Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Director of the Department for European Cooperation Andrey Kelin’s remarks at the opening of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference, Vienna, June 27, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
Looking for ways out of the current European security crisis makes sense only if we accurately understand the reasons that have caused it. When the Russia-NATO Founding Act and the Charter for European Security were signed 20 years ago, we hoped to overcome the vestiges of bloc confrontation and start trust-based cooperation. In the late 1990s, these documents solemnly proclaimed the principle of indivisible security.
However, the Western countries resumed a policy of military and political pressure towards Russia contrary to the principles in the Charter, unwilling as they were to understand that Russia had legitimate interests of its own in the international arena and that it was concerned with finding a balance of interests, rather than simply towing the line under our Western partners. What followed were two waves of NATO expansion and the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty that was of fundamental importance for international security.
When we began expressing to our Western colleagues that these processes directly affected our security and warning them against continuing on a disastrous course of unilaterally strengthening their security at the expense of other parties’ security, we were told, without proof, that the NATO expansion was not directed against Russia and that the US global antimissile system was not being created against Moscow. In 2008, the notorious decision to pull Kiev and Tbilisi closer to NATO was approved. Next, in 2009, the Eastern Partnership was created, with our neighbours pressured to choose whether they were with the West or with Moscow. All of these actions only pushed the dividing line closer to Moscow.
Russia repeatedly put forth initiatives aimed at overcoming the increasing tension. But our Western partners brushed them aside under far-fetched pretexts. The Russia-proposed European Security Treaty was quickly rejected as political rhetoric with no potential. It was, allegedly, only NATO that could provide real security. That marked the inglorious demise of the indivisible security principle.
US forces, including an armour brigade and an air brigade, are returning to Europe. Five brigade-size forward-based depots for heavy military equipment are being commissioned. The number of NATO military exercises and naval and air force activities has increased twofold. Antimissile facilities are being built. In the past, this would have been described as an “escalation of military tensions” in Europe. We believe that all available tools should be used to ensure détente. Russia-NATO Council dialogue should be resumed and should include the military. This was the reason the council was created after all.
The OSCE retains much potential as a forum in the search for ways out of the European security crisis. Issued by the OSCE Summit in Astana, the statement to form an indivisible security community should remain the long-term goal for the 57 member states, while their current goal is to restore trust. We hope that the “structured dialogue” on security challenges initiated by the Council of Foreign Ministers in Hamburg in 2016 will also facilitate military and political de-escalation.
Russia will be practicing a responsible approach towards its FSC chairmanship in May and July of this year. We hope to enhance the Forum’s role as a venue for exchanging the best national practices.
We hope to conduct a substantive discussion at this conference on effective forms of resistance to transnational threats, primarily terrorism and drug trafficking.
The fight against terrorism can only be effective in the framework of a united front based on international law and respect for the equality and sovereignty of states and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs. It must be part of the activities conducted by the UN in this sphere, primarily by the UN Security Council. We hope that contribution by the Transnational Threats Department at the OSCE Secretariat will correspond to the level and volume of tasks of counterterrorism cooperation. We support the format of the annual OSCE-wide counterterrorism conferences. The discussions that are held at these conferences provide grounds for drafting ministerial decisions.
We appreciate it that the OSCE agenda regularly includes issues related to combating drugs. We look forward to the OSCE-wide Conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors, which will be held in Vienna on July 10-11 to study the nexus between illicit drugs, organised crime and terrorism. We reaffirm our support for the idea of a department on combating illicit drugs at the OSCE Secretariat. For our part, we will continue to implement OSCE projects to train counter-narcotics police for Afghanistan (at Domodedovo) and for Serbia (in St Petersburg).
The OSCE efforts in the area of international information security are very important for drafting universal rules of conduct. Considerable progress has been made with the OSCE decision on confidence-building measures to reduce the risks of conflict stemming from the use of information and communication technologies. The next step should be to stop making unsubstantiated claims and to start using these measures voluntarily and based on non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The OSCE continues to highlight regional conflicts. We believe that the OSCE’s crisis management instruments are sufficient in the current situation at the organisation. Crises must be settled peacefully on the basis of inclusiveness and respect for the interests of all conflicting parties and for the existing negotiating formats. There must be no alternative to the leading role of the OSCE’s policy-making agencies, right of consensus and civil nature.
The situation in Kosovo is a cause for concern. Ethnic tensions are growing and no progress has been made towards creating a Community of Serb Majority Municipalities in Kosovo. Pristina’s decision to transform the country's security forces into a regular army can jeopardise stability in the Balkans. This means that the OSCE Mission in Kosovo must keep working and that it should be reinforced.
We support the efforts of the OSCE to facilitate a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis via the mechanisms of the Contact Group and Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). It is necessary to enhance the efficiency of the SMM and improve its human resources and technical equipment. It is essential to step up the monitoring on the line of contact and the adjacent areas and, ideally, to switch to round-the-clock monitoring. The SMM should reflect major events in Ukraine’s domestic political, social and economic life in its reports.
SMM observers must be guaranteed security. It is necessary to rule out the repetition of incidents similar to that on April 23 when a US citizen lost his life. We hope the independent investigative group will establish responsibility for this. The SMM should enhance coordination of its routes with the local government to make it safer for observers.
The OSCE is called on to play an important role in the Transnistrian settlement. In the summer of 2016, all parties welcomed the resumption of the talks in the 5+2 format after a two-year hiatus. The negotiation process must proceed with regularity and with priority given to this internationally recognised negotiating format. We hope Wolf-Dietrich Heim, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transnistrian Settlement Process, will make a constructive contribution to this process.
Regrettably, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is still volatile. Russia considers it a priority to facilitate dialogue between the parties. We are working to this end at all levels – as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group in cooperation with the co-chairs from the United States and France, and supporting the efforts of the OSCE Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk.
We appreciate the OSCE co-chairmanship at the Geneva discussions on stability in the South Caucasus, which are important for ensuring security in the region and developing Georgia’s dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The main goal of these discussions is ensuring security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The adoption of commitments on the non-use of force should help achieve this goal.
The regions bordering on OSCE space remain a source of many challenges and threats. There are grounds for concern over the situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of spreading terrorist groups, growing drug trafficking, the criminalisation of the country's economy, and cross-border crime. The active use of young people as a resource base for terrorism is particularly disturbing.
The Mediterranean region is also a source of instability. We hope the new dialogue on migration issues will enhance the OSCE’s role in the region and help the organisation join the efforts on overcoming the consequences of the migration crisis in the Western European countries.
Colleagues, we hope the recommendations to be made at the conference will form the foundation of ministerial decisions, help restore trust and enhance security in the OSCE space. I wish productive work to all participants at the conference.
Thank you for your attention.