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"Russia Is Back" Says Javier Solana

"Russia Is Back" Says Javier Solana

Munich Conference on Security Policy (Munich, Germany). As Delivered by Dr. Javier Solana Madariaga, Secretary General, Council of the European Union; High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy; Secretary General, Western European Union, Brussels, at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy. Munich, Germany, Sunday, February 10, 2008. Source: Wehrkunde.

Dr. Javier Madariaga Solana, Secretary General of the European Union, during his speech. Photograph by Sebastian Zwez.

Dr. Javier Solana during his speech. Photograph by Sebastian Zwez

Dear Horst, let me congratulate you on the award and on another successful conference.

Russia has a long tradition of being a European and world power. To regain its status as major world power has been the first priority of Russian foreign policy during the Presidency of Vladimir Putin. In many ways, this objective has been achieved. Russia is back.

For us, Europe is stronger and more stable with a strong and open Russia reaching out to the world.

In the meantime the world has changed. Thankfully, we no longer have a bipolar order dominated by confrontation between two superpowers with Europe as the fault-line. Co-operation has replaced confrontation. There are also new players: China, India, Japan, to name a few.

Then there are new global threats: global warming, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism.

And regional threats. In Europe, we have to deal with instability that has come out of the end of the Cold War, as discussed in a panel yesterday.. We also know that tension and instability outside Europe - in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere - is a threat to our security in Europe, Russia and the US.

In short, this is a new world. With shifting threats, we see shifts in the way to deal with them. There are more actors, and more flexible constellations.

In this new international security architecture, Russia is a key partner. We want to work as much as possible with a Russia that is ready to play its part. Indeed, little of value can be achieved without Russia, and almost nothing against it. Of course, it is not always easy to agree on what to do. But in most cases we manage. The recent agreement in Berlin on a new UNSC resolution on Iran a good example. The European Union and Russia are both global actors. But we also share a continent. It is sometimes easier to be global strategic partners than to be good neighbours.

  • We have some well-known disagreements.

From trade disputes to travel restrictions to concerns over whether media and organisations like the British Council can operate in truly free and independent manner. But trade is booming. And co-operation expanding to a wide range of areas. This broad nature of relationship has a stabilising effect. Nevertheless, we do not have a real strategic convergence yet. Still lingering mistrust here and there. Believe we are at a turning point.

To consolidate the new paradigm of co-operation in Europe, I see three priorities.

  • First, we need to build on the achievements of our predecessors. This means maintaining the treaty regimes on which our security and societies are built.

For us, the CFE Treaty – both its ceilings and its confidence building measures – remains a cornerstone of European security. Losing it increases the risk of creeping mistrust.

The same goes for the manner in which other treaties and issues, like missile defence, are discussed and ultimately decided upon. As we rightly seek to defend ourselves against new threats, we should be careful that we do not, unintentionally, create new sources of suspicion or tensions amongst us.

The founding treaties of the Council of Europe and the OSCE define what it means to be European. Both organisations have adapted successfully to new circumstances. It is difficult to imagine building a new European security order on a different platform. Respect for the rules of these organisations is indispensable.

  • Secondly, we must find more common ground based on the rule of law.

If we want our companies to compete on open markets without generating political disputes, we need common rules and an agreed framework to enforce them. WTO offers a key element of this framework. I look forward to Russia joining.

The emphasis given recently by Russian Deputy PM Medvedev to the rule of law is as significant as it is welcome. I do not want to quote him out of context. But I agree when he says  about Russia that “if it wants to become a civilised state, first of all we have to become lawful.”

Developing a shared commitment to the rule of law will be a major strategic challenge in the coming years.

This has implications across the board, as in the field of energy. Our interdependence in energy is a fact. A quick look at the map of existing pipelines confirms this.

There is a justified concern across Europe about Russia seeming more interested in investing in future leverage than in future production. Contrast Gazprom's strategic spending spree abroad with the lack of investment at home.

So we need a European framework for energy, based on the rule of law and reciprocity.

  • Finally, as a third priority, we must match our rhetoric with concrete action.

Resolving the frozen conflicts in Europe is particularly important. If we continue working closely together, we can get a durable settlement to the these conflicts.

Resolving these conflicts is important per se: enabling these countries to focus on essential political and economic reforms. But it also important for us, for confidence, for our stability and to show we can solve problems.

During the Cold War, Europe was the frontline. It was here that military planners envisaged a possible military confrontation.

Now we have the chance to make Europe a continent of stability. A source of hope for more troubled regions of the world. It is in the interest of both the EU and Russia to make this happen. This would not be a minor contribution to world order.

Check against delivery!

See also:


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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