maintaining cooperation as part of the Franco-German tandem, symbolised by the reactivation of the Elysée Treaty of 1963 in the Aachen Treaty, concluded in 2019, which includes mutual security guarantees. Germany’s relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have become dependent on the internal policies of these countries of Central and Eastern Europe. While in the early 1990s the presence of common interests between Germany and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe was emphasised, Berlin’s policy towards Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and Warsaw was viewed as a consequence of Berlin’s relations with Washington and Moscow (Grodzki, 2011, pp. 163–178). The direction of Poland’s rapprochement with the West through Germany has gradually changed along with the transformations on the political scene. Polish–German disputes during the Law and Justice (PiS) rule in Poland led to apathy in the work of the Weimar Triangle. German–Hungarian contacts are also assessed negatively, due to the different interests in the European Union in the face of the migration crisis, compliance with the rule of law or Hungary’s policy towards Russia. The government of Viktor Orban was criticised by both German politicians, which resulted in the suspension and the withdrawal of Fidesz from the European People’s Party in 2021. Although Orban was perceived as a pro-Putin politician, in 2022, in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, he supported the deployment of NATO soldiers on Hungarian territory.

3 German Politicians Towards Central and Eastern Europe The analysis of the policy of the two chancellors—Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz— after Vladimir Putin took the presidency in 2012, leads to the conclusion that in German policy Central and Eastern Europe was an area where, according to Germany’s expectations, democratic states with a free market economy would function with ease. Although Merkel herself came from eastern Germany and was interested in the transformation processes in Central and Eastern Europe, it is estimated that she was ineffective in pursuing a policy towards Vladimir Putin, who became President of Russia in 2012. As a Christian Democrat politician, Merkel did not manage to be on the same wavelength with the Russian president, as their perceptions of threats and crises differed. Although the German chancellor speaks Russian, and the Russian president worked for many years for the Soviet secret services in eastern Germany and speaks German fluently, they are divided by cultural and ideological differences, and above all by conflicts of interest. Chancellor Merkel was unsuccessful in resolving the conflict in Ukraine. Together with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, she was criticised for not endorsing the roadmap at the Bucharest Summit

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that would lead Ukraine to NATO. Merkel’s expectations to democratise and bring Eastern countries closer to the West through the Eastern Partnership, initiated in 2008, met with resistance from Russia, which escalated as time went by, giving a sense of instability and threat not only in Ukraine, but also in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The doctrine of General Valery Gerasimov, adopted by Russia, consisting in waging a hybrid war with the West, caused a reaction of the West, resulting in an increase in US activity in the region and the formation of the Bucharest Nine. Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who had been in power since 2021, with mainly experience in economic policy, was perceived as a continuator of the political line of Chancellor Merkel, in whose cabinet he served as vice-chancellor. Among the German political parties, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Left Party (Die Linke) have been criticised for supporting the Kremlin. German FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff recalled that the politicians of these parties participated on behalf of Russia as observers in the referendum on the annexation of Crimea without legal grounds. As a diplomat who knew Russia well, Lambsdorff recalled that Russia was conducting an information war in the world, which was in clear opposition to the international order built after the collapse of the Cold War, an epitome of revisionism (Lambsdorff, 2021, pp. 131–132). German social democrat Sigmar Gabriel described Russia under Putin as a revisionist state that was violating the CSCE rules and pointed to the mistakes of the policy towards Russia. He warned against naivety towards Russia and believed that the success of neoliberalism and the belief that democracy could be transferred through economic processes had resulted in the defeat of the West in Russia (Gabriel, 2018, pp. 115–117, 138–139). Many politicians from the SPD, led by Gerhard Schröder, persistently support Putin, who in March 2022 travelled to Russia without consulting Chancellor Scholz first. Controversy arose by the questioning by Schröder that Putin is responsible for the crimes in the Ukrainian Bucha (Daniel, 2022).

