EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016 Special Session 1
Chair: Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI
Angela Kane, Co-Convener, Group of Eminent Persons, CTBTO; Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre
Wolfgang Richter, Senior Associate, German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP)

Provisional Transcript

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

Good afternoon, everybody. I would like to open this session. I am sure a few more people will join us, but I think it is time for us to make a start. I really think this is an excellent topic for discussion at this particular moment in time, so I was really very happy this issue could be accommodated on the conference agenda. Of the world regions, Europe has the most developed and integrated system of conventional arms control confidence and security-building measures, but it is a system that was constructed under very different circumstances from those that we find ourselves in today. The discussions which led to the creation of the system took place against the background of a very real concern about general war in a heavily militarised Europe, but with relatively low levels of violence and a high level of strategic stability.

Today, we find ourselves in a Europe which actually has historically relatively low levels of militarisation, even though some of the things that we thought of as major achievements after the end of the Cold War – such as the major reduction in resources allocated to the military – we begin to see step by step being walked back. Nevertheless, we do not live in a heavily militarised Europe in a historical context. I would say there is probably relatively little fear of general war in Europe, but at the same time, we have a conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine which has now killed 10,000 people, where the risk of escalation and further violence is very real, and we have a number of dangerous flashpoints across Europe really, where one could only too easily imagine localised conflicts breaking out.

So I think this is really an excellent time for reflection. We have an opportunity to change things for the better. We do not need to stay on a trajectory of continuous deterioration in the European security environment. And I thought it was particularly appropriate that they put this session in the Creativity and Innovation Room, so we are looking to our panel for both of these characteristics of creativity and innovation.

We have an excellent panel. The bios are in the conference app, so we do not need to go through them in detail, but we will follow the order on the programme. So we start with Angela Kane, who I think is very well placed, given her past experience to give us an excellent overview and context for our discussions.

Angela Kane, Co-Convener, Group of Eminent Persons, CTBTO; Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you very much, Ian, and I am happy that we captured enough of an audience. I was a bit worried because we have very stiff competition in the other panels. And I also found that when I was looking at the topic and I was Googling a little bit about what has been written about it recently, there really has not been very much written. When you Google conventional arms control, you find primarily statements from member states. I find this very interesting, because it does not seem to capture the attention of maybe academics or the media or something, but there is really not very much written about it. And I thought that since I am the only one on the panel with a UN background, I would say a couple of words about what is happening in the UN. I fully realise that that is not exactly where the conventional arms control action is in a dynamic sense, but, on the other hand, we heard this morning also from the panellists how important it is to adhere to the agreements that have already been made that need to be implemented and need to be adhered to, because maybe we will not have a lot of other agreements that are going to be concluded.

Now, there are a number of tools for governments to share information within the UN context, and thus build trust. And again, the building trust aspect is the one that is underlying all of these arrangements. The first one was agreed to in 1981, and that is the UN Report on Military Establishments. Now, when you look at all of these tools that are existing in the UN, the dismal fact is that very few governments actually use them. There is only voluntary compliance – it is not mandatory – and, for example, the UN Report on Military Expenditures in 2016, there were only 43 replies from governments: a very small figure, 20% of all of the member states. Then there is the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which was established ten years later, in 1991. It is reviewed every three years because again, there are new developments in conventional arms, there are new achievements, there are new weapons that are coming out that need to be looked at. But on the other hand, annually, there are about 60 countries that report, a little bit more, but still not enough. Then there is the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, and that was established in 2001. And it really does lay the foundation for action at the national, regional and global levels, and is complemented by a separate instrument on tracing illicit small arms that was concluded in 2005. There are also other factors. There are ammunition guidelines, the UN SaferGuard, and the International Small Arms Controls Standards.

And then there are the treaties, and the treaties are, for example, the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which 123 states have joined; the 1999 Convention on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, the so-called ‘mine ban’ convention; the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2010, with 100 state parties; and the Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force in 2014, and now has 86 state parties.

This machinery is reviewed every year in the Disarmament Commission of the First Committee, but I must admit to you – and I think you know – that the view is very static; the resolutions that are adopted on these particular topics do not change much from year to year, and, in addition, the Security Council also reviews it, and they receive a report on small arms and light weapons every other year. And when did you hear the last time that the Security Council took a dynamic action on small arms and light weapons? You did not. Well, but on the other hand, in 2015, for the very first time, the Security Council actually adopted a resolution on the issue. There were 31 operative paragraphs; I think it is like seven or eight pages. And the Council encouraged, it urged, it called upon member states to address the illicit transfer of small arms, and while this was an important step in supporting the conventional arms framework and its CBM measures, it did not really result in, again, other negotiating aspects that could be picked up on by member states; it was more of an exhaustive supporting measure than anything else.

But let me put the conventional arms control issue in the broader context. As I mentioned, the UN instruments are to be complied with voluntarily, and the compliance, as I also said, has been very low. And actually, it is going down rather than increasing. There is definitely a reporting fatigue, because more and more instruments have come up that need to be reported to and complied with, or rather, voluntarily complied with. And there is a sense – and I must also say that that is very prevalent these days – that transparency is not always desirable as security diminishes. And, as Ian has already mentioned, there is a dramatic change in the security landscape in Europe, and rather than being relegated to the back burner, conventional arms control needs reinvigorated efforts. We must always remember that the conventional arms control issues really started during the Cold War confrontation in Europe; it was negotiated in the last years of the regime, and then basically, it was a hostile environment, and actually, some of the treaties like the CFE, etc., the Open Skies, actually came into force once the Wall had already fallen.

But I think that despite the inauspicious timing of when the conventional arms control was started, it developed into one of the pillars, a very strong pillar, of cooperative security order that replaced political divisions and military confrontations. I am not going to go into the details of the historical developments, because we want to be also forward-looking and maybe be a little creative rather than backward-looking, so I just want to say that when you look at what happened in Europe, you have to think about the NATO’s enlargement in 1999, the joining of the Baltic states, which actually Ambassador Rogov brought out this morning. And that brought NATO into a territory directly bordering Russia, and one that was not subject to legally-binding arms limitations. Russia suspended its participation in the CFE in 2007, and while this was seen by others as a step in the wrong direction, it is unclear how vigorous the efforts made were to engage Russia in reversing the course.

The recognition of Kosovo as a state independent of Serbia in 2008, the offensive by Georgia against South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers in the same year, fuelled Russian suspicions of the US and NATO whilst engaging in a geopolitical zero-sum game that threatened Russian security interests. And the Ukraine crisis was probably the last straw that set off Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. As I said, Moscow suspended its implementation of the CFE Treaty in 2007; in March 2015, it completely ended activities. Now, the crisis in Ukraine has led to an increased use of the provisions of these three pillars, but it has also shown its limitations. At the OSCE in Vienna, crisis measures were triggered, inspections and verifications were carried out, but not all requests for actions or meetings resulted in cooperation, and I think you, Anthony, stated in the yearbook of 2015 that Russia did not provide all the information and did not attend all the meetings.

