Freitag 24.05.2013

"Global Security Challenges Perspectives of Cooperation with Russia"

Statement Christian Schmidt, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence, on the occasion of the Moscow Security Conference on 23 May 2013

Minister Shoygu, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first of all express my gratitude and my delight for the opportunity to contribute to the Moscow Security Conference with some thoughts about perspectives of cooperation with Russia when addressing global security challenges.

The German Minister of Defence, Dr. Thomas de Maizière has asked me to convey his best regards to you, Minister Shoygu as well as to the participants of this conference. He regrets very much not to be able to attend this meeting personally and wishes the conference every success.

I would like to congratulate Russia to take up this important issue and thank Minister Shoygu for hosting this conference. This events comes well in time and underlines our common responsibility for European security.

This year in December, when the heads of states and government of the European Union meet for the European Council, security and defence issues will be centrepiece. Improving capabilities, strengthening our instruments, developing a common defence market: the tasks are manifold. The key to success, however, is a common analysis and the political will to act. Therefore we should bring together our analyses and define together the way ahead. A new European Security Strategy, for example, could be an opportunity to consult with Russia and deepen our security dialogue.

This is one of the reasons that brings us together here in Moscow, and I do see, indeed, room for improvement. Engaging Russia and finding common solutions to common problems – this is in our shared interest and this is how we can shape together a security architecture for the 21st century. And this means that each side has to bring something to the table. We can look back at a successful history of security cooperation that includes working side by side in the framework of the IFOR and SFOR missions in the Balkans in the 1990`s to redeployment in Afghanistan in our days.

The main lesson of the Balkans is: Divisions can be overcome. The orientation of Serbia towards Europe, the most recent settlement between Serbia and Kosovo is an encouraging development and lies in our common interest.

In other areas, namely the Middle East, Russia could show that responsibility for European security and Europe’s periphery are intrinsically linked. The humanitarian catastrophe, with which we are confronted day by day in Syria, is intolerable. I therefore urge Russia to use all means to contribute to a peaceful and lasting solution to end the intolerable bloodshed and slaughtering of innocent men and women.

The world is not a safe place. What we see outside Europe is a world in transition, inter alia, fostered by the various effects of the phenomenon of Globalisation. We see an evolution and progressive networking of international flows of trade, investments, travel, communication and knowledge, making our societies more mutually dependent. The chances are a global distribution of work and knowledge leading to the participation of millions of people in this process.

The downside of these effects of Globalisation is an increased vulnerability of our interdependent societies. Piracy and global terrorism are two phenomena highlighting this vulnerability. They remind us of our responsibility for the security of the sea lines of communication as well as our infrastructure, necessary to keep our societies running.

The bipolar world perished and left behind an increasing multi-polarity and the rise of new economic powers. This process went sometimes hand in glove with their role as a military power. For the first time after World War II the Southeast Asian countries spent more money for defence than the transatlantic community. However, to create a real threat, the will is even more important than the capabilities. Therefore, I do not see this as a threat out of this region. The issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the nuclear desire of some nations are certainly among the threats we face in common.

Another issue which affects all of us is climate change. As with many developments climate change contains threats and chances. Expanding deserts, water shortages, increasing risks of flooding in many coastal regions, migration into other parts of the world for a better life are the dark side of the medal. On the other hand the melting process of the polar ice offers new waterways and access to previously not accessible resources.
Looking to the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea we are confronted with the “Arabellion”. The developments in North Africa were triggered by young people who wanted more political participation in order to develop a better life, especially economical progress. We should not neglect or disregard this desire, but we should be careful that terrorists and extremists do not exploit the wind of change to fill their sails.

I particularly refer to the recent events in Mali, where France acted decisively to stop the Jihadists from taking over control of the southern part of the country as well. Mali is also a good example for the efforts of the European Union to develop into a security provider using military as well as civilian means. The results of the Arabellion are not yet known to us, what I see is an ongoing development which cannot be generalized for the affected countries.