4 Germany Towards NATO’s and the EU’s Eastern Policy Germany has repeatedly referred to the NATO-Russia Founding Act signed in 1997, signalling the need to strengthen dialogue with Moscow in addition to efforts to expand the alliance. However, the progressive waves of NATO enlargement (1999, 2004, 2009, 2017, 2020) intensified the sense of threat and expansionist tendencies in Russia. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014 mobilised Germany to support the countries of Central and Eastern Europe by growing the number of military exercises and supporting the decision to increase the deployment of NATO troops on the territory of Central and Eastern European countries—in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia—following the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw. Germany leads the battle group in Lithuania. Russia’s aggressive policy, Russian–Belarusian military cooperation and subliminal activities on the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian border with Belarus led to a


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growing conviction in Central and Eastern European countries of the need to cooperate within NATO and represent the interests of the countries that were fearing Russia’s aggression the most. At the same time, support for territorial defence was growing. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 resulted in an increase in relocating military equipment and soldiers from the USA and Britain to Germany, and the deployment of battle groups in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. NATO troops were also sent to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia (Zalesi´nski, 2022). After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, soldiers in Ukraine participated in training sessions aimed at bringing them closer to NATO standards, including in the Clear Sky manoeuvres in 2018 and in See Breeze in 2021. In the German strategic culture—characterised by defensiveness—decisions concerning the intensification of the Bundeswehr’s role had been delayed for a long time. It was only in the spring of 2022 that Germany announced an increase in arms spending by 30%, while earlier on, NATO countries discussed compliance with the criterion of allocating 2% of GDP to armaments. Due to the waning sense of security, Sweden and Finland also declared their willingness to join the Alliance, which was welcomed during the NATO Summit in Madrid on 28–30 June 2022. The participants of the Madrid Summit adopted a new strategy in which they identified Russia as the greatest immediate threat and agreed to strengthen the battle groups on the eastern flank to the brigade level and to establish a permanent headquarters for the US Army’s V Corps in Poland.

5 Germany Towards Democratising the Western Balkans The countries of the Western Balkans expected Germany to be so involved in supporting their actions towards EU membership, as was the case with the enlargement of the EU to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Chancellor Merkel made the process of admitting the Balkan states dependent on the fulfilment of the rule of law criterion. The 2018 coalition agreement contained support for the prospect of membership of the Western Balkans and support for cooperation within the framework of the Berlin Process initiated in 2014, in which Poland has also participated since 2018 (in July 2019, the city of Pozna´n hosted the summit). The main motive for Germany’s involvement in the enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkans is the completion of the unification of Europe and the transfer of institutional and legal solutions (Malinowski, 2018). The Berlin Process Summit held in Germany in 2021 was aimed at creating a common economic area and reforms bringing the countries of the Western Balkans closer—the countries with the status of candidates for the European Union (Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro) and waiting countries to obtain the status of a candidate country for membership in the European Union (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo). By supporting the concept of civil society, developing scientific cooperation and youth exchanges and implementing infrastructure projects, Germany intended to anchor the Balkan states in the European Union, targeting these states with investment packages and assistance in

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overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vuˇci´c, who intensified cooperation with China during the pandemic, did not forget to recall that Serbs “cannot survive without cooperation with the European Union” (Bastian & Brüggmann, 2021). Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 and the intensification of political activities in connection with the crisis on NATO’s eastern flank caused a sense of loneliness and disappointment in the Balkans. Germany is watching with major concern the tensions regarding the increase in migratory movement in the Hungarian–Serbian–Romanian triangle. Ethnic tensions and conflicts hampering economic activity, such as transport difficulties, due to the lack of recognition of car and truck markings, remain a political and military problem. From the Kosovo perspective, progress on visa liberalisation is also important. Hence, Germany’s political elite—Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht—travelled to the capitals of the Balkan states in the spring of 2022 to demonstrate their intention to maintain cooperation. Chancellor Scholz emphasised the strategic importance of the Western Balkans region, as well as Germany’s support for the integration of the countries of this region with the European Union. In the light if this, he announced the revival of the Berlin Process, and a meeting in this format is scheduled for autumn 2022. On June 10, 2022, Olaf Scholz paid a visit to Kosovo, and in a conversation with Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo appealed for stability as a premise for accession to the European Union. Due to the continuing tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, Pristina remains a potential candidate for membership in the EU (Besuch in Pristina, 2022). On June 11, 2022, Olaf Scholz visited North Macedonia and Bulgaria. During the meeting in Skopje, the German chancellor expressed his satisfaction with the changes taking place in North Macedonia, which, having received the status of a candidate country for EU membership in 2005, waited for the start of negotiations due to Bulgaria’s holding back the negotiation process. Scholz also declared his support for Albania at the European Council Summit on June 23 which was granted candidate status in 2014 (Europäische Union, 2022). Ever since peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in 1995 under the Dayton Peace Agreement, the territory has not been free of tensions, and it is controlled by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2019, this role was taken over by German politician Christian Schmidt. The migration crisis further deepened the crisis in the Balkans and contributed to the growth of Eurosceptic tendencies. The international community was alerted about the humanitarian crisis in the Lipa camp. In December 2021, separatist tendencies were instigated by the Serbian nationalist Milorad Dodik, who calls for the separation of part of the territory (the so-called Republika Srpska). Destabilisation is aggravated by the fact that Turkey is competing for influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Russia is competing in Serbia. In addition, the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Balkan states is threatened by the rise of Islamic terrorism, the spread of which poses a threat to all European Union countries (Gibas-Krzak, 2018; Malinowski, 2018). The awareness that the Balkans remain a melting pot of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and an extremely seismic area of Europe that affects the situation in Germany results in the


