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"The European direction of the foreign policy is of the greatest priority for our country"

Sergej B. Iwanow, Minister of Defense, Russian Federation: Speech at the 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy

Im Rahmen unserer Berichterstattung über die 42. Münchner "Sicherheitskonferenz" dokumentieren wir im Folgenden die Rede des russischen Verteidigungsministers Sergej B. Iwanow Außenministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Zur offiziellen Website der Konferenz geht es hier: www.securityconference.de.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In my address I would like to cover some of the most urgent aspects, from my point of view, of the modern status and prospects of development of the Russia' s cooperation with European countries in the interest of strategic stability and security.

Not trying to be eccentric I would like to start with the statement that the European direction of the foreign policy is of the greatest priority for our country.

Despite of its Euro-Asian geographical position, Russia has always been and remains a European power. It's Europe where we concentrate out key economic and political interests.

That explains why Russia is truly interested in tight and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbours in Europe. At the same time we, Russians, can say that we feel similar tendency from the majority of the European states.

Today we have managed to reach a common understanding that the global risks require adequate responses, primarily through joint efforts of the entire world community.

Improvement of the political-diplomatic, economical and military instruments, which would guarantee parrying either regional or global threats, is on agenda.

Referred to such security-insuring instruments of the modern world should be reduction of strategic offensive arms.

Russia has been fully implementing all taken obligations under the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Potentials.

It is quite natural that Russia continues to develop its strategic forces of deterrence. However our efforts are aimed at their quality not numbers. Test launches are going on within the framework of the current Treaties with all monitoring requirements fully implemented.

Another important instrument of peace and security is a system of control over non-proliferation of the weapon of mass destruction and deliveries of respective dual-use goods and technologies.

This system is based on multilateral treaties and agreements, effective and strict interstate control over export of products applicable for construction of weapon of mass destruction and means of its delivery, and national legislation meeting the requirements of the day.

Being a Chairman of the Intergovernmental Commission for export control of the Russian Federation, I can say that we have taken a number of serious steps in this direction. Particularly, the President of the Russian Federation has approved the Fundamentals of the state policy in non-proliferation sphere. The Complex Program of Non-Proliferation of the WMD and Means of Its Delivery up to 2010 is underway. This Program defines the key directions of activity of the state structures in counterstanding the domestic and foreign threats in this sphere.

Preparation has been done for the amendments to the legislation aimed at more complete use of the export control abilities to solve non-proliferation tasks and combating international terrorism as well.

An open report covering our evaluation of the situation in the non-proliferation sphere, separate countries and regions included, and Russian approach to solving the key international problems in the mentioned sphere is being prepared for the upcoming G-8 summit.

We think there should be no exclusions for certain counterparts in implementation of international agreements. The international regimes of export control must not be used as a cover-up for unfair competition and ousting of competitors from the military market.

As a matter of fact the world may not turn more predictable and safe without really effective instrument of combating one of the most dangerous threats, that is international terrorism.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that this threat has not been reduced despite of active and more and more organized appropriate efforts of the world community.

This is proved by continuously tense situation in Iraq, certain restoration of terrorist potential of the groupings operating in Afghanistan, and continuous severe terrorist attacks in various parts of the world.

The tragic events in Beslan and Djakarta, Madrid and Moscow, London, Istanbul, New York, Washington and other cities of the planet show that terrorists have challenged the world community. Moreover, there are grounds to expect a high "wave" of terrorism and new large-scale terrorist attacks.

Russia, not in words but in deeds, calls for establishment of a joint front for combating international terrorism. Herewith, we are sure such a front can be effective under the aegis of the United Nations only.

Today as never before there is an urgent need for this world organization to find solutions of two principle and interrelated problems.

The first one is liquidation of possible loopholes in the international law and domestic legislation, which allow terrorists and their allies to elude the responsibility.

The second is overcoming of double standards in evaluating terrorist threat and in respect of terrorists themselves.

A lot work still needs to be done in this field. How one can talk about effective cooperation if there is still no common definition of notion "terrorism"?

For instance, the attacks on military personnel of the coalition forces in Iraq are still unequivocally defined as display of terrorism, and similar actions of militants in Russia are quite often presented as display of struggle of Chechen people for their freedom and independence.

