STRATPOL ViewPoints is a project which seeks to address the most important international politics and security affairs of today. In every issue, you can find a Policy Paper, thought provoking opinion piece, and a brief review of a recent study from well-known research centres and think-tanks worldwide.
Analysis of the draft of Security Strategy of Slovak Republic 2017: Comparison with strategic documents of Czech Republic and Poland
Elemír Nečej and Samuel Žilinčík
Security Strategy is one of the fundamental documents forming the framework for setting security interests and developing capabilities to ensure security of a state. Nevertheless, the current security strategy of Slovakia has been in place for 12 years and is in desperate need of revision. This paper aims to aid the lengthy and challenging process of adopting a new security strategy by analysing the draft of the Security Strategy of Slovak Republic 2017 drawing attention to possible shortcomings that could be incorporated into the final version.
The Czech Republic and Poland both adopted their new security strategies recently, in 2015 and 2014 respectively. These countries also share similarities in the security environment to Slovakia. That is why they were chosen for comparison with the current draft of the Slovak Security Strategy. We compare formal aspects, security interests, security environment and security policies to provide policy-makers with a broader overview of the status of similar documents abroad to highlight and shortcomings the new Slovak document may contain.
Findings – recommendations that could help to improve the Slovak Security Strategy 2017 draft:
- It would be worth considering adjusting the part devoted to background in the fashion of Czech and Polish security strategies. This would improve orientation throughout the document and make it more transparent.
- The strategy would benefit from a hierarchy of interests that would lead to clear prioritization in these areas. Absence of prioritization is also clear regarding policies. This element is especially important because: (1) Means at our disposal will always be limited. It is essential to have a clear idea which interests are the most important and which can be waived. (2) Situations may arise when the individual interests are incompatible and we will have to decide to pursue one in the expense of others. The same logic applies to threats.
- The document suffers from lack of structure. It is particularly evident in the parts devoted to the security environment, but it is visible across the whole strategy. Structure of the Security Strategy of Poland should serve as an inspiration.
- There is a lack of position on the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU and the EU’s internal security strategy. The position should be added to make to role of Slovakia understandable for all relevant actors.
After incorporating these recommendations, the final version of the document should meet the purpose it is intended to serve and thus create an effective framework for setting up and enforcing security interests and developing capabilities to ensure the security of Slovak Republic.
Read the full paper here
Read the Slovak version of the paper here
Authors: Elemír Nečej and Samuel Žilinčík
Three Seas Initiative
THE NEXT BIG THING
Recent visit of American president Donald Trump in Warsaw brought the virtually unknown Three Seas Initiative led by Poland and Croatia into the spotlight. Time will show if declared US support will be able to boost the regional economic project into a geopolitical platform, reshaping power relations in Europe. For now, the TSI is not much more than a vague but promising idea with extensive economic potential but also few inherent political fault lines.
The Three Seas Initiative is supposed to connect the Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas via energy and transportation infrastructure and closer economic cooperation (involvement of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia deserves closer assessment). The Central Eastern Europe region still lacks necessary north-south infrastructure enabling deeper economic ties, and more importantly, diversification of existing prevalently west – east network of pipelines, highways, railways etc.
As a flagship project, the plan for a superhighway Via Carpatia connecting Lithuanian port Klaipeda with Thessaloniki, Greece deserves closer attention. While basically nonexistent transportation infrastructure in the region is a pressing issue, the crucial problem lies elsewhere. Almost all participating countries are heavily dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. Therefore, the most important vector of the TSI is the creation of a regional energy network based on diverse energy sources independent of Kremlin’s goodwill.
Poland has already opened its LNG terminal in Swinoujscie and is now talking about doubling facilities’ capacity. Croatia is planning to open its terminal in Krk in 2019. To use both Polish and Croatian terminals to the full capacity and not only for domestic consumption, distribution pipelines need to be built.
Realization of all these plans will not be possible without big capital flowing in. Crucial question therefore is who is able and willing to cash out the Three Seas Initiative.