But what we have seen, and that is very important, is that the OSCE has proven permanent dialogue structures which can look back on a comprehensive array of joint decisions and security arrangements. What happened in August of this year I consider very important, and that is when the German Chairman in office, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, published an op-ed in the Frankfurt Allgemeine, and he entitled it, ‘More Security for Everyone in Europe: a Call for a Relaunch of Arms Control.’ Despite Russia’s violation of basic principles of peace, Steinmeier made a tangible offer of cooperation, and I stress tangible. He said our world has become more dangerous, and we must be united in our interest to avoid spiralling escalation; not to try such an undertaking, he argued, would be irresponsible. And he listed five areas that a relaunch of conventional arms control had to cover, and invited a structured dialogue with all partners who share responsibility for the security of Europe. And such a dialogue, he proposed, should take place within the OSCE.

Now, more than two months have passed since Steinmeier said that. His proposal has been debated in a likeminded group, and a ministerial statement has been contemplated but has not yet been agreed upon. It is clear that a renewed debate and negotiations on conventional arms control need to be initiated, and with the OSCE as the most obvious forum. We have heard this morning about the recent discussion at the UN about a ban on nuclear weapons, which was strongly opposed by the nuclear possessor states and those under the nuclear umbrella, and you also heard that the reason was an uncertain security environment, which is, to my mind, all the more reason to address conventional arms control as a priority to eliminate one of the factors in the debate.

Ambassador Rogov spoke this morning about the conventional weapons, and the fact that the Soviet Union had superiority in conventional weapons in the past, but did not have it any longer. And deterrence is a determining factor in conventional superiority, so that clearly needs to be addressed also in the context of nuclear weapons. So what we have right now is stagnation and deterioration on the diplomatic stage. The dialogue focuses – and I am sure that Adam will talk about this much more – in the OSCE on negative public statements, on military reinforcement measures, but not – at least not visibly – on searching for cooperative solutions that could also include sub-regional arms control measures and CSBMs to enhance transparency. What we are seeing is a dramatically increased level of military exercises and a reinforced military presence in the region.

And that is really bringing me to the final question, that is, what is the role of conventional arms control in this difficult security landscape? The nature of conflict has really changed, from large operations to asymmetrical and hybrid warfare, particularly as we look at the use of new technologies and cyber operations that we also heard about earlier today. There is a new generation of arms control regimes that are not oriented against states, but they are functionally directed and are primarily a response to threats of nuclear terrorism or humanitarian concerns. I would call for reassessment not only of the current security landscape, but also of the nature of the use of conventional arms, taking a holistic approach that should start with smaller steps like sub-regional arms control and CBMs. Thank you.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

Okay, thank you for that excellent introduction to the discussion. I would like to give the floor next to Adam Kobieracki, and of course, it is for you to make your own remarks, but the discussion of the relaunch of conventional arms control kind of makes me think of the discussions going on in the room next door about space. In order for the rocket to launch successfully, we need to have a stable platform. I would be really interested in your view on whether or not this stable platform for a launch of negotiations actually exists at the moment, or whether it is something that needs to be created. But as I say, the floor is yours.

Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre

Thank you. The direct answer to your question is no, it does not exist at the moment; it needs to be built. However, before I go into the details, Angela said that in this panel, she is unique because of her UN experience, which is true, but I was just really trying to think what could make me unique in this panel, and definitely it is not NATO experience, it is not OSCE experience, but there is one thing: I am the only one of this panel who graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Some time ago, but that is the fact.

Now, talking about conventional arms control. First of all, when you talk about it today, we should keep in mind that terminology matters. When we say conventional arms control, we really have to explain what we mean. Definitely, conventional arms control in Europe is not conventional disarmament, full stop. As simple as this. It is very different from the terminology used during the plenary and in parallel sessions.

Second, also a terminology problem is, when, Angela, when you say that it is time to relaunch arms control, what do you mean by relaunching arms control? Do you mean starting or restarting formal negotiations? If that is the case, it is mission impossible today. Do you think that it is time to look at the issue and to prepare the launching pad, if you wish, for future endeavours? Yes, it is time to do it, it is time to think and discuss conventional arms control, but not in the sense of starting formal – or informal, it does not matter – negotiations; there are no political conditions for arms control negotiations in Europe today. Arms control does not take place, never took place, in a political vacuum. And today, arms control, understood as hardware arms control, when people say conventional arms control in Europe, most of us think about CFE-like arrangements, or a CFE regime, or these types of arrangements. Now, if that is the case, then once more, arms control, understood as a set of limits, standards, plus verification, plus information exchange, of course, it is badly needed in Europe, but at the same time, today, it is mission impossible for political reasons, and, to be more specific, for reasons like the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, just reviewed and modernised Russian military potential, the number of ongoing, protracted, frozen conflicts in the OSCE area. Then terrorist threats. And, frankly, the level of political confrontation between Russia and the West.

Now, once more, I was actually one of the CFE negotiators, both during the original negotiations and through the adaptation task. Back in Vienna, when we are talking about arms control, we always have in mind that it might be hardware, CFE type, or software, which is basically confidence and security-building measures, and all kinds of measures which increase military transparency and military predictability, confidence, but do not put limits on the size of military potential. This was the essence of the hardware approach.

Now, so if the question will be, what arms controls instruments can be considered today, I would say that one should look at those instruments for possible consideration at two levels. First, regional level. At the regional level, we badly need some kind of stabilising crisis-management measures, the kind of things that we actually tried to introduce in the past, and they do not work. I have stopped already counting how many times the Trilateral Contact Group agreed on the new parameters for moving military equipment from the contact line, and then the implementation always fails. But there is a need to think about ways to think about crisis-management measures that may help to stabilise, be it ongoing or protracted conflicts.

Now, by the way, in the OSCE archives, we have negotiated everything in the 1990s. Was it 1992 that we adopted a paper, a very important document at that time, stabilising measures for localised crisis situations.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI


Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre

Sorry, you remember better the date; I was Chairman of the Coordinating Group. I forget the date.

Now, the thing is, when SMM, when Special Monitoring Mission, is now looking at what kind of things they can do to stabilise the situation around the line of contact, they come to the same conclusions as we did more than 20 years ago: stabilising measures, containment of weapons, things like that. But the problem with those regional stabilising measures is they can hardly be considered or implemented without political will, so we may sit and discuss them, but this will be more a theoretical discussion, because the condition here is a political will, a kind of conducive political environment for going that way.

