Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Security Days Panel in Prague: The State of European security today and prospects for the future
Ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues,
First of all, I would like to thank Secretary-General Lamberto Zander and our Czech hosts for organizing todays meeting. Its informal spirit allows for open and frank exchange of views. As it has always been with Security Days events, the topics for discussion are timely and challenging. Our panel's subject related to European security and its prospects is no exception.
Main security challenges and risks Europe faces today have not appeared out of the blue, Any in-depth conversation on the state of European security inevitably takes us back to the times when disappearance of ideological rift between East and West has created real opportunities for constructing a "common European home" based on the principles of equal, cooperation and mutual trust without reference to the balance of threats and counter-threats. Europe divided between the military blocks of NATO and the Warsaw Pact faded away. Back then, it seemed that we were entering a new era full of expectations and possibilities. The feeling was that all of us on the continent shared similar ideas making it possible to achieve the proclaimed goal of building sustainable and fair security and cooperation system in Europe.
Russia made a crucial contribution to the elimination of the material legacy of the confrontation era. Our country assumed the obligations to withdraw its troops and armaments from Germany, Central and Eastern Europe and later from the Baltic countries. In 1991-1994 Russia disbanded the Western Group of Forces in Germany (approximately 5000 tanks, up to 10 000 armored vehicles, up to 1500 helicopters and military aircrafts, more than 330 000 military personnel), the Northern Group of Forces in Poland (20 launchers of short-range attack missile, 599 tanks, 485 armored combat vehicles, 390 artillery cannons, 202 military aircrafls, 114 helicopters, 56 000 military personnel), the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia (72 000 military personnel), the Northern-Western Group of Forces in Baltic states (250 000 military personnel) and the Southern Group of Forces in Hungary (approximately 100 000 military personnel).
Russia can hardly be blamed for not reacting positively to reasonable and mutually beneficial initiatives of the Western partners. Our country repeatedly joined multilateral efforts for the sake of strengthening common security.
Here are some examples. Russian and NATO navies have been patrolling the Mediterranean Sea under the framework of the "Active Endeavour" operation and have been cooperating on counter-terrorism issues, jointly fought against the piracy in the Aden Gulf. Russian peacekeepers participated alongside divisions from NATO Member States in the operation under the UNSC mandate in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995-2003. Another example - joint planning of the first NRC joint maritime mission for the secure elimination of Syrian chemical weapons on the US vessel "Cape Ray" in support of the OPCW-UN joint mission, which was suspended early 2014 after the decision of several NATO member states.
The Russian Federation has participated and continues to participate in other peacekeeping operations. Since 1992 Russian peacekeeping forces (in close cooperation with Moldavian and Transdniestrian military and with participation of Ukrainian observers) were deployed in Transdniestria. This operation which remains the core of subregional stability has contributed to a complete cease-fire and did not allow for a spill-over effect.
In 1992-2008 in accordance with the international agreements, Russian military forces were conducting a peacekeeping mission as part of the Joint Peacekeeping Force in the Georgian-South Ossetian zone of conflict and the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Force in the Georgian-Abkhaz zone of conflict. Peacekeeping operation in Tajikistan (1993-2000), with the Russian personnel comprising its core, prevented a civil war in Central Asia, and contributed to a reduction of firearms and drugs flows from Afghanistan. In 1994 Russia assisted in negotiating a cease-fire agreement between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh.
Unfortunately, 1990 dividends of peace were not realized. The logic of the so- called "winners in the Cold war" prevailed. Russia's refusal, from the soviet politics based on imposing ideological clichés on the outside world and our sincere openness to cooperation have been interpreted in Western capitals as Moscow's readiness to make unilateral concessions. The ideological confrontation has been replaced by committed attempts to establish a certain model of world order, structured around western or neoliberal, if you will, approaches to politics, economy and social relations.
While we were constantly told about willingness to honestly cooperate and the need to respect each other's views, the approach "on the ground" was different. In fact, it looked more like a "take it or leave it" offer. Russia's lawful security concerns, as in regards to American's antiballistic missile defense (ABM) build-up in Europe or three waves of NATO enlargement were ignored with no real dialogue on the matter taking place. The result was recently demonstrated by our military representative during Military doctrines' seminar in Vienna (4-5 May). The comparative analysis of military equipment and personnel of NATO countries and Russia in Europe shows 3 or 4 times NATO superiority over Russia.
