Russia Drafts European Security Pact

Article excerpt

A Russian proposal for a new European security treaty has drawn support from some former Soviet states, but Western government leaders and others have reacted coolly to the plan.

The text of the draft treaty was published Nov. 29 on the Kremlin's official Web site, which said the pact would "finally do away with the Cold War legacy."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent the draft to the heads of state and international organizations in the Euro-Atlantic region. The proposal came ahead of the Dec. 1-2 ministerial council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Athens, as well as the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Russia had initially threatened to cancel the NATO meeting over what it said was the alliance's refusal to consider the draft.

Speaking on Russian television Dec. 1, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said some alliance members were trying to block Moscow's proposals. The proposals are "suffering from Cold War psychology," he said. He warned that making decisions "without taking Russia's interests and opinions into account won't work."

At the OSCE meeting, several delegates agreed on the need to improve European security, but few mentioned the Russian proposal. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Dec. 17 the alliance was prepared to discuss the draft but he saw no need for a new agreement. He noted that a security framework already existed in the form of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, the Charter for European Security of 1999, and the Rome Declaration of 2002.

In the statement on its Web site, the Kremlin said the new European security treaty would be based on the principle that no nation or organization is "entitled to strengthen its own security at the cost of other nations or organizations." The draft would enable signatories to object to actions by others and call a summit if they considered their security under threat.

According to Article 2 of the draft, parties to the treaty would have to ensure that decisions within the framework of organizations and alliances to which they belong "do not affect significantly security of any Party or Parties to the Treaty" and do not conflict with the new treaty, international law, or decisions of the UN Security Council. Article 3 of the draft treaty says that the parties are entitled to request "information on any significant legislative, administrative or organizational measures" taken by another party if the measures "in the opinion of the Requesting Party, might affect its security."

Using language that is somewhat similar to the NATO treaty's, the proposed treaty says that a party would be "entitled to consider an armed attack against any other party an armed attack against itself," although the parties are not obligated to respond to attacks on fellow members. The draft calls for the UN Security Council, in which Russia holds veto power, to "bear primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security."

The treaty would be open for signature by states "from Vancouver to Vladivostok," as well as by NATO, the European Union, the OSCE, and the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which all are members of the CSTO, expressed support for the Russian initiative in. a joint statement with Russia issued two weeks before the meeting.

Rasmussen said the OSCE was the most appropriate forum to discuss the draft treaty. In his statement at the OSCE meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the initiative was "designed to harness the potential of States and international organizations to create a truly indivisible space of equal security for all the States of the Euro-Atlantic region."

Questions Raised

Speaking at the OSCE meeting Dec. 1, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the Russian proposal omitted the issues of arms control, human rights, and the Georgian-Russian conflict. …