Russia, Europe and the world – prospects for cooperation on global security

05.02.2006 - Speech

Mr Teltschik,
Sergei Ivanov,
Bob Zoellick,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As a first-time participant at this Conference, I did not expect to win any medals. But allow me to congratulate you, Senator McCain, on your award. All that I ask as a first-time participant is your indulgence if some of my comments should tend to reopen the issues dealt with yesterday.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the Munich Conference on Security Policy has for decades been a key venue for transatlantic dialogue. Dialogue on a partnership that is the pillar complementing European integration as the basis for European foreign and security policy.

A partnership that is built on a shared history, common values, on political and economic ties and cultural affinity – as was stressed by the Chancellor in her speech yesterday.

Our community of values has proven itself, ladies and gentlemen, especially with regard to those values where some suspect the greatest differences. I am referring of course to the assertion of freedom and democracy. NATO, too, embodies this community of values. It has already in the past played a crucial role in bringing Americans, Germans and Russians together to discuss cooperation on global security issues.

As we have known for some time, and as was said yesterday, NATO is undergoing a complex transformation to adapt to new international framework conditions and prepare for the new types of missions it will face. It is only right that this transformation should be discussed and pushed ahead, as was indeed the focus of yesterday's discussions.

This panel today is however called upon to discuss something else – as is apparent from its composition. We are not here so that NATO members can talk about their future on their own. We are here to look at the future of NATO as part of a greater task, namely that of guaranteeing security in an ever more convoluted world in cooperation with others.

Without now wishing to fully reopen yesterday's discussion, I would at least like to express my agreement with the Secretary General of NATO that the Organization cannot assume the role of world policeman. But, I would like to add, we also need avenues of political dialogue with countries outside of NATO. The NATO-Russia Council, which has just been mentioned and whose establishment was strongly backed by Germany, is an existing expression of such an approach.

I would like to start off by stating that the European Union, the United States and Russia are indispensable partners for each other, and by giving examples to back my claim. Indispensable, because only together will we be able to solve the problems besetting our world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

this is no fiction, this is hard reality. If I consider my diary for the past week – and the schedules of many others present in this room, I find the following:

  • On Monday, or more accurately late on Monday night, Germany, France and Britain met with the US, Russia and China to determine the line – you know which one – to be taken at the special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors.
  • Also on Monday, the Quartet, comprising the EU, US, Russia and the UN formulated a clear position on Hamas's electoral victory in the Palestinian territories, unequivocally stating that armed violence and democracy are not compatible.
  • On Tuesday, the Conference on Afghanistan provided fresh impetus for the ravaged country to build a future under Afghan ownership following the successful conclusion of the Bonn process. At the conference, Germany, Russia and the US signalled their joint willingness to forgive Afghanistan's outstanding debt.
  • On the same day, the Contact Group comprising the US, Russia, Germany, Britain, France and Italy pledged all possible support for UN Special Representative Ahtisaari in the difficult negotiations on Kosovo. Successfully concluding these negotiations would, as you are aware, be a further crucial step in our joint efforts to bring stability to the Balkans. Bosnia and Herzegovina illustrates the success to be had when Europe, Russia and the United States work together.
  • And lastly, to conclude the week, there was yesterday's special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, at which a vast majority of the Board, with the full backing of the US, Russia and a whole row of European states, voted in favour of reporting Iran's nuclear activities to the UN Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I do not wish to be misunderstood when I say, and try to show with my examples, that we need one another. I am not calling on us to turn a blind eye to each other's activities. We are of course observing domestic developments in Russia, as our Russian colleague is well aware. We are watching with a critical eye, and we speak up where our opinions differ. But we speak as partners who have mutual respect for one another, and we view Russia as a partner for the solution of global problems in the medium and long term. That is why you should bear with me when I reject the bloc mentality prevalent prior to the 1990s as a basis for our future cooperation.

I would like to explain how we see relations at present, and will thereby distinguish between European-Russian relations on the one hand, and German-Russian relations on the other.

Turning first to European-Russian relations, we must ask what makes the relations between the EU and Russia as they have evolved to date so special? I have two answers. Firstly, the partnership is now comprehensive, designed for the long term and for our mutual benefit. And secondly, it is in my opinion able to take some strain, even if sometimes we are a bit critical of each other.

In my opinion, many people are now far too inclined to take the special character of these relations for granted. The close cooperation between the EU and Russia is in fact based on strategic decisions taken by both parties.

The Russian leadership has repeatedly asserted that Russia wants to play a greater role in Europe. In this connection I recall for example the remarkable speech given by President Putin in the German Bundestag in 2001. In his words, it is more than just a geographic orientation, but something underpinned by our common culture and common history.

I now turn to German-Russian relations, which are now close as they have rarely been before. We maintain a constructive and very frank dialogue at many levels.

