Danish Foreign and Security Policy (1990-2019): EU, the Baltic Sea Region, and the Arctic in the Light of the Ukraine Conflict

Danish Foreign and Security Policy (1990-2019): EU, the Baltic Sea Region, and the Arctic in the Light of the Ukraine Conflict

Carsten Sander Christensen (Billund Kommunes Museer (Billund Municipal Museums), Denmark)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2906-5.ch007


In this chapter, the Danish foreign and security policy in the framework of the international security policy and its changes vis-à-vis the former Eastern bloc in the period following the Cold War will be analysed in the light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The analysis will concentrate on three tense areas that form the European core of Danish security policy. Firstly, an analysis of the purpose of the Danish commitment to the EU-enlargement, in the years 1990-2007, and how it anticipates the events of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is done. Secondly, an analysis of the Danish foreign and security policy in the frame of the international policy in the Baltic Sea Region is done, and thirdly, an analysis of the Danish foreign and security policy in the frame of the international policy in the Arctic area in the light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is done.
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The Eu-Enlargement (1990-2007)

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 became the starting point of a new era in European trade and cooperation. Shortly after, the Central and Eastern European countries began a process of transition towards market economies. For some, this was a daunting task, as they had little tradition of open economies. Others could draw on experience in recreating market economies that half a century earlier had worked well (Wivel, 2012).

However, this change in the geopolitical situation in Europe also affected the Danish foreign policy in the following years. Since the end of the Cold War, in the beginning of the 1990s, the Danish foreign policy priority of establishing a peaceful and stable Europe in progress and prosperity has been a common thread in the foreign policy followed in the recent decades. Under the motto, that membership of the European Union was the ultimate and only realistic guarantee that there could be up for social and democratic stability in Europe's new democracy, Denmark’s foreign policy was formed. A European society, which was carried forward by the perspective of membership in the European Union, was the best insurance against new ethnic conflicts and uncontrolled refugee flows in Europe (Petersen, 2006).

Despite this priority in creating a peaceful and coexisting Europe, the old threat, that was very real during the Cold War, still were in the Danes’ mind. Therefore, instead of sitting idly, the Danish politicians began to become more active in order to contain the former Russian threat in neighbourhoods around Denmark. First and foremost by spreading Danish values and norms in politics and economics

From an economic perspective, a rapid expansion process of countries from the former Eastern Bloc was a pure win-win situation. It was not a problem for Denmark, that the country had to pay relatively much and that the recipient countries did not benefit to the same extent. You would instead use the same political and economic template as when countries like Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal became members, where you saw that the community improved the new member countries' living conditions so that they soon got the same living conditions as the other European Union countries. At the same time, the increased prosperity in the new countries created a new impetus and momentum in the Danish business community, because it found new and more affluent customers for its products on a new market in rapid growth.

Nevertheless, before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Denmark and Norway have been very active partners in the process of democratization in the former Eastern Bloc. Denmark's new foreign policy line had gone from being an importer of security to be a provider of security. Denmark was for instance one of the first countries in the world to establish an Embassy in the Baltic States (Latvia in 1991), but already in 1988 and 1989, the Danish foreign Ministry was engaged in the Baltic States' secession process from the now former Soviet Union. Unlike most other European countries, Denmark had never recognized the Soviet annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1939. The Danish engagements in the Baltic States were characterized by the fact that Denmark was involved in the construction of these states on virtually all areas of society. Denmark went ahead of both U.S. and major European powers (Germany, France and Great Britain) in its Baltic exposure - an apparent break with the Danish tradition of prudent and not activist foreign policy (Kvist and Bloch, 2007).

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