The EU, the United States and Russia in favor of an institutional overhaul
Is it possible to reconstruct the political and military understanding between Europe, the United States and Russia that prevailed in the nineties and fell apart during the last Bush administration, or has the time come to lay the foundation for a new order of European security based on the needs of the twenty-first century?
(Madrid) TWENTY YEARS AFTER the fall of the Berlin Wall, a decisive period in the development of global and European security is now taking shape. Of course, the structure of Europe in 2009 is substantially different from what it was in 1989. The 28-member NATO and 27-member European Union constitute the two intergovernmental bodies upon which the political, economic and military life of a Europe that is institutionally united, but differentiated in regards to its interests, objectives and strategies, hinges.
Together with these two organizations, the Russian Federation considers itself to be a continental power whose relationship with Europe is as needed as much as it is feared. The panoramic scene is completed by the inescapable transatlantic bond with United States, which still plays a key role in European security matters.
NEW INSTITUTIONS AND AGREEMENTS
In this new scenario, it is worth asking what the future of European security might look like. Is it possible to reconstruct the political and military understanding between Europe, the United States and Russia that prevailed in the nineties and fell apart during the last Bush administration, or has the time come to lay the foundation for a new order of European security based on the needs of the twenty-first century?
The responses of the EU, Russia and the United States are focused on, albeit through different routes, a renovation of the European security structure via new institutions, agreements and strategies in accordance with a multidimensional, interdependent and complex conception of security. A new European security structure capable of efficiently responding to the political, economic, social and cultural problems that, intertwined with the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organized crime and massive illegal immigration, are present in an outlook dominated by uncertainty, instability and risk.
“The United States’ position supports multilateral diplomacy, cooperation with Europe and political and military understanding with Russia”
The Treaty of Lisbon taking effect would amount to setting in motion a CFSP strengthened in terms of security by four important pillars: the institution of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, supported by a European service of foreign action; the alliance-forming clause considered in art. 42.7 of the TEU; the permanent structured cooperation of arts.42.6 and 46 of the TEU; and finally, the solidarity clause contained in art. 222 of the Treaties of Rome. These four instruments demonstrate the determined desire of the EU members to create a new context of regional security.
In turn, the Russian Federation, through President Dimitri Medvedev’s mouth, reiterated on several occasions during the second half of 2008 the need and desire to support the completion of a new European Security Treaty based on five principles: the fulfillment of the international commitments obtained; respect for territorial and political integrity together with the rest of the United Nations’ principles; prohibition of the use of force in international relations; no State or organization, including Russia, being able to enjoy exclusive rights to maintain European peace and security; and finally, the establishment of basic parameters for the control of arms and a reasonable aptitude in the military field. Behind this proposal is an unmistakable gamble by the Russian authorities to create and actively participate in a new regional security structure to substitute the increasingly stiff reality of the OSCE.
“The fact that Obama’s main contact with other leaders – especially with the Russian president Medvedev – has not taken place within the framework of NATO, but rather in the G-20 forum, is significant”
The United States’ position, hinted at by Vice-president Joe Biden at the 45th Security Conference in Munich (February 6 to 8, 2009) and later confirmed by President Obama, supports multilateral diplomacy, cooperation with Europe and political and military understanding with Russia. The request for greater military support for the ISAF mission from the country’s European allies, together with the offer to work together with Russia regarding the anti-missile shield controversy, are important examples of the new course of American security and defense policy.
STRATEGY FOR AFPAK
These convergent and revitalizing positions were noticeable at the recent NATO summit, where light was shed on some important unknowns. In the first place, new objectives and initiatives for the Afghanistan strategy, which are aimed at increasing the military, police and civil capacity of the authorities in Kabul, together with a greater control of the border with Pakistan, have been detailed. The procedure and a timeline for the formulation of a new strategic concept for the Alliance have also been established, with the European pillar being reinforced at the same time with the full incorporation of France into the military structure, and Croatia and Albania’s admittance as allies.
“The Spanish government should take a well-defined and publicly expressed stance on the principal issues affecting the future of European security”
However, the fact that Obama’s main contact with other leaders – specially with the Russian president Medvedev- has not taken place within the framework of NATO, but rather in the G-20 forum, is significant. This means that direct multilateral diplomacy is going to be a priority in Washington’s foreign policy concerning the institutional diplomacy of the alliance. This is nothing to be scoffed at, and it anticipates the American position of being in favor of a future in which NATO is a collective security organization before a military alliance.
THE SPANISH PRESIDENCY IN 2010
As with all governments, the Spanish government -despite the importance that it gives and must give to the economic crisis- should take a well-defined and publicly expressed stance on the principal issues affecting the future of European security, especially since it is set to assume the presidency of the EU during the first semester of 2010 and, as such, will be responsible for initiating the application of the Treaty of Lisbon.
“Spain has the opportunity to demonstrate that it not only can, but indeed wants to actively take part in European politics, strategic matters included”
In particular, there are two matters for which Spain should adopt a position in agreement with its national interests: the form and limits of political and military cooperation between the EU and NATO, and the consolidation of relations with Russia through the finalization of a new EU-Russia agreement. Spain has the opportunity to demonstrate that it not only can, but indeed wants to actively take part in European politics, strategic matters included.