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interest of German diplomacy and financiers in this area. On March 10, 2022, Baerbock began her visit to the Balkans with her visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the meeting with Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovi´c, she stressed that Germany has a fundamental interest in making the Western Balkans politically and economically stable. On 4 May 2022, Lambrecht spoke out in favour of continuing reforms and the EUFOR European Union Force Althea mission (“Westbalkan, 2022).

6 Germany Towards Ukrainian Crisis Since 2014 and Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine in 2022 After 2014, Germany’s approach to the eastern policy of NATO and the EU was a continuation of the Europeanisation that was taking place through the EU institutions and a consequence of responding to the Kremlin’s aggressive policy, which A. Merkel defined as “the law of the strong against the strength of law” (Bollmann, 2021, p. 473). Faced with the threat of destabilisation of Ukraine and the outbreak of the Ukrainian–Russian war, the leaders of EU countries began to call for Germany to be more involved in resolving the Russian–Ukrainian conflict. It was assumed that Germany, having good contacts with Russia, thus had great opportunities to influence the country’s policy. The Ukrainian authorities were also convinced that its interests would be effectively defended by Germany. Germany was ready to take on the role of an intermediary, and Chancellor Merkel’s assumption was that the policy of Germany and the European Union should focus on political and economic support for Ukraine, parallel dialogue with Moscow in order to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict and ultimately also include sanctions against Russia if it made attempts to continue its current policy (Kosman, 2013, pp. 432–433). The annexation of Crimea and the illegal establishment of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic triggered a protest from Germany, which undertook diplomatic actions with France to resolve the Russian–Ukrainian conflict. An integral element of these activities was the establishment of a group composed of the ministers of foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. On July 2, 2014, a meeting of ministers in the so-called Normady Format was held in Berlin, and on September 5, 2014, the first Russian– Ukrainian agreements were concluded in Minsk. It envisaged, among others, immediate bilateral ceasefire, granting the OSCE the role of an observer of adherence to ceasefire, implementing the decentralisation of power by adopting the law on a special mode of local self-government operation in part of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the creation of a security zone on both sides of the Ukrainian–Russian border. Chancellor Merkel’s conciliatory stance contributed to the conclusion of the so-called second Minsk agreement, the main point of which was the ceasefire, and the withdrawal of heavy equipment from the fighting line. Concluded after the next Russian attack on Donbass, the so-called the second Minsk agreement had no effect and testified to the ineffectiveness of European powers. The so-called Russlandversteher,

