Center for Strategic Decision Research


European Security Opportunities: The Need for Cooperation

His Excellency Vitaly Churkin
Russian Ambassador to NACC

I will not repeat the fundamental elements of Russia's approach to European security and its relations with NATO. These have been outlined quite clearly on a number of occasions by Russia's President and Foreign Minister. I will simply make some points that relate to our general discussion during the NATO Workshop.


One point is that the recent signing of the Founding Act with NATO is of great importance to us. We do believe that it contains a great deal of promise, not only for Russia and NATO but also for overall European security. It promises not just some quantitative changes within the European security architecture but a major overhaul of the entire European security scene. For that promise to become reality, however, we will all have to work very hard to implement it. It would be a big mistake to believe that with the signing of the Founding Act, Russia is "out of the way" and that other business can now be taken up. But we too must focus our political and material efforts and resources to make the Founding Act and the Permanent Joint Russia-NATO Council really work.


A second point is that I very strongly support the statement of Foreign Minister Udovenko about the need for a comprehensive approach to European security. I could not agree more that an enlarged NATO should not be regarded as a final and universal solution to all European security problems. In fact, to respond to one of the questions raised during the Workshop, part of our concern about NATO enlargement and all the talk about NATO enlargement is that, in the process, we feel, NATO has given too many promises to too many people and to too many countries, promises that cannot possibly be fulfilled because some problems lie in areas with which NATO has very little to do. For example, I am sure that even during the course of this NATO Workshop, we will be hearing from countries that are pinning a lot of hope for their enhanced security on NATO, when in fact they could quickly and radically improve their security situation by simply complying with some of the OSCE and Council of Europe recommendations on human and minority rights.

General Joulwan has called upon the civilian authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the international authorities running the operation there, to match the success of the NATO-led military operation. I think it would be much easier for them to do so if their resources and manpower could match the resources and manpower of the NATO-led operation. With 60,000 people and billions and billions of dollars, I am sure the civilian part of the international community would have been much more successful in Bosnia and elsewhere. I am not saying this to start a fight with General Joulwan, which would be quite a risky proposition for me, but simply to emphasize the point that, after the Madrid Summit and the celebrations associated with it, one hopes Europe will have a period of very serious reflection about its security. One also hopes that a proper balance will be found among all the existing European security institutions, within which we believe NATO also does have a role to play--but its proper role.


The third point I would like to make is that I think the metaphor used by the President of Poland, about the door of opportunity being open for five minutes, is quite interesting. It made me think. And I think that if there is indeed only a five-minute opportunity, then we have lost it--that for there to really be an opportunity, we must think in longer terms. If we allow our opportunity to degenerate into simply a five-minute one, then we don't know what real opportunity means. I think we should be thinking about at least a five-decade opportunity as we enter into a new phase of European developments and European security. And to do that it is very important to have a very broad-based approach to Europe and to its future, including economic, social, and other factors.


My final point is to take this opportunity, since distinguished representatives of the military-industrial complex are not only present but have also played an important role in putting together this seminar, to say a word of reassurance to them. Please, be reassured that the Russian defense industry is not going to take the entire world weapons market over! In fact, my pitch to you is that we are prepared to cooperate with others. I do believe that the Permanent Joint Russia-NATO Council is going to provide an additional channel for that, and I am sure that NATO countries, Russia, and other countries around this table will benefit from that kind of cooperation.







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