Intermarium
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  • The Confederation of Intermarium

    K. Woloh, www.bramaby.com

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    «We the Peoples of Intermarium, in order to provide freedoms and liberties of our citizens, serve their prosperity and wellbeing, ensure continuous progress and development, establish common defence and empower global voice of each and all our members, are creating this union of free nations and declare:...»

    These, or similar words could one day lay the foundation for a new reality in Central Eastern Europe (CEE). The idea of Intermarium — a confederation of Central and Eastern European states located between Germany and Russia — increasingly preoccupies minds of analysts both inside, and outside of the region. This article discusses one of possible scenarios of how such a union could be brought into reality.

    WHY. The premises of Intermarium

    A new geopolitical union could materialize if it has not only theoretical foundation, but also an immediate tangible reason for its creation. Entities erected just to look good on a map, or to please someone's fantom anxieties of the past do not tend to last. There needs to be a clear and vital task that such a union could help to address in a practical way.

    In case of Intermarium this task is survival in a globalized world. Countries of Central and Eastern Europe have already learned that voices of small nations could be at best ignored, and at worst — overruled to have a foreign will imposed on them when their position differs from that of more significant partners.

    To become heard in a new global world our small countries need an extra leverage. And this leverage could come in a form of the Confederation of Intermarium. Creation of this mechanism is not something merely nice to have, but it becomes a matter of our survival and adequate long-term development vis-a-vis the rest of the world, especially if political stagnation in the EU and Russia continues to persist.



    There are four primary tasks that such a confederation could and should address:
    1 — Common defense
    2 — United geopolitical voice
    3 — Global projection of power
    4 — Developmental macro-projects

    In other words, we are largely talking about united armed forces (the first step towards which was introduced by creation of the Visigrad Battle Group between Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic), as well as united foreign policy including a common voice within such global organizations as the UN, the EU, NATO, G20 (CEE is currently not even represented in the latter), and bilateral relations with key players like the USA, China, India, Russia, etc.

    HOW. The gears of Intermarium

    Creation of the Intermarian Confederation will likely depend on two factors: 1. protracted crisis within the EU, where desires to fix ongoing leaks will lead to even more disbalances between its members; and 2. deteriorating political situation in Russia where an explosive mix of political, structural, demographic, and nationalistic problems could marginalize the country. In other words, birth of a new union in Intermarium could be largely shaped by outside factors, and by no means is a guaranteed deal. But so was birth of any other union — from the early United States till the modern EU.

    In addition, evolution of the Confederation of Intermarium will not happen overnight. Despite its economic and demographic potential the region largely lacks a proxy for a «common culture», «common self-understanding», and even «common language for communication». All these things could gradually evolve in convergence points of Intermarium — so-called Intermarian hubs described later in this article — which themselves are yet to be created.

    Nevertheless, we can predict and analyze required governing mechanisms of the Intermarian Confederation already today.

    Two prominent researchers of Intermarium — Jonathan Levy and Marek Jan Chodakiewicz — looked into possibilities of creating a union of Intermarian states, and identified two fundamental principles that should lay in its foundation.

    First, Dr. Levy in his book «The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism» defended the point that modern mechanisms of democratic federalism can help create a balanced union where voices of all members are equally heard without making the union politically dysfunctional.

    Second, Prof. Chodakiewicz in his book «Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas» identified that Intermarium can be created largely as a structure with a significant degree of internal liberalism, and as little imposed regulations as possible. According to him the structure of Intermarium should rather evolve from an ecosystem of horizontal ties as opposed to vertical ones.

    These points nicely comply with the tasks of Intermarium that we have outlined earlier. Ditto, Intermarium will need to become the opposite of the EU in its approach to integration: be more aggressive in delegating authority in global affairs (like military, or international presence), and yet maintain — and even defend from an outside diktat — sovereignty of its member states in domestic affairs such as economy, culture, social issues. Such an approach is somewhat reminiscent of the founding principles of the USA where the president has the ultimate authority in shaping foreign policy, and is highly limited when it comes to domestic matters. Significant differences in current socio-economic policies of Intermarian countries imply that the primary regulator of such affairs within Intermarium could only be markets, competition, free flow of abundant information, and gradual evolution, as opposed to social engineering Brussels-style.

