— You encouraged the EU Russia Expert
Network to devote its 10th meeting exclusively to the role the EU and Russia play for European
Security — at a time when there is practically no prospect for common ground to emerge. Why do
you think this is an important discussion? Where do you see EUREN's value added in this debate?
— I did so because the security situation on the European continent is
threatening to become more volatile, unpredictable and dangerous than during the Cold War.
Securing peace and security in Europe remains a shared ambition. At the same time the fear of
conventional conflict is back, with Russia's annexation of Crimea and its actions in Eastern
Ukraine. Consequently, NATO and Russia have been intensifying their troop deployment and the
frequency of military exercises along the common borders. Then we experience intermediate range
nuclear missiles coming back to Europe, a threat we believed we had buried. And there are new
non-linear or hybrid threats. Or take the arms race of the 21st century: in cyberspace. In such
an environment EUREN as a group of deep thinkers from the EU and Russia would be expected to
come up with innovative pragmatic proposals on how to stabilize and transform the precarious
— What are the most important
challenges to European Security in 2019 and beyond? Do you think the main risks lie within
the European continent — and can, therefore, be addressed by European nations themselves? Or
have they more to do with the shifting international context, in other words with changing
policies of actors such as the US and China which are, more or less, out of reach for
— In the Europe of today, we are looking at a risk cluster
of an almost total breakdown of mutual trust, mounting threat perceptions and the demise of the
established arms control architecture — such as the CFE, ABM, INF treaties — which has secured
peace and stability in Europe post WWII. This is compounded by neo-soverignist and 'my country
first' attitudes and the beginning of a new arms race, regionally and globally. Before we blame
others, everyone in Europe should take responsibility for their own actions, mistakes or — even
worse — past and current violations of international law.
But it is also evident that
the global tectonic power shifts influence the situation on our continent. Just consider what is
called strategic stability and the ongoing efforts to extend the New START Treaty. At first
glance, it seems a matter between the parties to the treaty, the US and Russia. But we Europeans
must express ourselves clearly in favour of the preservation of this important layer of nuclear
arms control and bring to bear our influence on the parties. And so must others because the
non-extension of New START would deal a heavy blow to the Non Proliferation Treaty.
— What are the EU's main priorities regarding
European Security? How do they differ, in your view, from Russia's main priorities? Which of
those differences are insurmountable, which can be overcome — and how?
we want to prevent conflict, or even only military incidents, then stability, predictability,
transparency, confidence-building measures, and deconfliction should be the EU's and Russia's
joint priorities. These objectives should guide our common agenda. Therefore the deliberations
at the OSCE in the so-called Structural Dialogue and the discussion in the NATO-Russia Council
will become ever more important. All countries in Europe have the right to the necessary minimum
of national security from each other and the duty to create a maximum of joint security with
each other. That is why I have suggested to EUREN to give a closer analytical and programmatic
look to the inherent tension between two guiding principles contained in the Paris Charter of
1990: all countries' freedom of choice in their security relations on the one hand and the
indivisibility of the European Security Space on the other. Are there new ideas as to how we can
reconcile these principles?
— The network will focus,
among other things, on three regional theaters: the Black Sea region, the Baltic Sea region,
and the Arctic. The Black Sea and the Baltic Sea have seen increasing tensions in the past,
whereas geostrategic conflict has not (yet) taken root in the Arctic. What can the EU and
Russia do to decrease tensions in those theatres?
— Tensions in the Baltic
and Black Sea regions are rising indeed. Political and military deconfliction will be necessary
to prevent military incidents which could easily spin out of control. Proposals have been made,
such as by the President of Finland Niinistö. If the US and Russia have managed under much more
belligerent circumstances in Syria, why should NATO and Russia not be able to achieve early
warning and military deconfliction in these theatres as well?
As to the Arctic, the
geostrategic competition has just begun over the last years. One way to prevent it from
developing into conflict is to increase cooperation in the Arctic Council as one of the few
functioning islands of cooperation between Russia and the West. Given the geoeconomic and
geostrategic implications of Arctic policy, the EU must define more broadly its interests in the
Arctic than just in terms of environmental preservation and the fight against climate change.
And Russia, in turn, is ill advised to keep blocking the EU – a strong proponent of an
international rules-based system — from becoming an observer to the Arctic
— The EU and Russia are locked in a struggle
over interference in internal affairs. The EU accuses Russia of using hybrid means to
undermine democratic institutions in its member states; Moscow suspects the EU, along with
other Western actors, deliberately stirs revolution in Russia and its neighbourhood. Mutual
distrust has reached an unprecedented level and is likely to increase further. What can be
done, in your perspective, to slow down, if not reverse this dangerous
— Let me ask you a question: looking at the facts in front of our
eyes, would anybody in their right mind believe that the current wave of demonstrations in
Russian cities has been stirred or sponsored by the EU or its Member States? Those who do are
simply in denial of the root causes of such political and social phenomena. At the same time,
the EU has all the reason to constrain and strengthen its resilience against malign behaviour of
outside actors aiming at weakening its and EU Member States' democratic processes and
What can be done? If Russia and the European Union do not equally undertake
a proactive, sincere effort to forge a functioning model of cohabitation on the European
continent, this situation as you describe it is to continue or even indeed deteriorate. Such an
effort should be based on a broad definition of our joint security as enshrined in the Charter
of Paris. Integrating the human dimension, security, economic cooperation, environment, culture
and migration would eventually facilitate the identification of mutual interdependencies and
Seen from the EU, our global strategy stands for such an integrated approach.
And as the OSCE experience has shown, this can work even between countries with diverging
values, different models of political governance and often conflicting opinions. A broader
agenda should be devised such that progress in some of the areas can produce a pull effect or
convergence on the more complicated issues.
Respect for Common House Rules and
international law — this is what cohabitation between the EU and Russia as the biggest
neighbours on the European continent will require. It would be a unique contribution to
international peace and security.