But then – which is closer to the subject of this session – there are some arms control instruments, conventional arms control instruments, that can be considered at the Europe-wide level. I would say that there are two classes here. First of all, it is high time to restart real dialogue on military aspects of security. For the four years between 2011 and 2015, I was the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre. Believe me, the kind of dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian and NATO delegations, actually your delegations, every week during the permanent council meeting, whenever we discussed Ukraine, you can hardly call it a security dialogue; it is a series of statements, serious political statements. But it is not security dialogue; that is why I am saying you need to restore this, because we need to talk about possible fixes, solutions, arrangements. This political debate is needed, but it needs to be complemented by security dialogue. And this security dialogue, first of all, the only forum for this kind of activity is the OSCE, is the best forum to do it.

But then what kind of issues might be put on the agenda? First of all, threat perceptions. That is where we differ with Russians. That is the narrative of the last quarter of a century, what happened during the last 25 years and what kind of things we see as threatening today. Second, whatever is linked to military intentions – I cannot understand really why OSCE is not organising a seminar on military doctrines once a year or once every six months. Today, there should be a kind of permanent dialogue, because by the way, one of the side effects of the certain fiasco of conventional arms control in Europe is also the fact that we lost over the last few years the culture of military-to-military cooperation which we developed late 1990s. It is gone with the wind; it does not exist anymore, and we have to make sure that militaries start to talk to each other once again. So this is about security dialogue.

And now, the second kind of cluster of issues is that we can try at least to develop this software, existing software of conventional arms control in Europe through the development of confidence and security-building measures, Vienna Document, and through, if necessary, modification, but at least we should try to keep Open Skies regime. Now, Angela, I think you referred to the programme. During the early stage of the Crimea crisis, and then when the war in Donbass started, actually, some confidence and security-building measures were used by OSCE participating states, by NATO states, and Open Skies flights were used. It is true that the Russian Federation did not at that time provide all the information that Moscow should have provided under the terms of the Vienna Document. Nevertheless, the measures were there and were used. And in the hot stage of this crisis, sometimes even the negative information from the Russian Federation was something to interpret by our military. I remember sitting in Vienna as a Director of the CPC and getting every day actually photos from one of my collaborators who was accompanying the group of Vienna Document inspectors trying to get to Crimea through this road, through this strait, or maybe that one or maybe that one. At least they spotted where the border posts were being directed at that time. So yes, this is both negative experience in the sense that Russia did not implement fully or did not meet all its commitments on the Vienna Document. Nevertheless, the measures were there, and it is the same with Open Skies; Open Skies flights were actually used by several OSCE states.

One may also think about discussing in more details in the OSCE the issue of how to avoid military incidents. There was an idea – and there were even some proposals, suggestions – to take up this issue as an issue first of all between Russia and NATO, so put it on the agenda of the NRC. Now, the moment we put it on the agenda of the NRC, we politicise the issue and make the discussions much more difficult politically. The moment we open this discussion in the OSCE, whichever forum at the OSCE, Forum for Security Cooperation, it does not matter, then first of all it applies to everybody, and, to the best of my memory, Sweden is not a member of NATO yet, and has some problems with some incidents in the Baltic Sea. And it is kind of less politicised; it could be or should be more focused on the substance. So altogether, I would say that I would strongly disagree with the statement that the time is ripe now to relaunch arms control negotiations or conventional arms control negotiations in Europe. At the same time, I would strongly agree with the statement that it is high time to relaunch arms control in Europe in the sense of developing – building on the experience that we already have – existing software, developing CSBMs, keeping Open Skies, and maybe opening the discussions on how to avoid military incidents. Plus we should at least try to make sure that what was meant as security dialogue in the OSCE is actually security dialogue and not just a series of political statements. Thank you.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

Okay, well thank you very much. I think that gives us a huge amount of new food for thought for our discussion, which will begin immediately after the next presentation by Wolfgang Richter. It has already been mentioned that one of the factors which has put a certain amount of new momentum into this issue is the publication of the article by Foreign Minister Steinmeier, so I think it would be extremely interesting to also try to understand, in addition to whatever else Wolfgang wants to say, a little bit about the context of why this was put forward now and what the objectives are, from a German perspective.

Wolfgang Richter, Senior Associate, German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP)

Thank you very much. You have asked me to explain a little bit the context for the Steinmeier initiative, and the intention. When I do that from a German perspective, let me stress from the beginning – and it is my first disclaimer – I do not speak for the German government. Full stop. The second disclaimer is, the two previous speakers have made my task very difficult because I am afraid I will not present very controversial views.

We are discussing relaunching or reinvigorating conventional arms control against a backdrop of probably the worst security crisis in Europe we have had since the Cold War. What we are observing was already very well described, diverging narratives about the causes of the conflict, contradicting perceptions of the political intent behind changing force postures and military activities, of both the Russian Federation and NATO countries. And this has poisoned the political atmosphere in Europe, and led to a sense of a new confrontation. Increased military activities, such as forward stationing of forces, large-scale manoeuvres, snap exercises, reconnaissance flights and shows of force in international sea and air space, have fuelled new perceptions. There also harbours a risk of misjudgement and escalation resulting from brinkmanship and unintended hazardous incidents.

In this tense situation, the lack of cooperative security measures that work – and here is the difference maybe a little bit to what you said, Adam – has most serious implications. In this context, we have probably to acknowledge, and we might now regret, that the pillars of the European Security Order as agreed in the 1990s have been eroding long before the Ukrainian conflict, and I am here referring to the principles and to the instruments of strategic restraint and security cooperation. Today, such instruments are either not observed, or not sufficiently suited to stabilise the situation, de-escalate tensions and hedge in conflicts. Or, they are missing it all. This is particularly true for conventional arms control. The CFE treaty, which was once labelled, I quote, the cornerstone of European security, has become inadequate to stabilise a changing security landscape in Europe, and attempts to adapt the treaty in 1999, or to relaunch conventional arms control from scratch in the years 2010 and 2011 have failed. This is probably not the place to give a detailed account why adaptation or relaunch efforts failed, but we have to realise that the key problems, the obstacles, have not yet been overcome, and probably they have even been aggravated.

