Foreign Minister Gabriel opened a two‑day international conference on the future of arms control in Berlin on Wednesday (6 September). The conference title – Making Conventional Arms Control Fit for the 21st Century – says it all. The event will explore how best to maintain conventional arms controls in the 21st century and how to make further progress in this field.
Stopping a new arms race and improving disarmament controls
At the conference “Making Conventional Arms Control Fit for the 21st Century,” policymakers and academics are discussing how the international arms control architecture can be maintained and further developed. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Gabriel said we were now departing from the course steered since the end of the Cold War. “We are entering a new arms race.” However, he stressed, what we needed to aim for was disarmament.
Disarmament a matter of war and peace
What was important now, Gabriel stated, were not the geostrategic considerations of the 20th century, but changing the emphasis and making arms control fit for the 21st century. The issue of disarmament had once again “become a matter of war and peace,” he said, noting that we now had to doggedly work step by small step towards disarmament.
With respect to the latest developments on the Korean peninsula, Gabriel warned that if North Korea were to succeed with its aggressive nuclear programme, other states would also think about getting nuclear weapons. However, when addressing the issue of nuclear disarmament, you also had to look beyond the worrying situation in North Korea. The USA and Russia bore a special responsibility when it came to taking steps towards nuclear disarmament.
Expert discussions at the two‑day conference
Patricia Flor, Federal Government Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control, and Adam Thomson, Director of the European Leadership Network, joined Foreign Minister Gabriel in opening the event. International experts, NGO representatives and governmental representatives from many of the 57 OSCE participating states have come together for the discussions at this two‑day conference. Foreign Minister Gabriel also met with OSCE Secretary General Greminger on the sidelines of the event.