Department of Political Studies - University of Catania

Jean Monnet Chair of European Comparative Politics

Jean Monnet Working Papers in Comparative and International Politics


Fulvio Attinà

University of Catania

Partnership and Security: 
Some theoretical and empirical reasons 
for positive developments in the Euro-Mediterranean area

July 2000 - JMWP n° 27


Four years after the Barcelona Declaration was solemnly signed, a lack of tangible results has been feeding pessimism concerning the chances of getting even minor achievements in the area of security and defence co-operation. But, the failure to approve a list of confidence-building measures at the Second Ministerial Meeting in Malta in April 1997, and the procrastination at signing a Peace and Stability Charter during the Third Ministerial Meeting in Stuttgart in April 1999, must be contrasted with the presence of all Partnership countries in the meetings convened to discuss arms control, conflict prevention and security measures. Excessive preoccupation with the wish to get tangible results soon is overshadowing the correct appraisal of the conditions for Euro-Mediterranean security. Shelves are full of studies and reports by security analysts of the Mediterranean region which almost exclusively focus on severe conflicts and divisive cleavages across the Mediterranean Basin. The importance of these factors not withstanding, this study draws attention to the need for appraising the evolving nature of security in the contemporary world and the Mediterranean region in order to put the analysis of the process of building security among the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in the right context.

Two security area issues are analysed in this study: the wider context and inner context. In the former, attention is drawn to three groups of factors which condition security in the Mediterranean and in other areas of the world: the systemic proprieties of security in the contemporary world; the new dimensions of security and security community building as perceived by political analysts; and the European and Arab security cultures. The analysis of the inner context, instead, reviews attempts and processes aimed at building security in the framing of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The list of factors examined here does not pretend to be complete. It is a selection of factors loosely inspired by Modelski’s (1996) theory of evolutionary world politics which sees the international system as bound to the formation of global institutions and, consequently, views regional political theatres as influenced by, rather than as autonomous from, the evolution of the global system. For this reason, the prospects of the Euro-Mediterranean security building process appear to be less dark than most analysts allow the Euro-Mediterranean partnership-makers to expect. However, to point out signs favourable to positive developments of security negotiations among Euro-Mediterranean countries does not imply that we underestimate difficulties and obstacles. The analysis of the inner context of Euro-Mediterranean security in this study acknowledges the slowing-down effect of these difficulties and obstacles on the making of security agreements in the area. The overall analysis, however, supports the prospect of progress in Mediterranean security building because it identifies incentives for managing security issues through co-operative and multilateral methods rather than through the conflict instruments of the single countries.

The wider context

The wider context of Euro-Mediterranean security is the present stage of global change in which new features of international security are emerging. State governments put confidence on military means to defend their interests as they always did in the past. But new instruments of action and influence short of violence, especially short of full scale war, are also carried out by governments to defend national interests and values at risk. Economic and political integration among West European states has removed war and violence from the acceptable means for the resolution of disputes and conflicts. War as a means of inter-state relations is obsolete also between the United States and Canada, between them and the West European countries and, in general, among the members of the Club of Northern States. Culture, learning, interests and formal institutions are recognised causes of the abolition of war among these countries. When the Cold War ended, West European states committed themselves to include Eastern Europe and the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the number of countries which will make no use of war to resolve reciprocal disputes. The enlargement of the European Union and the OSCE mechanisms are the instruments they have opted to attain this goal. The United States has been very much concerned with this development in Europe. They joined the process of restructuring security in Europe with the proposal of enlarging NATO by allowing former Warsaw Pact states to become members of the Atlantic Alliance.

However, the last wave of war on the European soil – the civil and inter-state wars of former Yugoslavia and the use of violence in and between post-Soviet states – has caused strong doubts concerning peace in and nearby Europe. These wars and violent conflicts have demonstrated to the West European states the need to protect their wealth and peace system by all available means. The privileged tool of action of the European governments and European Union (EU) institutions is to export the West European security model, based on economic integration, to Europe’s adjacent areas, although EU countries also aim at constructing a common military defence structure.

After Soviet Union ceased to exist, the expectancy of a major war between major powers has also sharply decreased because Russia and China are no serious military threats to the United States nor do they feel seriously threatened by Western nations. This condition of global pacification, however, is framed in a context of military globalization. United States hegemony expansion, patterns of arms trade and expenditures, defence industries linkages, and the multilateral pattern of military intervention are major indicators of the growing intensity of military relations among all political units of the world system. The world has been changed into a single geostrategic space (Held and McGrew, 1999: 88) and the building of regional security systems is influenced by the unitary nature of security in the present global system.

Decreased expectancy of a major powers war is not the only aspect of global pacification in the present time. Also minor powers wars are decreasing in number. In the 1950s and 1960s the average number of interstate wars per year was 3.6. In the 1970s and 1980s, the average decreased to 2.7. Statistics confirm this trend also for the 1990s (Zangl and Zurn, 1999: 140). Different factors explain such decrease of the number of interstate wars. The first factor is the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the high number of states able to inflict severe damages in case of war. This factor, however, increases the recourse to deterrence and, for this reason, actual war number is low but the probability of war continues to be high. Economic interdependence is another factor to mention. Among economic interdependent states, the probability of war is lessened by the rational calculus of the cost of interrupting existing economic ties. If this factor hardly applies nowadays beyond the group of the Western states, it is possible to argue also that countries on a similar path of co-operation could join the Western states club. The ASEAN states, for example, recently started a Regional Forum in order to create a regional security system. On this ground, analysts draw attention to another aspect of contemporary international security: the encapsulation of conflict relations among states of distinct geographic areas. Patterns of amity and enmity – or "security complexes", as Buzan wrote (1991: 190) – are substantially confined within some geographic areas. Security regionalism is maintained by the theory of zones of peace and zones of war (Singer and Wildavsky, 1993). According to this theory, the world is divided into two systems of different rules of conduct and interstate behaviour: the "industrialised, democratic states" and "the rest of the world". The former developed peaceful means of conflict resolution and made war obsolete in its midst. On the contrary, the countries of the rest of the world use war as a common instrument of state policy. The emerging security system of the ASEAN states, however, suggests that this division of the world is not rigid. Multilateral security arrangements are possible also in "the rest of the world". The preoccupation by many states concerning potential vulnerability to conflict in distant parts of the world because of the interconnectedness brought about by the globalisation process is another reason against the peace/war division of the world. In fact, security is increasingly perceived as one of the public goods of the present international system, and not as the mere right of the single state to defend itself with national military forces or alliances. The consolidation of the norms concerning the right of the single state to exist on the ground of the action of specific institutions of the international system aimed at providing this right is responsible for the emergence of this perception. Two institutional aspects of the present international system which sustain the norms of the survival of states are now analysed. These aspects are (a) the conjunct action of the global power (i.e. the United States) and of the United Nations to provide security to all the countries of the world and (b) the recurrence of multilateral arrangements to provide security to states. These institutional factors are responsible for the new nature of state security. The former has changed state security into a public good; the latter is bringing in an increasing de-nationalisation of state defence policies to all the corners of the international system.