Just to enumerate some. First, there was a principled dispute about Russia’s prior fulfilment of the so-called Istanbul Commitments referring to the withdrawal of forces from Moldova and Georgia. Second, after 2001, for some states, arms control has become less urgent, and was deemed an element of political bargaining rather than a pillar of common security. So as ACFE ratification – ACFE stands here for the adaptation agreement for the CFE treaty – was made subject to achieving further political ends, and Russia in December 2007, as Angela pointed already, suspended the treaty of 1990. The third point. Disputes over missile defence, the independence of breakaway regions. Military interventions in Europe and beyond signalled an emerging new geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West, with probably the Russian annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine leading to the nadir of the European security order.

And fourth – and this is an obstacle which I would like to stress before we start talking about relaunch negotiations – these disputes have generated controversies on principles, such as the host nation concentric environment for the stationing of foreign troops, and more generally, the adherence to basic norms of international law, such as the principles of non-intervention in internal affairs and the prohibition of the threat or use of force. This development resulted in most serious consequences for military postures in Europe and the attempts to adapt or revive conventional arms control, or to modernise OSCE CSBMs.

While NATO decided to reassure Eastern European allies by improving crisis response and enhancing its formal presence, Russia is currently reinforcing forward stationing of forces, particularly along the Russia-Ukrainian border. There is a risk that sub-regional stability might deteriorate further, resulting from growing mistrust and an increased desire to respond to each other’s military actions along the perceived new front lines. And in the most sensitive areas of tension, stabilising limitations and intrusive information and verification regimes are missing, given that NATO member states have not ratified ACFE, Russia has suspended CFE, and the Baltic states have not acceded to both; it was also not possible, of course.

After the failure of the ACFE, the way back to the [inaudible] regime is blocked for political and conceptual reasons, while increased military activities, in particular, snap exercises to a large extent, escape transparency rules of the Vienna Document. And here I do not speak about arms control within conflict zones. The modernisation of the Vienna Document is blocked as well, because of linkages to the overall security situation and the blockade of conventional arms control. Though it is in this context of growing tensions and mutual threat perceptions and blockades in which arms control as a meaningful measure of military restraint is most needed and, at the same time, most difficult to achieve. In my interpretation, this is the basic assessment underlying the proposal made by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to relaunch arms control in Europe. He did not say negotiations by the way, Adam, he said to relaunch arms control in Europe as a tried and tested means of risk reduction, transparency and confidence-building, no matter how deep the rifts are. It is his conviction that, otherwise, given the manifold crises and the risk of escalation, peace in Europe and beyond will be fragile.

One might argue that securing military restraint through conventional arms control belongs to the agreed acquis and fundamental pillars of the OSCE security order. In times of crisis, it is an urgently needed stability measure, and, one might call it, confrontation management, rather than business as usual, as was pointed out by NATO headquarters. What is certainly not intended is undermining NATO’s Warsaw Summit decisions or the capabilities for individual or collective defence. In contrast, restricting offensive military capabilities which could be used for large-scale or surprise cross-border operations was and is the basic rationale, let us say, for conventional arms control. Starting a new conventional arms control process in Europe in times of crisis – and here I agree fully with Adam’s interpretation – requires states to agree on a common purpose and, ideally, renew political commitment to strategic restraint and cooperative security in the OSCE area.

There should be, however, no illusion that such a definition of a common objective could be achieved overnight, let alone a negotiation mandate. What is needed next, as a next step, is a structured dialogue about threat perceptions and options for militarily relevant arrangements to lower the risk of escalation and create more predictability and stability of the military situation.

Let me add another note of caution. Discussions on principles will be necessary at a certain point in time. Consensus might be achievable regarding the undiminished validity of international norms and OSCE principles if done in a generic way. However, discussions about their concrete application, in particular, in the areas of conflict, will certainly lead to sharp controversies and, as in the past, break down the process from the very beginning. And this is particularly true if this interpretation is tied to the initiation of talks on substance as a precondition.

In contrast, it should be clarified that arms control cannot solve territorial conflicts. However, it can provide for a secure and transparent environment which is indispensable for negotiating peaceful solutions and preventing the parties involved from resorting to violence. A positive pan-European security environment is certainly better suited to solving territorial conflicts than insisting on confrontational and irreconcilable arguments and producing another stalemate. To that end, a new arms control approach should refrain from pre-judging eventual political solutions and establishing respective political linkages.

Finally, new arms control should not serve to drive another wedge into the European security landscape. Rather than perpetuating the political divide of Europe, a new concept should have the potential to promote the OSCE objective of security cooperation without geopolitical zero-sum games. That is why a new arms control process should look also beyond the NATO-Russia context. Therefore, exploratory talks should be principally open-ended, probably in the OSCE format, but guided by a core group of likeminded countries that have a vested and genuine interest in a new pan-European arms control regime. They could carry and steer the process and promote ways out of stalemates that might be caused by individual linkages to further political objectives.

Obviously, this is all the understanding of the German chair of the group of likeminded countries, which was established in September. The OSCE chair could carry on the initiative and work in parallel with states and collective defence organisations towards a political and military framework for future conventional arms control arrangements in Europe. And as a first step, the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg on 8 and 9 December could produce, let me say very humbly, some positive noise to that end. Thank you.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

Okay, thank you. Well, let us hope that you are right about the positive outcome of the Ministerial. So I would like to open the floor now to questions, interventions, which can be general or can be targeted at individuals on the panel, so please.

Dr Mariana Budjeryn, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

My question is to all panellists, really. Thank you very much, first of all, for your excellent presentations. Each one of you has mentioned Russia as a major partner or interlocutor in any potential conventional arms control measures. But we do not have a Russian on the panel to speak for the Russian side. If you had to guess what could be any potential incentives at this time for the Russian Federation to engage in any security dialogue on conventional arms control, given what we know about the present Russian regime, given what we understand about their geopolitical ends, given their perceptions of conventional inferiority versus NATO, what would at all drive Russians to a security dialogue?

Dr Lars-Erik Lundin, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI

Going even further back, Adam, to the starting of the CSBM regime as such, 1983/1984, we are now very lucky in one way. In those days, we were unable to have any kind of dialogue, even informal dialogue. It took us over two years to agree on the format for the negotiations, even if we knew more or less the parties and the parameters that we were looking for, militarily significant parameters. Now, we are in a completely different ball game, however; we have many possibly new parameters that have been mentioned by Minister Steinmeier, and it would seem to me that in parallel to states talking with each other, there would be a need for a much richer informal dialogue, both between states and researchers, the way we are having it right now. I think because we are in a sense in a completely new ball game in that way, in that it is a much more complex security landscape than we had at that time, and the seriousness of the measures that we are talking about, as well.

