Euro-Atlantic Security: One Vision, Three Paths

Policy Report | June 24, 2009

In a new EWI publication, experts from Russia, Europe and the U.S. discuss and present possible scenarios towards strengthening security on a cooperative basis in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Executive Summary

The Euro-Atlantic security scene is characterized by a loss of mutual confidence, renewed tensions, and serious disagreements regarding not only practices but principles. Those trends, if not corrected, will produce negative strategic consequences for the security of Europe. New opportunities have emerged today for rethinking the security situation in the Euro-Atlantic region, for strengthening confidence, changing mutual relations, and, if need be, institutions. A basis for this can be found in the hopes for improved U.S.-Russian relations expressed by U.S. President Barack Obama, in the initiative by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on reforming the European security architecture, as well as in the process of elaboration of the new NATO strategic concept.

The EastWest Institute, responding to requests by American and Russian officials, assembled an Experts Group to discuss conceptual and practical recommendations that could facilitate a much needed “grand debate” over security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region. This report is the result of that process. As part of this process, the EastWest Institute will convene two seminars, one in Brussels in cooperation with the Egmont Institute, and one in Moscow, organized with the Institute for World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), in order to provide an opportunity for external stakeholders to respond to the conclusions presented in our report and to lend additional insights. Because of differences of views among the group on a number of issues, the report is not a consensus document, but rather a presentation of possible courses of action designed to stimulate this debate.

All members of the group did agree that despite such differences of opinion, states of the Euro-Atlantic region should embrace a common strategic vision of security issues. It should be based, inter alia, on the following principles:

  • recognition of the pluralism of decision-making centers in the security sphere and the need for them to cooperate;
  • preparedness to negotiate from a position of respect for the declared security interests of all states;
  • the right of each state to determine its own security arrangements;
  • striving to convert conflicts in the Euro-Atlantic security sphere into win-win situations;
  • a commitment to confidence-building, especially to policies that would facilitate collective action for preventing, containing, or reversing unfolding crises.

The report presents three possible paths (scenarios) towards strengthening security on a cooperative basis in the Euro-Atlantic region. These paths represent the three main strands of opinion among the experts and can be summarized as follows:

Remedial Repair: institutional status quo; emphasis on removing mutual misperceptions and strengthening transparency and confi dence; identifying and pursuing common interests in the Euro-Atlantic zone;

Partial Reconstruction: identifying additional and creative political, legal, and military arrangements, possibly including overlapping security guarantees, that address potential security concerns of states in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region; pursuing common interests beyond the Euro-Atlantic zone;

Fundamental Transformation: reforming the overall architecture of Euro-Atlantic security by signing and bringing into force a European Security Treaty (EST); placing common security challenges as a higher priority than differences in the Euro-Atlantic zone.

For each path, there is a set of concrete proposals for further consideration to advance the agreed overall vision. These proposals are not necessarily mutually exclusive, nor do they necessarily represent the view of the group as whole. Some of the more challenging proposals include:

  1. Russia, the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the United Nations (UN) should urgently negotiate coordinated measures to prevent another military crisis in or around Georgia.
  2. Finding some “quick fix” measures that might promote mutual confidence (such as a political commitment to joint ballistic missile launch monitoring or to extend the geographical scope of the Cooperative Airspace Initiative).
  3. NATO members and Russia should fully implement the Rome declaration of 2002 with its logic of joint decision-making on security matters of mutual concern. They need to make the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) a more productive forum by the time of the next NATO summit. All NRC participants should commit themselves to the principle that they will not block the functioning of its dialogue mechanisms during a crisis.
  4. As an earnest display of shared commitment to indivisible security, leaders of the OSCE, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the EU, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) should convene a summit on Afghanistan/Pakistan to agree on a common set of policies to combat arms smuggling, drug trafficking, recruitment of militants and violent extremism, and to assist in addressing the socio-economic problems of the two countries.
  5. The United States and Russia should accelerate bilateral consultations for solving problems related to implementation of the adapted CFE treaty. The format of the consultation should be extended to other interested countries.
  6. NATO, the EU, and Russia can together or in parallel provide mutual and overlapping security guarantees to countries that seek those guarantees (Georgia and Ukraine may be among them).
  7. The leaders of Europe should convene a Group of Eminent Persons, composed of high ranking politicians, former diplomats, and military officials, to make recommendations on how to translate the new hopeful signs in United States-Russia relations to the Euro-Atlantic security scene, and to assess the Russian proposal for an EST and other similar initiatives.

In the coming months, before the next OSCE Ministerial Council (December 2009) and the next NATO summit, political leaders must aim for a roadmap to a strengthened security regime in the Euro-Atlantic region. Equal and indivisible security of all states should be translated from an attractive slogan into hard reality. Strategic reassurances at the rhetorical level without action and reform at the operational level are not just hollow. They may in the light of the last decade prove dangerous.

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