International security as public good and de-nationalisation of defence

International security - defined as the certainty of survival of a state which is the object of military attack aimed at deducting it from the number of the states of the international system - is much better today than it has ever been. International security in the present world is based on general consensus and norms about state survival and the efficacious reaction of international institutions against the violation of this consensus. Since the end of the Second World War, these institutional arrangements have been the United States leadership and the assistance of the United Nations. The United States have been acting as the last resort provider of international security and the United Nations have been acting as the legitimizer of the leader's action to provide security to the state at risk of disappearance after being military attacked by another state.

Since 1945 no state has been eliminated as a result of military attack. When a state risked elimination due to military aggression, the global power intervened in agreement with the United Nations and saved the attacked state from being removed from the system of states. The global power efficaciously acted as the provider of last resort of the public good of security available to all the states of the system. States disappeared from the post-World War II international system only for reason of disintegration and unification, not for military aggression. Disintegration has taken the form of violent separation (like in Yugoslavia) and non-violent separation (like in the Soviet Union and the Czech Republic and Slovakia cases). Unification has taken three forms. Voluntary fusion of two or more states in a new state entity as occurred in the cases of the formation of Malaysia and Tanzania into post-colonial states. The ongoing formation of the European Union can be counted as a possible example of this form of state transformation. Re-unification of ‘divided states’ is the second form of unification. It took place in the case of Vietnam, Yemen and Germany. Korea is a fourth candidate to this form of state disappearance. Forced and coercive assimilation of a weak entity by a stronger one is the third form of unification. This has been the case of East Timor for 25 years and Western Sahara. In both instances, however, violation of the self-determination principle is apparent rather than violation of the international security principle because at the time of disappearance the two entities were not yet recognised as states according to international law standards.

The lack of cases of disappearance of a state due to military aggression in the present international system can be explained by a fundamental change of the nature of international security. Past international systems were self-help systems and state survival was grounded on self-defence. International law recognised the right of the state to self-defence and security, but the survival of the European state system and not the survival of the individual state (not to mention the survival of extra-European states and state-like entities) was the value defended by international rules and practices. The survival of a state was at the mercy of the great powers. Beyond national interest to territorial enlargement, great powers were allowed to sacrifice a state existence to avoid the transformation of the state system into an imperial system. Division and annexation of small and middle powers by others was not contrary to the principles of past international systems as it is in the present one.

The transformation of international security into a public good is also shown by another practice of the contemporary international system: the demise of military alliances. In the past, the state grew secure by way of increasing its own military power and/or binding itself with military pacts and alliances to one of the strongest states of the system. In the present system, states continue to provide themselves with military means of self-defence, but state security is defended in the last resort by the institutions of the system. Military alliances are obsolete instruments of foreign policy. The number of military alliances is down, close to zero. The last big wave of military alliance formation dates back to the time of the so-called Second Cold War (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) when Brezhnev challenged the United States and signed precarious military pacts with the self-proclaimed communist states of the "arc of crisis" in Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Regional arrangements and security communities are taking the place of military alliances but they are completely different in nature, as we shall see later in this study. The only important exception to the demise of military alliances is NATO. Before going into this aspect, the analysis of international security as public good must be completed. So far, it has ascertained the lack of cases of elimination of states by military means. It must be demonstrated also that all the attempts to eliminate a state by military aggression have failed because of the intervention of the system institutions, i.e. for the intervention of the United States as the global power institution and the United Nation as the legitimizer political institution.

Five cases can be counted as real attempts to eliminate a state by military means and invasion in the present international system. In chronological order, they are the invasion of South Korea by North Korea, South Vietnam by North Vietnam, Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Kuwait by Iraq, and Bosnia by Croatia and Serbia. Other instances of military occupation and partial territorial separation, especially in the Middle East, were neither deliberately intended to produce the elimination of the offended state nor unintentionally produced such a result. Under the legitimating flag of the United Nations, the United States openly rescued three states attacked and threatened to disappear (South Korea, Kuwait, and Bosnia). In the fourth case (South Vietnam), they failed as much in their military intervention as in obtaining UN legitimisation because the Soviet Union did not leave the Security Council seat empty as it had done in the Korean case. In the fifth case (Afghanistan), the United States resorted to covert operations and indirect military intervention. In this case, the United Nations condemnation of the invasion did not take the form of a Security Council decision but of a General Assembly resolutions. Only the attempt against South Vietnam was accomplished with eliminating the existing state. But Vietnam was a "divided state" and the United States never obtained the legitimating support of the United Nations.

The global military role of the United States in the international system is considered the reason why NATO is alive and in good health today. But it is also maintained that NATO is not the traditional military alliance it was when it was created. It has turned into the major politico-strategic instrument of the global power in the enlarged European region. NATO is part of the institutional structure of the governance of the system. Foreign and security policies aimed at insuring individual self-defence and building multilateral security arrangements have to deal with this alliance as long as the United States continue to play the role of security provider of last resort.

The transformation of international security into a public good is accompanied by the growth of multilateral defence and security arrangements and the emergence of new tasks for national armed forces. Formal and informal international commitments are subverting the de jure sovereign power to declare war and use military force on the ground of national calculus of costs and benefits. Although no agreement has been reached on the proposal – supported in and out the United Nations – to create permanent UN armed forces, national armed forces have been increasingly used in multilateral war-management and peace-enforcement operations in the past years. National armed forces are increasingly trained to act in international operations in which a premium is put on the skill to control complex situations of violent confrontation. Monitoring of truce, carrying out peacekeeping, protecting civilians against genocide, and – in general - military actions with limited objectives are the new tasks of armed forces used in multilateral operations.

Military globalisation and regional security arrangements combined with trans-governmental military institutions and trans-national networks of defence experts have made the management of defence and the making of security policy no longer an exclusive national affair. Few aspects of national security policy remain untouched by the web of institutionalised and informal mechanism of consultation and co-operation. This condition applies more or less to all nation-states of the contemporary world, the United States included. The United States are the most autonomous country regarding defence and security policy, but military commitments in multilateral institutions entangles their autonomy as well. West European countries autonomy in defence has been entangled by the long-time experience of NATO which involves various degrees of integration of military commands, standardisation of armaments, interoperability of armed forces, joint military planning and multilateral military operations. The recent formation of Eurocorps is a further departure from the traditional autonomy of the national military power and an important experimental step towards the constitution of supranational military forces by European Union countries.

Changes in the security agenda and the concept of security communities

After the end of the Cold War and the demise of the perception of mutual threat by the governments and publics of the former blocs, international security analysts devised the emergence of a new security agenda. Economic, environmental, social and domestic political issues came to the front of the security agenda and displaced military power threats as major concern. Multidimensionality became dominant in the discourse on security. The issues of migration, environment pollution and violation of human rights are examples of a change in the security agenda discourse. A social and economic issue, managed by domestic policies, migration has been brought into the security agenda, firstly, as problem for the rich states "invaded" by "masses of people" coming from the poor South and, secondly, as a problem of the international system influenced by the instability of the areas of dislocation of large numbers of people. Environmental problems and problems caused by the violation of human rights and democratic principles are addressed as security problems in the same way as migration. They originate from outside and can not be solved with actions confined to traditional diplomatic and military means of defence and security.

