NATO, Germany, Russia, and the Future, Part 3

Section 3 covers the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or the OSCE, and its role in European Security. It is the shortest section of the three but presents an important aspect of the landscape of European security and the varying and vying interests of concerned parties, both European and outsiders.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The OSCE presents another series of problems for German policy makers and their Russian counterparts. While Germany and Europe view the agreement as a necessary means of coordination, cooperation, trust in the region, Russian policy makers have become increasingly hostile to the nature of the OSCE agreement. “After the collapse of the communism and the emergence of post-communist states, the renamed Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expanded its activities to include a new Office of Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights. Its election-monitoring activities have become increasingly controversial in many of the post-Soviet states, including Russia, an it did not monitor the 2007 Duma elections or the 2008 presidential election. ” Russia has historically shown an aversion to any policy initiated by Europe or America which includes a human rights focus. Moscow has become increasingly belligerent in exercising control over its perceived sphere of influence in this time period as well, the result has been a policy stand-off with Russia viewing the OSCE as a means for the West to act against Russian interests.

If Moscow will withdraw from the OSCE remains to be seen, as so far, Moscow, how ever fiery with the rhetoric, is hesitant to withdraw from any of the alliances it has made with Western Europe, a move which could damage its legitimacy and progress towards a recognizable sphere of influence outside of the post-Soviet zone.

Scholars have argued that the Russian response to the OSCE, namely the Medvedev proposal, is a veiled attempt to dismantle or de-stabilize NATO , via Moscow treating each European power individually, inviting Russia, and excluding NATO (i.e. the US) as an organization in order to promote Russian influence in the founding conference for the counter-OSCE treaty. The Germans understand what is going on in Moscow, and see the Medvedev proposal as leaving much to be desired, due to a combination of weakened NATO clauses, and a failure to include key democracy building provisions , which the German government is advocating heavily for.

The lack of NATO ties and democracy building measures in the Medvedev proposal is certainly a non-starter for the German government, who, despite their efforts to engage Moscow on a large number of policy areas, and skeptical of Moscow’s intentions are far as human rights and democracy building go, and are decidedly pro-EU and pro-Atlantic when it comes to defense ideology. Germany and the United States may not always be in agreement on what the best security policy course is, but Germany is far more likely to side with the United States than it is another regional power in cases of global and regional stability.

Obviously, both Germany and the OSCE member-states should be worried about any outside attempt to weaken the European security structure. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s proposal should be dismissed outright until such policy fixtures as are harmful to the future of the OSCE are removed from the proposal and the bargaining table is open to all interested parties, including NATO as an organization, rather than only inviting individual parties, which may be easier to manipulate into potentially damaging future relations.

The future of the OSCE in Europe at the moment is dim, with Russia exerting the regional influence it can muster within its perceived sphere of influence, and pushing to weaken the structural integrity of NATO, and the European nations clashing internally on cooperative security agreements, there are many hurdles which must be jumped before the OSCE in Europe is a firm and established treaty.

Further Reading

Eugene Rumer, Angela Stent. Russia and the West. Survival. April – May 2009. Vol. 51 Num. 2 pg. 96-97

Marcel H Van Herpen. Medvedev’s Proposal for a Pan-European Security Pact: It’s Six Hidden Objectives and How the West Should Respond. Cicero Foundation. October 2008 Article

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