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Mediterranean Quarterly 14.2 (2003) 60-76

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Bridging the Gap in Civil-Military Relations in Southeastern Europe:
Romania's Defense-Planning Case

George Cristian Maior and Mihaela Matei

The purpose of this study is to analyze and assess what changes have occurred in the theories and practices of security affairs and civilian oversight of the military since the end of the Cold War. More specifically, it is to find out whether or not new paradigms should be applied in the case of the former communist countries from Eastern and southeastern Europe.

Although civil-military relations and defense planning are usually considered separate specialized fields of investigation, they embrace an essential trend of the democratization process in southeastern European societies and states. It is obvious that the demise of the Cold War, the ensuing turmoil in the Balkans, and the processes of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union enlargement have all gradually shaped new roles for the armed forces and new patterns of state integration into transitional societies. They have, as a result, deeply influenced state-military-societal relations. In the case of southeastern Europe, civilian oversight of the armed forces is one of the major elements influencing the international and domestic politics of its regional players, because it touches on the core values of postcommunist establishments.

The same goes for the redefinition of defense-planning systems, which has had a tremendous direct influence on each actor's strategic and political preferences. Defense planning has been described as the process of establishing a state's defense policy and pursuing its objectives through the [End Page 60] involvement of the military on the international and/or internal arena, the distribution of defense resources, and the development of domestic interinstitutional systems of cooperation. What makes this system so important is its impact on the role and tasks of the armed forces or, more precisely, on their insertion into overall governing principles and practices. In the cases where armed forces have been engaged in civil or ethnic strife (as was the situation in the former Yugoslav Federation states), the transition to democracy and good governance cannot avoid dealing with the central problem of building sound defense planning systems under strong civilian democratic control.

Changeover in the patterns of civil-military relations in southeastern Europe plays a key role in ensuring internal stability, conflict prevention, and integration of the region with the international community. 1 To what extent existing Western models and paradigms apply to the on-the-ground realities in southeastern Europe is still a subject of investigation, since democratic defense planning remains a young practice for most of the countries in this region.

From this perspective, we should try to assess the role of defense planning in civil-military relations by defining the challenges that have been encountered, examining the applicability of different classical theories in this field, and reviewing the lessons learned from different types of practices. Although these issues are specific to Romania, we believe that aspects of their evolution possess a certain commonality that can be applied to a regional approach. Consequently, we will try to draw a broader picture of this topic. The purpose of this essay then falls into the search for new models of civil-military relations that can incorporate the experiences of the newly born democracies of Eastern and southeastern Europe.

Naturally, this essay cannot refer to all the relevant literature on civil-military relations, and it is not our goal to review every debate in this field. We focus instead on those aspects that are significant for southeastern Europe. We will arrange them in three main areas: first, the changes in planning security and defense after the end of the Cold War; second, the current [End Page 61] relevance of the civil-military dichotomy in defense planning; and finally, the gap between civil and military culture within southeastern Europe and the opportunities to overcome it. All of these areas will be thoroughly discussed further in this essay using Romania's model of defense planning.



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