Analysts link the widening of security agenda to the definition of security as the certainty of maintaining desired values and goods which are considered essential to one’s survival (see, for example, Huysmans, 1998; Waever et al., 1993) Accordingly, international security is the certainty of states and societies about the conservation of territorial, economic and cultural integrity and other desired goods and values. In the past, territorial integrity was the exclusive condition of national security because the loss of territorial integrity for the cause of foreign armed invasion meant the end of the state and its national community. As earlier examined in this study, the institutions of the international system protect rather well the physical integrity of contemporary states from external military invasion and this core condition of security is not perceived today as the exclusive condition of national security. Economic, cultural and environmental goods are also considered essential conditions of security, and they are perceived today much more at risk from external threats than they were in the past.

The widening of the security agenda is maintained also because insecurity and uncertainty are perceived as the effect of two kinds of causes: threat and risk. Threat is the uncertainty intentionally created to an actor by other actors which have means to harm the target-actor. Risk, instead, is the uncertainty of an actor who does nothing to prevent the harmful side-effects of another actor actions and decisions not made with the intention of causing any harm. For the sake of reducing insecurity and strengthening security in a interdependent world in which state borders are easily penetrated and social relations are easily established across national borders, governments have to reduce any kind of threat and risk. For this reason, the security agenda of contemporary states cannot be limited to military and violent threats of hostile states, also known as hard security issues. It also includes risks of harm to the state and national community caused by the effect, across the state border, of social, economic and environmental processes taking place in other countries. These risks are usually called soft security issues. National governments provide soft security and protect national society from non-military threats and various kind of risks through co-ordination with other governments, association in international institutions, construction of security communities when favourable conditions occur. It must be mentioned that such political means also contribute to making arrangements which prevent the increase of hard security problems among the concerned countries.

Is the discourse on "widening security agenda" over-stretching the concept of security and making it coincident with the concept of politics? Scientists, like Giddens (1990; 1992), who explain the widening of security agenda by drawing attention to the generation of new risks and security problems in modern societies because of the intensification of the globalisation process, maintain that modern politics has the task of managing risk environments which are increasingly trans-national. Taking for granted the extension of the tasks of modern politics to managing risk environments, I would claim that the major concern of the security analysts is with hard security problems and the management of threats to the physical security of states and societies. However, for the natural link between the building of arrangements for managing soft security problems and the building of arrangements for managing hard security problems especially at the regional level, security analysis is inherently concerned with the interplay of both kinds of discourse and practice. In this respect, the study of security communities belongs to security analysis and is important because conditions for building security communities are also undergoing a process of change in the context of the present world.

Social scientists owe the concept of security community to Karl Deutsch (Deutsch et al., 1957). He considered possible that states develop so strong integration among themselves as to have a sense of community and a feeling that they can settle mutual differences without engaging in war and recurring to violence. When this condition occurs, states form a "pluralistic security community". Over time, the countries of a pluralistic community develop a set of multilateral institutions for the management of their relations but do not develop a single political and governmental institution. Whereas a common structure of government emerges, countries are united in what Deutsch named an "amalgamated security community". According to these definitions, the European Union is (or is near to be) an amalgamated community, while the Atlantic security community is a pluralistic community. The OSCE is a group of states committed to the goal of building a pluralistic security community. The group of countries participating in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership can be studied either for the potentiality of constructing pluralistic security community or for the lack of sufficient and/or essential conditions to constructing pluralistic security community.

According to Deutsch, the process of security community building starts with an increase in social transactions. These generate social integration and this in turn produces common institutions. Intense transactions and social integration, then, are the necessary condition for Deutsch’s security communities while common institutions are almost the end product of security community building. Today, instead, the scientific debate on the emergence of security communities is mostly concerned with the relative importance of multilateral institutions and national security culture on the process of security community building. According to Adler (1998: 120) the relation between multilateral institutions and security communities is based "on agency, that is, the catalytic function of institutions to promote, induce, and socially construct community by means of community-building practices". He believes that the multilateral institutions and the community-building practices institutions they activate produce the necessary conditions for peaceful change which are: (a) cognitive and material structures, (b) transactions between states and societies, and (c) collective identity or ‘we-feeling’". For this reason, analysts of security building process will look into the security culture of the concerned international actors, i.e. "those enduring and widely shared beliefs, traditions, attitudes, and symbols that inform the ways in which a state’s/society’s interests and values with respect to security, stability and peace are perceived, articulated and advanced by political actors and élites" (Krause 1999: 14). Security culture is worth careful study because culture is not static and people respond to change and adapt their conceptions to different conditions of life. Analysts of security-building agreements in a regional context characterised by cultural differences – as the Mediterranean region - must be aware that the parties can develop special forms of dialogue, ability to communicate and exchange information and messages and also a disposition to change their "weltanschauungen". Shifts in security culture frameworks bring about shifts in security policy as well as in the position and the behaviour at the negotiating table of regional security building measures and arrangements. On this ground, the security culture of the European and Arab countries apart from their interaction in the years of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership belongs to the wider context of the Euro-Mediterranean security and deserves our attention.

Western security culture

The security culture of the Western countries has been forged in the bipolar context of the nuclear deterrence strategy and the multilateral context of the Helsinki Process. Arms control negotiations in order to cope with the risk of nuclear arms race were as important as the experience made by West and East European countries in the context of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (the CSCE, today the OSCE).

In the 1960s, Western policy-makers focused on arms control to stabilise East-West confrontation, halt nuclear arms race and, above all, reduce the risk of war between the two superpowers and their respective allied countries. The fact that this goal has been reached over time convinced the Western publics, especially those directly concerned with security and defence that arms control can be used as a "management tool" of conflict relations between antagonist countries. In the early 1960s, scientists, professionals and experts of the two blocs started to organise conferences, have regular meetings and create networks to debate arms control issues on a regular basis. Over time, this arms control community - as Krause and Latham (1999) call it - acquired importance in the development of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Its importance was so much appreciated that it induced replication at other, subsequent, negotiation processes. The seminar diplomacy practice of the Helsinki Process and the expert networks practice of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership are a repetition in different contexts of the arms control community of the bipolar strategic dialogue. Trans-national co-ordination of experts was soon considered an essential condition for carrying out the wide regional co-operation programme of the three functional baskets of the Helsinki Final Act. In the CSCE/OSCE’s idiom, a number of words – such as meeting of experts, seminar, workshop, conference, round table, forum – is used to refer to direct interaction between the experts (diplomats, practitioners, civil servants, academics and scientists) of the member countries. Adler adopts the term "seminar diplomacy" because those meetings have taken the form of "forums modeled after university seminars" and, like university seminars, they are "socialization mechanisms that, based on interaction and dialogue, promotes the development of common meanings, innovative ideas, and cooperative solutions". Adler observes also that "in addition to their results coming to the attention of the OCSE’s policy-making units, delegates will later disseminate the ideas raised at the seminar in their respective political systems, thus spreading the seeds of shared understandings across national borders. This is why NGOs can and do play an important role in seminar diplomacy; they are an invaluable conduit of information from the OSCE seminar to civil societies, and from civil societies, through the seminars, to OSCE authorities and OSCE governments" (Adler, 1998: 138-142). As shown later, this invaluable instrument of security dialogue is adopted also by the Barcelona Process in the form of expert networks.

