Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Ultimate Removal of the Reminiscences of Yalta

His Excellency Dr. László Kovács
Foreign Minister of Hungary

I am honored to tell you that this is the fourth time that I have attended a NATO Workshop. When I received my first invitation in 1990, I was an opposition member of the first democratically elected Hungarian parliament. Then, in 1993, we Hungarians hosted the NATO Workshop. Last year I participated in the Workshop in Poland, and this year's Workshop is my fourth. Twice I attended a Workshop as an opposition MP and twice as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Quite a lot has changed since I first participated, not only for Hungary but for the Alliance and the entire security environment.

The Yalta Agreement served only as a cradle of bipolarity, reflecting the spheres of interest that limited the operation of smaller countries and deprived the Central and Eastern European countries of their sovereignty, forcing them into a military bloc dominated by the Soviet Union. Yalta sharply divided Europe, a continent built on common history and on a common cultural heritage.

During the decades of bipolarity--those of the Cold War and then those of détente--security was predominantly a military concept. Security in the time of bipolarity was based on the balance of strategic nuclear forces, on the balance of the two global powers' overkill capabilities, and on mutual deterrence. It was a zero-sum game, since the security of either side could be strengthened only to the detriment of the other. Yalta antagonized the whole of Europe for decades, but the real victims were the Central and Eastern European countries, which were forced to accept Soviet dominance, the Soviet economic model, and the Communist ideology.

It was the Soviet Union that forced the Central and Eastern European countries to refuse the Marshall Plan, resulting in decades-long economic stagnation and in a low level of competition that preserved the obsolete economic structure of the region. Finally, however, gradual changes in the balance of forces between the United States and the Soviet Union, the process of détente, a freer flow of people and ideas exposed the Central and Eastern European countries to the effects of freedom, democracy, a market economy, and national independence. The will and determination of the people of Central and Eastern Europe swept the bipolar system away. The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, the Comecon, and the Berlin Wall have all collapsed.


With bipolarity gone, we no longer face the threat of world war, of global nuclear conflict. And security is no longer a predominantly military category. Non-military elements, such as political, economic, social, human, and minority rights as well as environmental factors are becoming more and more important. Security is no longer based on mutual deterrence but on cooperation. It is also no longer a zero-sum game, but dynamic, flexible, and always on the move.

There are, however, new security risks for Central and Eastern Europe to face. Some are of a general nature, such as organized crime, drug trafficking, international terrorism, pollution, and weapons proliferation. Others are specific to a region: difficulties of economic transition; social tensions that act as a hotbed for extremist tendencies, both on the right and on the left; a lack of or a low level of democratic traditions; the surfacing of radical, aggressive, nationalists violating the rights of minorities or fomenting ethnic cleansing; and border challenges that can result in inter-ethnic or inter-state conflicts and in mass migration. Consequently, only a few years after the formal collapse of the Yalta system and the end of the bipolar world order, a new division may take shape in Europe--a division, this time, between a secure, stable, and prosperous Western Europe and an unpredictable Eastern Europe lacking security and stability, facing enormous economic problems, social tensions, and potential ethnic conflicts. The crisis in the former Yugoslavia, the tragic war in Bosnia proved that the lack of security in the East and the South can affect stability in the West and the North. So the new security risks must be properly addressed for the sake of the entire continent.


The most efficient, the most cost-effective, and the most complete response to the dangers of this possible new division is the enlargement of the Euro-Atlantic community, the enlargement of NATO, and the enlargement of the European Union. Hungary welcomes the Madrid NATO Summit that will start the process of enlargement, and welcomes the Amsterdam EU Summit that confirmed that talks on accession would begin in January 1998.


Enlargement is a process that should continue to move forward step by step. Accession to NATO will be based on shared values and the specified criteria, values that must not be merely verbally supported but implemented while the accession criteria are being met. But the gradual enlargement of NATO must not result in a new division. The Madrid Summit must explicitly state that the process of enlargement is open-ended; the first wave will be followed by others. Applicant countries that do not yet qualify should receive a clear message stating what they must do and what they must accomplish in order to qualify for the next round of enlargement.

Support and Assistance

NATO should support and help those countries that want to join the Alliance to meet the accession criteria. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council has provided an effective framework for dialogue between NATO members and the Central and Eastern European countries that has helped us to learn what NATO expects from applicants. PFP has also helped the applicant countries to meet the criteria of membership and to prepare for accession. Now the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council will involve applicant countries even more closely and more effectively in joint activities between NATO and its Partners. The Council will also have a new role after the process of enlargement starts: preventing any division between the expanding Alliance and the Partner countries--between the old, the new, and the would-be members of NATO.

An enlarging NATO will certainly fit into the new, now-emerging, all-European security architecture. This all-European security architecture will be based on the principle of indivisibility of security, as well as on the complexity of security, including both military and non-military elements. The major building blocks of this all-European security architecture will be (a) expanding Euro-Atlantic and European institutions such as NATO, the European Union, the Western European Union, and the Council of Europe; (b) the special relationship between the enlarging NATO and countries such as the Russian Federation and the Ukraine; (c) the regional structures of cooperation such as the Central European Initiative, the Baltic Sea Agreement, the Black Sea Cooperation, the Central European Free Trade Association, and the South European Cooperation Initiative, all of which contribute to stability; (d) the bilateral arrangements such as the basic treaties between Hungary and its neighbors and other countries, and the European stability that has given multilateral dimensions as well as more political weight to these bilateral treaties; and (e) the OSCE, the only pan-European structure with more than 50 member-states.

Inter-Institution Relationships

As far as relations between the various security structures and institutions are concerned, we should avoid overlapping and rivalry. The pervading principle should be cooperation on the basis of comparative advantages. Each and every institution has some specific advantage that the others do not have. NATO has the military potential that can make peace when necessary, as it did in Bosnia. The European Union has the ability to contribute to economic stability and prosperity. The Council of Europe has a unique record and rich experience working for human rights and minority rights, and has established standards and norms that help to prevent ethnic tensions and conflicts. The regional structures and bilateral arrangements have the ability to contribute to stability through cooperation. And, last but not least, the OSCE has an effective crisis-prevention, crisis-management, and post-conflict rehabilitation mechanism that has been tested and proved in Chechnya and in other trouble spots in the former Soviet Union and in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia.


To conclude, I want to stress that enlarging NATO--extending and strengthening cooperation with would-be members and Partners--will fit perfectly in the now-emerging all-European security architecture; contribute to the ultimate removal of the reminiscences of the Yalta Agreement; prevent any new continental division from occurring; and contribute to the unification of Europe on its basis of common history, common cultural heritage, shared values, and common interest in security, stability, prosperity, and a democratic world order.


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