The research reports reproduced here are the responsibility of the individual authors. Their reproduction does not imply any form of official or unofficial endorsement by NATO. The reports are offered in unedited form, as presented by their authors, with a view to make their findings available to a wide audience.
Ukraine And European Security - International Mechanisms
As Non-Military Options For National Security Of Ukraine.
[Back to Index]
Chapter 3. "Gradual" Approach
Section 3. Central And Eastern European States
3.1 Initial Relations and Prospects for Block Formation
From the first days of its independence Ukraine asserted that the relations with its Central and Eastern European neighbours would be a priority of its foreign policy.(197) Ukrainian Foreign Ministry started working on several treaties with Hungary, Poland, and then the Czechoslovak Republic.
As early as in December 1991, Ukraine signed the treaty with Hungary, which relinquished mutual territorial claims, provided the recognition of inviolability of common borders, and guaranteed the rights of national minorities.(198) This agreement has also served as the pattern for the agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic signed during 1992-1993.(199)
The security interests of the CEE countries have been essentially identical to those of Ukraine, where both were felt risk from the same direction and both were seeking the protection. And similarly as in Ukrainian case, the security assurances have become a high priority goal of the Central Europeans - these countries lacked the military power to defend themselves and yet have no security guarantees from the West.
The question of security has became the key point in Central European area even before the appearance of independent Ukraine -when in April 1990 the Czechoslovak, Polish and Hungarian leaders met in Bratislava, it was discussed for the first time. Later, after the creation of Visegrad Group, then Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Markarczyk suggested that 'coping with an uncertain security environment, in particularly unstable and hostile Soviet Union, can in fact be singled out as the most important launch pad for cooperation within the Vishegrad framework'.(200) Howerer, forming any kind of military block has always been out of the consideration, whereas originally these countries had been afraid of provoking hard line viewpoints in Moscow.
The idea of the uniting of the East-Central Europeans was also quite popular in early 1990th among political circles of Eastern European countries. On 29 May, 1993 there was a meeting of major political parties and movements of Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries, in which the participants decided to establish, what was described by the Belorussian leader S. Shushevich, as 'a belt of neutral countries' separating Russia from Europe. The idea did not have enought political and economic support and was not developed practically, though there was an effort to resurrect it in 1994.(201)
Another attempt to form a security bloc in the region was the Budapest initiative put forth by Ukrainian President Kravchuk in February, 1993. Following signing of the series of treaties with Poland and Hungary in 1993, Kiev hoped to strengthen its security by developing a regional security structure. Kravchuk appealed to Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and Prime-minister Joseph Antall with the proposal to create a Zone of Stability and Security in Eastern Europe,(202) "that would be a loose alliance of countries without any formal ties" and aimed to forster consultations on various levels - economic, security, settlement of border issues and national minorities.(203)
Ukrainian President explained that the "security vacuum" that appeared in East-Central Europe after the demise of the Warsaw Pact had to be filled. Hungarian leaders supported the idea: Antall said that this initiative did not aim to recreate the Warsaw Pact and that such regional cooperation would contribute to the process of European integration.(204)
It is suggestive, that being approached in February 1993, this idea predated a "Stability Pact" proposed by former French Prime-Minister Eduard Balladur two mounth later. Ukrainian approach also seemed to be more broader in dedication, as far as Balladur's proposal covered only two aspects - border disputes and issues over the national minorities in Europe.
President Kravchuk and later, Deputy Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk, both emphasized that this initiative was not aimed against Russia. The latter said that such a zone would act as a "bridge between Russia and Europe".(205)
The next development came in April, 1993 when after a meeting of Kravchuk and Antall in Uzhhorod, Ukraine and Hungary started joint consultations of experts on the issue. In Uzhorod Kravchuk again reiterated that the aim of his initiative was not to revive the Warsaw pact and stressed that the zone's activities would have "clear interconnections with NATO".(206) Later on, the proposal of Kiev was repeated by Ukrainian delegates at the 38 Session of the North Athlantic Cooperation Council.(207)
Though, as the Ukrainian leaders had emphasized, this initiative would include Russia, they did not inspect and investigate it with Moscow - Ukrainian officials only discussed with the Slovaks, Poles and Romanians, thus effectively excluding Russians from planned design.(208)
Contemporary, with the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that Ukrainian diplomats' words fell on deaf ears. As Roy Allison noted, the Eastern Europeans were foremost afraid of being involved in a conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimea or the Black Sea Fleet.(209)
There is another factor, which is also important to consider. Such international grouppings like "Vishegrad group" were interpreted by many Central and Eastern European analysts as transitional phase towards Western European institutions and currently, "these tendencies [particularly in military area] might be approaching an end".(210)