Medvedev’s Initiative for a European Security Treaty

The visit in October of President Medvedev to Cyprus generated a lot of discussion about his initiative for a European Security Treaty, the reason being that Cyprus was the first European country to show willingness to participate meaningfully and constructively in the negotiations for its consideration. The example of Cyprus was followed by Portugal and France. It is of interest, therefore, to get to know what prompted the Russian President to propose the treaty on June 5, 2008, and what it contains.

For twenty years, after the end of the Cold War a sustainable and effective system of indivisible security which would embrace states of the West and the East never came to fruition. Instead, there was an infringement of a basic principle – the commitment not to secure oneself at the expense of others.

The fall of communism and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact offered the opportunity to remedy this situation by strengthening the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), so as to make it a powerful and effective structure of indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Instead, the choice was made in favour of expanding NATO to the East, near the Russian frontier.

Given the fact that in the OSCE the principle of indivisible security is a political commitment and in NATO the same principle has legal force, Moscow saw as a solution the moving of the Pan-European commitments from the political to the legal plane and the obligation to fulfill them as falling not only upon individual states, but international organizations in the Euro-Atlantic area as well.

For these reasons, and the fact that contemporary threats have a global character and should not be dealt with individually, President Medvedev made his proposal for a legally binding European Security Treaty, with a view to removing the drawbacks of the European architecture and creating an integral security space in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Coming now to the contents of the proposed treaty we discern four building blocks. The first, confirms the basic principles of relations between states – respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of states, non-interference in internal affairs, non use or threat of force, etc. The second, proposes the expounding of the basic principles for the development of arms control regimes, the reinforcement of confidence, restraint and reasonable sufficiency in military building. The third, concerning conflict settlement, enshrines clear-cut principles to be uniformly applied to all crisis situations along with unity in approach to their prevention and peaceful settlement through negotiation. Lastly, the fourth is dedicated to mechanisms of interaction by states and organizations in countering the new threats and challenges, including the spread of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and other types of trans-frontier organized crime.

Like any other initiative, the furtherance of the Euro-Atlantic Security Treaty idea entails in the first place a process of comprehension to be achieved through dialogue in which part will take not only interested states, but international organizations like NATO, EU and the OSCE as well. This is how the idea is conceived by Moscow, which advocates stronger coordination for its achievement.

Concluding, we observe that what is desperately needed in a globalizing and increasingly competitive world is mutual trust which will be provided, as the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov believes “by overcoming the bloc-based Cold War approaches in the European architecture, and the derivative fears they arouse with regard to spheres of influence.”

* Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos is Ambassador a.h. of the Republic of Cyprus and  Research Associate of International Security Forum.




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Lecturer, Ionian University
written by Dr.William Mallinson, December 18, 2010 

As usual, Dr. Papadopoulos writes common sense. Europe and the world need this treaty. Unfortunately, the US Republicans will pressurise Britain to subtly undermine the idea, since it could affect the share value of the major stakeholders in the NATO arms procurement programme. They will of course do this in the name of secururity as well, using casuistry and PRspeak. I can almost visualise the FCO briefing to its delegation:

‘We should make nice noises, while pointing out the danger of too many competing and overlapping organisations. We cannot therefore commit Britain to a meaningful role, believing that this would detract from and dilute NATO’s vital role in a dangerous world, bla, bla bla.’

If France and Germany strongly support the Russian initiative, then Britain and its US master will have to lump it, although Poland could also resist for a while. I really hope that the whole thing works, but…..