The members of the arms control community of the Cold War time analysed the implications of important arms limitations and control concepts and measures. Krause and Latham (1999: 30-32) have called the attention of security analysts to the invention of the intrusive measures of ‘verification’ aimed at increasing the effectiveness of arms control agreements. Against the right of foreign powers and international bodies to control compliance with an arms agreement, it was acknowledged and agreed that arms control agreements and treaties between enemies are useless without appropriate measures to reduce uncertainty about the enemy’s compliance with agreed norms. Acceptance of the verification clause, developed in the dialogues of the arms control community of the 1960s, eased the way to the adoption of the concept of confidence and security building measures which was created by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and is considered by Western countries to be the essential element of any project of regional security.

The early conception of confidence building measures was limited to voluntary notifications of military activities and other forms of voluntary transparency, such as invitating foreign observers to military manoeuvres and reciprocal visits of military personnel. The object of these measures was to avoid misperceptions and make military intentions explicit. In the 1992 Vienna Document of the CSCE, confidence and security building measures were taken as a compulsory instrument of the European security system. Military information and personnel exchanges were designed to regulate by mutual consent various aspects of military power, such as size, technical composition and operational practices of the national armed forces (Krause and Latham, 1999: 32-34).

The consequences of the adoption of confidence and security building measures (CSBMs) are not restricted to the achievement of narrow strategic aims such as avoiding surprise attack and inadvertent escalation. Implementation of confidence measures is a cause for the transformation of the security relations of countries involved in the mechanism. In fact, the acceptance of CSBMs changed the security conception of policy-makers, defence specialists and people in Europe. Security was seen as the product of mutual confidence and the effect of dialogue and transparency. Co-operative and multilateral approaches were acknowledged as more efficacious to attain peace and security than national threats and unilateral approaches. The "most important legacy of the East-West CSBM experience was a modification of the Western realpolitik tradition" (Krause and Latham 1999: 33). As the Soviet Union accepted Western ideas of arms control and security measures, today Western governments believe that other states can join regional projects of security system construction which are grounded on mechanisms of mutual and co-operative security. Western security culture today assumes that the security culture of states and societies can go through a process of change; security ideas can be learned; and security practices born in a particular culture can be shared with actors of different cultures. Adler’s remarks on the importance of the experience matured by OSCE members are particularly illuminating on this regard:

When assessing and measuring the influence of OSCE’s practises, we cannot simply look at this institution’s regulative tasks or short-range activities, because what matters most is the long-range effectiveness of its practices and activities as constitutive of community identity and bonds. For example, when the OSCE sends a mission to Tajikistan or to Estonia, organizes a seminar on military doctrines or confidence-building measure (CBMs), or, as part of its CBM regime, requires states to open up their military activities for inspection, what matters most is not the short-range success of the mission, seminar, or inspection, but the construction of a foundation for community practice and behaviour. Moreover, one needs to assess whether OSCE innovative practices and activities have contributed to the collective understanding of the OSCE as a "region" and to changing the way that peoples in this region collectively think about their security. (1998: 121)


The CSCE/OCSE model of international security is intimately linked to the conception of comprehensive and co-operative security. The school favourable to the widening of the security agenda maintains that the approach of the comprehensive and co-operative security has a strong demilitarised component. It includes economic, environmental, political and human factors among the component factors of the concept of security. In particular, the rationale of the political and human dimension is that peaceful international relations depend on domestic conditions of all the countries concerned. These conditions are, for example, justice and the rule of law, democracy and pluralism, human and minority rights, a free and autonomous civil society, individual freedom, market economy. The crisis of communism, increasingly manifest over the years of the Helsinki process, facilitated the acceptance of the comprehensive security concept by people and governments of Eastern and Central Europe. In addition, practices and initiatives to socialise states to the OSCE’s norms and familiarise societies and individuals with political and human norms have been explicitly worked out and applied in Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet countries. The aim of these practices was to learn how to become member of an enlarged community of states and institutionalise the norms of the community, however distant from it some of the admitted members were from the community norms (Flynn and Farrell, 1999). This was especially the case of the incorporation of the post-Soviet states without assessing the congruity in order to avoid the danger of leaving them outside and "against" (Adler, 1998: 133-134).

The OSCE practices and mechanisms of comprehensive and co-operative security – like early warning, conflict prevention, protection of human and minority rights, and confidence and security building measures – have been designed to institutionalise collective (i.e. regional) solutions to conflicts and disputes, be they inter-state conflicts and disputes or domestic ones. The expected result of these practices and mechanisms has been grounding conflict resolution on a trans-national conception – or regional identity - of security. Initially aimed at reducing the danger of surprise attack by transparency of military apparatuses, CBSMs and co-operative security became – under the effect of the norms of comprehensive security – also a tool to enhance mutual trust in general and community-building in particular.

Being the first to opt for co-operative security as a tool to avoid the destructiveness of contemporary war fought with powerful, technological armaments, the Europeans do not exclude that people in other parts of the world could reach the same end. However, - according to Krause and Latham - the Europeans perceive themselves as the only rational and self-contained actor in international security among an array of aggressive, irrational enemies. The self image of the West as rational and self-contained actor in international security changed with the disappearance of the Soviet Union only to give the place of the Soviet Union to a number of Third World countries, named rogue states. Krause and Latham point out two explanations in support of that argument: the uncomfortable position of military planners and foreign policy makers of "having no embodied enemy and non clear conceptual framework to guide strategic conduct, and the centuries-old western symbolic cultural representation of non-Western societies as ‘irrational’, ‘dangerous’, impervious to the logic of reason and ultimately respectful only of superior military force" (1999: 36-37). Since anti-Western attitude of Third World countries did not grow after the end of the Cold War and since no radical change occurred in the behaviour of these countries, Krause and Latham conclude that the present Western security culture "has been shaped largely by the convergence of a deeply embedded Cold War arms control culture and a new discourse of threat and danger" (1999: 39).

It is not hard to accept Krause and Latham’s argument and agree with two supplementary elements of the present Western culture they point out: the focus on proliferation as principal threat to global security and the belief that Western preponderance is the key of international peace and stability. But Krause and Latham’s interpretation is also partial and unsatisfactory because it leaves aside the second element of the Western security culture of the 1990s to which they draw our attention, that is the view on co-operative defence, common security and comprehensive security. The correct description of the present Western security culture must account for both sides of the coin: the construction of the new enemies and the new discourse of threat and danger (that is, rogue states and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction) on one side; and the conception of co-operative and comprehensive security, on the other side. In addition, differences in the security cultures of the Western world countries must be accounted for by the analyst, however close to one another the Western countries security cultures can be. Countries such as the United States, France, Germany, Belgium, and Sweden show peculiar traits in their approach to security. The similarity of their approach allows us to present a single image of the Western security culture, although the security culture of a state like the United States is defined as more prone to the discourse of the new threat and danger while the security culture of another state like Sweden is defined as being very close to the co-operative and comprehensive security image, whereas the security culture of other countries are located on different points between these two extremes.

