Revitalizing Security Cooperation in Europe

As delivered by Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
At the Conference on Military and Political Aspects of European Security
Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2013

Always great to be back in Moscow, one of my favorite cities, and I am glad to be a part of this conference. Our conversations here today and the ones we have in the coming weeks and months should focus on the steps that we can take today to increase security, stability, and prosperity across Europe. This is especially true in our increasingly networked world. Many of the threats of the 21st century travel undetected on digital wings, with little respect for borders.

Of course, cooperation on security in Europe was not originally built to confront cyber warfare and rogue actors. The institutions that have underpinned European stability for nearly the last half-century were built to manage the massive arsenals of the Cold War. One such institution is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or OSCE. The present and future of this organization rest firmly in the implementation of existing commitments, which were built on the sound foundation of the Helsinki principles.

As Minister Lavrov and Secretary General Zannier already, we are approaching the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. As we look out at a much different world than the one that existed in the early 1970s, we should focus our collective energies in the Helsinki+40 process on fully implementing existing commitments and identifying how we can strengthen these commitments to meet the new challenges and technologies on the horizon.

At the same time, fundamental principles of the Helsinki Final Act and international law – must be upheld and advanced by the Helsinki+40 process. The failure to achieve peaceful settlements of the conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh affects every aspect of the OSCE’s work. The goals of our Helsinki+40 effort should include steps to address the protracted conflicts, to ensure an effective response to situations of crisis or tension, and to facilitate the presence of the OSCE when requested by a participating State.

Increasingly, there is evidence that OSCE states are failing to implement OSCE commitments and seeking to diminish the centrality of the human dimension of security. History has demonstrated that indivisible security among states depends on respect for human rights within states. Human rights and fundamental freedoms are non-negotiable and not to be doled out or denied by governments.

Another important part of the European security architecture is the three-pillared conventional arms control regime. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), the Open Skies Treaty, and the Vienna Document’s confidence and security-building measures – provide a foundation for stability in our strategic relationships. Each regime is important and contributes to security and stability in a unique way; when they are working in harmony, the result is greater confidence for all of Europe.

First, I want to touch on the very successful Open Skies Treaty, one of the most wide-ranging international arms control efforts to date to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities. More than ten years after the Treaty’s entry into force, it remains a solid regime. The observation flights, almost 1000 to date, serve to enhance mutual confidence. They also provide an opportunity for our governments – in most cases, military personnel – to regularly and effectively work together.

One of the challenges we face for the continued success of the Treaty is the future availability of resources. The Treaty will only be as good as the States Parties make it, and we cannot make it as effective with old aircraft and sensors. For its part, the United States has committed to transition from the film-based cameras to digital sensors. We urge all parties to redouble their efforts to modernize the Treaty to allow for the use of these sensors and ensure sufficient assets for future operations.

The Vienna Document also plays a vital role in European security. This set of politically-binding confidence and security building measures, which applies to all 57 member nations of the OSCE, has contributed immeasurably to Europe-wide military reassurance. It serves as a useful template for other regions of the world, as countries look to build confidence in the military intentions of their neighbors.

We need to modernize the Vienna Document with two goals in mind: to strengthen existing provisions; and to ensure the Document remains relevant to our current security challenges. Lowering thresholds for notification of military activities, for example, is a vital step to bring the document in line with the smaller military forces that now exist.

Last, but by no means least, we have the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, or CFE. Since its entry into force, more than 72,000 pieces of Cold War military equipment – tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters – have been eliminated. Under CFE, thousands of inspections have taken place at military sites all over Europe, dramatically increasing confidence and military predictability on the continent.

CFE remains important to the United States, and for European security as a whole, but we are at a difficult crossroads. Russia ceased implementation of its CFE obligations in December 2007. After several years of encouraging Russia to resume implementation, in November 2011, the United States ceased carrying out certain obligations under the CFE Treaty with regard to Russia. We were joined by our NATO Allies that are party to the Treaty, as well as Georgia and Moldova, in taking this step – in all, 24 of the 30 countries that are party to the Treaty.

We know that conventional arms control has contributed substantially to stability and security in Europe. That is why we have embarked upon a ground-up reexamination of the entire conventional arms control enterprise looking toward the future. NATO confirmed the importance of conventional arms control at the 2012 Chicago Summit:

Allies are determined to preserve, strengthen and modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe, based on key principles and commitments, and continue to explore ideas to this end.

Modernization is the key word here. We have made a serious investment in building the current security architecture in Europe; now we must modernize it.

It is clear that conventional arms control, done right, can significantly improve security on the continent by helping to address today’s concerns. We must adapt and improve upon that investment to meet our current and future security needs, and do it in a way that is efficient and effective for all countries involved, while preserving key principles. These include the right of states to choose whether to allow foreign forces to be stationed on their territories and transparency among all parties, which is essential for preserving confidence during negotiations.

Like all allies, the United States wants to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia. One of the major practical achievements of the NATO-Russia Council is our collaboration on Afghanistan. Now, as the ISAF operations end in Afghanistan in 2014, it is important to expand our practical cooperation on security issues, build military predictability among us, advance the spirit of reciprocity, and deepen our political dialogue, including on issues where we disagree. We all share common goals, including the creating the conditions to achieve long-term prosperity for all our people. When we do not agree on issues, our relationship should accommodate frank discussion of disagreements in a spirit of mutual respect.

There are many ways that we can partner to advance our mutual security interests and the interests of the international community. For example, we can work together to safeguard and reduce nuclear arsenals, boost our trade and investment, and advance freedom of navigation in the Arctic. Missile defense cooperation is another area we should pursue, and the United States continues to seek a path forward with Russia due to our belief that missile defense cooperation will advance the security interests of us all – the Russian Federation no less than the NATO countries.

The Soviet Union responded confidently to the 1983 Star Wars proposal regarding global missile defense, embracing the notion of technical countermeasures on strategic offensive forces to address this issue. Russia should be no less confident today, when the missile defense system that the United States and its allies are developing is specifically and definitively limited in nature and very capable technical countermeasures are installed on all Russian ICBMs and SLBMs.

Everyone in this hall knows that our collective interests today go well beyond the territory of our nations. What is unique about our collaboration with Europe is that the issues we address truly span the globe. Such global focus is absolutely essential in our changing world, where emerging powers and far-flung events can have profound impact in each of our countries.

The United States and everyone here knows that we have a lot of work to do on European security, and we will be challenged politically, economically, and in security terms. We are going to have to be smart, nimble and patient. Threats that spread across many nations and millions of square miles cannot and will not be eliminated overnight, and we all know that. Nevertheless, a safe and secure Europe is worth the effort of cooperation, and I know that we are all up to the challenge.

Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to our discussions.