    As for the federal political system of Intermarium, the German example seems to be the best one to follow with few adjustments. The ultimate authority of the confederation should rest with the Intermarian Parliament (again — a stark difference from the EU). A political party, or a block which won the majority will be able to appoint the Chancellor of Intermarium, as well as his/her Cabinet. To mitigate nationalistic divisions only Intermarian political parties could participate in elections. To qualify for the status of an «Intermarian Party» one needs to win the support of at least 10% of voters within each member state — thus, all Intermarian parties will be forced to stay relevant to all member countries, and the Intermarian political field will be more difficult to enter for marginalized outliers. Election of an Intermarian president doesn't seem to be practical/needed, and could only contribute to nationalistic divisions within the union. On the opposite, each nation should be free to maintain its own domestic executive authority which will assume ultimate responsibility for implementation and consequences of economic and social issues.

    Each nation should retain freedom to leave the union if such a step is approved by its supermajority of votes. This way Intermarium will be under pressure to continuously generate value for its members — not in the form of trivial subsidies, like some neo-empires choose to do today, but in the form of real tangible work that Intermarian authorities perform for their citizens.

    WHO. The founding members of Intermarium.

    Even though the Confederation of Intermarium could start its growth from bi-party, or multi-party regional unions (like the Visigrad Group, or the Belarusian-Polish confederation) it seems important to launch the proper union already in such a shape that would be immediately sustainable even without further growth.

    In other words, this article tries to identify the absolute minimum number of states which should participate in the inception of the Confederation of Intermarium. Surely, this does not preclude other Intermarian countries — from Bulgaria to the Baltic trio to Slovenia — from joining at launch. But which countries literally cannot be «avoided» at the first step? From our view it includes eight states:

    1) POLAND. The historic cradle.


    To a large degree the Confederation of Intermarium builds upon the democratic and federalist legacy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Poland — the closest successor to this legacy and the largest economy in Intermarium — will be an inseparable part of any democratic union in the region. In addition, demonstrated resilience of the Polish economy to the European economic crisis carries a DNA blueprint that can help Intermarium evolve into an economic superpower where business efficiency within the union is empowered through free competition and knowledge flow. There will be no union without Poland.

    2) UKRAINE. The source of power.


    Modern Ukraine is the largest individual market within Intermarium with significant growth potential — a California of our region, or a mini-China of sorts. Without Ukraine Intermarium remains mostly a club of midget-states. Two entirely different weight categories: with Ukraine Intermarium is a true global leader, without Ukraine — a regional player at best. Intermarium needs all of Ukraine — not just half of it, and it needs to learn how to accommodate it. Similarly, Ukraine needs Intermarium to secure stable and transparent rules of the game within itself.

    3) ROMANIA. The carrier of balance.


    Intermarium is a compromise between its East and its West, between the Catholic civilization and the Orthodox one, between Latin and Cyrillic worlds. None of two sides will ever accept to be a permanent minority within the union. This is why Romania is the true key to Intermarium. A Latin country yet of the Orthodox rite it is a unique balancing player without which Intermarium is doomed to slide into the pitfalls of the late Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Additionally, having Romania in is a stability factor for Ukraine, because in this case splitting of the latter will not be able to cut Intermarium off the Black Sea, and thus there will be a lesser incentive to pursue this route by opponents of the union.

    4) HUNGARY. The knights of the union.


    Hungary has been taunted by the ghosts of Trianon for almost a century. These ghosts are crippling the progress of both Hungary itself, as well as the region in general. Intermarium is a chance for Hungary to turn the tide and to achieve the impossible — translate its weakness into its strength. Yes, Hungarian communities are now spread across many Intermarian countries. But it is exactly because of this that Hungarians could become the most Intermarian nation of them all. Hungarians could reinvent themselves by evolving into the champions of Intermarium. Only within Intermarium the Hungarians could be united again. But this time as promoters and defenders of the new union, keepers of its noble heritage, and building upon diversity of Hungarian communities across the region.

