Analysis of the Draft Defence Strategy of the Slovak Republic 2017
Policy Paper by Samuel Žilinčík and Tomáš Lalkovič
The main goal of this study consists of three intermediate objectives. The main goal is to analyze the draft of Defence Strategy of Slovak Republic (DSSR). The first objective is to characterize the role of the document in the security policy of the Slovak Republic (SR). The second objective is to identify strong and weak points of the document in relation to the security environment and security needs of SR. The third objective is to formulate recommendations to rectify the weak points of the document.
- DSSR is a fundamental document related to the defence of the state. It builds upon the Security Strategy of the Slovak Republic and determines the political-strategic framework for the Military Strategy of Slovak Republic.
- Among the strong points of the document are the analysis of various kinds of threats, the adherence to the basic logic of the strategy and the identification of lacking resources in the defence department.
- Among the weak points of the documents is the absence of priorities related to threats, political objectives and to the development of armed forces. The document also suffers from its fuzzy terminology. Other weak points are the absence of acknowledgment of the possibility of failure of the strategy and the lack of rigor regarding the concept of force employment.
- We recommend selection of particular priorities with regard to threats, political objectives and the development of armed forces as well as a more rigorous concept of employment. We also recommend acknowledging the possibility of failure of the strategy as a consequence of chance, uncertainty and the actions of intelligent adversaries. Lastly, we recommend slight terminological changes.
Poland and Israel clash over Holocaust law
THE NEXT BIG THING
Back in November the deputy prime minister and minister of culture of Poland Piotr Gliński held a keynote speech at the Third Polish-Israeli Foreign Policy Conference. He used optimistic words about how intensive, wide-ranging, and inspiring the Polish–Israeli dialogue is. But the relationship between the countries has recently taken a turn for the worse. The reason was the adoption of a new Polish law which makes it a crime to attribute responsibility to Poles for the Holocaust or any other Nazi atrocities from the Second World War committed on the Polish territory. This law has raised a number of concerns from both domestic and international audiences and spoiled the Polish relations with Israel and the United States.
The most problematic part of the law states that:
„whoever claims that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes — shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.”
For example, the law prohibits the use of a phrase „a Polish death camp,“ which is often used by the media and statesman and which even the law’s opponents agree to be historically inaccurate.
The law makes it illegal to implicate Polish people in the Nazi war crimes. Almost immediately some historians reminded that, along with high pre-War polish anti-Semitism, some polish nationals directly participated in the Holocaust. The overwhelming worry is that the law will restrict the possibility to discuss the role of collaborators in the Holocaust and constrain the freedom of speech and the search for objective historical truth. However, the Polish side insists that a person is not committing a crime if he or she commits the described act as part of artistic or scientific activities. This assurance did little to calm the law’s opponents and the described concerns were repeatedly raised by a number of people and organizations following the adoption of the law last month.
Israel has been especially active in voicing these concerns and accused Poland of attempts to cover up history. This resulted in a diplomatic dispute between the countries over the last months. Moreover, Israel is also worried about the tense public atmosphere that had recently been created in Poland and manifestations of rising anti-Semitism in the last two years. According to the European Jewish Congress, there has been a distinct normalisation of anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia in Poland recently. These concerns are mostly based on a study by the University of Warsaw, which found an observable increase in anti-Semitic attitudes among the country’s youth. On the other hand, the Polish government argues that its goal is to defend its nation from slander and to protect Poland’s reputation in the face of confusion about the true perpetrator of the Holocaust on Polish territory: Nazi Germany. In the words of the Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki: „We have to send a clear signal to the world that we won’t allow for Poland to continue being insulted.“
Polish and Israeli representatives have met in Jerusalem on March 1 to address the issue in person for the first time, although the talks proved inconclusive. However, just a week later and possibly as an attempt at reconciliation, the Polish president Andrzej Duda publicly apologized for communist Poland’s persecution of Jews in 1968, during which some 13,000 were expelled from the country. Other Polish officials also tried to calm down the heightened emotions, such as the Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who denounced anti-Semitism and blamed the Soviet Union for the Jewish purge of 1968. Interestingly enough, Morawiecki raised eyebrows with his statement earlier this year that some Jews were also perpetrators of the Holocaust. Despite the attempts to make amends, there have been no words about repealing or amending the law so far. Nevertheless, such debate would have to wait, as the law is now being reviewed by the Polish Constitutional Court. The court, however, is under the political control of the ruling Law and Order party since 2015.
Other than the damaged diplomatic relations, the fallout of the affair could have a tangible impact on the security of Poland in the form of failed common defence projects with Israel. Back in July, „Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a memorandum of understanding concerning, among others, tactical loitering unmanned aircraft systems, aerial reconnaissance systems, electronic warfare systems, multi-mission transformer tanker and aviation platforms. Under the executed memorandum, PGZ and the Israeli parties also promised to review the modernization programs of the Polish Armed Forces and use technological solutions and products offered by IAI, if possible. If the countries fail to reach a common ground, these projects could come to a halt. Concerns also came up about the security cooperation with the United States, another vocal opponent of the law. In a widely publicized leaked memo, which has since been reported as fake, U.S. officials warned their Polish counterparts that failure to abandon the law could hurt shared defence and security initiatives. Even though false, the document still brings to light some possible repercussions Poland could face.
