Transcript of Speech by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at the 46th Munich Security Conference, February 6, 2010
The dramatic changes in the world over the past twenty years could not but influence the international agenda. We are now faced with the question of its transformation and change. The obvious improvement in the atmosphere in Euro-Atlantic politics, where the demand for confrontational approaches has fallen seriously, also prompts this.
But it is difficult to call normal the situation where the politico-military realities in the Euro-Atlantic area are far behind the contemporary economic, technological, trade, investment and other processes of globalization and interdependence, which occur in the world today.
Over the past twenty years European security has been seriously weakened across all parameters. This applies to the arms control regime and lingering conflicts and attempts to turn the "frozen conflicts” into “hot” ones and the atrophy of the OSCE. The remarks that “all is normal, nothing needs to be changed” do not convince us. I hope our point of view will be listened to.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization a real opportunity emerged to make the OSCE a full-fledged organization providing equal security for all states of the Euro-Atlantic area. However, this opportunity was missed, because the choice was made in favor of the policy of NATO expansion, which meant not only preserving the lines that separated Europe during the Cold War into zones with different levels of security, but also moving those lines eastward. The role of the OSCE was, in fact, reduced to servicing this policy by means of supervision over humanitarian issues in the post-Soviet space.
As a result a European architecture that would bring together all states of the Euro-Atlantic space without exception in one organization based on coherent, legally binding principles and with the appropriate tools to ensure them in practice did not materialize. The amorphousness of the OSCE led to its isolation from the needs of real life in many areas.
The main thing is that neither in the OSCE nor in any other framework was there realized the lofty and noble principle enunciated in the 90s at the highest level, the principle of indivisibility of security across the Euro-Atlantic space, according to which no state can be secured at another’s expense.
This principle is declared in the OSCE, NATO and the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) alike. But whereas in the North Atlantic Alliance the indivisibility of security is an obligatory, legally confirmed norm, in the OSCE and RNC it is limited to a genre of political declarations, without any legal or practical embodiment.
That the principle of indivisibility of security in the OSCE does not work doesn’t take long to prove. Let’s recall the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, when a group of OSCE countries, bound by this political declaration, committed aggression against another OSCE country, which was also covered by this principle.
Everyone also remembers the tragedy of August 2008 in Transcaucasia, where a member country of the OSCE which is bound by various commitments in the sphere of nonuse of force used this force, including against peacekeepers of another member country of the OSCE, in violation not only of the Helsinki Final Act, but also of the concrete peacekeeping agreement devoted to the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, which excludes use of force.
The absence of clear-cut rules in the OSCE led to the fact that the information of the OSCE observers in South Ossetia about the preparations of the Georgian leadership for a military attack was not reported to the OSCE Permanent Council. It is still unclear how this could happen. But that this resulted from the lack of clear-cut rules there is no need to prove.
Incidentally, the RNC also failed by refusing to convene on Russia’s request for an extraordinary meeting at the height of hostilities.
Both Kosovo and South Ossetia are manifestations of the systemic weakness of the OSCE.
But I also want to say about another thing. In historical development there has come a time when serious changes are occurring and we have to choose between past and future. That, by and large, is the question now. It is important not to miss this unique moment. I am sure we are able to rise above historical complexes and “look beyond the horizon.”
By and large, it is necessary to analyze the “family affairs” in Europe, and reassess a lot of things, though not in terms of the euphoria and triumphalism of the early 90s, but on the basis of sober analysis of the real consequences of what has occurred in the past twenty years. On whether we can jointly draw the right lessons the geopolitical weight of Europe depends, as well as of all European civilization, of which both the US and Russia are an integral part. One chief lesson must be an honest acknowledgement that there is a problem with the concept of indivisibility of security and that it will have to be tackled so it does not interfere with taking up specific, important tasks for us all, which are more than enough. Having solved the indivisibility of security problem once and for all in full measure, we can focus on a positive agenda and pressing matters based on coinciding interests and will create a solid foundation for joint action by the US, EU and Russia in international affairs. I would like to note the importance of precisely such a trilateral interaction. Bilateral strategic dialogues are insufficient and cannot replace the trilateral cooperation.
Many understand the unhealthy nature of the current situation. Hence the real interest in the idea put forward by President Medvedev in June 2008 of concluding a European Security Treaty. A solid thinking process has since been launched both at intergovernmental (OSCE, RNC, the Russia-EU interaction) and at various political science venues. Were it not for this initiative, there would be no shake-up in the OSCE.
Our NATO and EU partners tell us that the Russian Draft Treaty should be discussed only in the OSCE, as this organization is the “custodian” of the adopted by us all comprehensive approach to security, for which we have always consistently advocated. I will note, however, that prior to our initiative, most OSCE member states had not thought about it. Until recently, and even now, the lion's share of OSCE programs does not reflect the comprehensive approach and is devoted to the humanitarian sphere to the detriment of the other baskets. We have repeatedly drawn attention to these distortions, which must be removed.
