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Rede von Botschafter Gröning anlässlich der Eröffnung des ARF-Seminars „Vertrauensbildende Maßnahmen und Präventive Diplomatie in Asien und Europa“

13.03.2008 - Rede

- Es gilt das gesprochene Wort -

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all let me offer you a cordial welcome to the Great Conference Hall, or „Weltsaal“, of the Federal Foreign Office.

Knowing that many of you had a long and exhaustive journey I would like to thank you for participating. We feel honoured by the fact that nearly all ARF participating States have sent representatives to the workshop.

At the same time we feel vindicated in having chosen the topic Confidence-building Measures and Preventive Diplomacy, which is important and of significant interest, in Asia as well as in Europe.

I would like to thank as well my Indonesian Co-Chair, Director Ibnu Hadi and his team for their close and valuable cooperation in the preparation of this workshop. I am also grateful for the participation of the representative of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union and of the Finnish Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.

As a member of the European Union, Germany has always been a strong supporter of close EU-ASEAN relations and of an active EU participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum. As a matter of fact, it was the then German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who, some 30 years ago, suggested to his Thai colleague and then Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee, Dr. Upadit Pachariyangkun, to take up regular contacts between the EEC and ASEAN at Ministerial level. As a result, the 1st ASEAN-EEC Ministerial Meeting was held in Brussels in 1978. Later the 11th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting of 1994 in Karlsruhe/Germany intensified ASEAN-EU relations and paved the way for the 1st Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in March 1996.

One year ago, in March 2007, the German EU Presidency hosted the 16th EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers´ Meeting in Nuremberg/ Germany , which endorsed the „Nuremberg Declaration on EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership“. In this declaration, EU and ASEAN agreed, inter alia, to enhance political dialogue between the EU and ASEAN as well as regional and political dialogue through the ASEAN Regional Forum. In addition, they recognized the ASEAN Regional Forum as the main forum for regional dialogue and cooperation on political and security issues in the Asia Pacific.

Finally, only two weeks ago, our Foreign Minister, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, confirmed the German efforts to deepen relations with ASEAN countries and the ASEAN association during his visit to Southeast Asia and his meetings with the ASEAN Secretary General and the Singapore ASEAN Chair.

Germany, as a member of the European Union, has actively participated in the work of the ASEAN Regional Forum since its foundation in 1994. Let me give you some examples of the latest German activities within the ARF framework:

· In February 2005 in Potsdam, Germany hosted the first meeting of the Inter-sessional Support Group on Confidence-building Measures in Europe (ISG). The extension of the agenda of the ISG to include the topic of Preventive Diplomacy was agreed in Potsdam and later endorsed by the ARF Ministerial Meeting.

· Germany, in cooperation with Cambodia, co-organized the ARF workshops on Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2005 and on Management and Security of Stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons in 2007, both held in Phnom Penh.

· In addition to today’s workshop, Germany will co-host, next month, together with Malaysia, a seminar on Anti-personnel Mines to be held in Penang/ Malaysia.

We are convinced that dialogue and cooperation as well as a regional approach to security issues are crucial for peace and stability. Lasting security can only be achieved through cooperation with neighbours. This goal is one of the key components of the concept of comprehensive and cooperative security as we understand it.

In Europe we have a long and encouraging experience with confidence- and security building measures and preventive diplomacy. Berlin, a city which less than 20 years ago was still divided by the Berlin Wall, is perhaps the best proof for the success of confidence-building and preventive diplomacy. Beginning in the early 1970s at a time of confrontation between East and West, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) made a key contribution to this development. It was after a long and difficult negotiation process that the first confidence-building measures in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 could be signed.

They had a profound impact on the course of European history, helping to reduce the dangers of armed conflict. In further developing confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs), the emphasis has been on increasing predictability through greater openness and transparency. Negotiations on CSBMs, resulting in the adoption of the Stockholm Document in 1986, ultimately led to the Vienna Document in its subsequent versions.

The existing OSCE acquis of treaties, agreements, mechanisms and Confidence-building measures such as the Vienna Document 1999, the „Information Exchange on Conventional Arms Transfers“ and the „Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons“ constitute today an interlocking regime of obligatory and verifiable information exchanges and notifications on military holdings and activities, and armed forces levels.

This CSBM regime contributes to greater transparency, and thus promotes trust and stability in the OSCE area.

Some of the key components of this OSCE acquis will be explained during session 1 of the workshop and I am grateful to the OSCE-Chairmanship of Finland and to the representatives of the OSCE Secretariat that they have agreed to deliver their key notes on this.

To contribute to the following discussions I will try to give some general reasons why this process has been so successful:

· From the very beginning, transparency on military doctrines, military expenditures, armament, organisation and strength of troops has been at the very centre of the CSCE´s security dialogue and negotiations. Consequently, the security dialogue was accompanied by the agreement of confidence-building measures, thus contributing to further transparency and trust.

· The CSCE started as a series of meetings and conferences on security that built on the commitments of its participating States, and, at the same time, strengthened the CSCE as an institution. With the end of the Cold War, the CSCE acquired more and more permanent structures and operational capabilities, thus facilitating the implementation and verification of CBMs and other agreements. As part of this process of institutionalization, the name was changed from Conference on Security and Co-operation (CSCE) to Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1994.

· The participating States of the OSCE have agreed on a concept of common, comprehensive, co-operative and indivisible security. Security has to be established in cooperation with all countries of a regionwhich take their security concerns seriously.

· Security dialogue, confidence-building and preventive diplomacy have created the atmosphere of stability and trust for legally binding arms control or disarmament agreements like the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe or the Open Skies Treaty.

· While the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces is currently in a difficult situation, since Russia suspended her participation three months ago, the well established network of CSBM’s and the OSCE’s permanent institutions provide important mechanisms to keep up the necessary comprehensive dialogue which should help to eventually overcome these difficulties. This example demonstrates that CSBMs are of particular significance in times of crises.

· The framework of CBMs, mechanisms and agreements has proven its importance in early warning, prevention or management of conflicts as well as in post-conflict rehabilitation in our region. Nevertheless, unresolved conflicts still exist in the OSCE area, and we are searching for negotiated solutions. This shows us, that the established OSCE framework of arms control and confidence building measures is not perfect and needs to be reviewed and improved through continuous efforts.

· In that respect,credible verification is of special importance as it is indicating implementation problems. Most of the CBMs agreed in the OSCE framework have their own verification elements included, as for example the Vienna Document with inspections and mutual visits.

· That brings me to my last point: Dialogue and cooperation with other regional and international organisations, in particular the United Nations, have been crucial in developing and improving the OSCE framework of CBMs, mechanisms and agreements. Many of our CBMs and mechanisms of preventive diplomacy have been inspired by experiences made by other regional or international organisations.

Against this background, we are keen to learn more about the ARF approach to confidence building and preventive diplomacy and to enter into a dialogue with you on this important topic. I am sure that the workshop will meet that goal.

Thank you.

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