How can we create security in Europe without further increasing tensions? At a meeting in the Federal Foreign Office today (2 September), Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed new initiatives for greater security and dialogue in Europe.
The annexation of Crimea, continuing tensions in Ukraine and the seemingly never‑ending violence in Syria - violent conflicts in our neighbourhood are having an increasingly direct impact on us. In view of today’s complex conflicts, how can we ensure that we are prepared for threats while remaining open to dialogue?
Putting arms control back on the agenda
Deterrence and détente have traditionally been NATO’s key objectives. Foreign Minister Steinmeier and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg met today to discuss how this dual‑track approach can be applied to the new threats in Europe. “There is one major concern –we have stopped talking about arms control,” Steinmeier said. He wants to put arms control back on the top of the agenda in order to prevent a new arms race. “Despite all the dangers and risks we see – and no one underestimates them - we cannot afford to neglect the dialogue aspect,” Steinmeier underlined. “Dialogue can only get off the ground again if there are concrete offers of talks.”
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg supports Steinmeier’s initiative. “I welcome the initiatives and the proposals of Minister Steinmeier. I welcome it because we need to avoid a new arms race. We need to avoid a new Cold War,” he said. “NATO will continue to balance strong defence with meaningful dialogue.”
Reacting to new threats with new initiatives
Stoltenberg and Steinmeier agree that the existing disarmament agreements must be modernised or updated. “We need to update the rulebook of European security. We need more military transparency to prevent incidents and accidents spiralling out of control,” Stoltenberg underlined.
In an article published last week, Foreign Minister Steinmeier launched a new initiative aimed at preventing a new spiral of confrontation and an arms race. He also wants to include new threats, such as hybrid and cyber attacks, in a new security and dialogue architecture. “The security situation has changed and we need to react to this in the institutions where we work,” he said.