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German-Polish-Russian Seminar at NATO: Enhanced Cooperation and Security For All –Renewed Commitment
Brussels, 22 October 2010
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to participate in this trilateral seminar. Not too long ago it would have been difficult to imagine high-level representatives of the governments of Poland, Russia and Germany coming together within the framework of NATO to hold a joint seminar on issues of Euro-Atlantic security.
A positive development has begun in the past two years.
The conclusion of the New START Treaty in April of this year represented a major step. This milestone is based on the new trust between the Russian and US leaderships. We view President Obama’s and President Medvedev’s support for the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons as the commitment of both sides to further steps towards nuclear disarmament. The withdrawal of substrategic nuclear weapons is of particularly great importance to us Germans.
The Russian Government has taken significant steps towards building confidence in Europe. The resolution of the Barents Sea border issue with Norway represents an important increase in security. Let me give special attention to the rapprochement between Russia and Poland, which has led to a thaw in Russian-European relations in general and opens up new opportunities for dialogue with Russia. Both sides are determined to overcome difficult past issues and look to the future.
It is to the credit of President Medvedev that his proposal for a new European security treaty has contributed significantly to a new perception of pan-European security. His initiative turned again to the unfulfilled promise of the Charter of Paris to establish indivisible security as the basis for mutual confidence and unified action.
A comprehensive dialogue within OSCE on Europe’s common security has grown out of this. Numerous proposals for improved cooperation and security as well as for confidence-building have been developed as part of the Corfu Process. Now we must seize the opportunity that the OSCE Summit in Astana represents. The Astana Summit must provide concrete impulses and mandates aimed at strengthening common security in Europe.
To us, the concept of indivisible security, which President Medvedev has rightly emphasized, means the rejection of zero-sum logic. From our perspective the principle that security can be strengthened only in harmony, not in confrontation, means that greater security for the other side also implies greater security for oneself. To this end we must do away with the notion of spheres of influence and power, as it does not help us but, on the contrary, merely raises the spectre of new conflicts.
This thinking requires that both sides go the extra mile: For Russia this means overcoming the fear of its interests being impinged upon. We in the West have to try to place our trust in Russia’s constructive role.
I have previously spoken of the need for a community of shared interests. Concrete steps of cooperation are needed to achieve this. Trust grows through joint action. In the area of Euro-Atlantic security I see this call going out especially to the NATO-Russia Council, EU‑Russia relations and the OSCE.
Given the positive development of our relations, relations between NATO and Russia have also improved considerably. In Afghanistan, Russia and NATO have clear common interests in fighting terrorism, Islamist fundamentalism, and drug production and trafficking. Russia trains Afghans in the fight against drugs and also wants to provide Afghanistan with military equipment as part of an agreement with NATO. Russia’s support for NATO in the transport of material and equipment to Afghanistan is also of particular importance.
There are also good prospects for cooperation between NATO and Russia to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. Agreement on the objectives has largely been reached in the NATO-Russia Council.
All in all, dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council has developed well since the Informal Foreign Ministers Meeting in Corfu. Thus I think there is a good chance of broadening the spectrum of topics. We, for example, are very open to the Russian proposal to conduct dialogue on defence planning. The field of reorganization of armed forces and joint military exercises on the basis of jointly elaborated threat scenarios also offers further scope for dialogue and cooperation.
How we address missile defence will be crucial for future relations between Russia and the West. Germany is a strong advocate of involving Russia as far as possible. We believe NATO-based missile defence can only further European security if Russia is on board. A call goes out here to NATO and Russia to use the opportunity for cooperation which would bring about a long-term and truly strategic improvement in NATO-Russia relations. Therefore I have read precisely the words of President Medwedew expressing readiness to explore ways by which Russia’s active participation in a joint missile defence system might be possible.
The first step has been taken by drawing up a common threat analysis regarding joint missile defence in the NATO-Russia Council. But I see much further-reaching potential, from the passing on of technical information, knowing how sensitive the issue is, via the joint development of components, to the interconnection of the surveillance and defence systems in the various areas.
At the forthcoming Summit in Lisbon, NATO will adopt its New Strategic Concept and therein commit to its partnership with Russia, in very clear and credible terms. „Partners, not adversaries“ should also be the maxim for the Russian perception of NATO. Were Russia to deal accordingly with NATO in its military and security doctrines, it would be an encouraging confidence-building response.
The German government is highly delighted that President Medvedev agreed to a NATO-Russia Council Summit in Lisbon. This provides a real opportunity for the two sides to move closer together.
Russia’s cooperation with the EU is the other key component in relations between Russia and the West.
Russia is a strategic partner of the European Union. The European Union needs Russia just as Russia needs the European Union. This holds true not only in the business sphere and regarding energy security, but also in the sphere of security policy.
With the Treaty of Lisbon and the establishment of the European External Action Service, the European Union is putting its common foreign policy and the effectiveness of it on a new footing. This presents new opportunities for closer and more operational foreign and security policy collaboration between the EU and Russia. The EU is interested in conducting this kind of security dialogue and is prepared to raise it to a new level.
The Meseberg Initiative of President Medvedev and Federal Chancellor Merkel has been an important trigger in lending a new quality to security policy relations. Linked to this is the plan to move forward together on resolving the Transnistria conflict. Transnistria is certainly a kind of test-drive of our ability to jointly overcome mutual blockades. Russian influence is vital given its financial, military and political support. But Romania is also called upon to help bring about a solution.
Progress in Transnistria would step up confidence considerably and lend weight to President Medvedev’s call for indivisible security in Europe. Such progress would also be a promising signal for the OSCE Summit in Astana. After all, it is at this Summit that key momentum is needed for the development of a pan-European security order.
Such momentum clearly also includes elements to prompt a strengthening and renewal of conventional arms control in Europe.
Adapting and modernizing the CFE Treaty is a sine qua non for creating European security and a major confidence-building step between Russia and its Western neighbours.
A successful development of the CFE negotiations with a view to a Treaty ratified by all parties would also have a positive impact on the issue of NATO’s and Russia’s substrategic nuclear weapons in Europe. You know that my Government is working for the withdrawal of NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons from Germany and Europe – an issue we are consulting intensively with our Allies. From a military and security policy perspective they do not make sense any longer. But we also consider it essential for Russia to withdraw its much larger arsenals of substrategic nuclear weapons from Europe. First steps could be transparency measures and central storage of warheads.
To sum up I would like to express my hope that Russia and the states joined in NATO and the EU do not squander the great opportunities for confidence-building and cooperation which now are on the horizon.