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OSW: “Closing the gap? Military co-operation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea”

09.10.2014 | By Łukasz Kołtuniak

An informative report entitled „Closing the gap? Military co-operation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea” was published by the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW). Its authors, Justyna Gotkowska and Olaf Osica analyze the security policy of Central and Northern Eeropean states in view of the changing international environment. The report was drafted back in 2012 before the Ukrainian crisis. Therefore, its point of reference is the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, which from today’s perspective was less serious than the current conflict between Kiev and Moscow. The authors assess how the first war in Europe since the Dayton Agreements changed the policies of the region’s countries whose aim so far was to professionalize their armies and reduce military expenses.

The report attempts to measure the probability of regional cooperation between four country groups divided according to their location. Those include: Baltic states and their potential cooperation with NORDECO (Scandinavia). The other group encompasses the Visegrad countries and Romania and Bulgaria. The authors analyze their general regional policy as well as the states’ defense policies.
The report ends with general conclusions. One can see that those states have a lot in common. All of them belong to the so-called trans-Atlantic world. They all see the disappearing stability in the international geopolitics as a threat to their current position or even independence. However, a close look shows that the ways the countries want to protect themselves are very different. For instance, Finland perceives Russia almost as an existential threat to its independence, but is very reluctant when it comes to specific obligations and duties related to military organizations. On the other hand, Denmark does not believe that the current international setting poses a threat to its independence. However, at the same time it wants to be US’ perfect ally in Europe and just like the States, perceives international terrorism as a threat to world peace and security. The Czech Republic is yet another story. While they do not see Russia as a threat to their independence, their approach is very “pro-Atlantic” and they are eager to cooperate with the States. This is counterbalanced by Slovakia that does not consider Russia a threat, but its government led by Rober Fico is very skeptical towards the USA.

Therefore, the report’s main conclusion is that the common goals in the region are rather very general. The more specific aims and threats, as well as the military potential of the countries are very different. Nevertheless, cooperation is possible at least to a certain extent and such attempts are becoming more successful.

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picture: OSW