With its annexation of Crimea and its military activities in eastern Ukraine, Russia has aroused a feeling amongst our eastern neighbours that a threat exists. We must take this seriously. That is why it was right to find a joint NATO response – and this we did with the reassurance measures approved at the NATO summit in Wales. We are not shirking our responsibility!
No-one can regard the envisaged scope of NATO measures as a threat to Russia, and, in all measures, strict adherence to the NATO-Russia Founding Act was a clear red line for us.
What we should not do now, however, is further inflame the situation with loud sabre-rattling and war cries. Anyone who believes that symbolic tank parades on the Alliance’s eastern border will increase security is wrong. We would be well advised not to deliver up any excuses for a new, old confrontation.
It would be fatal now to focus exclusively on military aspects and to look for salvation solely from a policy of deterrence. After all, history teaches us that, alongside the common will to ensure defence readiness, there must always also be a readiness to engage in dialogue and cooperation. And that is why we also need to talk more with our partners again about the benefits of disarmament and arms control for security in Europe.
We are not sweeping differences of opinion and conflicts under the carpet. At the same time, we have an interest in integrating Russia into an international partnership of responsibility. Current examples include preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, fighting radical Islamism in the Middle East and stabilising state structures in Libya.
Over 70 years of peace in Europe, at least without a major war on European soil, are our most valuable treasure.
For my part, I will do all I can to ensure that it is not placed in jeopardy. Our maxim must be this: as much security as necessary, and as much dialogue and cooperation as possible.