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Speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the international conference “Military and Political Aspects of European Security”, Moscow, 23 May 2013


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, colleagues,

I would like to welcome in Moscow again participants of the international conference dedicated to topical aspects of security of our common Euro-Atlantic space.

The search of answers to the questions brought to the agenda of the meeting is even more important in conditions of the deep changes of the geopolitical landscape taking place in the world. The global balance of powers has not been defined yet. New centres of influence are being formed characterizing the process of establishment of the polycentric system of the world order. A priority place for some single region in the new international architecture is far from being guaranteed.

The whole set of factors affects security of all the countries, including those of the Euro-Atlantic region. The increasing military and political instability, extension of zones of turbulence in international relations, escalation of elements of chaos in them is of particular importance. It is evident that the disturbances that have overtaken the Middle East and North Africa will apparently be of a long-term and painful nature and most probably will be interconnected with the growth of risks far outside the borders of this region.

We can parry modern challenges only on the way of building-up collective actions of the international community based on strict adherence to standards and principles of the international law. As the President Vladimir Putin noted many times, nobody can solve global problems in the economy and policy alone – this is the main characteristic of the new epoch. The supremacy of law in international relations has the same meaning as in internal affairs. When settling crisis situations, we need to act in strict adherence to the UN Charter, avoiding arbitrary interpretation of UNSC resolutions and attempts to resolve the problems using unilateral forced methods.

At the current stage, one of the main trends in the field of security is reduction of the ratio of internal European risks, while the threat of challenged, the sources of which are outside the continent, increase. Therefore, the quality of security in the region is primarily determined by the ability of countries to unite their efforts in combating new threats at distant borders, certainly, and I will emphasize it again, in strict adherence to standards of the international law. The consolidation of our potentials is required for adequate reaction to real rather than artificial risks related to international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal supplies of regular armaments, especially to conflict areas, drug traffic, piracy, cyber attacks, natural and man-induced catastrophes, intensification of interreligious and intercivilizational frictions. We hear considerations in favour of collective, truly partner actions more and more frequently. In particular, I will refer to the opinion of Zbigniew Brzezinski expressed at the Tocqueville Prize awards ceremony on 14 October 2011: to avoid a dangerous recurrence of the recent past Europe needs a concept of the future binding of everybody as never before. A concept binding for everybody, I emphasize this, means indivisibility of security at the European continent.

Many countries of the Euro-Atlantic region contemplate about it today. It is evident that the current model of military and political relations is seriously lagging behind from the advanced level of trade and investment links, cooperation in the field of energy, culture, science and tourism.

The military correlation of forces has been evidently changing between countries and their unions in Europe for the last two decades. The aspiration to the build-up and modernization of offensive capabilities, creation and deployment of new types of weapons, expansion of NATO washed out the structure of security in Europe that was cemented by the system of contracts in the sphere of armaments control in the preceding period. The collapse of CFE has become one of logical consequences of this process.

Russia consistently advocates for the decrease in the role of the factor of power in international affairs, at the same time reinforcing strategic and regional stability, for neutralization of potential threats by political, diplomatic and other non-military means. We are ready to participate in the development of proper agreements based on principles of equality, real consideration of interests and concerns of each other.

We are still convinced that we need to make the repeatedly declared principle of indivisibility of security legally binding and so – actually working. The initiative of signature of a European security treaty issued by us is not of volatile nature and remains at the agenda.

We are convinced that the attempts to strengthen own security at the account of weakening our own partner lead just to the build-up of unnecessary tension, unjustified scattering of political and financial resources.

In general, the problems of indivisibility of security has rather good political grounds – the Charter for European Security, the declaration of OSCE summits in Astana and the NATO-Russia Council in Lisbon. Now the matter depends on its transfer to specific affairs.

As to OSCE, Russia is interested in the consolidation of its role as a mechanism of building of an equal and indivisible security system. We have a “window of opportunities” for this: the so called “Helsinki plus 40” process was initiated in Dublin last December, that is envisaged to help discover ways for ensuring full compliance of OSCE actions at the modern stage to the principles led down during its creation in 1975. The coordination of the uniting agenda, which is based on challenges and interests common for everybody, would allow to bring life to OSCE, deploy it the direction of real security problems, not to fix on narrow subjects and to “specialise” on humanitarian issues exclusively in the area “to the East from Vienna”.

The NATO-Russia Council has large opportunities. This unique arena can and should be used for “scanning” horizons of security, discovery of problems and threats at an early stage, making decisions and development of measures for their joint neutralisation.

Within the framework of agreements with the European Union on the “roadmap” of the common space of external security, we are ready to search for opportunities to join our approaches, to find mutually acceptable solutions in the sphere of crisis management.

I am convinced that there are more common things than disagreements in the views of the leading international players to the most acute problems of the modern world, especially in what concerns not tactical but rather final goals. Nobody is interested in getting down to a new race of armaments and military confrontation. One of the main tasks at the current stage is fortification of confidence, consideration of security interests of each other. Only such a basis will allow us to set up the development and adoption of decisions in a broad range of problems of mutual interest.

And here it is time to translate words into deeds. The meaning of the “reset” of relations between Russia and the USA consisted in “advance(ing) our common global agenda”. This thesis was made by US Vice President Joseph Biden during his speech at the Munich Security Conference on 2 February of this year. If we wish to avoid mutual suspicions about each other’s intents, we need to jointly analyse existing risks and to develop truly collective, common approaches to their neutralisation, rather than imposing unilaterally elaborated decisions as the only true ones. This refers to AMD, long-term military planning and crisis management.

Working together as truly equal partners, we can efficiently supplement each other multiplying our potentials. Transatlantic solidarity should not be opposed to the common European unity.

Joint counteracting piracy is an example of such collective approach. It is based on the UNSC mandate defining the framework of interaction between all participants of the anti-piracy coalition. Effective coordination of efforts is reached on these grounds. I think that we may arrange cooperation in counteracting other global threats and challenges according to such model.

We do a lot together in the interests of stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan. However, we could have much more impressive results, if we combined efforts of ISAF working in the country, and CSTO conducting anti-drug operation along the external perimeter of IRA borders.

I will say in the end that all countries are interested in the reinforcement of their potential of counteracting new threats. We need to do a simple thing – to take care that our own potentials are not perceived as means able to do harm to the security of partners. Then we will have no obstacles for combining our efforts in the long view.

The today’s conference is an excellent opportunity to better understand each other, to find additional points of support to advance to our common goals.

I wish you successful discussion and effective negotiations.