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represented, inter alia, by ARD correspondent Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, believed that Russia was even “demonised” (Krone-Schmalz, 2017). Before the parliamentary elections in Germany in 2017, the SPD and the FDP declared their willingness to maintain economic and political relations with Russia, despite diplomatic failures on Ukraine (Buras, 2017, pp. 88–89). In the 2018 coalition agreement, Germany stressed the fact that Russia had violated international law by annexing Crimea. France and Germany, participating in the Normandy Format, required Russia and Ukraine to comply with the Minsk agreements and opted for cooperation with eastern states on the basis of the Petersberg dialogue. When, in the winter of 2021, public opinion was alarmed by the mobilisation of Russian forces, there were discussions about the scenarios of action on the part of Germany. Questions regarding the closure of the SWIFT payment system to Russia and the withdrawal from Nord Stream 2 were taken by the German elite very cautiously, which was clear to see at press conferences. (Gibadło, 2022, pp. 90–91). Friedbert Pflüger (CDU), in a letter to Wolfgang Ischinger, referred to Germany’s policy towards Ukraine, warning against the dangers of a nuclear war and war with Russia. He recalled the symbolic Piskaryovski Cemetery in St. Petersburg to defend the German decisions not to send weapons to Ukraine. He postulated: “no escalation”. He was of the opinion that Ukraine could not be a NATO member and proposed to consider the option of Austria’s neutrality or the status of Finland during the Cold War as a sui generis idea for the status of Ukraine in international politics. Finally, the politician calls for another conference similar to the CSCE, which will take into account the basket related to climate policy (Offener, 2022). During the Munich Security Conference in February 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that Russia would pay a high price for the violence and violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He threatened with political, economic and geostrategic repercussions and called for the use of various negotiation formats: the NATO-Russia Council, the OSCE, the Normandy Format and bilateral talks. He considered trilateral negotiations between Germany, Russia and Ukraine (Speech by Olaf Scholz, 2022). Also, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaking at the Munich conference, warned that if there were a Russian attack on Ukraine, it would have huge financial, political and economic consequences for Russia. At the same time, Baerbock reaffirmed its readiness for a serious dialogue with Moscow on security and peace in Europe (Speech by Foreign Minister, 2022). Russia’s full-scale aggression in Ukraine and social reactions in Germany to the stance of Chancellor Scholz caused discussions about the readiness of the chancellor’s office to depart from the Russlandversteher course. President Volodimir Zelensky asked Germany for specific assistance in the form of equipment, which sparked a dispute over the supply and logistical capabilities of the Bundeswehr. The Ukrainians also reacted very sceptically to the offer of a visit by President FrankWalter Steinmeier, who is perceived in Kiev as the main brake on the decision to admit Ukraine to NATO (along with Chancellor Merkel). Germany gradually decided to impose economic sanctions on Russia. The German government, which on the third day of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine made a landmark decision to start delivering weapons to Kiev, began to be more cautious about expanding military


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support in the following weeks of the war (Gotkowska, 2022). Major controversy arose by the restraint in providing military support, which was motivated by Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht with the unpreparedness of the Bundeswehr. Appeals by the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, for military and NATO support through the no-fly zone guarantee and the sending of NATO troops to Ukraine were opposed by the chancellor (Scholz opposes, 2022). On 28 April 2022, a petition was passed in the Bundestag condemning Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine and war crimes committed by the Russian armed forces. It expressed support for the sanctions applied against Russia by the European Union and other countries. It was emphasised that Ukraine exercises the right to self-defence against aggression and that is why the German side supplies Ukraine with weapons. It is stipulated that the procedures related to the supply of weapons to Ukraine are to be accelerated, and the federal government will consider the possibility of delivering heavy weapons and training Ukrainian soldiers in their use. Nevertheless, these supplies must not “jeopardise Germany’s defence capabilities” and are to be coordinated with partners within NATO (Bundestag, 2022). On 28 February 2022, Ukraine applied for membership of the European Union. On 16 June 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis arrived in Kiev. In an interview with President Volodymyr Zelensky, they declared their continued support for Ukraine through the supply of arms, financial and humanitarian aid, actions to enable the export of Ukrainian grain and expressed support for Ukraine’s candidacy for membership in the European Union (Scholz, 2022). During the European Council Summit held on June 23–24, 2022, Ukraine’s application was acknowledged. At the G7 Summit held in Elmau (in Bavaria), Chancellor Scholz announced his intention to establish a “Marshall Plan for Ukraine”. The goals to be achieved are sustainable and green economic growth, strong democratic institutions, the rule of law and the fight against corruption. In addition, Scholz announced the transfer of EUR 4.3 billion to fight hunger in Ukraine (G7-Abschlusserklärung, 2022). Engaging in actions against Ukraine at the G7 forum, Olaf Scholz emphasised that he assessed W. Putin’s promotion of cooperation between India, China, Russia and Pakistan as imperialist actions and violating the interests of the European Union and NATO (German Chancellor, 2022).

