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Георгий Бовт

An Upgrade for NATO

08 Дек 2009 — Георгий Бовт, Независимый журналист
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The long-awaited draft of the Russia’s new trans-Atlantic security treaty was recently presented and sent by the Russian President to the heads of relevant states and chief executives of international organisations operating in the Euro-Atlantic region such as NATO, the European Union, the CSTO, the CIS, and the OSCE.

President Dmitry Medvedev has announced his idea to “reset” the whole system of international security just after he came to power in May 2008, but so far the proposal has lacked the details which western leaders were hoping to see. There were also warnings from them that there was no need actually to replace existing security arrangements and treaties with any new document. Most of the Western politicians and observers also anticipated that Moscow would try to weaken NATO in some way or suggest replacing it with a new organisation. Now it is time to study and to consider what Medvedev has proposed in his draft.

When he initially put forward an initiative to develop a new pan-European security treaty on June 5, 2008, the main idea of this proposal was to create a common undivided space in the context of military and political security in the Euro-Atlantic region in order to finally do away with the Cold War legacy. Medvedev suggested formalising in international law the principle of indivisible security as a legal obligation and accordingly where no nation or international organisation is entitled to strengthen its own security at the cost of other nations or organisations.

The draft stated that, “any security measures taken by a Party to the Treaty individually or together with other Parties, including in the framework of any international organisation, military alliance or coalition, shall be implemented with due regard to security interests of all other Parties… A Party to the Treaty shall not undertake, participate in or support any actions or activities affecting significantly security of any other Party or Parties to the Treaty… A Party to the Treaty shall not allow the use of its territory and shall not use the territory of any other Party with the purpose of preparing or carrying out an armed attack against any other Party or Parties to the Treaty or any other actions affecting significantly security of any other Party or Parties to the Treaty.”

In the context of current relations between Russia and the West, these clauses of the draft would directly affect Russian-NATO relations at all levels, taking into consideration Russia’s oft-expressed concern about NATO and U.S. military influence near its borders. In fact, as Western politicians see it, the authors of the draft would prefer to use the new treaty to substitute all current security structures, including NATO. For instance, the phase “to affect significantly” in practice would mean the prohibition of NATO’s further enlargement. Also it would presuppose that new demarcated “security zones” would be established in Europe, resembling the “zones of influence” which have been substituted already by existing supra-national bodies and organisations.

It is interesting to see how the draft addresses the questions dealing with any imminent military threat to a participating country or even a military attack against it:“… every Party shall be entitled to consider an armed attack against any other Party an armed attack against itself. In exercising its right of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, it shall be entitled to render the attacked Party, subject to its consent, the necessary assistance, including military, until the UN Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Information on measures taken by Parties to the Treaty in exercise of their right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the UN Security Council”. It is evident that the draft maintains an approach which is very close to that of NATO within its Article 5 of the Washington Treaty; there are also many references to the UN Charter. For instance, participating parties may provide necessary assistance, including military, to a participating country if attacked (and if such assistance were supported by an extraordinary conference of the member countries) – “until the UN Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”. Also – “information on measures taken by Parties to the Treaty in exercise of their right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the UN Security Council”. It specifically emphasises that “this Treaty shall not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for maintaining international peace and security, as well as rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations”. Thus, the proposed treaty is considered to be an “intermediate institution” between the UN and sovereign countries who are parties to the new treaty.

But here is the question: what would be then the principal difference for, let’s say, European nation members of NATO, between their current position and their position under the new architecture of security, which so evidently borrows many procedures, principles and mechanisms from existing international bodies, such as NATO, OSCE and the UN Charter? While borrowing those features, the draft suggests that “The Parties to the Treaty reaffirm that their obligations under other international agreements in the area of security, which are in effect on the date of signing of this Treaty are not incompatible with the Treaty.” The answer to the question is quite clear – the principal difference is Russia’s membership. But then another question might be posed: why couldn’t Russia simply consider the possibility of integration into the NATO structures?

In fact, in the long term there is no alternative for Russia but to reconsider its position between the West and China. As China’s role in shaping the world grows, Russia would find itself being increasingly unable to resist its neighbour’s economic and political influence. As a result, there is a growing inclination within a large part of the Russian ruling elite to “reorient” the country’s foreign and economic policy to favour of China. But those opposing such a development underline that in such a case, there would be almost no opportunity for Russia to remain even a “semi-equal” partner for the emerging global power in the East. These politicians and experts point out that culturally and developmentally Russia is much closer to Europe (despite the current incompatibility in values) and, thus, it should partner with Europe and the West in general. The result of such a revaluation of the Russia’s role in the new world, would be that eventually there would be no real alternative to Russia’s stronger cooperation with Western security structures. And that would mean more advanced forms of integration with NATO, or an “upgraded NATO”, made more “comfortable” and acceptable for Moscow. Eventually, it could transpire that the newly publicised Medvedev draft of the new security Pact is just one a step in that direction.

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