Arab security culture

The origin of the security culture of the Middle East and North Africa Arab states can be traced back to the Cold War competition in the region between the Soviet Union and the Western states. The Cold War in the Middle East and North Africa was mostly the effort of the United States and Soviet Union to have friendly governments and defend them almost at any cost: "Until the mid-1990s, there was intense competition between the superpowers for influence in the Middle East and North Africa, with both sides providing their ‘clients’ with everything from direct financial support to arms" (Piening 1997: 70). The Cold War practices of the superpowers influenced the consolidation of post-colonial states, the adversarial nature of regional politics and the militarisation of their domestic regimes.

The Arabs opposed the Cold War model of regional politics with two distinct approaches: the Arab nation approach and the society of Arab states approach. The project of regional security inspired by the former saw Arab security in terms of an Arab trans-state community inclusive of all the Arab populations. According to the latter, the external interference in regional and inter-Arab affairs and the presence in the region of the non-Arab states of Israel, Turkey and Iran (see, for example, Benmessaoud Tredano: 1998) were the source of the insecurity of the Arab states. The lack of consideration for the influence of domestic variables (like regime stability, national cohesion and economic performance) on the external relations of the Arab states and the underestimation of inter-Arab state conflicts (as between Iraq and Syria, Egypt and Sudan, Algeria and Morocco) were shared features of both approaches. Recent updated conceptions of the second approach have emphasised the influence of regional and extra-regional variables and have adopted a perspective which is closer to political science than to the traditional perspective of the Arab society. The influence of domestic variables is still underestimated while security threat perceptions of policy-makers, territorial conflicts and the power structure of the Middle East and North Africa region are international variables which are much focused on.

Strong cultural, linguistic, historical and religious factors link the Arab people across state borders. For this reason, the Arab governments always express strong concern for the Arab nation and the security of Arab people as a single unit of alike movements, groups and individuals. At the same time, the government’s view on security is concerned with the threat of trans-national movements to the stability of the regime. An additional cause of the practice of Arab ruling classes to prioritise state/regime security was the interaction with the Cold War practice of the Western and Soviet governments aimed at supporting allied regimes in the region. This practice blocked many projects of inter-state integration that flourished in the Arab world during the Cold War period, and continues to influence the Arab security culture today. Moreover, Arabs view territorial issues as the principal obstacle to security co-operation in the Middle East and North Africa region, mostly because of the Israeli problem. Israel has been/is for the Arabs the intrusive, aggressive and expansionist state, non-respectful of Arab states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. Strategic parity is considered the only way to get security with respect to Israel and her military superiority. The Israeli-Arab conflict strengthened the state-security culture of the Arabs because all the states embraced the idea of building strong military power to solve the security dilemma of the state, at the cost of diverting financial resources from domestic projects to national military force. The perception of the role of Western states in the Middle East conflict and peace process as unbalanced towards Israel is another component of the Arab security culture. It explains the suspension of the regional and multilateral initiatives which had flourished in the Middle East after the signature of the Oslo agreement such as the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) economic summits and the Arab-Israeli multilateral talks created by the Madrid Conference of November 1991.

In the 1990s, critical security views emerged in the Arab world (see, for example, Tschirgi, 1994) as in the Western world. Concern for issues different from state/regime security introduced in the Arab security debate problems like civil society security, the achievement of better conditions of life and the need for economic reforms in agreement with the traditions of Arab culture and Islamic religion. This reformist view of Arab security – more developed in North African than in Middle Eastern states - is primarily oriented towards domestic issues, with greater emphasis on economic rather than on cultural issues. Critical security, however, is not the only recent perspective of the Arab world. The Islamist view also focuses on the anti-status quo discourse of domestic politics. It has a much more radical conception of the security needs of the Islamic countries. Strong emphasis on religion and culture identity makes the Islamists concerned both with the external threat of the non-Islamic world and the internal enemies of un-Islamic groups. Some Islamist movements engage in violent actions; others use non-violent means. All of them criticise the state for failing to meet the socio-economic needs of a society. On this ground, the Islamists’ view of security can be also included in the group of multidimensional and comprehensive security conceptions.

The four approaches of the Arab security culture – the Arab nation and the society of Arab states views of the Cold War time, and the Arab civil society "reformist" and Islamist views of today – are challenged by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership perspective on security. To Islamists, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is a strategy for downplaying the Islamist character of the societies on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean sea. Whatever the security strategy of the Partnership is, the coalition between Western European and Arab governments is noxious to the interest of the Islam people. The civil society "reformists", instead, have positive attitudes towards the Partnership. The double track of the Partnership - the intergovernmental and civil society/NGOs tracks – is considered a good strategy for bringing co-operative and comprehensive security to the region. To Arab policy-makers involved in the project of building a society of Arab states with its own security norms and practices, the multiple nature of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (centred on intergovernmental relations and opened to decentralised co-operation) and the double nature of its security strategy (co-operative and comprehensive) are conditions difficult to accept. The benefits of economic co-operation with Europe cannot be denied but conditional requirements posed by the European Union to socio-economic and political adaptation of the Arab partners cause strong resistance. Attitudes towards the security strategy of the Partnership are of the same nature. The Partnership strategy is largely oriented to state security but contemplates building regional security through co-operative means. This creates strong suspicions in governments strongly attached to national military power and the traditional view of strategic secrecy because the Arab countries have never been socialised to co-operative security through something similar to the Helsinki Process. Also comprehensiveness is suspicious to Arab policy-makers. If environmental and economic dimensions are, in principle, acceptable, in practice, they are considered a form of European interference in the national policy of the Arab governments. The human and political dimensions of the Partnership comprehensive security strategy, in addition, are almost like smoke in the eyes of Arab policy-makers. They consider the human and political dimensions a threat to the security of the incumbent governments and a real danger to existing political regimes. The approach of the Arab nation, the fourth component of the Arab security culture, regards the Partnership security strategy with the same critical view as do the society of Arab states and Islamist perspectives.

The inner context

Security co-operation between Partnership countries is co-ordinated by a committee of senior government officials. Its mission is to introduce mechanisms and practices to achieve mutual understanding and peaceful management of international relations among the Partnership states. Actions such as early warning and conflict management, gathering and sharing data on military forces and expenditures, organisation of meetings of military officers and strategy experts, proposal of arms control and confidence-building measures are the expected final result of the committee’s activities. A fax network and an electronic information network between the foreign ministries involved provide a constant communication channel to assist the committee and the political leaders of the participating states.

The European Commission supports also two expert networks directly relevant to security policy, EuroMeSCo and Strademed. Only the former was foreseen in the Barcelona Declaration, but for a variety of reasons two networks have developed. In addition to these, three multilateral initiatives are also considered as Mediterranean security dialogue instruments although they are not part of the Barcelona Process. They have been launched by the OSCE, the WEU and NATO at different times and have developed autonomously from the instruments of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership’s security dialogue. Finally, the armed forces of the Mediterranean countries involved in multilateral military operations account for security dialogue in the region. An agreement on a list of CSBMs was expected from this dialogue. As it will be shown later in this study, this goal has proved difficult to achieve and the signing of a security charter has been considered an alternative goal, although so far with no better chance of approval.