Those are just a few of the many risks and challenges affecting all of us. But we have to be honest with ourselves; we often have no common answer how to tackle emerging threats stemming from failing or failed states, from civil or proxy wars. Sometime we even have no answer at all.

What we do have, is a common responsibility for peace and stability in the world. Peace, stability, welfare for our citizens do not come for free, we have to engage ourselves with the whole range of tools available in a broader understanding of the term security. Military means are only one of the tools we can use to overcome or better avoid an emerging crisis situation. But they should never be our first choice.

The Euro-Atlantic region still has valuable tools in stock, even when they look somehow rusty today. I am talking about the instruments of arms control, confidence building and transparency. These tools proved to be well suited to stabilize the region for many years in difficult times of confrontation and huge stockpiles of conventional and nuclear arms. And these tools helped to peacefully transform states and armed Forces after the political changes at the end of the 1980´s.

In my opinion the instruments of arms control were a success story, as was the NATO – Russia Founding Act of 1997 on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security. The next step to bring Russia and NATO closer together was the establishment of the NATO Russia Council in 2002. Now, it is high time to reset the Council and develop it into the real all weather forum for security issues that the founding fathers had in mind.

Without doubt, conventional arms control has made a major contribution to security and stability in Europe in the past. We firmly believe that it can continue to do so in the future, but only if it is reoriented.

The existing treaties and agreements of conventional arms control and confidence building as there are the Vienna Document, the Open Skies Treaty, the CFE Treaty are outdated or at least of a critical future. Overall, arms control and confidence building in Europe is in a severe crisis, which has to be overcome. Therefore we urgently need to adapt the current arms control and confidence building regimes to today’s needs. Allow me a short sidestep to have a closer look at the CFE-Treaty: The CFE Treaty sets the goal of limiting the capability for large-scale offensive operations and surprise attacks through massive reductions of tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. These goals have been undeniably achieved. This was a resounding success for conventional arms control. But I am sure you will also agree with me that these can no longer be the goals of conventional arms control today. It is therefore necessary to define new goals. Whether the CFE Treaty must be modernized or replaced for this purpose should be examined in the light of these new goals. The same applies to the established instruments of the CFE Treaty. There is thus a great deal of work to do, where we need a close and intense cooperation based on trust and shared common interests. Let’s start with that work soon, to prevent a greater damage for the overall arms control and confidence building architecture in Europe.

Having said that, we remain committed to the idea of the cooperative Euro-Atlantic security architecture based on OSCE principles characterized by indivisibility of security.

Conventional arms control as well as confidence and security building measures play an important role to emphasize cooperative security, to strengthen predictability, to properly assess each others forces, and to maintain military flexibility with regard to defence commitments and capability development for out-of-area missions.

By proving that these tools work for the Euro-Atlantic region they could also be used as export articles for other regions of the world. As I said, a threat perception, be it correct or wrong, is nourished by existing military capabilities and the attached will to use them against another nation or a group of nations.

Transparency helps to learn about other peoples´ true capabilities – often enough that is already sufficient to dissolve own threat perceptions.
The more we know about the way of thinking of another nation, the better we are able to avoid misperceptions. Knowledge is followed by confidence and finally by trust. Confidence and trust are the prerequisites for successful cooperation, and we need that cooperation in many areas.

One area is the fight against the old evils of global or regional terrorism, organized crime in the form of drug smuggling, human trafficking, and of course piracy.v
Another area, and I mentioned it already, is a common effort to contain the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Together we need to look for orchestrated efforts to exploit the chances of the climate change while commonly addressing the challenges and the risks.

Finally we need to use the benefits of Globalisation for a better living of our people.

Looking at the positive example of cooperation in the anti piracy operation and sea surveillance at the horn of Africa I see chances in a closer cooperation of our military, in common training efforts on a bilateral or multilateral basis. This must not be limited to the navies.

A closer cooperation is based on mutual trust, confidence and openness. Listening to one another can only be the first step. Words must be followed by deeds. This reminds us of our common responsibility: To shape a common security architecture and to make the world a safer and a more secure place. I wish the conference every success. Thank you very much for your attention.


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