Dr. Harilla Goga

Balance of Power Policy vs Balance of Interest Policy: The case of Ukraine – Russia conflicts, and Kosova-Serbia deal

Wiki commons/CC BY 4.0 Attribution: Mvs.gov.ua
The streets in Mariupol, 12 March 2022.

Establishing and maintaining the balance of powers between States, at different times, has been and remains the only mechanism of peace in the world based on their political thoughts. The politician’s behaviors have always inspired by this theory. For example, since the first Treaty or Agreement in the history is that of Egypt of the Pharaohs and the Kingdom of the Hittites in the XIII century B.C., or the most well-known one in the medieval, that was between the Kingdom of France and the Ottoman Empire, to be continue with others such as the Congress of Vienna, the Peace Treaties of Versailles and Paris, etc., etc., by which the world was shaped from time to time. Of course, by stablishing this policy where the goal of the maximum interests is required, States enforced the concept of “national interests” which mostly go against to the other countries interests. We learned from the history by the end of clash of their military forces the politics and diplomacy mediate and settle the solutions between them. But, although the policy itself has always known that the future relations between the signatory powers will be changed in terms of military and economic powers therefore this deal cannot be lasting and permanent in time, they have with determination continued this policy. One of the reason might me related with the lack of alternative concepts, ideas and theories which might guide better States relationship therefore historically the wars and have historically repeated themselves. Consequently, in principle, we cannot judge the politicians and military establishment, but the theories that inspired them.

During our modern time especially in the last century there have been attempts to bring new concepts, ideas even platforms as opportunities to set up international organizations promoting and enforcing the States common interests such the League of Nations and later the UN, a series of other organizations that are established in order to norm and set common standards in various fields of economy, trade, health, telecommunications and many others in regional level etc. Obviously our today world expect the strengthening of the international policy that not only to resolve conflicts between States but also pave the way the balance of national interests through dialogue and communications which will let them to create the new stage of the mankind history.

The book “Diplomacy & Promoting Democracy: Understanding the world of tomorrow” can probably be considered as an alternative concepts and ideas that might change several principles of the today’s international relations, therefore I would like to re-present the group of interests and the balance between them as follows:

At the first group of interests, we can place the actions of States to maximize their interests. States, using all the means at their disposal such as diplomacy, culture, economic and commercial power and investment, including military action, etc., aim to entirely fulfil their interests. This is an approach that comes from the long history of intra-States relationships, which is still followed by many States as well as supported by scholars, analysts and academics who feed this policy.

At the second group of interests, we can place the interests that States intend to meet according to the win-win principle. This group includes the interests of the States as above, but in the meantime, they try to take into account the interests of other States in order to reach balance in their complex relations. In fact, this action of the States has played a useful role in history which, for several times, has resulted in peace and stability in the region and in the world. The famous Balance of Powers Policy is the core of those actions. But, on the other hand, precisely because on the basis of these interests relies on the balance between them, intra-States relations cannot be stable for a long time. The reason is that the balance / equilibrium found changes from time to time as the weight of States changes in international relations. Consequently, a new balance must be restored, which often comes through clashes, economic sanctions or wars.

The third group of interests is related to the action of the States which, before building the platform for the fulfilment of their interests, study and analyze in depth and consider very carefully the interests of partner States. Their partners are required to do the same. In the next step, during the negotiations, they build, in a transparent way, their Political Platform at bilateral or multilateral relations. Perhaps it is not superfluous to quote that history has shown and shows that such examples demonstrating these kinds of intra-States relations have constituted a success for those States as well as a model for others. It is also evident that scholars of international relations as well as progressive diplomacy are working hard together on this approach of interests, but the journey is still very long.

There is another group, which we could call the fourth group of interests which means the action of States not only takes into account the interests of other states, but they rely on the common interests between them for the whole region or a wider grouping of States. Starting with the common interests of environmental protection, climate change, and protection against pandemics, information technology, some branches of international economic cooperation, or the fight against poverty and education, this group of interests will be the future of intra-States relations with the conditions that States must gradually not only enlarge them as number of interests, but also include them right now in their agenda of political platforms.

Ukraine-Russia conflict: Russia’s war against Ukraine constitutes a clear example of the balance of power of policy the states, where Russia has been completely guided by its own maximum interest and completely ignored that of Ukraine interests of, at least, the second group of them. This military conflict illustrates the very old Russian mentality, school and politics which took into consideration only its own interest called “protection of Russian speakers” undertaking its military action to resolve those conflict of interests. As much as Russian policy justifies military intervention by “the risk of expanding NATO to its borders”, this is a war that manifests how unprepared Russia and all the major actors are to follow the policy that consider the balance of the interest through dialogue rather than military conflict.

Kosovo-Serbia relations: In their evolution, the complex and the tension of relations between Kosovo and Serbia have finally found a consensus of cooperation in search of peace, precisely by balancing the interests of the two countries. I think that their dialogue in the future will be guided more by the second than the third group of interests, but that is still a good sign of the new policy occurred narrowing the space of the old politics. It can be continued with other cases, for example, the finding of a lasting resolution of the Taiwan status which at any time produces tensions not only between Taiwan and China, but also the US and the West itself which supports Taiwan, and China on the other hand. If the politicians in both countries will manage to convince themselves to be inspired and guided by the policy of the balance of interests according to their second group, it will be completely possible to go to the negotiating table as the Kosovo-Serbia relations are supposed to continue.

In conclusion: The awareness of the policy-makers, or rather, the responsibility to build their relations through dealing with dialogue of mutual interests together with the component of sincerity, taking well into consideration the lessons of history will gradually produce new bilateral and multilateral relations, and the later naturally will bring a lasting peace which, even if they change, they will change again through the policy of the balance of interests through dialogue and not conflict. I don’t think this remains only within the framework of idealism, but also as a necessity in the time we live in where Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Climate Change are the antipode of resolving the conflict of interests through war where, for sure, all parties will be losers.


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