European security architecture needs to be improved
To respond to the changing security environment, we need to be more effective, among ourselves, within our neighbourhood and around the world, stresses Javier Solana who took part in the 45th Munich Security Conference (4-6 February), the most important European conference on foreign and security policy issues.
Mr Solana, what main message on behalf of the EU did you deliver at the Munich Security Conference?
My message was that we must address common threats together with our strategic partners at global level and at the same time we must improve our European security architecture. We need to have good neighbourly relations with those across our borders as well as good strategic partnerships with regional and world players.
Our European security architecture has served us well but it is not perfect. It was based on a vision that must be retained but that has still not been fully realised, a vision of comprehensive cooperation between the US, Europe and Russia, in each of the three baskets of hard security, the economy and human rights. Our security structures, underpinned by a sophisticated blend of rules and institutions, are immensely valuable. They have given us unparalleled results in terms of peace and security. But they are not perfect.
Last summer a "frozen conflict" flared up into a real war between two members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Balkans are not fully stabilised. The Russia-Ukraine gas dispute underlined the energy security issues we face. We need to preserve and build on what we have in order to ensure that the three pillars of our security - the US, Europe and Russia - work together, in a climate of trust and confidence, on security across our continent and globally. The start of the new US administration offers new opportunities for this.
What new dangers to world security are currently emerging?
The threats and challenges to our security identified in the European Security Strategy when it was first drawn up in 2003 remain the same. However, some have become more significant and all have become more complex. The risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has increased. Terrorism and organised crime remain a menace though we have made progress in addressing them over the past five years. Piracy has emerged as a new dimension of organised crime. Cyber security has emerged as a serious issue. Concerns about energy security have increased and the security implications of climate change have taken on a new urgency.
Did the conference indicate the opportunities for global security that the new US administration could offer?
US Vice-President Biden said at the conference that the Obama administration was determined to set a new tone in Washington's relations around the world. He said the US would engage, listen and consult. He talked of the importance of international alliances and organisations in helping us all to advance our collective security, our economic interests and our values. Vice-President Biden said America would do more and that it would also ask more from its partners. We welcome this new approach by the US. And for us in Europe it is good news that the US is asking us for more help. The European Union is a global player, with a role on the world stage that it is keen to play. The United States is our most important strategic partner and it is vital for us to work together in addressing the challenges to global security, in advancing democracy and development and in preserving our planet.
How did the third parties assess the European Common Foreign and Security Policy?
Europeans and non-Europeans alike want to see the European Union playing an active role on the world stage, commensurate with its size and its regional and global security interests and responsibilities, speaking with one voice, through the Common Foreign and Security Policy. We must continue to project our values and contribute to regional and global security with our crisis-management operations. For our full potential to be realised, we need to be still more capable, more coherent and more active. To respond to the changing security environment, we need to be more effective, among ourselves, within our neighbourhood and around the world.
(11 February 2009)