Having worked eight years at the table of the Permanent Council in Vienna, I can testify, as Adam has, that it is completely useless to have the dialogue at the table there; you need to find informal ways to talk. And, in fact, I believe there are such informal ways existing in Vienna between ambassadors, but of course, you need to broaden it also to the non-governmental community. So we need to find I think several parallel ways to move ahead here, and the format is interesting. Colonel Richter mentioned the fact that we need to move beyond NATO Warsaw Pact, for instance. Well, this was exactly the discussion that we had in the mid-1980s, where I as a Swedish negotiator was instructed to say in Bonn that we wanted to have the neutral and non-aligned countries in. And later, when I met my colleague Ambassador Gruberi in Belgrade, in 1996, he agreed with me that it would not have been that bad to have Yugoslavia around the table also in the CFE talks. 

So again, the format needs to be considered, and I wonder if you have a view on the formal format for these negotiations, whenever they take place? Thank you.

Rear Admiral John Gower CB OBE, Director, Mimir Consulting Ltd; Former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence

John Gower, formerly of the Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom, and responsible for conventional arms control, amongst other things. This panel has obviously concentrated and concerned itself with a NATO-Russia theatre of conventional arms control, but clearly that is because of your backgrounds. I have two questions that come from that. First, do the panel members agree that the principles of conventional arms control and confidence-building measures are global, and that there may be lessons both from the experience in Europe for other theatres, or there may be experiences from other theatres that could inform a regeneration of the European?

And the second one is really to open up the window a little bit. We heard this morning that there are emerging high-end discrete conventional capabilities, whose reach, speed and precision will be capable of strategic effect on an adversary, and particularly risk affecting strategic stability with nuclear adversaries. Does the panel agree that there is a need for further regimes like the missile technology control regime looking at these high-end conventional capabilities, and also bringing in offensive cyber capabilities, because both of these could be incredibly destabilising, either in the nuclear theatre or elsewhere, and are essentially conventional arms. Thank you.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

I would like to give the opportunity, perhaps in reverse order, for people to pick up the issues that they want to respond to.

Wolfgang Richter, Senior Associate, German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP)

Thank you. First to the Russia response. I guess we have at least in the audience one Russian who could say something about it, but I do not want to put him on the spot. I will just read what one of probably his superiors has said on the Steinmeier initiative in the General Assembly; it was Mr Yanov. He said, ‘We understand that this initiative was dictated by a realisation of the danger of the European security situation descending to a state characteristic of the Cold War era. If this is the case, then in our opinion, the proposal merits thorough analysis. Even so, there are plenty of snags in this area that complicate the prospect for any agreements being reached. Russia remains open to dialogue.’ And then he added that he is very curious how NATO allies will respond to the German initiative. There was a little bit of irony behind it. So in other words, there seems to be a political will to engage, but there is no will to initiate an engagement, because Russia initiated several proposals up to 2011, and since they did not fly, I have my personal interpretation that there is a certain sense of frustration in Moscow and also a turn away from arms control efforts towards let us say military means. But that does not mean that they are not open for dialogue, but maybe they felt a long time it is hopeless. If that initiative could make them feel it is not as hopeless as they thought, it might be worth to explore.

The other point that was discussed this morning already, Russia knows of course that they are conventionally inferior if you look at the European and global theatre. They might be not inferior if you let us say shrink the region to a certain sub-region or two certain sub-regions where they have a certain leverage and could maybe apply more forces in a short time. So on the parameters, I think it is quite clear that a new bloc-to-bloc approach would not work for arms control. And looking beyond NATO and Russia relations is absolutely correct. In the past, CFE was basically a NATO-Warsaw Pact enterprise. It was based on 17 years of, not useless, but let us say not effective negotiations on arms control, and finally that was the MBFR. And then all the discussions made and the experiences made then could be taken over to the mandate for the CFE treaty, finally, when the time was right. And I think that we have to have in mind that, first, you have to have a framework, a political framework, and a sense for what should be regulated in military terms. And then you start discussing a mandate. And then you have the basis for negotiations. And this is a process that takes years. So nobody, also not in Germany, has believed that with a certain initiative or an article in a newspaper, you start negotiations tomorrow. That is a total misinterpretation, I feel.

The OSCE should be the roof, and I think my Swedish colleague is quite right; other states that are not NATO member states – or not yet, is what I should say – should be part of the process. And if you look at the 16 states that now have been convened in two sessions already, I think it is quite clear that there are Western and Eastern European states, EU states, NATO countries, neutral countries, so I guess Sweden is well represented there.

The third one is what John said about NATO-Russia relations as a centre of the negotiations. Yes, the principles of course apply globally. I think nobody took this into question. And we should of course apply the lessons learned for other regions; that is quite a good idea. I remember when I was posted to the United Nations that Pakistan for some while in the 1990s always requested a General Assembly resolution on applying a CFE-type regime in the Indian subcontinent. Before one can spill over, so to speak, or try to apply these lessons learned to other continents, we should make sure as Europeans that this regime works in Europe. If we produce failure, what can we advertise for?

On the other question of the content of new conventional arms control, let me make a note of caution. Of course, there are new elements of war: cyber. As John says, maybe the more important question is net-centric warfare, etc. It has limits, because if we want to put everything in one regime, we will probably fail from the very beginning. Just to make the point on the net-centric warfare, net-centric warfare relies basically not on the bigger firepower of smaller units, but on the connection or on the net that smaller units link to faraway, long-range, very precise weapons, from a cruiser with cruise missiles to a small unit somewhere in another region. This is net-centric warfare, but it is based on certain capabilities which are probably not the real method for conventional arms control. For example, space, satellites, orbits, computers, etc. So one should be realistic on that. It has to be taken into account, this is the background, and we always failed in the past. I was negotiating on the opposing side, by the way. We failed always when we tried to have a qualitative approach that goes too far, so one should be realistic and achieve something. The best is the enemy of the good here.

Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre

Thank you. Possible incentives for the Russian Federation to get engaged in arms control. If there is anything that Russian military experts are really afraid of, these are not four battalions that in accordance with some decision will be deployed in Central or Eastern Europe. This is missile defence in Poland, Romania and Poland. Because Sergey Rogov explained a bit today, but it goes a bit beyond what Rogov said today, because the Russian view is missile defence, if deployed in Europe, in Central Europe, and if then developed further, could disturb what Russian generals see as a strategic balance between Russia and the US. But I am not suggesting to include missile defence in conventional arms control; I am just reacting to your question, this is a possible incentive. Whatever confidence-building around missile defence, this may serve as an incentive, plus Russian military would always insist on inclusion in the new agenda, if there will be one, for arms control, and the inclusion of high-precision conventional weapons. That is something they are really afraid of.

What might be the best format for informal negotiations? Well, Chairman-in-Office is always free. I would leave this issue with the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. It would be up to the chairmanship to find even different formats for different issues. But your point about more informal dialogue, of course, the more players you have, it would be probably easier to understand the issues but much more difficult to agree. So informal dialogue might be a good starting point, but not just informal dialogue.