Instruments of the security dialogue

EuroMeSCo and Strademed have the double role of acting as the Partnership’s think-tanks in the field of foreign and security policy, and as communication channels with the civil society and the wider security community of the member countries in agreement with the tradition of the East-West security dialogue and OSCE security diplomacy.

EuroMeSCo is a network of 35 foreign-policy institutes from the 27 Partnership countries. Most of them deal also with security issues on a regular basis. Since its constitution in 1996, EuroMeSCo has been an important subject of confidence-building among the partner countries because it has established ties between experts accustomed to work in different and distant environments such as North Europe and the Maghreb, Western Europe and the Middle East. EuroMeSCo represents this process of working together as a measure of internal diplomacy through which persuasion and aggregation of different points of view of the network members is reached. An important result of this interaction among experts is the creation of a common language in the area of security and a reduction in the risk of misunderstanding. On this ground, EuroMeSCo describes itself as a laboratory for ideas and methods in tackling issues which may be deemed sensitive but are nonetheless essential for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to work. The Annual Conference and Working Groups meetings are the regular program actions of EuroMeSCo. Two joint meetings of Senior Officials of the EMP and representatives of EuroMeSCo have also been held in the first four years of action of the network. Reports, Papers and Newsletters are published to inform the EMP officials, experts and the general public.

Strademed is an international organisation also created in 1996 with the aim of contributing to analyse inter-mediterranean strategy for cooperation, development and security. The 27 member bodies from 17 countries focus mainly on the organisation of a training cycle for operational managers and decicion-makers (company heads, civil servants and local authorities) and the publication of reports on related issues.

In 1994, the OSCE decided to establish an informal contact group with experts from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia with the aim of sharing with these countries’ representatives information of mutual interest and the OSCE’s experience of confidence-building measures. Starting in 1995, annual seminars have been organised by the OSCE and a Mediterranean partner country on security subjects such as the OSCE’s experience in the field of confidence-building, the security model for the twenty-first century, and the human dimension of security. In December 1996, OSCE heads of government (Lisbon Summit) authorised the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation to share its findings with Mediterranean partner countries and provide information on the implementation of soft security mechanisms in the Mediterranean region. It is correct to mention that the OCSE’s projection in the Mediterranean dates back to the early years of the Helsinki Process. A chapter on "Questions relating to security and co-operation in the Mediterranean" was included in the Helsinki Final Act (1975) based on the conviction that security in Europe is closely linked with security in the Mediterranean, and that the process of improving security should not be confined to Europe but extend to other parts of the world, and in particular to the Mediterranean area.

In 1992, the Western European Union (WEU) opened a dialogue with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and later with Egypt, Mauritania and Israel, to explain European security thinking, with particular regard to the so-called "Petersberg tasks" on the use of armed forces in humanitarian and rescue missions, peacekeeping, crisis management and peace enforcement. The dialogue took the form of expert meetings and diplomatic contacts at the level of the WEU and partner country embassies in Brussels. In 1995, without prior notification to the Mediterranean partners, the WEU announced the creation of rapid deployment forces (Eurofor and Euromarfor) to be drawn from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The creation of Eurofor and Euromarfor raised criticism from WEU partner and non-partner countries. At the Arab Foreign Ministries meeting of 19-20 September 1997 in Cairo, Arab countries, like Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, together with the Arab League, reproached the initiative as potentially directed against the Arabs and for taking place without consulting Arab states. Though participating governments declared that Eurofor and Euromarfor were to carry out humanitarian and peacekeeping missions under the WEU’s Petersberg Declaration (19 June 1992), this experiment of trans-national optimisation of national military structures and also de-nationalisation of armed forces to be used in non-offensive actions, was interpreted as aimed at optimising military strength and resulted for the European governments as detrimental to the trust of the Arab states. New pragmatic initiatives to enhance the WEU’s Mediterranean dimension have been taken after this incident. A WEU Mediterranean Group has been created to study WEU contribution to the political and security Chapter of the Barcelona Process. Dialogue with non-WEU Mediterranean countries has been resumed with seminars for information of military staff from the Mediterranean dialogue partners (Paris, September 1998) and for experts on the WEU's role in the Mediterranean and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Genoa, December 1998).

In 1995 six Southern Mediterranean countries – Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – accepted NATO’s proposal to open direct dialogue with a view to achieve better mutual understanding and foster the process of regional stabilisation. Later, it was agreed to hold the Dialogue session twice a year and focus the agenda on exchange of information and technical assistance in the area of civil emergency planning. In July 1997, NATO decided to create the Mediterranean Co-operation Group, a forum for political discussions on Mediterranean security issues between Alliance members. Also seminar diplomacy has been introduced in the Mediterranean Dialogue with NATO sponsored conferences and seminars for representatives from the Alliance and Dialogue countries. The military dimension of the Mediterranean Dialogue includes observation visits of Dialogue Countries’ (the Six non-NATO members) officials to NATO exercises and military bodies, exchange of staff officers and port visits to Dialogue Countries by NATO’s naval forces (Bin: 1998). Except for seminars, conferences and other information sessions, the dialogue is strictly bilateral, that is, between NATO and the single dialogue country. Bilateralism is explained by the "recognition of the differences among the various dialogue countries" and the need to "allow military cooperation to develop at its own natural pace" (Larrabee et al, 1998: 81-82).

The WEU’s and NATO’s Mediterranean initiatives have raised suspicion and resentment among policy-makers and the wider public of the Arab countries. They are seen as intelligence and monitoring operations rather than confidence building measures. In addition, the Arab governments contend there is any compatibility among WEU’s and NATO’s Mediterranean initiatives and the Arab stand on the Arab-Israeli issue as far as the peace process is harmed by Israeli’s government tactics. For this reason, Larrabee et al. (1998: 81) suggest to " expand considerably the participation of the dialogue countries in seminars on security issues of mutual interest and … develop greater transparency … [this] could lead to the development of a more positive image of NATO in the dialogue countries over time". Spencer (1997: 37), instead, points to concrete actions on the ground as more effective instruments of co-operation between armed forces than the considered forms of dialogue. Spencer refers to the participation of armed forces from Egypt, Jordan and Morocco in UN operations in former Yugoslavia (IFOR and SFOR) which are led by NATO.

Pugh (1997) studied the participation of Mediterranean countries to peace support operations. Although Mediterranean representation in peace operations is growing, data show difficult conditions. The countries of the southern Mediterranean shore have been represented far less than the northern countries. Domestic and neighbouring security priorities of many Mediterranean countries frequently prevent government decision for contributing to multinational peace operations. The UN Security Council authorisation is perceived negatively in parts of the Mediterranean region, especially for the United States’ role on the Middle East issue in the United Nations. Suspicion and opposition by Mediterranean non-western countries has been even higher in the case of the "subcontracted" peace support operations in the Adriatic which were made exclusively by WEU and NATO states. Against this negative generalisation, however, there are important positive cases as for example Egypt’s participation in more than ten operations and Jordan’s exceptional high contribution level: 3.5 per cent of Jordanian armed forces have been engaged in peace operations in the mid-1990s.