Our cooperation, which has perhaps received scant attention so far, extends over far more than the economic sphere. Cultural exchange between our two countries is now well and truly up and rolling, especially for young people. In the field of academia alone, more than 15,000 students, lecturers and researchers have profited from exchange programmes over the past three years.

I do not wish to ignore the history between us – indeed, in view of the two wars fought between us in the past century, this closeness between Germans and Russians is something that still needs protection, something that is still to be treasured. It is in the interest of both states to safeguard it and as such incorporate it into European-Russian and transatlantic relations.

The EU identified Russia as one of its strategic partners several years ago. The four common spaces project that has just been mentioned found its way into a common EU position paper in 2003. I will not go into any further detail about it now.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will soon expire. We therefore want to adopt a new Agreement as quickly as possible in the coming year and so establish a comprehensive contractual basis that reflects the new quality of EU-Russian relations.

I will now turn to a broader perspective. In light of the global problems facing us all, Europe needs Russia to be a strong, functioning state.

I say this, Mr Ivanov, because in my talks in Russia I have often had the impression that people believe the West wants nothing more than to weaken Russia. That is simply not true. None of us, on either side, should fall back into the bloc mentality of the Cold War, as I said earlier.

On the contrary, Europe needs a functioning Russia so that we can jointly overcome the key challenges facing the globalized world. And we need a Russia with whom we can be forthright, a Russia that can also take criticism.

The peace, social stability and prosperity enjoyed by Europe are built on democracy, the rule of law, social market economics and a lively civil society.

And I am sure that the same foundation could be the basis for Russia's future development.

The difficult reform process in Russia shows that this development cannot be completed overnight, but that the country is, I hope, moving irreversibly in the right direction.

Our European understanding of state strength involves giving freedoms to civil society. That is why we have recently expressed our concerns about the new Russian legislation on the activities of NGOs in some very frank talks with the Russian leadership. It was my impression at the time that our arguments were listened to.

President Putin said in his annual press conference earlier this week that non-governmental organizations play an important role in Russian society, not least because they monitor state activities and government institutions. That message is important, but we aren't naïve; we naturally also expect this attitude to be reflected in the way NGOs are treated.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Having said that, however, I should also say that it is nonetheless not our aim to impose a German, French or English model on Russia. Russia must find its own way to develop its traditions in harmony with European values.

And, ladies and gentlemen, we are facing great challenges this year, as Russia bears twofold responsibility, holding as it does the Presidency of the G8 and, from this summer, the chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

Permit me now to illustrate the challenges of the coming year by looking at three of the most pressing global security issues in more detail:

Firstly, and of course this now has to come top of the list, there is finding a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. This is the key task for the immediate future, unless we want to enter into a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. By resuming enrichment-related activities, Iran has created a situation that requires a united response from the international community.

Russia offered to move enrichment activities to Russian territory, where they can take place under international supervision. This offer could have been the basis for a negotiated solution. Sadly, the Iranian Government has not taken up this offer, but has rather chosen to ignore it completely.

It is therefore entirely proper that yesterday's special session of the IAEA Board demonstrated our international unity of purpose. It firmly and unequivocally reiterated the demands that Iran fully suspend its enrichment-related activities.

And equally unequivocally it showed that Iran has now set itself up against the entire international community.

Further developments – and we are now in an early phase in the UN Security Council – will depend on Iran's willingness to respond appropriately to this resolution. We can at the moment only hope that the representatives of the Iranian Government do not continue to dash the hopes of the international community and do not further escalate the situation.

The second challenge for the current year that I would like to mention is terrorism. Along with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism presents the most serious threat to our security.

International terrorism does not respect national boundaries. It can therefore only be fought by means of transnational cooperation. The EU, US and Russia are all on one side in this fight, even if our focus is somewhat different at times.

We agree in principle that we need close cooperation between judicial and police authorities, above all as regards the obtaining and evaluation of information, as well as the pursuit of suspects and prosecution of criminals. We all know that rule-of-law standards and international law must be respected.

Issues like this are, Mr Ivanov, particularly pertinent in Chechnya. I say this in all humility, since I am sure there is no-one in this room today who thinks there are any easy solutions to this conflict, let alone ones that do not include stabilizing the region.

I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the offer made by the EU to support the development and stabilization of the northern Caucasus. We are ready to work with Russia on fleshing out this offer.

But, ladies and gentlemen, in addition to this we also need to cooperate in tackling the causes of terrorism. Such cooperation must most definitely include joint efforts to help parts of the Islamic world overcome their modernization crisis.

But I cannot mention this without also saying a few words about the discussion surrounding the Danish cartoons and the reaction they sparked in the Arab and Muslim world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

this is a development that we are monitoring with the utmost concern. In my opinion, we do not yet have a clash of cultures on our hands, but we are farther from the desired dialogue than we would like to be – or indeed have any reason to be.