Due to this fact Russia supports the efforts of the United Nations in reorientation to purely new tasks linked with strengthening of the legal basis of the combined anti-terror activity and operation in advance of terrorism, including its most dangerous demonstration.

The key to liquidation of the international terrorism threat lies in impartial analysis of the extremist-supporting social and political forces, adequate determination of the pursued objectives and elimination of the causes giving rise to and powering this phenomenon.

As for fighting against already existing terrorist groups, this task can be solved only within the framework of a wide international cooperation basing on the complex of measures - from planning up to implementation of joint or coordinated actions, including the use of armed forces.

Exchange of intelligence data on the terrorist organizations and their tactics might be of considerable value. Full blocking of the financial channels and other support to illegal armed formations is still on agenda.

Solution of these problems carries an unconditional uniting potential which stimulates further efforts of the international community on maintaining stability and security in the world. The quality of relationship between Russia and other countries both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of unions and organizations is not of the least importance.

There are plenty of examples proving this thesis. Let me dwell on some of them.

The Russian relations with France and Germany are determined by concurrence of interests and approaches to solution of a number of political, military-political and pure military matters. The high-level Russian-German working group for security and the Russian-French Council for Cooperation in Security promote strengthening of European cooperation.

Their work resulted in really strengthened mutual trust and determination of directions of joint activity of the military establishments in routine activity of their headquarters, Army, air forces, and navies, in non-proliferation, in combating international terrorism, and in other issues of global and regional security.

In Russian-Italian relations we have developed necessary legal mechanisms, and which is most important - a political atmosphere of the most favoured nation treatment. This helps to effectively develop and deepen our cooperation in all areas, including security.

A dialogue with Belgium, Spain, and many other European countries has been also actively developed.

By the way, the cooperation of Russia with the European community in the energy field can be a demonstrative example of our constructive relations.

Signing the Agreement on the construction of the North-European gas pipeline has contributed to creation of a uniform energy space in Europe. Solution of the "gas dispute" between Russia and Ukraine has clearly demonstrated a full understanding of the responsibility not only for carrying out the obligations for power supply to the European states, but for energy security of this part of the continent.

Speaking about the priorities of the Russia's policy in Europe, I cannot disregard the Russian-American relations which objectively play an important role in the overall structure of the Euro-Atlantic security.

Despite of the existing discrepancies in one or another issue, we have to admit that the relations between Russia and the United States are being positively developed and are of partnership nature nowadays. Last year alone there were several summits of the Presidents of two states.

Contacts at the level of different ministries, including military departments, are maintained on a regular basis. Interrelations on a wide spectrum of issues of international security agenda have been recently improved.

Now a few words about the status of the Russia's relationship with the most influential European organizations.

Europe cannot successfully develop without close cooperation between Russia and European Union. The understanding of this fact is properly documented. At present, practically all European or international issues are on agenda of our dialogue with the European Union.

Nowadays we are summarizing the preliminary results of the teamwork on implementation of the "road maps" in four common areas of Russia and the European Union adopted at the Moscow summit in 2005. In particular, in a few days the experts will discuss the certain measures for making the "road map" live as far as the external security is concerned.

It is necessary to note that Russia and the European Union have a great potential for the cooperation development, including spheres of security and defence. I hope that the Russian initiatives on the "road map" will be practically implemented.

Unfortunately, sometimes we see attempts of the European Union to reduce cooperation in the external security to the problems of the Commonwealth of Independent States only. We consider it a wrong approach and openly tell our partners in the European Union about it.

A special attention is paid by the Russian side to the European Union's implementation of the Joint Statement on the Expansion of the European Union and Russia-European Union Relations signed in April, 2004, primarily in respect of the Kaliningrad cargo transit.

So far there is no significant improvement in the problem of transit, including military transit, to Kaliningrad through the territories of the Baltic States.

There is plenty of work to be done to ensure new quality of interrelations between Russia and the European Union in terms of security and defence policy. A fair example of this is an extending and, which is more important, mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and NATO.

The key issues solved by us are the development of the short- mid-term perspectives of cooperation on counteraction against appearing challenges and threats to the security in political and practical terms, primarily within the format of the NATO-Russia Council.

