Main topic




Contemporary study of the possibilities of small states to resist security threats has come a long way from the understanding that it comes down to the classical policy of balancing and developing their own military potentials. This was contributed by the “expansion of the field of security”, a detailed observation of security (as a state, organization and function). A positive contemporary definition of security means freedom from fear and freedom from poverty; in the objective sense, it is defined as the absence of threats to adopted values, and in the subjective sense as the absence of fear that these values will be attacked, as well as “freedom from harmful threats”. Introductory part of the Paper studies the nature of states which, due to common features and ways of acting in international relations, are divided into two groups: small and great states (small and great powers). The first part of the Paper deals with the topics of defining small states according to standard criteria (quantitative, qualitative and relational). Quantitative criteria include the number of state`s citiziens, the area of ​​the state territory, economic strength and military power. Qualitative criteria determine whether a state is small or not, primarily dealing with the possibilities, behavior and perception that the state has about itself. Qualitative criteria include the moral condition of the population, its educational structure, economic and technological development, etc. Relational criteria relate the behavior of small states with the nature of the international system and the relative position of the state in it. According to this approach, the criterion of whether a state is small or not is the (in) ability to project the influence of a state in the international system. In its second part of the Paper, the main strategies used by small states in dealing with security threats are explained. Those are: balancing through association against a potential threat, joining a great power (bandwagoning), declaring neutrality or resorting to a “hedging strategy”. Joining forces to balance against a threatening force more often occurs in cases where this threat is immediate, usually due to geographical proximity and the direct execution of offensive activities or the emphasis on such intentions. In the second case – that of bandwagoning – small states choose to associate with the dominant great power instead of opposing it through balancing because they estimate that, overall, it is less harmful to submit (and gain, in return, some benefits) than to suffer significant damage due to opposition to it. The third option facing small countries is to declare a policy of neutrality. This strategic option is provided in case that some small countries are not willing to side with any of the great powers or mutually confronting alliances and have the opportunity to do so due to their specific geopolitical and cultural-historical position. The fourth possible strategy of small states is the so-called “hedging strategy”. The essence of this strategy is that it avoids taking a strictly binding policy towards other countries and their alliances, with the aim to develop (with each of them) such relations as it deems useful, while minimizing the risk of confrontation with any of the great powers. In the third part of the Paper, this theoretical knowledge is applied to the case of Serbia, its exposure as a small country to a series of security threats from the end of the Cold War to the present day, all in order to draw conclusions about the security strategic opportunities that are facing Serbia and what they can bring to it.

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PERIODICS The Policy of National Security 2/2020 2/2020 УДК: 355.02(188.3)(497.11) 63-87