What are the principles of arms control, conventional arms control in Europe, whether CSBMs are global or not, I would say it depends as which level we speak, because the principle that military transparency helps to stabilise the situation, yes, that is true. However, in order to increase military transparency, one would need multilateral mechanisms to exchange information, I would say it is a European solution; whether it would work in Latin America, I have no idea. I just remember when I was a young diplomat, just appointed Polish Ambassador in Vienna to the UN back in 1997, I had a visitor from Colombia, a Colombian ambassador who insisted on coming, and he came finally to get a lecture from me about the way we do conflict prevention in Europe, because they wanted to establish a Latin American version of the Conflict Prevention Centre. To the best of my knowledge, it did not happen yet.

And just one more thing, high-end conventional capabilities, should they be covered. We are talking about relatively modest or extremely difficult arms control efforts. In Europe, the more global we go, the more difficult the issue. That is one of the reasons for which I said CFE-type arrangements in Europe are impossible today; there are too many things that would need to be covered. So I do not know the answer to your question but, once more, high-end conventional capabilities, this is potentially an incentive for the Russian military.

Angela Kane, Co-Convener, Group of Eminent Persons, CTBTO; Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

They were very interesting questions, and I think the major incentive for getting involved, both on the Russian and the European side, is that geography is not going to change. Europe and the Russian Federation are going to be neighbours as we are and have been. There is also mutual dependency. Just if you think of my own country, Germany, and other countries as well, being dependent on the Russian Federation for energy supplies. This is not going to change. There are lots of reasons of why it is.

But what I basically see, and those of us who have been around for a long time and have looked at this situation, is, remember the near abroad, the Russian concern about the near abroad? And you think what happened with Romania and Poland and the stationing, and if you think about what has happened with the Baltics, and we have already talked about that, I think this is something that we cannot just dismiss out of hand.

The other thing that I have said, and I have spent a lot of time in negotiations, not particularly between the Russian Federation and the US, is that there is a matter of national pride. I think that there is a very strong feeling that all of the Russian concerns – and they have raised them repeatedly – have been dismissed out of hand. If you think about the differences in interpretation of how the treaties and agreements are implemented, there are differences, and the Russian Federation has said, you have not complied or whatever, or the US has said, you Russia have not complied. But there are differences that need to be talked about, and I do not know, I cannot see that they have actually been talked about. But there are instances where the US and Russia – and I am limiting it to those two now – have worked very well together, and just think about the Iran agreement, just think about the chemical issue on Syria. I am not talking about the humanitarian delivery and all of this that happened recently, but I have seen it in 2013 and in the year and a half that followed, with actually the delivery of the chemical weapons and the destruction of chemical weapons, where there was very good cooperation between the Russian Federation. I do agree that it needs to be taken out of the NATO context; the Warsaw Pact does not really exist anymore. I think that is extremely important.

But I think the first thing that has to happen is that people sit down and sort of say, what do we actually disagree on? What are actually the bones of contention? What are actually the points where we do not overlap, and why is that? I think some of the treaties are a little bit – and I am not a lawyer – but maybe they are open to interpretation, and I think that is where you really have to start and say, let us look at those areas first and see whether we cannot either narrow it down or make it a bit more concrete. It is where you see violations, and where we do not see violations. Thank you.

Professor Dr Plamen Pantev, Director, Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)

Two notes first. I think the more actual part of the title of this panel is ‘pressing security challenges.’ Second note, I would not agree with the wording or the thinking that NATO’s enlargement to the Baltic states which directly border the Russian Federation should be read as a threat to the Russian Federation. This is the Russian story. I think that the EU enlargement is no less dangerous from the point of view of the Russian Federation, and I do not think this is the thinking of the people, not only in the Baltic states, but in Eastern Europe in general.

And a note which I feel obliged to comment, which is very correct. The Russian frustration. There is Russian frustration. One of the sources of this frustration is that something was spoilt in the bilateral Russian-US relations. Listening this morning to Dr Rogov, I was reminded of an article which some ten years ago he wrote in Krasnaya Zvezda, the Red Star, that is the newspaper of the Russian armed forces. In which his interpretation of the ballistic missile defence was not that dangerous at that time because, according to him, there has been time enough for negotiations. And I heard today the several ifs, as already said, before it becomes really threating to the Russian Federation from a military point of view.

This is not a question; this is my trying to answer something about the incentives. It is difficult to have a common objective and strategic restraint when the Russian Federation is presently carrying out its operation of recreating its superpower say in world affairs by reliance on influential military means. Also, we miss in our analysis how the arms control policy or the disarmament policy of the Russian Federation is influenced by the domestic developments in Russia.

Finally, I would not agree as a representative of a small country in Eastern Europe with the thinking that having more territory and strategic depth, or part of a sphere of influence, is agreeable, and arms control negotiations are something secondary after this.

Dr Alexander Vorontsov, Adviser, Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS); Head, Department for Korean and Mongolian Studies, Institute of the Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Thank you, esteemed presenters, for very interesting presentations; I learned a lot. I would like to join to the question of my Canadian colleague. I understood better than before now that Russia is only one source of all kinds of troubles it makes for Europe and in Europe. And therefore, as the esteemed Mr Ambassador told, arms control is impossible now. But what is the conclusion? To wait and see policy continue? If not, dialogue is what we will have instead. Unlimited arms race, unlimited military presence increasing on both sides of the border? Is that to be better? And I am not a specialist in this kind of question; I am a specialist in Korean. But a little bit amazing for me is that I found some parallels in our discussions, because today, Ms Mogherini stressed the North Korean case, and even in respect with North Korea, she stressed that the restoration of dialogue and engagement is necessary now, because previous periods of the policy were only sticks, no carrot, and resulted in considerable aggravation of the security situation of the Korean Peninsular and the region.

So if we will have no dialogue, what will we have? And I understand very well that the dialogue will be very, very difficult, and very, very hard. But there is a well-known, basic diplomatic formula that even the most hopeless negotiations are better than absence of negotiations. Thank you.

