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Security Cooperation in Central Europe:
Polish Views


(Germany - 1996)


This thesis aims to present cautious evaluations of the viability of multilateral subregional security frameworks in post-Cold War Central Europe. It uses the case of Polish official and contending views of subregional security frameworks in Central Europe. The time frame of the discussion extends from the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in the spring of 1991 to the winter 1993/1994 North Atlantic Treaty Organization Partnership for Peace initiative to study Central European approaches to this foreign and security policy option. The central argument of this thesis is that subregional cooperation in Central Europe is proving difficult because there are few realistic common goals and no common historical base acceptable to all potential member countries.

The collapse of the Eastern bloc freed tensions and problems among the region's countries, but also resulted in renaissance of old and development of new concepts of subregional cooperation. However, this thesis argues that concepts of post-Cold War subregional structures fail to provide clearly defined, pragmatic, and realistic sets of short- and medium-term goals, which could bring these countries together, and if accomplished, could consolidate this form of cooperation.

A distinction is made between new concepts of cooperation frameworks, aimed at managing links with the West (Visegrad Group, Central European Initiative), and concepts reflecting historical proposals, in general aimed at addressing the country's relations with its Eastern neighbours (NATO-bis, Miedzymorze). It is argued that while the former are backed by reform forces, the latter are advanced by relatively small sections of the right, but occasionally also the left of the Polish political spectrum. These proposals are of a populistic character, appealing to the Polish sense of the country's mission and role in East Central Europe, and based on historically controversial and potentially destabilizing ideas. As the feeling of mission is interpreted by Poland's neighbours as expression of imperialist tendencies, subregional cooperation has little in terms of common historical experiences that create feelings of solidarity, institutional continuity and precedents for cooperation on which to build.

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