Development of Belarus and Polish Foreign Policy within the Context of European Process

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Опубликовано в библиотеке: 2016-06-09
Источник: Беларусь в мире, 01-01-2000


There are various opinions concerning the impact of the NATO enlargement on European security. In order to understand that the NATO enlargement had a positive influence on European security it should suffice to imagine a possible Polish strategy after 1989, if the NATO position towards the expansion of this alliance had been determinedly negative. Apparently, if the prospect of NATO enlargement had not existed, Poland would have had to pursue a strictly anti-Russian policy and search for the allies that would have been able to provide its recently gained or, to be precise, regained independence.

In addition to a possibility for Polish policy towards its Eastern neighbours to acquire positive features, the NATO enlargement is characterised by shifting all security problems into the area of responsibility of the OSCE or NATO-Russia relations. In other words, military aspects of the security problem should not be of a special interest of the Polish people. Also, these aspects do not constitute a primary Polish practical problem.

European Unity

A century ago Europe was an entity - although these were not the best times for Poland and political conflicts between European states eventually ended up in WWI. The European unity was predominantly cultural and economic. Political culture had also been common for the continent. In the sphere of political culture an agreement existed in Europe regarding a necessity of establishing a law-governed state, effective executive power and a certain form of democratic interests representation. A common understanding regarding certain national priorities existed - for instance, in the development of education, legal and health systems. Such common understanding united Europe.

This has to be emphasised since the reforms that had been taking place in Russia during the last 50 years of its history before 1917 led to a significant success in these spheres. Russia established a law-governed state. Despite certain incompleteness as compared to the West, a class of highly educated lawyers with a serious attitude towards professional ethics emerged in the country. Russia achieved a significant success in the sphere of effective administering and established certain forms of democratic interests representation. Even Bolsheviks were represented in the Second State Duma (Russian Parliament).

Back then economic contacts in Europe were set up much easier (let alone possibility of travelling throughout Europe without a passport). And finally, the share of state budget in the GDP did not exceed 10% in any European state.

Of course, the situation on the eve of WWI should not be idealised. From various viewpoints, the modern world is much better. Even with all existing opinions and political conflicts, today nobody is eager to have Europe divided because of any of these conflicts.

Modern Europe: Different Thinking and Different National Institutions

Such state of things, however, does not indicate absence of potential for such a divide across the continent. In reality a significant division emerged in Europe due to the differences in thinking and in the established institutions which on practical level reflect a way of thinking.

This resulted in the emergence of two or even three considerably different regions: Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The latter can to a lesser degree be distinguished as a separate region since its states rather successfully introduce market economic and law-governed state institutions. The phrase "rather successfully" has deliberately been used here to describe the way these institutions are introduced. Apparently, achievements of these nations should not be exaggerated since their institutions are still weak. Thus, countries of Central and Eastern Europe in a way constitute an "intermediate" world.

A wish to gain additional support for its domestic reforms was one of the reasons for the Poland's attempt to join the European Union. The Poles have made

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commitments regarding the outside world that would help them reinforce their domestic institutions. Of course, effects of the realisation of this task in Poland should not be overestimated, but certain steps have been taken in the sphere of strengthening domestic institutions.

Unfortunately, this does not take place in the countries to the east of Poland that constitute the third European region.

Variants of the Belarusian Development

In 1993, it was obvious for a number of observers that there were two variants of the development of Belarus. The first variant was based on the fact that the Belarusians and Russians living in Belarus would rather use domestic resources to provide for the national economic development. According to the second variant, defence industry representatives in an attempt to uphold their position and influence would do their utmost so as to preserve old economic structure. This only deemed possible through cheap deliveries of energy supplies and electric power, as well as maintenance of defence cooperation between Belarus and the Russian defence industry.

At that time, however, an answer to the question "Will the Russian political class during its own perestroika and political and economic transformation risk to subsidise another country - Belarus?" was still unclear. The answer had been unclear up till the end of 1995 when it became obvious that the stakes had been put on the second variant.

The second variant envisaged a possibility of the Belarusian development based on foreign subsidies. However, this variant did not anticipate establishment of civil society in Belarus. Rather, it was making the nation entirely dependent on foreign support. The presidency of A. Lukashenko became an embodiment of this variant of development.

At the same time, such a way of Belarus' development is not the most beneficial for Russia from the viewpoint of her strategic interests. Apparently, it is not the most beneficial for Belarus either. Only the one that takes care of himself can receive the most help. Domestic capabilities have to be primarily relied upon, not denying foreign support. This does not mean that the variant counting on the Belarus' own capabilities has to be either pro-Polish or anti-Russian. On the contrary, this has to be a variant that is closely connected with both Russia and Poland.