Pugh (1997: 13) underlines also the importance of spill-over expectation by the government which decides to participate in peace operations. However, opportunities to enhance the national role played in regional affairs and gain trade-offs in terms of support for economic and political claims should not be viewed as negative motives for participation. With regard to the Mediterranean region, the example presented by Pugh is particularly relevant: "Representation from Islamic countries was clearly important in Bosnia-Hercegovina. From a UN/NATO perspective it balanced the force mix, and from the perspective of Islamic states it demonstrated responsiveness to the fate of Muslims in Europe". The above is an important admission of the possible acceptance of the conception of international security as a public good and the de-nationalisation of defence also in this corner of the world.

Confidence building measures and arms control proposals

Confidence building implies that countries pass from a lack of mutual trust to voluntary practices of reciprocal trust. The possibility that Arab countries will swiftly accept this change – as European countries did in the Helsinki Process – is difficult to evaluate also in the framework of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Unlike Europe, the Arab countries never experienced relations based on mutual confidence measures. In addition to the lack of familiarity on the part of the Arabs, various obstacles exist against a rapid acceptance of confidence building measures in the Mediterranean region. Delay in the enforcement of the Oslo and the Wye Plantation Accords is a first obstacle to confidence building. The full execution of the Middle East Peace Process and acceptance of the Process by all Arab governments are a key preliminary condition to security arrangements and use of special techniques of security management in the region. Another obstacle is the legacy of European colonialism and imperialism and the feeling of the Arabs of confronting Western skill to penetrate and control weaker states. Finally, to give a real chance to CBMs proposals, conflicts and differences among Arab states must be directed towards consensual settlement.

Asymmetry in military organisations on the two rims of the Mediterranean basin is also an important obstacle. On the Northern rim, national armies are linked to a single alliance, NATO. The development of the common foreign and security policy of the European Union further increases the co-ordination of the national defence systems of the European members of the Partnership. On the Southern rim, instead, national military power and, in few cases, loose bilateral defence agreements are the only means available for a single state to overcome any security dilemma with potential or real enemies. Acting as a single entity, the European Union members of the Partnership can bring simplification to the Euro-Mediterranean negotiations on CBMs as soon as its relation with NATO is made clear. Also the afore mentioned NATO’s Mediterranean Initiative can promote transparency between NATO and Arab countries provided that proper actions of information and communication remove obstacles to the autonomous projects of confidence and partnership building measures of the Euro-Mediterranean countries.

These obstacles withstanding, there is evidence for being confident about further developments in CBMs in the Mediterranean region. The Middle East Peace Process has created the Arms Control and Regional Security Working Group (ACRS); confidence building measures have been adopted; and a Israeli-Palestinian Confidence Building Committee has been set up. Though the mandate of the Israeli-Palestinian Confidence Building Committee has been narrowly interpreted by the parties, the introduction of the Committee in Middle East inter-state relations demonstrates that political and cultural obstacles to the use of the concept of confidence building can be suspended and, eventually, removed also in this region.

There is little risk for the Euro-Mediterranean policy-makers to engage in an all-out war among themselves. For this reason, in the Mediterranean incentive to develop confidence building measures is not the result of fear because Mediterranean international politics is not focused on military confrontation and nuclear deterrence as much as European international politics was during the Cold War. On this ground, it must be assumed that introduction of CBMs in the region must be based on attraction rather than on pressure motives. Accordingly, governments have to focus on side-measures of comprehensive security like sound measures of co-operation for economic growth as an incentive to work out CBMs arrangements. It can be sustained that economic growth, pushed by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership programmes, will not automatically change security and threat perception of élites and people and will not spill over automatically in peaceful change of security relations between the countries of the region. But, it cannot be excluded that it can raise the willingness of the policy-makers to foster dialogue in areas of interaction other than the economic one, including the security area.

Prevention and avoidance of military conflict among dyads of countries is the prime goal of security dialogue in the Mediterranean. On this ground, efforts are rightly concentrated on such confidence building measures on the basis of exchange of information on military and security-related issues between officials and dialogues between security experts. For that reason, EuroMeSCo and Strademed meetings promise to be as much important and efficacious as the exchange of information, opinions and projects among arms control community members was in Cold War times. The exchange of views on security and military organisations has the merit of making public the aims of national armament policies and the conditions and processes of national security policy-making. This objective is important in order to put under scrutiny national military policies and avoid misunderstanding the purpose of the military policy of the single state.

Attempts to build regional security through partnership and confidence-building measures are lastly aimed at changing the motivations of the political leaders to develop weapons systems and to introduce arms control and limitation in the region. In Cold War Europe, arms dynamics was a bilateral arms race process; in the Mediterranean Basin arms dynamics is characterised by a great variety of processes. The rationale of arms accumulation is not always international security. Frequently, domestic and regime security are the rationale for arms accumulation. For this reason, arms control proposals never reached concrete results nor gained any significant attention from the policy-makers. In addition, distinct groups of states have accumulated different kinds of armaments. European states are well armed with conventional weapon systems and have nuclear weapons at their direct (France) and indirect (the others as members of NATO) disposal. Non-European states have conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction; some of them have chemical and biological weapons (Libya) or do not exclude the possibility of having this kind of weapons; Israel has (or is able to produce) nuclear weapons. On this ground, neither bilateralism can be applied in the Mediterranean region (as it was in the East-West arms limitation agreements) nor multilateralism (as in the case of universal arms control agreements). Bilateralism cannot be practised because there are not two single or collective actors as, respectively, in the strategic arms negotiations between USA and USSR, and the MBFR (Mutual Balanced Force Reduction) and CFE (Conventional Force in Europe) agreements between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Arms control negotiations in the Mediterranean cannot either resemble multilateral universal negotiations run by the United Nations nor the recent signed treaty on anti-personnel landmines because distinct states have different stocks of arms. A possible solution can be imagined in the form of a multi-track process of negotiations: that is, distinct arms control negotiations for different kinds of armaments. Alternatively, the strategy of asking the states to renounce to the most important or potentially important element of their military superiority has been advocated, especially by Egyptians. In this case, to reach strategic balance at the regional level through self-imposed and informally negotiated arms control measures, Israel would be called to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and put its nuclear arsenal under international supervision in preparation for its eventual removal; at the same time the Arab governments would adhere to the Chemical and Biological Weapons conventions. This solution does not need to be adopted on a formal basis since the early phases would be led in the form of seminar diplomacy by the EuroMed defence and security community. As soon as such attempts reach a satisfactory level and a convenient political approach to arms control is achieved, compliance with global arms control agreements by Mediterranean countries would be easier than it is at present.