Speaking about the human dimension, we must not forget that there is also the Council of Europe, where an array of European conventions has been produced that in contrast to the political documents of the OSCE are legally binding and thus constitute a single, common legal humanitarian space of the continent. Incidentally, these conventions are open to all those wishing. Why in the context of the Corfu Process, as one of the solutions to humanitarian issues, not appeal to all OSCE members to join these conventions? This will benefit all.
The Council of Europe has fundamental legal documents – the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights. There is the “executive authority” in the person of the Committee of Ministers. There are the Court, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the Parliamentary Assembly. In other words, it is in the realm of “soft security” that a pan-European structure has long been established and works quite well, ensuring compliance with the commitments in the field of human rights and freedoms. Above all, there are mechanisms in this structure to ensure compliance with these obligations. In the sphere of “hard security” there is no organization which on the same legally binding principles would provide a single politico-military space in Europe.
We all need an OSCE which actually enhances security and cooperation on the continent on an equal basis in all dimensions, bringing “added value” in terms of its real comparative advantages. Russia wants to see the OSCE a strong and effective organization, based on international law.
Therefore, we actively backed the Greek OSCE Chairmanship in its initiative to launch the Corfu Process, which demonstrated awareness of the need to revive in full the Helsinki Decalogue and a truly all-round approach to security. Continued dialogue will help, we hope, to develop ways to enhance, comprehensively, the capacity of the OSCE, to remove the serious distortions in its activities and to convert it into a full-fledged international organization.
Of course, the comprehensive approach should not be quietly substituted by artificial linkage tactics. After all, if someone refuses to discuss “hard security” until he is satisfied with the human rights situation, then someone else can take a similar stand, but with opposite sign, not wishing to speak on humanitarian subjects without prior agreement on politico-military or economic issues. And then we all will find ourselves at an impasse.
We ought to proceed from the equivalence of all dimensions of security, each of which is essential and should be considered with a view to achieving the best possible arrangements, but not on the principle of the lowest common denominator.
In this case, we are actively in favor of reaffirming, including as part of the Corfu Process of course, all the fundamental documents of the OSCE in all areas and of reviewing the progress on all previously adopted commitments. We are particularly interested in a commitment to ensure freedom of movement in the OSCE space. For some reason, everyone is now trying to avoid it, although for our people, people across Europe it is a key issue.
It is encouraging that the agreed Corfu Process agenda highlights the need to increase the effectiveness of the Organization, which implies a serious discussion of the questions of its reform. The Corfu Process should primarily result in the creation of a legal foundation of the OSCE on which to build agreement on matters of substance.
In putting forward the initiative on European security, we wanted to include in the Draft Treaty all major aspects of politico-military issues: arms control and confidence-building measures and conflict resolution and response to contemporary threats and challenges. But, after listening to our colleagues, we agreed to include them in the Corfu Process. All practical issues connected with politico-military security are already included in the Corfu Process agenda. On many of them there are Russian initiatives, including those advanced jointly with other OSCE members. And in the Draft Treaty we have left no practical things, but only one principle – the principle of the indivisibility of security. This is a kind of test. If we continue to believe in what our leaders declared and subscribed to in the 90s, why cannot we make the same things legally binding. If, however, this principle is no longer supported, we want to hear why. But if it is supported, let’s take this decision and confirm that we were all sincere when we in the 90s said that none of our countries would secure themselves at others’ expense. That's actually all. The idea is extremely simple, minimally necessary to advance along the path of confidence building measures, and absolutely not contradictory. Therefore, when we hear people say that they find the idea interesting but that they need to understand what Russia wants, then we answer that we do not hide anything. We honestly say that we want to confirm in a legally binding form what was already declared.
Today in the Euro-Atlantic area we see a qualitatively new moment coming forth: a kind of convergence of national interests, which objectively creates the conditions for solving on a de-ideologized basis the fundamental task of strengthening the position of European civilization in a globalizing, polycentric and increasingly competitive world. By overcoming the bloc-based Cold War approaches in the European architecture, and the derivative fears they arouse with regard to “spheres of influence,” we will provide the new quality of mutual trust that Europe so desperately needs in contemporary conditions.
The main question: Will the pan-European space be a truly, in legal terms, single space? Or will it be divided into “spheres of influence” and areas in which different standards are applied in terms of military and political security, humanitarian obligations, access to markets and modern technology and so on? It’s a hugely important issue, a kind of test of the members of the Euro-Atlantic “family” for maturity, for their ability to adequately perceive what is happening in the world.
February 6, 2010