Relying on domestic capabilities should not come to self-isolation. Such policy does not exclude bringing in foreign capitals and investments. Only due to this policy it is possible to attract considerable foreign investments. In Poland, for example, the amount of foreign investments has reached 40 billion USD. However, this happened only in the second half on the 1990s. Initially Poland had a few years of steep economic growth without large-scale investments. And only after several years of rapid economic growth serious investments started to come from abroad.

If we look at Russia from the same standpoint, it can be noted that huge financial support arrived there from abroad almost at once, including money in the form of assistance, credits etc. At the same time, at a current rough estimate, 150-200 billion USD were transferred from Russia to the West. Here lies the difference between a society that is eager to help itself and a society where just a minor part wants to help itself. As far as Belarus is concerned, it is possible to state that with help from Moscow the part of the society that only wants to help itself has won there, despite the interests of the rest of the society.

Where Lies the Difference between the Situation in Russia and in Belarus

Russia possesses huge amounts of mineral resources and natural reserves. Another question is how she uses them. Several years ago Sergei Karaganov mentioned in one of his statements that Russia needs no Marshall Plan, for her Marshall Plan is already there in Russia, and it is hidden underground. In fact, one of versions of the Russian Marshall Plan is under the ground, but for some reason only owners of American and West European bank accounts enjoy results of its realisation. How can such plan facilitate economic development? So far it is apparent that it has not helped Russia resolve her problems.

One way or another, Russia owns invaluable natural resources. That of Belarus are incomparably fewer. However, Belarus is known for its human resources, so-called human capital. It is in possession of highly qualified professional and worker cadres. Using its manpower Belarus could develop processing industry and achieve significant success in this area. Why did it not choose this way? The reasons apparently have political rather than economic character.

In any case, Belarusian economic strategy should differ from that of Russia. Belarus should seek links with markets - capital market and the world market as a whole. In other words, it should be aimed at a political and economic model of national development that is more open to the outside world.

An emphasis put on the raw material and defence industry always closely connected with the politics will put off Russia's getting over the economic collapse or decay. The analysis of functioning of international corporations allows stating that political consequences of actions taken by raw material corporations are totally different from the result of activities of the corporations that do their business in the processing industry.

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Raw material companies are interested in safe extraction of raw stock and its transfer to world markets. They take no interest in state order, domestic policy or social issues. Conversely, processing corporations require huge investments in the area of their activities to achieve effective results. Accordingly, a question of investment arises. No country can offer safe investment climate by arbitrary actions. It is provided by a stable legal system, contract legislation, proprietary rights and all those institutions that guarantee and build up these rights. Thus, we are approaching the problem of establishing a so-called law-governed state.

Foreign Policy of Poland, Belarus, and Russia

It would be very unfavourable for Poland to have a border on the Bug River separating rather than being transparent as it was before WWI. Poland has to do its utmost to prevent this, which has to be one of the main tasks of the Polish foreign policy.

Implementation of this task entails the following problem. Polish democratic and market institutions are still weak. If the Poles wide open the country for the cooperation with Belarus and taken into account the degree of reforms development at the Eastern neighbours', Poland might import all the pathologies that take place there in addition to its own ones, scarce though they are. This would deter development and strengthening of the democratic and market institutions, unfavourable for Poland.

Getting back to the analogy with the pre-WWI situation in Europe, we should mention some common civilised criteria of international relations. Currently, such common criteria that are not only declaratively accepted but also actually observed, practically do not exist. This is the principal impossibility of a return to the level of relations between all European states that existed before WWI throughout Europe. The common criteria should lead to establishment of institutions that would correspond to these criteria. As regards Russia, it was only before WWI when Russian criteria were in conformity with the European ones.

From the Russian viewpoint, Polish activities towards its Eastern neighbours do not matter much. Russia operates within world politics, and this is another difference between Belarus and Russia. For instance, Poland - no matter how hard it tries - cannot isolate Russia. And Belarus - unlike Russia - is not involved in big world politics and can only be a subject of regional policy. Therefore, if there are serious talks on establishing a Union of Belarus and Russia, then it has to be taken into account that this union must have a certain role and task division and autonomy of the members.

Being a subject of the world politics, Russia can do whatever it fancies in the regional policy. It can even have none of it at all. According to some Russian views, up till now Russia has not had such regional policy. Yet, Belarus - due to a different position in the world - has to have a regional policy and the lack of it is a critical problem both for Belarus and Poland.

* Antoni Kaminski , Head, International Security and Strategic Studies Laboratory, Professor of the Institute for Political Studies, Academy of Sciences of Poland, Warsaw.


Комментируем публикацию: Development of Belarus and Polish Foreign Policy within the Context of European Process


© Antoni Kaminski • Публикатор (): БЦБ LIBRARY.BY Источник: Беларусь в мире, 01-01-2000

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