The chapter briefly examines various forms of extrication from communism leading to different forms of post-communist governments. While nationalism underlined all revolutions that overthrew communism in Eastern Europe, in some cases the revolutions were peaceful and led to liberal political and social order, while in others the revolutions were violent or led to further violence mostly motivated by nationalism. The prevalence of elite-led nationalistic goals led to “wars of Yugoslavian succession” which wrecked the former Yugoslavia for a decade between 1991 and 2001. In the rest of the region non-violent revolution mostly prevailed, and the emerging liberal states, after a brief period of hesitation, sought integration into Western security institutions, chiefly NATO and EU. Different domestic policy formation factors in countries of the region explain the different pace and strength of integration drives in the countries of the region. These factors are conceptualized as a dialectic between forces of conservatism rooted in nationalism or communism, and forces of liberalism, seeking integration with the West.
Based on their small size and proximity to Russia, the three Baltic states are the most threatened in the entire region of Eastern Europe. This factor accounts for their blanket admission to both the EU and NATO in 2004, while their high level of economic development and preparedness to establish democratic political systems offered the promise of a smooth transition into both Western alliances. Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, the West placed a high priority on protection of the three states, and thus Russian cyberattacks led to NATO commitment to air policing of the region. In addition, the three states took considerable pains to develop their own military capabilities, and all three committed 2 percent of GDP to defense in 2018. Considerable discussion still occurs about prospects for the success of a Russian incursion, but overall Baltic defense capabilities have grown considerably since 2014.
The chapter examines the communist period of Eastern European states’ political history, with a special focus on late communism. Institutional factors of divergence and convergence are scrutinized with an emphasis on paradoxes of communism as an ideology leading to both unity and conflict. The countries in the region are divided into members of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), subjugated by the Soviet Union, and “independent” communist countries, Yugoslavia and Albania. Among WTO members distinction is made between northern tier countries of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, and the Balkan countries of Bulgaria and Romania. While the Soviet position in the north was basically stable, even though nationalist uprisings had to be put down in all member states in WTO, the Soviets were weak in the Balkans, where only one country, Bulgaria, was a faithful Soviet ally. Finally, different factors and histories of extrication from communism are examined, emphasizing factors leading to different outcomes in different countries. The erosion of the Soviet position in the northern tier countries was decisive in the destruction of the Soviet empire and WTO.
Moving beyond the 15– 20–year anniversaries to stable policies in a time of constant political turmoil
James W. Peterson and Jacek Lubecki
The chapter concludes the book by examining the meaning of anniversaries in creating mythical “places of memories” for peoples and institution. The meaning of NATO and EU admission anniversaries for the newly admitted Eastern European member states is scrutinized. While facing challenges in Eastern Europe, NATO and the EU have been largely successful in providing security and stability in the region. The current crises facing the countries and institutions in the region are likely to strengthen rather than weaken the institutional frameworks in question.
This book blends analysis of Eastern European security needs, foreign threats, domestic political events, and public opinion, in theoretical ways to understand how they lead to future defense postures and commitments for each country in the region. How has NATO and EU membership improved their overall regional defense protection, and what ingredients are still missing for them on an individual state basis? Separate chapters treat clusters of states that make up the various regions of Eastern Europe. For example, the three threatened Baltic states in the north will receive careful analysis. Second, the complex array of states in the Balkan area of Southeastern Europe merit examination, for their security conditions have been quite varied and diverse. For some, NATO and EU membership has become a reality, and for others that possibility does not yet exist. Third, three of the four geographically central states were the ones that first gained full membership in NATO at the earliest possible moment in 1999. At present, Poland in the north has perceived clear threats from Russia since 2014, while the three other East-Central European states possess greater sense of security.
"The EU has supplemented NATO defense efforts in Eastern Europe in significant ways, most notably in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Emergence of its CSDP has enabled the EU to develop organized defense plans. However, utilization of soft power that centers on diplomacy has been their primary tool in additional to the dispatch of peacekeeping troops. There are 11 states in the region that have obtained membership in the organization and contributed to its many missions. EU solidarity in support of the region during the Russian challenge of 2005–7 was more effective than its comparable efforts during the later energy security crisis that included the Nord Stream 2 challenge from Moscow. However, current problems for the European Union stem from outside challenges by Russia, China, and the United States, as well as from intense nationalist movements from within.
Membership anniversaries and theoretical security models
James W. Peterson and Jacek Lubecki
The chapter provides theoretical frameworks for, and a general overview of, the book. First, alliance theory framework is examined, providing a theoretical perspective on how institutional factors can either diminish or increase distances between member states of an alliance. Second, a cluster of theories encompassed by “divergence and convergence” framework is highlighted. Based on realist, liberal, and constructivist theories, these theories examine non-institutional factors that explain variables leading to divergence and divergence of Eastern European states’ defense policies. Finally, we look at domestic and transnational factors that explain defense policy formation of states under consideration. The chapter ends with an overview of the countries encompassed in the book based on geography and factors of security and insecurity that the respective states feel.
Partnership for Peace (PfP) and a staggered admission process
James W. Peterson
NATO established a PfP process in the 1990s and admitted 13 Eastern European states between 1999 and 2017. The Balkan wars of the 1990s sparked a concern that states in the region take responsibility for establishing a framework for stability within their own neighborhood. Later, those new NATO members played a significant role in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. A number of challenged Balkan states such as Kosovo did not become members, but the alliance took steps to support their defense needs. After the 2014 Crimean crisis, NATO took purposeful steps to counter new Russian threats to the region, and member contributions to defense budgets became a key point of controversy.
Defense policies of secure East-Central European countries are examined in this chapter. On balance, and with a partial exception of relatively poor Slovakia, the countries in question successfully transition to stable capitalist and democratic polities, and are relatively stable and secure from geopolitical threats. The countries defense and security policies benefited from relatively early integration into NATO and EU, and the policies have been characterized by convergence and shirking of institutional and policy distances. The countries thus have largely faithfully followed NATO- and EU-led policies and security frameworks. However, precisely because of the countries’ early success with integration and the countries’ relative safety, they also experienced diminished defense budgets and neglected their territorial defenses. The countries’ reaction to the Crimean crisis has been ambiguous, as concerns about Russia are balanced by growing anti-liberal and Russophilic trends in all of the countries. However, a recent trend toward partial remilitarization is also visible. In all cases pro-European rather than pro-US tendency of defense procurement efforts is pronounced.
Three states that emerged from the old Yugoslav Federation (Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia) have joined NATO, while only two (Croatia and Slovenia) have entered the EU. In a sense, these new alliance partnerships have replaced the void left in the absence of the Yugoslav political entity. Alliance politics theory that emphasizes the driving importance of erasing geographic and systemic open spaces is important in this analysis. Separately, Albania has joined NATO while Bulgaria has joined both alliances, and both countries contributed in important ways to alliance global peacekeeping missions. Bulgaria also figured largely in the Western plans to build a defense barrier in light of the Afghan and Iraq wars, but its relationship to Russia has also been a consistent matter of concern and debate.