This work is not simple since coordinated decisions require constant search for compromise considering mutual respect and parity.

Nowadays Russia and NATO have the same approach to estimation of transnational threats in the field of security.

The most dynamic direction of the Russia-NATO cooperation is an increase of the operative compatibility of Armed Forces. Cooperation in the field of combating terrorism has been becoming more and more practical.

A clear example of this is the Russia's accession to the Active Endeavour NATO's antiterrorist operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

In a few days an informal meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will be held in Italy where these issues will be discussed as well.

Our interaction within the Cooperation Airspace Initiative has a counterterrorist nature.

Within the framework of this Program our experts have theoretically supported an opportunity and expediency of setting up data exchange on airborne environment in the border areas of Russia and NATO countries. Their reports contain precise recommendations for the mechanisms to create an overall air traffic picture. The experiment carried out last September in the coordination control centres in Moscow and Warsaw proved their feasibility in practice.

The listed examples give clear evidence that we are following the right way.

Now the main task is to transform the mechanism of the NATO-Russia Council from a political factor, which already plays a significant role in formation of the spirit of the modern system of international relations, into the factor defining practical actions of the Alliance and Russia in the sphere of the Armed Forces activity.

In my opinion, there is an imminent need for certain revision of various fields of cooperation. We should find effective mechanisms to go further along the most difficult directions or to curtail them, and to concentrate best efforts on the mostly perspective directions.

In doing so, transparency, all-round mutual account of interests and inadmissibility of double standards should remain the basic principles of our joint activity.

Cooperation between NATO and Collective Security Treaty Organization may well contribute to the effective partnership between Russia and NATO in fighting terrorism and restoring Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that cooperation in this field will be beneficial for both organizations and will demonstrate the unity in solving the security problems in the Central Asia.

We pay special attention to the Alliance transformation, its adaptation to solving new problems and we hope that our partners will adhere to the military restraint.

There is a rising concern about the destiny of the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty and balance of the total system of the Euro-Atlantic security as the NATO moves toward the Russian borders.

Unfortunately, Russia and NATO have principally different approaches to ratification of the adapted Conventional Forces Europe Treaty.

Russia, along with some other countries, has already ratified this Treaty while the NATO continues to insist on a link association of ratification with implementation of the Istanbul agreements concerning Georgia and Moldova.

The ratification of the adapted Treaty by Russia has proved its readiness to continue to contribute to the arms control as means of strengthening of its own and European security. The Conventional Forces Europe Treaty as any other agreement in the sphere of arms control is intended for greater security by less means.

At the same time, the fact is that the present Conventional Forces Europe Treaty has lagged behind the new military-political realities. The Treaty maintains the initially established collective levels, but our "Eastern Group" still keeps listing the current NATO members, namely Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

So far we have seen distinct intentions of the NATO countries to continuously delay the ratification.

Russia is not going to act as if the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty functions normally and it suits us perfectly. If the situation remains unchanged, we are likely to have complex talks on the future of the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty at the third conference on the Treaty in May this year in Vienna.

Our relations with the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe take a separate place and have a specific value in the list of the Russia's priorities in the foreign policy.

There are definite divergences in positions of Russia and the Western countries in the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe. But at the same time we should mention the fact that there is a large coalition among the participants of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe supporting the reforms. This coalition includes Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and a variety of Western countries.

Russia aspires to return the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe to its primary mission that is to strengthen the security of all countries of this organization. This end can be reached on the conditions of equality and consideration of mutual interests.

Finally I would like to emphasise that acting jointly within the framework of the All-European process we have succeeded to create rather solid grounds allowing continuation of a constructive dialogue on the entire spectrum of global and regional security issues.

It is important not to stop on what we have reached. We have to move forward and to build a political strategy of the All-European scale through coordination of the national security concepts and basing on the UN Charter and principles of the international law.

I believe this goal is quite achievable. Its fulfilment is feasible should we manage to transfer our common vision of the partnership relationship into real deeds. And here Russia is a reliable, predictable and responsible partner for Europe.

Thank you for your attention!


Quelle: Website der Münchner "Sicherheitskonferenz": www.securityconference.de

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