For now, the constitutionality of the law is being reviewed by the court and it could end up scrapped anyway. But if it is found to be constitutional, the diplomatic stand-off will probably continue. The law has already passed through the parliament and was signed by the president. Moreover, Poland is already on bad terms with the European Union for its recent judicial reform, described as undemocratic, and is facing possible punitive measures. In this context, alienating its allies outside of the EU does not seem a smart move and especially not over a law which is trivial regarding prosperity or wellbeing of Poland and its citizens.
Author: Tomáš Lalkovič
Militarisation of cooperation against mass migration – the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC)
STRATPOL Brief Review
The migrant crisis, which hit Europe in 2015, presented a major organizational challenge for ensuring the security of European states. One of the main problems was the lack of an effective policy at the EU level to cope with the flow of migrants. This motivated several member states to establish a unilateral response to face the challenge. For instance, border control, which had been previously shunned as a relic of the past, has once again become a hot topic. Nemeth Bence, an expert on Central and Eastern European Security and Defence, sheds light on this under-studied, yet a very important development. In his recent article, he maps the development of military cooperation to deal with the European migrant crisis at the regional level in Central Europe.
The main goal of the article is to explore how the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) arrangement has become a pivotal Central European forum for military collaboration against irregular mass migration. CEDC was established by Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia between 2010 – 2011. The original aim of the club was to improve cooperation amongst the participating nations on military capability development supporting EU and NATO initiatives. However, its focus has since shifted towards the cooperation on border control.
The paper first briefly delineates the most relevant Central European multinational defence collaborations created before CEDC to provide context for the better understanding of its dynamics. Second, the paper introduces how and why CEDC was created, and what kind of activities, regarding capability development, it did. Third, it describes the impact of the European migrant crisis of 2015 on CEDC countries and their military unilateral and bilateral responses to it. Fourth, it highlights how Central European countries began to cooperate to counter the mass irregular migration through CEDC. The paper concludes with an overview of how the rationale of cooperation has shifted from defence capability development towards cooperation against mass migration.
On the most basic level, the article explains that because of the European migrant crisis, the management of mass irregular migration and border control became the core function of the armed forces of Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia. These countries gradually deployed hundreds of policemen as well as members of the armed forces with dozens of armoured vehicles to protect their borders. At the same time, the Czech Republic and Slovakia used their armed forces to prepare for the influx of irregular migrants by providing police support to Hungary and Slovenia.
Regarding the future of the cooperation, the author speculates that it depends on whether the mass migration stays on the political agenda of Central European countries. If so, the cooperation within CEDC will probably remain focused on border control, as a tool for prevention of mass irregular migration in the short and medium terms. A new migrant crisis in the EU, even one that would not impact CEDC countries directly, would most likely cement CEDC as a forum for military and police cooperation against mass migration for a longer term. A new crisis would easily convince political and military leaders that the change in priorities of CEDC over the last two years was in the right direction. However, if participating CEDC states begin to perceive the problem of mass migration as a less immediate challenge and the focus shifts to, for example, cooperation on capability development, this shift may well produce problems for the cooperation. The author identifies Austria as the weak link in the cooperation, as the state is not a member of NATO. If the other CEDC countries perceive that Austria’s priorities dominate existing cooperative agreements, they will search for forums outside CEDC. This development could lead to a gradual dissolution of the established platform.
While the article provides a solid analysis of the changing dynamics of CEDC in general and border control in particular, it invokes more questions than it answers. The most important question is whether this regional approach does not threaten the cohesion of the EU itself to an extent that it might lead to a serious disruption of the Union. The very success at the regional level may well produce fissures of political tension between Central Europe and the rest of the Union. Finding a proper balance between regional border defence and political acceptability at international level may present a serious challenge.
The article may be of special interest to decision-makers whose work is related to regional security in general and specifically border control. But it should also prove useful for students of political science, security studies, or international relations, as they may find themselves with a responsibility to maintain the link between regional defence measures and broader international politics. It could also be of special interest to members of the armed forces, as it explains the political reasons for their deployment. This should help them understand the political consequences sought to be attained by their deployment and thus prepare them for their service.
Nemeth’s research provides a great contribution to fill the gap in an under-studied, yet very important research area. Mass migration, on a scale like that of 2015, still presents a serious challenge to border security of the EU member states. Regional military cooperation has proved to be one possible and quite flexible way to manage it. It may even prove to be a successful, although temporary, precedent for future challenges. The challenge of further mass migrations may occur anytime in the future and understanding of the defence dynamics and political consequences will prove crucial for its management. At the same time, other members of the EU are not convinced about this approach. They tend to ask whether the regional cooperation is an acceptable tool of border-defence or whether it is largely a product of domestic politics, based on the conversion of external threats into political power at home. This is a legitimate question, which should always be emphasized when the successes of border defence are highlighted by political elites. The chances are that both answers might be correct.
Author: Samuel Žilinčík
Responsible editor: Ondřej Zacha
Members of the Slovak Republic 5th Special Forces Regiment prepare to evacuate a simulated casualty as part of a Partnership Development Program event at the Military Training Center Lest in Slovakia. | Source: Flickr / USASOC News Service (CC BY 2.0)
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu | Source: President of Russia
Mateusz Morawiecki | Public domain
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 centers and think-tanks worldwide.