Multiple commitments on the indivisibility of security (also taken at highest level) remained largely on paper. Russian proposals to strengthen the security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area by translating political declarations into legally-binding agreements were simply silenced. Vital to remind that these proposals guarantied equal rights to all European states including neutral. Most probably, that be it accepted as a ground for a comprehensive agreement then it could have prevented the current crisis in Ukraine.
The overall relations between Russia and the West resembled a classroom with teachers constantly trying to teach students on "what is right and what is wrong" with teachers violating the proclaimed rules themselves (Yugoslavia bombings, recognition of unilateral declaration of Kosovo "independence", Iraq invasion, Libya intervention, "colored revolutions", recent strikes on Syria). Meanwhile
Russia was persistently criticized for lacking democracy and tolerance, meaning acceptance, towards new European moral.
In this regard, the story behind the OSCE - the only pan-European security organization with full Russian participation - is revealing. The OSCE, initially dreamed by its founding fathers as a platform for dialogue on all security related issues, has been continuously emasculated for fear that it would compete with NATO and is still viewed by many in western capitals as complementary to the EU and North Atlantic alliance. In words everybody agreed that the OSCE should become a backbone of European security system while another approach prevailed in practice.
I deliberately devote so many attention to NATO. The relations between alliance and Russia remains a key security factor in Europe. Yet this year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in Paris, and 15 years since the Rome Declaration on a new quality of NATO-Russia relations was adopted. These documents' basic premise was that Russia and the West took on a joint commitment to guarantee security on the basis of respect for each other's interests, to strengthen mutual trust, prevent a Euro-Atlantic split and erase dividing lines. This did not happen, above all because NATO remained a Cold War institution. It did not manage to change its "genetic code", to adapt to new realities. We hear on a daily basis about the need to "deter Russia" - familiar slogan from the Cold war era. But let's be clear - it was not Russia moving its military presence westwards, but NATO closing in to our borders while quantitatively exceeding Russia in all components of military power except nuclear capabilities. Recently we are witnessing how Montenegro is being dragged into alliance despite the fact that more than 50% of its citizens does not support the membership idea.
The underlying problem of this policy is that it drives us away from real and pressing problems and cannot be prominent in the long run. Eventually no one will benefit from confrontation. The current globalized world is based on an unprecedented interconnection between countries, thus making it impossible to develop relations between Russia and the rest of Europe as if they remained at the core of global politics like in the times of the Cold War. We must take note of the powerful processes that are underway in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Humanity stands at a crossroads today. The scope of challenges that we all face unambiguously demand our joint efforts. While we still share many interests, we also face similar challenges to the security. My country has long been a target of radical Islamists. We are as vulnerable in the digital environment as our neighbors. Influx of refugees and migrants is everyday experience for Russia, although now with less intensity than in Western Europe. Finally, Russia is losing from the ongoing and frozen conflicts in the neighboring regions. This is to name but a few. The world has become neither "Western-centric", nor a more stable place. Unfortunately Europe is not a safe haven anymore either. Russia is self-sufficient, but we are a Eurasian state, naturally interested in a well-being of our common continent. The history reminds us that Europe was stable only at times when it was working hand-in-hand with Russia to achieve prosperity for our peoples. Is there a way out? Yes.
At this stage, our common task is not to complicate things further, but try to jointly evaluate real threats to our security, without attempting to impose our will and values on one another. Needless to say, that bellicose rhetoric and endless accusations must be dropped. This might help to rebuild trust. We should also step up dialogue to seek ways to restore and expand cultural, scientific and economic cooperation on a new realistic basis in Europe. But I'm confident that dialogue for the sake of demonstrating the visibility of negotiations is hardly what we need.
It is vital to start a strategic dialogue on the future of the European security, understood in a broadest sense. The current system seems to reproduce confrontation. A broader dialogue is urgently needed between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU paving way to a comprehensive trade and economic partnership in Eurasia. We continue to believe that the best way to ensure the interests of the peoples living in Europe is to form a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so that the Eurasian Economic
Union could be an integrating link between Europe and Asia Pacific. Without deriving a balanced compatibility formula of the integration processes in Europe any solution of tile Ukrainian crisis will inevitably lack stability in the long run.
The list of common topics for engagement should grow, as well as the depth of their elaboration. The overall objective is to make a wide engagement, where the cooperation on a narrow list of issues will become a self-sustaining system. No doubt that such strategic dialogue will be extremely difficult in the current conditions. The key word here is honesty. An honest dialogue in an honest attempt to clarify derelictions made with an honest intention to move forward without conditions. Do we all have a political will for that? Russia does.