European orders

Marian Miszalski

Since 1 December 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon, creating the new federated European state: the European Union (so far it was a union of sovereign countries) has been in force. The new state has introduced the formula of shared sovereignty: divided between the EU organs, which are now common, and the former organs of the national states. Only Germany ensured for itself, at the last moment and as an exception, the fullness of state-national sovereignty. As far as Great Britain and France are concerned their nuclear weapons are the guarantee (though Germany must not have nuclear weapons for the time being). Spain and Italy, their national interests being weakly connected with Central-Eastern Europe but strongly connected with South America and the Mediterranean countries, need not fear ‘shared sovereignty because the subject of the political European game is first of all the former Soviet block countries, i.e. the area of Central-Eastern Europe. That has already been for 200 years…

Variants of shared sovereignty

The concept of shared sovereignty included in the Treaty of Lisbon as the foundation of the new state – the European Union – has not been anything new. The whole epoch of the European feudalism was based on this principle, the difference being that the competences between the feudal lord and his vassal or vassals were precise and strictly defined. The Treaty of Lisbon is characterised by loads of ambiguities, defined in general statements, which creates big possibilities for current political interpretations that – as historical experiences show – are made by the strongest ‘share-holders’ of the shared sovereignty… Another form of the doctrine of ‘shared sovereignty’ was – not so long ago – the Brezhnev doctrine, assuming ‘shared sovereignty’ of the Soviet block countries. It did not consider any limits of ‘rinsing out’ their national sovereignty by the Moscow headquarters. The key statement of the Treaty of Lisbon is that the member states must refrain from any actions that could contradict the goals of the new state. What will these goals be? Unfortunately, we do not know them yet. And therefore, we do not know to which extent, and which goals, this part of shared sovereignty, which falls to its components (since 1 December), will be rinsed out under the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Order of Vienna

In the year 1815, the Congress of Vienna, after the fall of the French empire of Napoleon, decided on the new political order in Central Europe. The victorious monarchies: Russia, Austria and Prussia guaranteed the stable division of influences in this part of Europe, confirming the liquidation of the Polish state and preserving – initially – the rump Duchy of Poland until its complete liquidation after the November Uprising and its formal liquidation after the January Uprising. A serious blow to the Vienna order was the strengthening of Prussia after the victorious war with Austria in 1866 and with France in 1871, which made the prompt unification of Germany under the political leadership of Prussia impossible. At the same time the internal nationalistic tensions weakened systematically the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which revived the German-Russian rivalry for the zone of influence in Central Europe that had fallen to Austria. That rivalry led to the outbreak of World War I, which brought to an end the Vienna order in Europe. The war caused the Austro-Hungarian Empire to fall and the new national states of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Lithuania could be restored on the ruins of the empire. It is worth adding that both Russia and Germany were seriously weakened because of the war. Those new countries filled the political vacuum, which originated in the territories of Central and Eastern Europe being under the zone of influence of Russia and Germany and established at the Congress of Vienna. The victorious allies established a new order in Europe: the order of Versailles in 1919.

The Order of Versailles

The order of Versailles assumed that neither Russia nor Germany would be able to rebuild their zones of influence in Central-Eastern Europe in this political vacuum the newly originated national states filled. But the collaboration of the victorious allied countries was not good enough to maintain this political goal accepted by the Congress of Versailles in 1919. Germany and Russia – now a Bolshevik state – needed only 20 years to define a new zone of influences in Central-Eastern Europe by signing the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in August 1939. This pact meant the end of the order of Versailles and the beginning of World War II.

The Order of Yalta

The defeat of Germany as well as the increased military significance of the Russian and American involvement in the war caused that the guarantors of the order of Yalta in Europe were Russia and America. The order of Yalta divided Europe into ‘western’ (the United States of America guaranteed its freedom and own – American – influences) and ‘eastern’ (which became the undivided zone of the Russian influences). In Western Europe France aimed at controlling Germany, which was confirmed by the establishment of the European Community, thanks to which France controlled the German heavy industry, indispensible to its military production. The order of Yalta broke when the Soviet economic system bankrupted, failing to compete with the arms race imposed by America, as a result of which the Russian leaders decided to give up – at least for the time being – the Eastern European zone of influence and focusing on the necessary economic transformation of the Soviet system. The unification of Germany and the military withdrawal of Russia from Central and Eastern Europe – the political price Russia paid for gaining time for the transformation of its system – ended the order of Yalta. However, a new ‘political vacuum’ was created in Central-Eastern Europe, this time resulting from the economic-political weakness of the former Soviet block countries – having experienced the destructive socialism for almost 50 years – towards Europe. The German politics, which since the end of the war has consistently aimed to liquidate the effects of the lost war (negative for Germany): division of Germany as well as the lost of territory and military incapacitation allowed Germany to become independent from the economic guardianship of France and the European Economic Community. In the meantime Germany became the main sponsor of the European Union and real leader of the EU politics. After the order of Yalta had ended in 1991, at the unification of Germany, ‘European integration’ became a German instrument to rebuild its zone of influence in Central-Eastern Europe and the Treaty of Lisbon became an instrument of this politics. The strategic partnership, which Chancellor Schroeder began with Putin’s Russia a few years ago, refers – under new political conditions – to the policy of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, policy aiming at a new division of the zones of influence in Central-Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia, but this time it seems to use mainly economic methods.

The Order of Lisbon

Therefore, the fundamental consequences of the Treaty of Lisbon will not concern the Western European countries: Great Britain, France, Spain or Italy (whose statements concerning ‘shared sovereignty’ need not be obstacles to realise their national interests) but mainly and first of all the Central-Eastern European countries, the former Soviet block countries: populous but economically weak and politically unstable. In the whole Europe, from Gibraltar to the Bug River, it is Central-Eastern Europe that could be a perfect ‘new, big loot to be divided’ between the zones of influence of both strategic partners. It is not by accident that reading the Treaty of Lisbon makes one have the impression that the text – apart from some exceptions – consists only of generalities and claptrap. Such a new European order, the order of Lisbon, will be subject to current, and at the same time binding, political interpretation, made by the real leadership of the new state within the sovereign competence they have granted to themselves...

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Is the order of Lisbon actually a solid, new European order or rather is it the seeds of a possible, new political chaos? How long will the strategic German-Russian partnership co-exist peacefully with the interests of Great Britain, France, the Scandinavian countries, the United States of America or the former Soviet block countries, including Poland?...

"Niedziela" 49/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: