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Ladies and gentlemen,
A few weeks ago we celebrated in Berlin what was truly a watershed event. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 marked the culmination of the policy of East-West détente. As our then foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher recently put it in Vienna, 1989 was a year in which the nations of Europe felt perhaps a closer bond than ever before in their history.
For us Europeans the end of Europe’s and Germany’s division, the reunification of our continent was one of history’s golden moments. And it has also given us the certainty that if we commit to a common purpose, we can indeed achieve it, even though the road may be long and the going at times tough.
The informal meeting of foreign ministers convened by the Greek OSCE Chairmanship on Corfu in June has done valuable work in preparing the ground for a structured and issue-oriented dialogue on the future of Europe’s common security. For that I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to our Greek friends and wholeheartedly endorse everything the Swedish EU Council Presidency has said in this connection.
What we are seeing today is the beginning of a process whose end still lies in the dark. The parallels with the CSCE negotiations in the seventies are obvious and there’s as much at stake now as there was then: the launch of a comprehensive and genuinely confidence-building pan-European dialogue on security.
What, in the German view, are the key elements of such a dialogue? I’d like to highlight three points in particular:
Firstly, the events of last year were a painful reminder that in the OSCE area, too, issues of war and peace are unfortunately still on the agenda. That’s why we support efforts to strengthen conflict prevention and conflict resolution within the OSCE framework. Conflicts need to be resolved by political and not by military means. Conflict prevention and conflict resolution after all is the OSCE’s raison d'être, its core competence. In the case of unresolved regional conflicts in particular, this means the Organization should promote stability and security by acting also as mediator and peacemaker. We need to reflect too, on how, in the context of our efforts to advance pan-European security, we can further strengthen the existing acquis in the field of arms control as well as confidence- and security-building measures. The new German Government has ambitious ideas on the security issue. Here I’m thinking first and foremost of the CFE Treaty, the subject of a seminar in Berlin a few days ago. With its legally binding information and verification regime, the CFE Treaty in particular is a vital component of Europe’s security architecture and constitutes a milestone in the development of the cooperative security concept. However, in the light of the radical changes in Europe’s security policy landscape since 1990, there is now an urgent need to further develop the CFE regime.
Secondly, we need to show still greater resolve in tackling the so-called new threats and we need to carefully consider how this can best be done. I’m thinking first of all of cross-border threats such as terrorism, organized crime and trafficking in drugs and people. Here we need to give support and assistance especially to those countries that share a border with instable neighbours. But these threats also include global challenges such as climate change and energy security. What’s common to all these threats is that they don’t stop at national borders. That’s why the only way to solve them is for all countries to pull together.
Thirdly, we’ve now realized that long-term stability and security can only be assured if human rights and the rule of law are respected and democratic freedom of expression is guaranteed. History has shown this all too clearly. Upholding the freedom and independence of the media, strengthening the rule of law: these are values to which all OSCE participating states have explicitly committed themselves. We believe these issues, too, are part and parcel of the European security dialogue.
Germany welcomes Minister Lavrov’s instructive comments on Russia’s project for a treaty on European security. The project deserves serious study. The OSCE’s Corfu Process is the proper framework for a comprehensive dialogue on pan-European security. That’s the right forum to discuss the Russian proposals. Our overriding goal should be to strengthen European security in a comprehensive fashion. That means we’re keen to build upon and, wherever necessary, strengthen the tried and tested institutions and instruments in the euroatlantic region. Another crucial thing is to concentrate on practical ways of improving European security.
Given its unique history and considerable reputation, the OSCE is the right organization to provide a suitable forum and inject the necessary dynamism into this dialogue. It has never been loath to introduce changes that might be required. With Kazakhstan next year at the helm, the Organization will for the first time be led by a successor state of the former Soviet Union. The biggest challenge will be to continue, on a structured and comprehensive basis, the security dialogue that has now begun and to make, as we all hope, real headway. Germany will do its best to support the new Chairmanship in taking this difficult and responsible task forward.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let’s remind ourselves of what a heart-warming and unexpected turn of events 1989 brought and let those days in Berlin be a source of inspiration for us today and tomorrow as we discuss here in Athens the future of European security. If at this Ministerial Council we succeed in charting the right course, I firmly believe we’ll make real headway towards our goal, namely to create an area of mutual confidence and undivided security extending from Vancouver to Vladivostok which ensures that also in the 21st century our countries will enjoy the benefits of peace and freedom.