Freedom of opinion and freedom of the press are elementary components of our social order and democracy, and as such are indeed enshrined in our constitution. At the same time, we agree that words and deeds that insult or ridicule other cultures or religions do not contribute to mutual understanding or the dialogue between cultures. We realize that freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, on the one hand, and freedom of religion on the other, are great liberties that enjoy the protection of the constitution.

Those who enjoy them must use them with care.

It is now incumbent upon us all to prevent a situation from arising in which people think we have to choose between these two liberties.

They belong together. They must both be respected and valued – not just in Europe, ladies and gentlemen, but around the world.

We can indeed understand that Muslims feel wounded by the cartoons, and that they consider them an insult to their religion. However, let me clearly state, since you applauded that sentiment, that this does not by any means justify calls for violence or attacks on European institutions or citizens, such as those that we have seen yesterday and today. I am extremely grateful that responsible spokesmen in the Muslim world have clearly condemned the recent violence and oppugn the transparent instrumentalization of the conflict by Islamists.

All powers of reason must in my view be harnessed to counter the false prophets of the clash of cultures!

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is a third topic that I would like to mention briefly which affects the future relations between Europe, Russia and the US. This issue is energy, and I am aware that I am not the first person to raise it.

The finite nature of fossil fuels means that problems regarding access to affordable energy could trigger ever more conflicts in the future.

It therefore seems clear to me that global security in the 21st century will also be inseparable from energy security.

German foreign and security policy must of course address this strategic challenge. Our country has few mineral resources and the economy is highly dependent on exports. What we have going for us are our ideas, the strength of our research and development institutes, and the technological advantage that we still have over others in important branches of production.

Given the scarcity of fossil fuels and our strength in industry and research, our goal must be to defend and enhance our position as a leading player in the development of renewable energies, environmental technologies and energy efficiency.

Only this will help reduce our dependence on imported oil, gas and other fossil fuels. It will also help tap new export markets and create jobs.

I raise this issue, because I firmly believe that it also has a growing security policy dimension:

A policy that promotes energy security also promotes peace. If we can lessen global dependence on energy resources by developing the relevant technology, we will also defuse potential tensions. Energy would thus lose its leverage as a political weapon.

And that is why German and European foreign policy must provide a framework for these developments, both in relation to the principal energy-producing regions – many of which are politically unstable – and in relation to other important consumer countries. Foreign energy policy, if I may call it such, will definitely enter the public consciousness as a new category.

And when I read, as I have in the past few days, that some commentators are already talking of “Europe's next Cold War”, I am equally sure that this is misguided thinking and the wrong path to go down. We should rather turn to cooperative security concepts like those we have already successfully employed in other contexts.

In my opinion, we have in the second half of the 20th century, post-World War II, successfully contained conflicts through regional security cooperation. We must likewise conceive of energy security on our continent as a dialogue between energy producers, consumers, transit states and the private sector.

And, in addition to the Norwegian Sea, North Africa and the Gulf states, Russia naturally remains a key source of energy for Germany and the EU and as such an indispensable partner. Russia's Presidency of the G8 will hopefully give us an opportunity to talk about how to enhance energy security in Europe, and worldwide.

I do not wish to go into further detail as regards the institutional framework for such a strategy. But let me conclude by saying that the advantages of such a cooperative approach are obvious in my opinion. Possible conflicts over the distribution of resources will be contained as the participants adhere to agreed rules. Cooperative solutions will increase long-term security of supply for those concerned as well as their ability to make long-term calculations.

And last but not least, enhanced market opening on the production and consumer side will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would now like to round off my remarks.

Following enlargement, the EU has indubitably moved geographically closer to Russia. As you have said, greater proximity means more intensive exchange. And, let me add, a shared neighbourhood also gives rise to more shared responsibility.

Sometimes, however, I have the impression that Europeans and Russians cooperate more successfully on global challenges than on regional problems in their direct vicinity.

I am thinking of course in particular of the frozen conflicts in Moldova, Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

As you know, Russia has a key role to play in their resolution.

And I ask: would it not send a fitting signal if we were now to combine forces and help settle the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has already lasted 18 years? Armenia and Azerbaijan must realize that new chances for settling conflicts must and in my opinion can be seized quickly. Here, too, I believe continued constructive assistance from Russia is indispensable.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have now outlined a few fields of action on the current agenda. I think this list clearly indicates that the European Union, the US and Russia are part of a global community that shares responsibility for the world we live in, a community that must break with traditional patterns of thought which focus on state borders and state power. As I said at the beginning, transnational problems need transnational solutions.

Never before in recent history has the danger of a war between the major powers been as slim as it is today.

Never before have we achieved such a degree of consensus in our analysis of the threats facing us and on how best to ensure humankind's survival.

We can only fulfil our responsibility towards future generations if we seize this opportunity to create a new world order based on cooperation. It is my conviction that the United States, Russia and Europe all need each other – and, more importantly, the world needs us!

Thank you.

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