The fear of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Mediterranean area, however, has been greater than reality has demonstrated in recent past. In other words, the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been smaller and slower than expected, and the proliferation of missiles technology has not brought about a situation in which any Mediterranean state can threaten the remaining countries of the area. Most countries are vulnerable only to attacks from neighbours and able to threaten mainly their immediate neighbours. On this ground, the concealment of military efforts and preparedness means advantage in a surprise attack and uncertainty on what side has strategic superiority. Although gathering information of military power through intelligence and espionage are widespread practices, governments resist the need to abandon secrecy and concealment practices. The latter have been traditionally considered useful in order to confuse the enemy about the state of strategic superiority and the possibility to engage in war. Therefore, a rapid transition from the strategic norm of hiding military intentions and capabilities to a willingness to expose military power to outside observers and inspection has been hard to attain in the area.

The situation is very much the same with the concept and mechanism of monitoring and verification. Unlike Western countries which familiarised with these mechanisms in the Helsinki Process, the Arab countries are deeply concerned with any infringement of the norm of territorial sovereignty and the practice of foreign inspection on the national territory. The Arab-Israeli conflict and other inter-Arab tense relationships are enough reason for perpetuating strategic secrecy. According to Ben-Dor (1999: 206), "neither the structure of the conflict, nor the cultural legacies accumulated over the years are favourable to transparency" in the Arab/Middle Eastern world. Ben-Dor – who, as Krause and Latham, attributes the origin of military transparency and CSBMs in Europe to nuclear deterrence and the advantage of the East-West military alliances to avoid the risk of nuclear confrontation by accepting international inspection – points out the lack of such experience of the Arab and Middle Eastern countries. This does not mean that transparency and arms control measures are inapplicable to the Mediterranean but that the starting point is not favourable, and changes have to be introduced in order to make these measures applicable to the region. To achieve this, the project of a preliminary, general agreement on security issues in the form of a Charter has been launched and is still laboriously negotiated by defence experts and diplomats.

The project for a Peace and Stability Charter for the Mediterranean

In 1993, the then French Prime Minister, Eduard Balladur launched the proposal of a Stability Pact for Europe. Balladur’s aim was to obtain from the governments of post-Cold War Europe a solemn commitment to political stability, abstaining from engaging war to solve conflicts and disputes over borders, territories and minorities. Balladur’s Pact did not encounter divergent national interests in the European Union members and was accepted by East European states as a condition for future EU membership. For this reason, the negotiation of the Pact was rather soon successfully concluded and in 1995 the signed Pact was passed to the OSCE for implementation. Although its impact on European international politics has not been impressive, the experience of the Stability Pact has been taken as a useful model for fostering security in the Mediterranean.

The governments of France and Malta took the lead and presented different versions of a Stability Charter for the Mediterranean. The aim of the proposals was to issue a legal instrument to influence international relations in the Mediterranean. In particular, in analogy with the European Pact, the signing parties would solemnly accept to anchor peace in the Mediterranean to political stability. This condition, however, is hard to attain swiftly in the Mediterranean. In fact, divergent perceptions of threats and challenges to political stability by Mediterranean governments made any consolidation of the agreement on the Charter an unaccomplished task. The Stuttgart Conclusions (April 1999) promised that the "Charter will be approved formally by Ministers as soon as political circumstances allow". It is expected that the French government will do all it can to approve the Charter during the second half of 2000, during the semester of the French Presidency of the Union.

The Stuttgart chapter on "Political and Security Partnership" makes repeated use of the word "stability" and does not lean on a strict legal conception of the advocated Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Peace an Stability. In the words of the Ministries, the Charter will provide for an enhanced political dialogue as well as the evolutionary and progressive development of partnership-building measures, good-neighbourly relations, regional cooperation and preventive diplomacy. The primary function of the enhanced political dialogue will be to prevent tensions and crises and to maintain peace and stability by means of co-operative security. The Charter will be endowed with the appropriate decision-making mechanisms reinforcing the existing institutional framework. Ministers and Senior Officials will meet at regular intervals or whenever special situations or events warrant. All decisions will be taken by consensus. The Ministers’ commitment to the Charter, however, ended up only with annexing the "Guidelines for Elaborating a Euro-Mediterranean Charter" to the meeting Conclusions and assigning to the Group of Senior Officials the task of working out a comprehensive schedule including additional ad hoc meetings in order to complete the elaboration of the Charter by the next Ministerial conference. Euro-Med Ministers in Stuttgart also welcomed the continuing initiatives aimed at the exchange of information on the signature/ratification of international instruments in the fields of disarmament and arms control, terrorism, human rights, and international humanitarian law. They also underlined the importance of developing partnership-building measures, such as the establishment of a Euro-Med system of disaster prevention, mitigation and management. The word "confidence building" cannot be found in the text of the Stuttgart Conclusions chapter on Political and Security Partnership. It was present twice in the Barcelona Declaration and once in the Malta Meeting Conclusions. It disappeared from the Conclusions of the Palermo meeting and has been subdued by the concept of partnership-building in the Stuttgart Conclusions. However, it is undisputed that partnership-building is a wider term than confidence-building and includes comprehensive and co-operative security concepts.


The Euro-Mediterranean area is not immune from multilateral initiatives and dialogue instruments on security issues. This study has focused on these factors on the ground that they are the most important factors of institution-building in the field of security and defence in the Mediterranean region. When the European Union launched the Barcelona Declaration, her aim was to be at the front of the reconstruction of the Mediterranean system after the end of the Cold War. This aim has been achieved but the Mediterranean is not the backyard of Europe. It is a complex web of processes and relations. As a result, many actors are involved in the construction of the security arrangement of the region. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership states and the European Union are joined by other organisations and states. The United States being the first one as they are the holder of the global power role and, as such, also as the most important security action in the global system. For this reason, also NATO, the US-led multilateral military structure, has a role in the management of Mediterranean security issues. The same applies to the United Nations which has a role for being the universal institution for global governance. In the first part of this study, attention was called on to the main features and developments of security management in the present global system. In the second part, the consistency of Euro-Mediterranean developments in the field of security with factors and developments at the global level has been pointed out amidst the specific features of the region.

The theory of regional encapsulation of conflict and co-operation models is challenged by the study of Mediterranean security building not only on the ground of continuity between the global and lower level, but also on the ground of contamination among the members of contiguous areas such as Europe and Middle East/North Africa, and the cumulative effect of continuity and contamination. Mechanisms, procedures and practices of security and conflict management used in Europe, the OSCE’s experience with confidence building measures, experts and seminar diplomacy, the co-ordination of national armed forces for emergency and civilian uses, and U.N. and non-U.N. multilateral military operations in the Mediterranean, all have an important cumulative effect on the security culture of the countries in the area. In addition, these mechanisms, procedures and practices reinforce one another. On this ground, for example, the concurrence of the participation of North Africa and Middle East countries’ armed forces in U.N. military operations and the defence experts dialogue at the OSCE’s and Partnership’s seminars is appraised as an incentive for building a security arrangement for the Euro-Mediterranean area. The slow process of security building in the Mediterranean is, therefore, supported by relevant favourable conditions for multilateral security institutions.




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ã Copyright 2000. Jean Monnet Chair of European Comparative Politics 

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Fulvio Attinà, University of Catania