Professor Dr Heinz Gärtner, Academic Director, Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP); Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna

When I talk to officials and experts in Vienna, for years they said conventional arms control is dead; there will be no progress in the CFE negotiations and talks, and the Vienna Document is lingering. So that was well before the German chairmanship of the OSCE. And now we have the Steinmeier initiative, the Steinmeier proposals. We continue with conventional arms control. And what he said, he included also cyber, drones, confidence-building measures. Everything that Wolfgang said we should not do but what Steinmeier did, actually. That was a very unconventional proposal. Let us try something very new. If we try something very new, we have to find a new format, as well, so it might not be a continuation or a revival of the CFE talks. It might not even be a combination between CFE and the Vienna CSBM talks. And if we talk about something new, my reading of the Steinmeier proposal, I might be dead wrong, my reading of the Steinmeier proposal is that he stopped short of saying look at the technical nuclear weapons in Europe as well. And we all know that technical nuclear weapons are there because of the conventional weapons. There is a link between these non-strategic weapons and the conventional weapons.

So my question would be: can there be any result of conventional arms talks if you do not address the technical nuclear weapons, as well?

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

I am going to go back to the panellists, again in reverse order.

Wolfgang Richter, Senior Associate, German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP)

Thank you. I will start with the first question. I think you have both in the OSCE context when you refer to principles. One is the principle of nations are free to decide about their security arrangements. That means they can join an alliance or not, or stay neutral. On the other hand, there is no principle than alliances have to accept the application to join, because alliances have to be careful to look at the strategic environment and promote stability in Europe. And I say it because of certain regulations or agreements we have made in the early 1990s that are probably forgotten. If you look at the first NATO enlargement after the Cold War or at the end of the Cold War, it was indeed the German unification. It was not done without conditions. There are the legally binding conditions of the so-called Two-Plus-Four Treaty that is the basis for the German unification, which says, yes, the Russian forces – first Soviet, then Russian – will leave Germany. At the same time, NATO will not take over the positions, the military positions that the Russians have left in the Eastern part of Germany. So for Germany, it is legally binding that we do not station NATO forces in the so-called New Länder, what we call the countries of the former GDR and Berlin. This was the understanding of the 1990s. We carried on this understanding when it came to the next enlargement in Central Europe – Poland, Czechoslovakia at the time, then Czech, Slovak Republic and Hungary – where we said, we will reassure the Russians, because they were worried about undermining the acquis of 1990. And we said we do three things to reassure you. First, we will strengthen the OSCE as our common roof. Second, we will take you closer to NATO; it later boiled down to the NATO-Russia Council. And third, we will adopt the CFE treaty, because this bloc-to-bloc approach does not work anymore. So that was the agreement, and in the interim phase, we agreed we would not station substantial combat forces, in brackets, until this ACFE would have regulated territorial ceilings, which never occurred. So in other words, we are left at this point, but the NATO enlargement went further.

So I would not say it is a matter of principles whether one can enlarge or not enlarge; the question is under which conditions one can or should enlarge. And these conditions which, we had embedded enlargement in the 1990s in certain arrangements, and that path was left from 2001, I would guess, 2002, onwards, and then the problems started, although in the context of other geopolitical rivalry. I am not going to say who is wrong and right; this is also a question of perceptions, and it is futile to look at the past and then try to answer who is guilty. The fact is, we are there, and now we have to cope with the situation we have arrived at, no matter what perception you have, and this is the context in which the Steinmeier initiative said things have gone the wrong way. The security in Europe has become fragile. There is a risk of escalation. We should do something, and the best way to do something is to keep restraint. Of course, also to change policies, but there must be reassurances, or military reassurances.

And here I come to the next point which was made by you, Professor Gärtner, before. I do not believe that it was the intention of Mr Steinmeier to put in technical weapons, technical nuclear weapons. Of course, everything is linked to everything; we have a security environment which cannot be divided, and we all know that technical nuclear weapons were there when we negotiated CFE; there was an INF treaty first, we had several strategic treaties, and in this framework, we negotiated conventional arms control. Nobody says that when you negotiate conventional arms control, you forget about all the other areas. The question is, is it realistic to put in questions like cyber – and here I disagree, by the way, with the approach that was written – in the conventional arms control context? Yes, there is a context, but can you negotiate it there? We have a lot of instruments; even the OSCE agreed on an instrument on cyber; it was not legally binding, of course, but at least something, more in a declaratory character. And you have other instruments, and this is a very shaky issue, because we do not only talk about military when we speak about cyber; we speak about a net that is used predominantly by the civilian sphere, so we have a dual-use thing. And this makes the things very problematic. The same as if your ambition is too high and you aim at net-centric warfare with all the assets – that means satellites in orbit – then you might cope with the fact that the CD in Geneva is talking about prevention of arms races in outer space, and where is then the limit? If you want to talk about everything in one framework, you might achieve nothing, so I guess a realistic approach is a parallel approach and confining conventional arms control to things that are conventional.

And I would also warn against those who say these old conventional, five types of treaty-limited equipment have no meaning anymore. It is not the case. Look at the conflicts in Ukraine, in Syria, and in other parts of the world. These conflicts are fought with the traditional five-TLE category-type equipment. And what is NATO doing? Placing conventional armaments, subject to the CFE treaty, in the Baltic states and in Poland. And how is Russia reacting? With the same kind of TLE-type beefing-up of forces along border lines. So I would warn to go too far and have a more realistic approach on that.

I would not agree with Alexander’s notion that we have an unlimited arms race. As Adam pointed out, four battalions in the four NATO countries are not a threat to Russia, and it is not limited. And at least it is the Western perception; I agree that we might have another one, but the Western perception is that the West keeps the limits of the admittedly unspecified agreement in the NATO-Russia founding act that no additional substantial combat forces should be stationed. If I now were to compare the Russian proposals which I negotiated with the Russian delegates myself in the Joint Consultative Group, you would see that the current stationing does not exceed the Russian proposals.

Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre

First of all, for the record, I disagree with Wolfgang on the history of NATO enlargement, and he knows that; I am not going to do the details.

Now, Wolfgang I think referred once more to the incentives for the Russian Federation. Of course, there might be military and political incentives, and in my first answer, I was focusing on possible military incentives, or in other words, on things that militarily might be interesting for the Russian military to cover those issues with arms control, but by no means I am suggesting that, and of course, once more, no arms control takes place in a political vacuum, and there are quite important political factors here, which, by the way, make our discussion more difficult, because when our Russian colleague says that there is a value in dialogue, and what is wrong with having a dialogue, what is wrong with having a dialogue? Political context. Crimea, use of force. Your narrative is different, but there are different narratives. The use of force, annexation of Crimea, and so on. And the notion of dialogue, which will not be focused on issues on which we have a chance to agree or which we want to clarify, carries the notion of, okay, if we engage in dialogue, that we forget about anything else, and that is the problem with dialogue as such, and that is why this discussion about relaunching arms control politically is extremely important, but also difficult; I am hesitating to say a bit artificial, but it is.

