Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 803: Small States and Security in Europe: Between National and International Policy-Making II
Wednesday, 04/Sep/2019:
9:30am - 11:00am

Session Chair: Kenneth McDonagh, Dublin City University
Location: Room 12.32


Small States and Security in Europe: Between National and International Policy-Making II

Chair(s): Kenneth McDonagh (Dublin City University)

Discussant(s): Tomas Weiss (Charles University)

Small states have been studied for a long time in international relations. In the specific European context, small states have thrived benefiting from the relative stability and institutional frameworks of the EU and NATO. The objective of the two panels (of which this is the first) is to bring together scholars working on small states in European security and discuss how national and international policy-making is interconnected and influence each other. The papers will address the issue from various theoretical and methodological perspectives, using different empirical cases.


Presentations of the Symposium


Changing Security Strategies of Small States in post-Crimea Environment: The Case of Baltics

Neringa Bladaite
Vilnius University

Crisis in Ukraine was a game changer for the security of small states in the Baltic Sea region. Other systemic changes such as the unsteady role of the US in global politics, crises in Europe and transforming nature of threats have reinforced this security challenge. The changing security environment and new challenges impel Baltic states to search for new ways to ensure their security. These ways combine already existing memberships in international organizations (NATO, the EU), enhanced bilateral co-operation, in particular with the US as well as individual efforts to boost security. The paper aims to address the security challenges that Baltic states are facing in the post-Crimea environment and to explore the strategies they are employing. The analysis is based on a shelter theory developed by Baldur Thorhallsson. Security shelter is defined as a form of an alliance relationship between a small state and external security providers that enables small states to alleviate security limitations caused by the lack of capabilities. The paper argues that: 1) military and economic challenges in the Baltic states are mostly addressed through the external shelter (the EU and NATO); 2) due to the hybrid offensive activities that Russia is undertaking in the region majority of the current security challenges evolve in the societal sector; 3) in order to address societal challenges Baltic states try to use combined strategies efforts of building a “buffer from within” prevail.


The Military Reform Efforts of Small European States and the Autonomy/Influence Dilemma

Tim Haesebrouck
Gent University

After the end of the Cold War, European states started reforming their militaries in order to enhance their ability to participate in expeditionary operations. However, developing the capabilities necessary to engage in combat operations is beyond the reach of Europe’s small states. Therefore, they must cooperate with partners and invest in specialized capabilities. The possibility of pooling and sharing military resources and developing unique capabilities and expertise confronts Europe’s small states in a new way with the traditional dilemma between influence and autonomy. Cooperation and specialization allow states to develop valuable capabilities for multinational operations, which allows them to buy influence on their larger partners. However, increased cooperation and specialization comes at the price of reduced national autonomy, given that small states increasingly depend on their partners’ willingness to grant access to their capabilities. This paper aims to describe and explain how Belgium deals with this dilemma in the reform of its military. First, an integrated theoretical framework is introduced that combines domestic and international-level explanations for the choices small states’ make in this dilemma. Subsequently, the paper scrutinizes Belgium’s 2016 Strategic Vision and 2017 Military Programmation Law to examine whether Belgium aims to maximize autonomy or influence in its defence policy. Lastly, the paper examines whether the theoretical framework explains Belgium’s position on the autonomy/influence dilemma.


Small and Impressionable? Strategic Culture of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Different Institutional Contexts

Tomas Karasek, Jan Benes
Charles University

Do small states exhibit long-term preferences in relation to decisions concerning the use of force, or do they shift them freely according to the occasion? The concept of strategic culture presupposes that the set of strategic preferences is stable and continuous. At the same time, countries with difficult surroundings and limited internal resources, human and otherwise, could logically be expected to be more volatile in this regard. The proposed article builds on our research into the concepts of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘smallness’ with regards to this specific category of international actors. We intend to test a hypothesis that shared cultural underpinnings (i.e. an existing strategic culture) do inform and substantially shape decisions even the small countries make when contemplating the use of force. The study will focus on the Czech Republic and Slovakia, two countries very close due to the shared history of inhabiting a single state, yet at the same time exhibiting specific features of their strategic cultures. The main research question will ponder the relations between this concept and external institutional contexts of such decisions, represented in different incarnations on the cases of the use of Frontex against immigration in the Mediterranean, NATO’s debate concerning the use of force against Qaddafi’s Libya and the ‘coalition of the willing’ formed in relation to the U.S. intervention of Iraq. The analysis will rest on the discursive representation of the general features of the countries’ strategic culture in official documents, and its specific invocation in parliamentary debates surrounding the three aforementioned cases.