On Ministerial Council Declaration “From Lisbon to Hamburg: On the 20th Anniversary of the OSCE Framework for Arms Control” | Interpretative Statement

A TV camera positioned in front of a backdrop with OSCE logos prior to a news conference at the Hofburg in Vienna. (OSCE, Mikhail Evstafiev)

On the occasion of the adoption of the Hamburg Ministerial Council Declaration, “From Lisbon to Hamburg: Declaration on the Twentieth Anniversary of the OSCE Framework for Arms Control,” the United States of America would like to make the following interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1(A)6 of the OSCE Rules of Procedure.

We note that the declaration “welcomes steps to further develop military-to-military contacts amongst participating States,” but does not commit any nation or group of nations to undertake any particular activity or engagement.

For the United States, military-to-military contacts in the context of this Declaration incorporate a wide range of activities, to include multilateral dialogue and engagement through the OSCE, such as the 2016 High Level Military Doctrine Seminar, which we strongly supported. In this regard, the OSCE can provide for dialogue in an environment where routine or low-level military to military engagement may not be possible.

The United States faces statutory limitations on our bilateral military-to-military cooperation with the Russian Federation, per section 1233 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

We note that the United States Congress, recognizing the special and protected role that arms control plays, has provided an exemption for military-to-military activity in support of arms control implementation. In this regard, we encourage all participating States to fully implement the spirit and the letter of all conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures.

Mr. Chair, we ask that this statement be included in the journal of the day.

Thank you.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the closing session of the 2016 Ministerial Council, Hamburg, Germany