No unproblematic options left
One cannot reasonably consider Russia. Even if Kremlin had the resources required, it would invest into its own major energy project towards Europe for the coming years – the Nord Stream II. It is also worth mentioning that the TSI in some aspects resembles Polish interwar geopolitical project Intermarium, which was deliberately designed as a Poland-led union of central and eastern European countries to thwart Russian and German influence in the region.
While Polish president Andrzej Duda has repeatedly declared that the TSI is completely under the EU framework, seeking to enforce the single market in the so called “new” Europe, one can find very little enthusiasm for the project coming from EU representatives. Also, fulfillment of TSI energy projects will bring about an end for German plans to become the European energy hub. Considering the ongoing stand-off between Warsaw and Brussels, it is reasonable to except that there will be no substantial support for TSI anytime soon from the EU. On the other hand, this is something what Polish foreign policy already reflects through its strong orientation towards Washington.
US under the new administration seem to be looking for a counterweight to German and French supremacy over the EU. With American LNG flowing to Poland following the armaments contract with Warsaw there is a certain possibility that United States will adopt the role of a patron of the Three Seas Initiative. Such development could also find support in Romania and Croatia but hardly in the rest of involved countries. Austria, Czech Republic or Slovakia have no reason to participate in a project which can harm their relations with Germany. There are already signals that some parties are not happy with the politicization of the project.
Last but not final option for sponsoring TSI is China. Beijing is already pursuing several development and infrastructure building initiatives across the globe with Europe being no exception. Generally, it is difficult to find many reasons why China should not be interested in the Initiative. However, heavy Chinese involvement in top tiers can be met with strong disapproval in both Washington and Brussels. Less visible indirect involvement in country-level projects could be an acceptable compromise for all parties.
First step in the success of the Three Seas Initiative is ensuring its internal cohesion and active participation of involved parties. A block of twelve countries has more leverage during any necessary negotiations then isolated Poland, Romania and Croatia in seeking potential US patronage. Leaders of TSI countries should not fool themselves – such project can hardly progress without support from the European Union. Nevertheless, the most harmful yet plausible scenario is framing the Three Seas Initiative as battleground for American versus German and French interest with central and eastern European states as proxies.
Author: Matej Kandrík
Civil society – ethnicity and legitimacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Randall Puljek-Shank and Willemijn Verkoren
STRATPOL Brief Review
A recent article published in Cooperation and Conflict journal deals with the problem of ethnic divisions and legitimacy of civil society organizations (CSOs) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. CSOs are organisations operating in a space between citizens and government, enabling representation of citizens’ interests and discussion of public issues. The article explores a common issue in multi-ethnic states, where legitimacy of CSOs in the eyes of local actors is in conflict with legitimacy in the eyes of donors (supporting institutions, governments and/or individuals). This means that a CSO that is legitimate for the local population is often not seen as such by the donors and vice-versa. Puljek-Shank and Verkoren discuss why only few organizations enjoy both donor and local legitimacy but also show some rare cases when a combination of the two is possible.
The original hypothesis was that ethnic homogeneity of CSOs creates legitimacy for local actors, but the donors may view ethnically homogenous organizations as harmful to the peace building process. However, the research results show that one of the most crucial factors for local legitimacy is not ethnicity but the ability to solve concrete problems and carefully navigate ethnically divided constituencies and political structures. On the other hand, CSOs which enjoy high donor legitimacy generally lack local support because of the mistrust in international normative frameworks and perceived lack of concrete results.
Strong and legitimate civil society is critical to stability and the peace building process in fractured countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, as this article illustrates, legitimacy has many dimensions. Any successful CSO needs to be recognised by the local population, donors and international society; and be able to navigate different standards set by the actors. Finally, examples of successful CSOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina could serve as an inspiration for peace-building processes in other ethnically and politically divided countries.
Full article in Cooperation and Conflict can be found here
Author: Tomáš Lalkovič
Security Strategy of Slovakia 2017 | Source: WikimediaCommons (U. S. Department of Defense), STRATPOL
Three Seas Initiative | Source: Flickr (The White House), STRATPOL
Bosnia Civil Society | Source: Flickr (abzur)