Address by Milan Kučan: European Example - Security, Integration, Democracy
Budimpešta, 27. novembra 2007
Address by Milan Kučan for the World Political Forum that was held in Budapest on November 2007 :
"The topic of our panel is inspiring due to the experience that Europeans have, and the future that they want.
Europeans consider safety, democracy and European integration in terms of wars, bloc division and the Cold War that divided the continent into two separate, uncompromising worlds. The wish to protect future generations against the apocalypse of war which turned Europe into material and spiritual ruins twice in the previous century led to the idea of European integration.
Back in 1975, the same idea led to the conference in Helsinki. Despite ideological, political, military, economic and value differences, the positions adopted at that time allowed that the division of Europe would not grow into a military conflict. They ensured that the two worlds existed side by side and even started to cooperate with each other. Now, in the case of Kosovo, it seems that these principles are being abandoned, although it is not clear what the new principles are, and if they will actually contribute to greater security, integration and democracy in Kosovo and in the wider area of South Eastern Europe.
Security efforts were led by individual countries. The main issue at that time was national security, and the primary threat was from other countries, with their territorial and geostrategic or ideological and economic interests.
The idea of collective security developed at that time considered collective security in the traditional military sense as a system of mutual assurances by a group of countries that consider aggression against any one of them as aggression against all, to which they therefore respond collectively. This idea gave rise to the formation of NATO. The whole time, those who supported the idea of collective security considered that in this context security was inextricably linked to economic development and personal freedom, and that development, freedom and security were essential to each other. The NATO alliance was therefore not only a military pact.
Since then, the world has changed. The greatest security threats with which we have been faced and to which we will also have to find answers in the future are well beyond the level of countries engaging in wars of aggression. These threats are wars and violence within countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina); identity conflicts; degradation of the environment; proliferation and potential use of nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons; uncontrolled medical and biomedical tests; infectious disease; terrorism and organised international criminal activity of all types; restriction of energy sources; and social exclusion.
It is no longer just countries that threaten security. It is no longer just national security that is threatened, it is the security of the entire human population. Modern security threats do not stop at a country’s borders. No country, not even the most powerful one, can protect itself against these kinds of threats to their security and the security of their citizens.
Nevertheless, individual sovereign states remain the central and most important factor in dealing with threats to human safety, as they have legal and legitimate instruments for ensuring their security. Owing to the greater effectiveness of these endeavours, as well as to the global nature of modern security threats, the cooperation and linking of countries on the global, regional and national levels is essential and rational.
By defining mutual obligations and responsibilities, strategies and institutions, countries may ensure rational and effective security – this, however, requires a new way of considering security and a new security consensus or answers on how to reach a consensus.
In principle the answer to this question is positive, especially in the case of the EU. With the Helsinki Final Act, Europe already linked security with economic development, or welfare with personal freedom or democracy, which are a guarantee of security. In so doing, it then paved the way for the deliberation that can lead to consensus. By pulling down the Berlin Wall and enlarging the EU, it also started a general process of European integration.
However, there are quite a few conditions to be met for the answer to the question of security consensus among Europeans to be positive on the tangible level.
Consensus on a new European constitution would also be important from this point of view, although it would not itself represent a sufficient step in this direction. Discussion of the constitution shows the historically and culturally determined obstacles to moving beyond the conflict in understanding the sovereignty of the nation state on the one hand, and the ever greater objective need for closer integration of EU Member States on the other. This requires the transfer of some sovereign functions to a common decision-making process owing to common interests. This is a very demanding mental conceptual transformation, without which the EU and thus also its members will not be able to face the challenges of the age in arranging life within the Community, as well as in having influence on and interest in the rest of the world. I am convinced that this transformation would be greatly facilitated by an alliance between European politicians and citizens of Europe, created in open public dialogue on the nature of the modern world and the nature of modern security threats, and on the options that the EU has as regards its position in the global, multi-polar world of today and tomorrow. This holds true even more since Europe has lost its monopoly as the focal point of civilisation that has for centuries significantly influenced the development of human society.
Such a dialogue would facilitate a decision on whether Europe must integrate faster. An objective set in this way would provide for faster elimination of the consequences of former bloc divisions in real relations and ways of thinking, as well as avoiding the creation of new divisions with the economic and political privileges of certain countries and discrimination against others. It would also strengthen its power to resist divisions that come from outside, such as the attempt to divide Europe into new and old in light of differing viewpoints on the start of the war in Iraq and signing the Vilnius Declaration.
In considering security, integration and democracy in Europe, consideration could also be given to the nature of the border established as the security border at its outer edge, and to ways of cooperation with the countries existing beyond the borders, in particular Russia, North Africa and the Arab countries.
Does Europe not separate itself from the outer world with this border, and how is it possible to harmonise this with its ambition to be an influential player on a global level? Some answers to this demanding dilemma would make decisions on immigration policy easier, as well as on inner European intercultural and intercivilisational dialogue, which would aim not towards exclusion or assimilation, but towards the integration of immigrants. Further, it would facilitate decisions on a European social model which, at the European level and within individual European countries, would reduce the differences between rich and poor at the level of countries and social groups within them, and would strengthen the social cohesion of EU Member States on the whole.
In particular, such a public dialogue would affirm a commitment to the foundation of common values on which European integration stands and may exclusively develop. Without a firm commitment to respecting the values based on which European integration was created and from which it has developed, and within which human rights occupy a central position in all their integrity – from political, social and environmental to cultural issues – European integration will not have a backbone, and the single market, defence, diplomacy and security will not have strong support and true justification.
Insensitivity to disrespect of these values, including, for example, overlooking threats by extremist political groups and their public manifestations; insensitivity to social exclusion, encouraging national, religious and racial intolerance and the like – all these at the same time also undermine the actual foundations of integration.
In order to function as an efficient and credible actor on the outside, and to be an influential player in the development of human civilisation, and in this sense also an agent of peace and security in the world, the EU must strengthen its internal integration. The condition for the latter is a firm commitment to personal freedom, dignity and rights, and to democracy, which is their guarantee.
Therefore, it is reasonable to link the issue of security to integration or the quality of cooperation in Europe to democracy and the fundamental values of integration."