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Ladies and gentlemen,
I bid you a very warm welcome to the opening event of the IDEAS Initiative here in the Europasaal of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.
Overcoming the division of Europe is inextricably linked to the history of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the CSCE.
The Helsinki Final Act was one of the elements which helped stabilize the bloc confrontation of the Cold War. However, it also contained the seeds of freedom which were to help overcome this confrontation less than fifteen years later.
Germany’s foreign policy follows in the Helsinki tradition. It follows in the tradition of the Charter of Paris of 1990 in which the foundations for a free Europe were laid after the Iron Curtain had been swept away.
Germany’s foreign policy follows in the tradition of a cooperative rather than a confrontational approach. It seeks dialogue and areas of common interest beyond ideological and practical differences. This policy of cooperation and dialogue has gotten Europe far. It has brought peace, security and prosperity to us in the heart of Europe.
Nevertheless, we have to develop fresh ideas for the OSCE and the Charter of Paris objectives. Our common European house hasn’t been completed to this very day. I’d just like to briefly mention four examples to illustrate that:
(1) Last week I visited the countries of the Southern Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The Nagorny Karabakh conflict is threatening to flare up again thanks to aggressive rhetoric. In Georgia, the various regions are threatening to move further apart instead of seeking and pursuing ways towards a shared future.
(2) In Belarus, we’re witnessing massive human rights violations on a daily basis. Not only is the political opposition being oppressed and locked up, but individuals’ fundamental civil liberties, which all OSCE states have undertaken to protect, are being trampled underfoot.
(3) The talks on the further development of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) – a cornerstone of arms control in Europe for many decades – broke down last summer.
(4) And what’s more – this also has to be spelled out here – the lack of trust between NATO and Russia is hampering our cooperation.
In view of these challenges, it’s all the more important that we managed to formulate the vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian security community at the 2010 OSCE summit in Astana. Our task now is to come up with ideas which will give substance to this vision.
I was therefore happy to take up the proposal put forward by the new OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier that a network of academic institutions be created.
I’m pleased that my counterparts from France, Poland and Russia and I were able to persuade the four institutions represented here today to take on the necessary conceptional work.
Allow me to formulate some of the questions with which the German foreign and security policies are concerned and to which I’m hoping your work will find solutions and answers.
First of all, the future of disarmament and arms control:
- In Germany’s view, conventional arms control is crucial for the stability and security of our continent. We have to radically rethink the parameters drawn up in the 1990s. Are the instruments and control mechanisms still in tune with the times?
How do we adapt confidence and security-building measures such as the Vienna Document to the security policy realities of the 21st century so that their positive impact can be sustained on a long-term basis?
- Can our joint security in the pan European area stop short of further steps in the sphere of nuclear disarmament? The New START Treaty is a successful follow up to earlier cooperative disarmament steps taken by the US and Russia. More than two decades since the end of the Cold War, isn’t it high time to include tactical nuclear weapons in further disarmament measures?
We’ve suggested within NATO and to our Russian partners that we prepare for their elimination in Europe by taking measures to create transparency and build confidence. What could be the next practical steps in this process?
- I also see the establishment of a missile defence system in the context of nuclear disarmament. It would neutralize the offensive armaments of a potential attacker and is a key stepping stone on the path towards a world without nuclear weapons. Both – NATO and Russia – share an interest in protecting themselves from possible missile attacks by a third party. Nevertheless, we still haven’t found a joint solution.
How can we use comprehensive political guarantees, transparency and verification measures as well as data and expert exchanges to overcome Russian reservations about NATO’s approach and build up a coordinated joint defence system?
There can be no joint security without mutual trust. Trust has to grow. It grows most enduringly with the help of quite concrete practical cooperation.
Tomorrow I’ll be meeting my colleagues Radek Sikorski and Sergey Lavrov here in Berlin. We held the first of these Russian-Polish-German meetings in Kaliningrad last May.
At that meeting, we agreed on concrete progress in local cross-border traffic around Kaliningrad to make the lives of people in the region easier and, at the same time, build up trust.
It’s good that we’ve augmented the trio format at this conference by inviting colleagues from France.
The joint Meseberg Initiative launched by Chancellor Merkel and President Medvedev is also based on confidence-building through concrete cooperation. We were able to achieve some measure of progress here with the resumption of the official status negotiations on the Transdniestria conflict in the 5+2 format last November. More is needed.
That brings me to my second set of questions for you. Where are the most important aspects which could strengthen the OSCE in the coming years?
- Should we grant the OSCE Chairmanship or the Secretary General more powers so that the OSCE can take decisive and effective action in the sphere of conflict prevention? Should he, for example, be given the right to send short-term fact-finding missions? As a means of preventative diplomacy, they could promote stability and de escalation.
- With its field missions and institutions such as the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the OSCE has effective institutions.
They’ve made a major contribution towards breathing life into the democracy commitments enshrined in the Charter of Paris. How can we ensure that independent election observation missions continue to provide genuine value added for the OSCE and foster democracy? In the 1990 Copenhagen Document, we all committed ourselves to inviting international election observers. Where do we stand today?
- I’m concerned that the preservation and further development of the Human Dimension in the OSCE has been hampered by some states. Looking to the next Ministerial Council in Dublin and beyond, how can we prepare and achieve substantial decisions in the human rights sphere?
- More than ever before, energy security and climate change pose challenges for Europe. How can the OSCE, with its cooperative competence and its large membership, deliver a genuine value added towards mastering these challenges? How can we meaningfully develop the transport dialogue in the OSCE area, as we decided in Vilnius in 2011?
- What role can and should the OSCE play in tackling the transnational threats of the 21st century? What can the strategy papers currently being negotiated in the spheres of counter-terrorism, combating drug trafficking and OSCE police activities achieve? What can the OSCE as an international forum contribute towards advancing agreements on state responsibility for cyber security?
- Finally, how can and should the OSCE pursue more proactively its successful policy on neighbouring regions and other regional organizations? Won’t it foster our own security if more stability is created in the Mediterranean region and in Asia if we make use of our experience and instruments?
2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. Even after four decades, the OSCE remains the only organization in which the North American democracies, the EU member states and their eastern neighbours as far away as Central Asia come together. In past years, we haven’t really taken advantage of the great opportunities this brings.
I’m hoping your discussion will provide impetus which will enable the OSCE, a player in the field of security policy, to play a more prominent role in the foreign policy debate by 2015. Let’s write the next chapter in the great success story of security and cooperation by coming up with new ideas and fresh proposals which enhance our common European house.
You’ll not only find that the German Government is keen to support you but also that it has sustained interest in your work and – should you produce good ideas – will be an appreciative taker.
Thank you for your attention.