    5) SLOVAKIA. The key connector.


    Nothing happens in Intermarium unless Slovakia signs under it. Quite literally Slovakia is the epicenter of everything in the CEE. One can try building any kind of unions, blocs, and alliances in our region, but at the end of the day everything comes to the Slovak table. Slovakia has been a proud and innovative performer in New Europe, and will undoubtedly be one of leaders within Intermarium. When Intermarium launches its own space program — which it will undoubtedly do as one of global powers — perhaps, it will not come as a surprise that a highly international country like Slovakia could be spearheading it same as it led in other innovative segments during post-communist transformation.

    6) BELARUS. The launch pad.


    What Slovakia is to geography Belarus is to geopolitics. The one who controls Belarus maintains a blocking vote in the entire region. Without Belarus in Intermarium there is no united Ukraine in the union. Without united Ukraine there is no power in Intermarium, and thus no real reason for its creation. In addition, Belarus is the least satisfied with its geopolitical status quo, and will inevitably become a place from which the core Intermarian events will kick off. Belarus cannot go into Intermarium gradually. It will go suddenly, and all in. Changes in Belarus will signal the beginning of Intermarium itself.

    7) CZECH REPUBLIC. The beacon of sanity.


    Similar to how Romania balances Intermarium on the East-West divide, the Czech Republic is crucial to achieving a similar balance on modern social values. Belarus and Ukraine are the least religious and the most urbanized countries of Intermarium. And it is exactly the Czech Republic that shares similar social traits on the Western side of the union, and with some support from Slovakia and Hungary can help mitigate social disparities within the confederation along the lines of religiosity and urbanization. Without the Czech Republic the Intermarian structure will crack as a misbalanced concrete plate. Not to mention traditional leadership of the Czechs on the issues of personal freedoms, unlike anyone else in the CEE.

    8) CROATIA. The token of domination.


    The core reason for creation of the Confederation of Intermarium is the emergence of a new global leader. Such a leader absolutely requires access to open seas. Unfortunately, exits from both the Baltics and the Black Sea are constrained by other countries. And a player of the level and ambition of Intermarium cannot afford operating at the mercy of other — even though friendly — powers. At the same time, Croatia is the most direct access point into the Adriatics, and it needs to be a part of the union from day one as a statement to undeniable Intermarian claim to unrestrained waters. Croatia is the keeper of Split — the home to the former Yugoslav naval headquarters. This city could eventually become the key naval base for the union, and a launchpad for projection of the Intermarian power globally. Croatia is a vital part of Intermarium.

    The union of suggested eight countries is merely one of scenarios to create a global player from Day One, which could substantially mitigate existential risks for Intermarum and close the space for maneuver to Intermarian opponents. Another reason to start from a “sustainable minimum” is to make sure that early days are not bogged in an endless quagmire of arguing, and development of common rules does not turn into an Eastern bazaar.

    WHAT. The effects of Intermarium.

    CONFLICTS

    At the time of its conception the Confederation of Intermarium will have to avoid expanding to countries with ongoing and/or frozen conflicts to prevent providing of unnecessary leverage to Intermarian opponents. However, regardless of whether those countries join the confederation later or not, the new union will have to assume leadership in resolving trouble areas in its backyard:

    1) Transnistria. This will be the priority conflict to permanently settle because Moldova is located almost in the middle of Intermarium, and could be a significant destabilizing factor. The fate of Moldova will largely lay in the hands of the Moldovans. They will have to decide if they want to re-join Romania, or to stay independent. But in any case, Ukraine will have to assume a much more active and mature role in resolving the conflict by providing security to the Transnistrians, and thus untying the hands of Romania and Moldova in deciding on the ways of resolution. The Moldova-Transnistrian conflict will have to be fully resolved by the Intermarians, not by outside powers. The role of Intermarium will be to provide the umbrella environment for this resolution.