7 Germany in the Face of the Crisis of Democracy in Hungary and Poland Germany’s intention has always been to support democratic reforms in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and to make the accession of these countries to the EU dependent on their compliance with the standards of the rule of law. The violation of the criteria of liberal democracy, confirmed by the results of the Eurobarometer,

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World Press Freedom Index, Freedom House and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, a democracy index prepared by The Economist, reflect the lowering rates of respect for democracy, which concern, among others, political rights, freedom of the press, civil liberties and transparent elections. From the German perspective, the violation of democratic principles, which has become the official policy of the ruling parties in Hungary and Poland in the second decade of the twenty-first century,1 prevented countries aspiring to join the European Union from accession. The violation of the rule of law criteria by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that have already obtained membership was diagnosed as obstacles to the legal functioning of parliamentary and judicial institutions, elections or elections and spoiling the foundations of the functioning of the EU. The takeover of power by Viktor Orban in Hungary in 2010 was associated with the growing symptoms of the crisis of liberal democracies and the growing popularity of social groups that express protest and frustration related to the feeling of dissatisfaction with the changes taking place. Inter-party conflicts reflected an increase in scepticism and a conflict of societies, the consequence of which was the weakening of democratic standards. There were competency disputes between the institutions, which led to further weakening of ˙ 2016, pp. 188–189). their functioning (Zyromski, The societies of Central and Eastern Europe agreed to accept refugees to a lesser extent than in the past. According to Ivan Krastev, the lack of ethnic connections between the representatives of the refugee wave after 2015 caused discrepancies, a sense of distance, an increase in discussions about one’s own identity and the observance against multiculturalism, well-established in historical experiences (Krastew, 2018, pp. 58–60). The opinion on the reception of refugees was not binding as the turnout was 40%. The question posed was: “Do you want the European Union to be able to decide, without the consent of the Hungarian Parliament, on the compulsory settlement in Hungary of persons of citizenship other than Hungarian?” proved the scale of tensions between Brussels and Budapest. The German chancellor argued that decisions regarding refugees should be taken at the EU level, not at the national level. Viktor Orban’s policy, challenging Angela Merkel’s goals related to accepting refugees to Europe after 2015, found support among German supporters of the Alternative for Germany. Also, politicians of the Bavarian CSU, such as Horst Seehofer, congratulated Orban on his re-election in 2018 (Becker, 2018). The success of “orbanism” was explained by Agnes Heller as a consequence of tensions between the centre of the European Union and its periphery, which led to the rise of nationalism, while, according to Nora Bossong, the feeling of dissatisfaction resulted in making up ground for “the weariness of democracy”, supporting demagogy, and right-wing populism (Bossong, 2022). Sigmar Gabriel assessed that Orban, by violating the EU rule of law, led to the “division of Europe” (Gabriel, 2018, p. 34). The dispute, initiated in 2015 in Poland, concerning the election of judges to the Constitutional Tribunal, which turned into a deep dispute over the observance of the rule of law, triggered a number of journalistic comments in Germany and influenced bilateral relations between Poland and Germany and moved to the level of the 1

For more see Chaps. 4 and 5.


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European Union institutions. Further controversial disputes over the conditionality mechanism relating to the link between the allocation of EU funds and compliance with the rule of law; on the appointment of judges and on judicial structures; dispute with the Czechs over the Turów mine; whether the actions of the Polish authorities in the face of the influx of migrants to the Polish–Belarusian border were examples of differences in the perception of the principles of legality, democracy and the rule of law. In 2020, Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas recommended linking the EU rule of law procedure with the payment of funds from the pool of investment funds in a manner adequate to the socio-economic situation, including the one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (Außenminister Maas, 2020). Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau argued that the requirements for compliance with the rule of law should be fair to all EU Member States (Praworz˛adno´sc´ , 2020). The provisions of the 2021 SPD, Greens and FDP coalition agreement include EU instruments used to comply with the rule of law: dialogue, verification mechanism, conditionality mechanism, proceedings against treaty violations, recommendations in accordance with Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty. In addition, the ruling parties demanded that liberal states need to combat disinformation, fake news, propaganda and manipulation and to strengthen the activity of civil society; to support EU reforms concerning foundations and associations (Koalitionsvertrag, 2021). After the elections in 2021, Chancellor Scholz emphasised the fact that the principle of the rule of law should guide the development of the European Union. The Chancellor warned against divisions in Europe and, during a press conference in Warsaw on December 12, 2021, he called for overcoming disputes between the European Commission and Poland. His conciliatory statements contrasted with the opinions expressed in 2016 by Martin Schulz in the European Parliament, who defined the governments in Poland as a “Putin-style democracy” (Brössler, 2016). In January 2022, Luise Amstberg, the German government plenipotentiary for human rights and humanitarian aid criticised the Polish authorit