Angela Kane, Co-Convener, Group of Eminent Persons, CTBTO; Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Yes, different perceptions. I think this is really, really important. It is not only the context, but it is also the different perceptions, and then I am thinking again about the Baltics and whether or not you have battalions stationed there. It is not always what actually happens, but it is how it is perceived by one side or the other. I think that is really important to keep in mind. It is not actually what is happening, but how you perceive it, and I think that is something that has to be put on the table, and that also has to be talked about.

And the other issue that I wanted to mention is that when you are thinking about incentives, it is not only military incentives. I think security is not only limited to military interventions or military actions, but security is a lot more. And I am looking at this; I have recently moved back to Europe after many years abroad, and the Europe that I grew up in is a very different Europe from that which I came back to. And what has happened over the last 30 years or 20 years or ten years is really that there is a knitting together of particularly the European youth, if you think about Erasmus, etc., and that is something that is a very different engagement, that is a very different perception of how we all live together in the Western European world, and also the enlargement of the European Union than what we have.

What I would really like to see, I would like to see more engagement with Russia, and not only on the military side, but I think it has to go beyond. We talked about enlarging it, and maybe it is not enlarging it in terms of cyber or other issues, but also enlarging it in terms of an understanding that we need to come to. And when you think about 20, 30, 40 years ago, we had a lot of people who were so-called Sovietologists; this was something that was being studied. Who does that these days? How many people do you know, young people, who are pursuing that course of action? It just does not exist anymore. Adam said he went and studied in Moscow. How many people do you know right now where there is an exchange in studying? I am sorry, I am enlarging it now, but I think security is too narrowly seen right now. In my opinion, it needs to be enlarged, it needs to be changed, and there needs to be a little bit of a wrapping-around of the arms around this issue, not only from the military standpoint, but think a little bit beyond it. That, to me, is something that is very, very important, and I would like to leave you from my side with that thought.

Mu Li, Researcher, University College Dublin (UCD)

I would like to have two technical notes for Adam, because you mentioned about the terminology about the conventional arms control and the politicised decision-making process. So actually, my whole research area is focusing on how to define the boundary between conventional arms and dual-use arms. Actually, so within the European Union, there is actually a limitation for the concept of munitions and war materials; it has been defined in Article 346, the security exception clause, in TFEU. It says that all the arms and war materials have been specified in an armament list, which has never been updated since 1958. And it is only very conventional materials, like tanks, or it is like those things that only existed in the Second World War period. And that is why the dual-using that Richard has just mentioned has been launched in the European area, it is like, for all the WMDs, it is like nuclear, chemical and biological things; it has been put into the dual-use area. Just a note that there is actually a concept for conventional arms in Europe, and so if you want to add more things, like the cyber things, into the conventional arms, there might be legality issues at the international level, because normally, a country would only take unilateral actions when it touches their essential security interests, but it is like, a country can define themselves that these cyber or satellite things are actually touching their essential security interests, whilst there is no level playing field for people to argue about that.

Adam Kobieracki, Ambassador, Strategic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland; former Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre

I do not know this document.

Mu Li, Researcher, University College Dublin (UCD)

That is fine; I was just making a note. And another thing is transparency.

Professor Dr Yiorghos Leventis, Executive Director, International Security Forum (ISF)

I am the Director of the International Security Forum from the small island of Cyprus, divided but nevertheless straddling three continents, and being the springboard for security operations towards the troublesome region of the Middle East. I have not heard the word ‘China’ in the discussion today, and I wonder if the panellists could comment on whether there is a role for China to play in the new security environment, given the increasing Russian-NATO confrontation, and Moscow’s perception of a common Eurasian security space?

Wolfgang Richter, Senior Associate, German Institute for International Security Affairs (SWP)

From my best knowledge from the time I served in the United Nations, I had a little bit to do with China. I think China is not directly involved in security matters in Europe. They might tentatively look at it, but they stay out of any position; at least, I am not aware of that. What comes to mind is of course that there is a certain concept to have closer ties with the Russian Federation in order to show some military muscle, to exercise this, but they take place basically in East Asia, with one exception that took place in the Mediterranean. So that just is the framework.

When it comes to global security, apart from the role all the P5 play, of course, in the Security Council, I think China was always involved in global instruments, and these are exactly the instruments that Angela mentioned at the beginning, whether it is small arms, the arms register, etc., it always had to do with Chinese interlocutors, and sometimes I had the feeling that they took the principle – this is a late answer on the principle question, I did not understand quite which ones you referred to, whether international law or arms control principles – so when it came to transparency, the Chinese at the beginning said transparency is a very nice Western concept. Those who are strong can show the muscle. Those who are weak can only show their weakness. And the other answer about transparency is legalised espionage. From that position, China has departed for a long time, and they are now actively engaging in these kinds of instruments that one has to acknowledge, so there seems to be a Chinese interest in multilateralism also in this area.

Angela Kane, Co-Convener, Group of Eminent Persons, CTBTO; Senior Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Let me just say something on the perspective from the United Nations. I think it is very interesting what is happening with China, and China for many years, until very, very recently, it was also like the G77 and China, and China was absolutely nowhere in terms of taking independent positions. And that is something that we really need to keep in mind. It has changed, though, in the last two, three years. And when you look at why it has changed – and I am not talking about the European region, I will come to that in a minute – but when you are looking at why it has changed, it is primarily one aspect – to my interpretation, in any case – and that is, that China is now the third-largest budget-payer in the United Nations. That is absolutely amazing, how quickly it has come up. Now, when you look at these rate increases, which are determined by member states – there is a committee that deals with that – they are usually about five years behind in the appreciation, and next year, they will have another, quote, ‘rate year,’ meaning that no rates are being set. And I would not be surprised at all if China then will become the number-two payer of the budget of the United Nations. That changes your perception of what is happening.

And when you see the way China has engaged, it has engaged in a major way in Africa, and I think that is largely part also in terms of having influence there, natural resources. But when it comes to Europe, there is always talk about the commercial relationships, but I think that in a way what is happening in the South China Sea, it is quite convenient that you have a conflict in Europe that detracts from paying attention to other areas that might be conflict zones, and that is something that you also see very pronounced in a way.

Now, what China has done is, it has taken abstention positions, if I can call it that, in both the Security Council and also in the General Assembly, on issues that are maybe important to the United States and to the Western countries, and that is also not voting against it, but basically taking again more of a standoffish relation, if you so want to position, that I can see. But it is a very important development to watch what is happening once they do become in the next couple of years even more important from the budgetary point of view, and whether that will influence additional positions that they will take.

Ian Anthony, Programme Director, European Security, SIPRI

Thank you. Well, thank you again to the panellists. Thanks again for your engagement, and thank you again to all the panellists.

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Brussels, 3-4 November 2016

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016