    2) Bosnia. The frozen war, deadlocked political system, and unclear future are crippling the region and ruining people’s prospects in life. Large number of the Croats in Bosnia will also be a destabilizing factor for the Adriatic outpost of the confederation. It will have to be resolved. Neither Croatia, nor Serbia, nor Bosnia can have a secure future without complete and self-sufficient settlement of this war. The fighting sides need to get completely separated, and stop being engaged into a forceful marriage. Intermarium will have to ensure a civilized and balanced solution, where lives of people are the priority.

    3) Kosovo. This is another example of a smoldering conflict. Serbia — a potential candidate for a membership in the confederation — will need to find a lasting resolution to this conflict, potentially fully engaging Albania on this one, before it could re-join Intermarium. The confederation will need to make sure that a fair long-term solution is found, and provide financing of its empowering.

    4) Gypsies. The problem of the gypsy minority across many CEE countries was completely mismanaged by the Brussels authorities through imposing of alien practices and throwing gasoline on nationalistic fires, and as a result life conditions of this nation in many countries has continuously deteriorated bringing it at odds with variety of host nations which similarly feel a lot of pain. One of the best examples of handling and accommodating the Gypsy minority is Hungary, and this is another area where Hungary is essential to securing stability of Intermarium as a whole. In any case, the “Gypsy issue” will need a civilized resolution that combines de-politicised proactive police mandate with clear and secure live prospects for the Romany people, and especially children.

    POLITICAL SPECTRUM

    The suggested minimal composition of the Confederation of Intermarium of eight founding countries represents a union that will be politically balanced across variety of axes. We have already mentioned the role of Romania in stabilizing the union across «older», more traditional lines of division, and the role of the Czech Republic in bringing balance to «modern», post-industrial spectrum of values.

    A vibrant, competitive, and yet balanced political field is an important factor for progress of any union where different ideas collide, evolve, and none of them becomes a monopoly. It is important to remember that none of the sides of a political spectrum is immune from marginalization and failures, and a second opinion is always required for progress same as the second leg for walking.

    According to the methodology suggested by the World Values Survey, a Stockholm based non-profit association, Romania and the Czech Republic almost represent two opposite corners of the Intermarian political spectrum between which all other countries of our region are located. (However, it is important to keep in mind that this methodology is neither perfect, nor all-inclusive, the chosen criteria predominantly favor Scandinavian values, and do not account for distortions of the transition period).



    According to this criteria eight suggested initial members roughly represent four buckets. A more conservative bucket — red (Romania, Hungary), a more liberal bucket — blue (the Czech Republic, Slovakia), a bucked of preference towards collective good and secular values — purple (Belarus, Ukraine), and a bucket of preference towards individual freedoms and more traditional/religious values — green (Poland, Croatia). Again, this is a very rough representation. For example, on the issue of secular vs. traditional values Hungary in rather closer to Slovakia than to Romania, and on the issue of personal vs. collective good Slovakia is closer to Belarus than to the Czech Republic.



    And even though some buckets include heavier (more populous) countries than others, what is important is that things are actually relatively balanced when we compare countries across two suggested axes:

    On secular vs. religious values:
    UA + BY + CZ + SK = 70 million people (secular)
    RO + HU + PL + CR = 74 million people (religious)

    On collective vs. personal good:
    CZ + SK + PL + CR = 59 million people (personal)
    UA + BY + RO + HU = 86 million people (collective)

    Again, one cannot assume that countries are monotonous within, and in reality the political spectrum of the Confederation of Intermarium might be even more balanced (for example, Ukraine and Romania might have a significant liberal wing within).

    Further, the goal of a country on a cross-roads like Belarus should be to avoid political temptation of moving closer to «the Polish example” by growing its religiosity, like some opposition parties suggest today. (In reality, it will put Belarus closer to Romania instead of to Poland). But on the opposite, concentrate on migrating from the purple bucket to the right — into the blue one (closer to the Czech Republic) by promoting respect for personal freedoms, fostering self expression, and protecting private initiative. This will help to balance the confederation even further.

    INTERMARIAN HUBS

    A research into the civilizational legacy of Intermarium helps to identify convergence points for establishment of Intermarian Hubs — highly international places and surrogates for future mega-cities where all people of Intermarium could come together and develop foundation for a joint supra-national culture of the region. These hubs will be almost the opposite to national states of the confederation, and will help to introduce another line of balance in the region along the National-Supranational axis.



