Monday 8 December 2008

No new pan-European security strategy

Meeting last week in Helsinki, the foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have disagreed with the Russian proposal to create a new European security strategy (i.e. organisation).

In fact, I am not surprised about this decision, and not surprised that the Russian foreign minister Lavrov is described as "angry" during his closing remarks. In general, this proposal is not new, and has not come with Medvedev - I have heard about this already in 2006, and I suppose this Russian idea is even older.

In general, I agree with the Russian approach to discuss about a pan-European security, a non-divisive system that overcomes the cold-war NATO (although reformed) and the logic of East and West on a continent that should be united, not just for "historical" reasons but because of the need for a common future.

However, the Russian move can also be interpreted as a move to weaken the OSCE's (formerly CSCE) influence in the fields of democracy and human rights, namely through its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), together with the Council of Europe one of the two main pillars of pan-European human rights protection instruments.

It is also a move to slow down the European ability to react, because within a joint European security space, Moscow would have a lot of influence and, as in other organisations, the possibility to decelerate necessary moves whenever it deems appropriate. A joint European security space with a non-democratic Russia would thereby be not less conflictual, less insecure, or less inappropriate than the present system of security.

An undemocratic Russia remains a risk for European security in general, and even a basically correct move to discuss pan-European security cannot hide this fact. The OSCE is correct in including democracy and human rights into its human security concept, and any step towards a simple understanding of security as a military concept just reveals the militaristic thinking of Russian elites stuck in old-time great power ambitions instead of modern-times co-operative efforts.

Which still doesn't mean that NATO is good....

I therefore agree with the basic rhetoric of the Russian initiative, but I don't believe neither in the right motives nor in any positive outcomes. In this regard, the pan-European reactions have been correct.


Antal Dániel said...

I think the Russian rheotoric fails to recognized the changed nature of NATO. While Russia has started a new cold war against a group of NATO members it pretends that it would like to co-operate. I think this is just a move to undermine public support for a more strict NATO approach in the democratic member states. Otherwise, the proposal is a bogus. Russia behaves every single day as a rival to NATO and its members.