    Point A on the picture above is the crossing between Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. This location is characterized by accessibility (it lies in an open Northern European Plain close to diverse transport infrastructure), and is an ideal meeting place for investors and workforce from various markets. A point like this could be a good place for a business hub of Intermarium.

    Point B, on the opposite, is characterized by security. Being protected from North, East, and South by the Carpathian Mountains and by the Alps further in the West, it is at the same time a place of unique diversity within Intermarium. As the legacy of the Protestantism in the Eastern part of the Hungarian Kingdom this area is the key place where all main Intermarian sub-civilizations meet. Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions. Visigrad, Balkan, and Dniepr geopolitical subgroups. Slavic, Ugric, and Latin linguistic families. This point is a great place for a political hub of Intermarium.

    Last, but not least is Point C — the Croatian port of Rijeka. Located on the shores of the Adriatic it is a maritime gateway from Intermarium into the open world. Once the largest port of the Hungarian Kingdom, and later of Yugoslavia, it is currently undergoing renovations to become the largest port of the Adriatic Sea by 2030. However, within the fabric of the EU this backyard port doesn't nearly have as much potential as when it is included into the Intermarian equation. Even today the main markets for the Rijeka's cargoes are seen in the CEE. For example, construction of the liquefied natural gas terminal on the nearby island of Krk focuses on recipients from Hungary to Poland (thus, Rijeka is also an important factor for energy security of Intermarium). But within the confederation political importance of Rijeka will grow enormously, and it could become one of focal points for pan-Intermarian developmental projects.

    The Croatian coast in general is an important geopolitical factor for Intermarium. The naval base in Split was already mentioned above as a potential key hub for the Intermarian Navy — neither Black, nor Baltic seas are a good location for it. A political union of the magnitude of the Intermarian Confederation will need to be able to assume a global leadership role, and perhaps one day we will see Intermarian aircraft carriers off the coast of Split operated by cross-national crews of Poles, Romanians, Ukrainians, Slovaks, and others.

    Conclusion

    Manned spaceflight program, nuclear aircraft carriers, new age high-speed railroad network — all these and other cutting edge public commodities remain inaccessible luxury goods for “Eastern Europeans” within the foreseeable future under the existing rules of the game. Never again a Slovak guy like Ivan Bella, or a Romanian guy like Dumitru Prunariu will fly into space. But does Intermarium really need outside sponsors to achieve all those things? Is it really not capable of leading the way by itself, and doomed for a role of a pathetic follower instead? Forget expensive toys — can it not simply take full responsibility for well being of its citizens regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world?

    Creation of the Confederation of Intermarium will form the biggest European power capable of both facing and shaping the future. Its population will be larger than that of France and Germany combined. It will even surpass a seemingly huge Russia. On the business side, the confederation will be one of the biggest and most promising world markets. Its real GDP could well overtake that of Germany to become the fifth largest world economy after the USA, China, India, and Japan, totaling up to $3.2 trillion (based on a realistic assumption that the Intermarian GDP per capita in comparable prices could at least average on the current level of Poland — $21,310). And unlike Western Europe it will be a growing economy. Its military will be the fourth largest in the world after USA, China, and Russia, potentially overtaking Russia due to its younger, more modern status.

    The Confederation of Intermarium should not be seen as an opposition to the EU — it could well remain a part of the union if it chooses so (and if the EU still exists by then). Instead, Intermarium should be seen as „a part of united Europe that actually works“, and it works for its people — not against them. The confederation will finally turn the most of Central / Eastern / Balkan Europe into a united powerful player that becomes the epicenter of the European civilization including its Western and Russian parts, and capable of proactively leading our continent as a true global player. It is surely achievable because all that separates us from it is our own will.

    — Bibliography

    1) Jonathan Levy, The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism
    2) Marek J. Chodakiewicz, Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas
    3) The World Values Survey Association, World Values Survey
    4) A. Vorotnicky, Rzeczpospolita?

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