Instead of upper limits for the arms of the Alliances, it sets now limitations for weapons in national possession and on national territory, thereby also curbing the holdings of troops deployed in foreign countries.
The Joint Consultative Group watches over the implementation of the Treaty, stands ready to address issues of interpretation and compliance, and develop the substance of the CFET further as appropriate. At the end of the Bosnian war, a similar regulation was included in the Dayton agreement in order to create a balance between the antagonists in this conflict.
The CFE Treaty is supplemented by confidence-building measures that apply to all European countries, not only to the present or former members of the two Alliances. These measures create transparency about the structures of the armed forces and limit the size of manoeuvers that countries in the regions are permitted to conduct in a given year.
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Information about military budgets, planned procurement, and military doctrine enhance transparency and confidence further. Another measure of transparency is the Open Sky Treaty that permits the overflight of national territory by other States Party. While not yet in force, many trial overflights are taking place, and Hungary and Rumania have put the Treaty into force for each other as a bilateral confidence-building measure. I have spoken above about the ambivalence in NATO's present role, as a source of stability among its members on the one hand and of concern among some of the non-members, and Russia in particular, on the other.
This ambivalence notwithstanding, NATO has taken efforts to bridge the gap to the outsiders. It has created the NATO Cooperation Council, an institution to address broad security issues, and separate bilateral councils with Russia and Ukraine, the two largest non-members in Europe, to be able to discuss their special interests, problems and grievances. Next, there are two all-European institutions that aim at bringing the countries on the Continent closer together.
An Uneasy Compromise
The European Council aims at creating a common space of basic values and law, notably as far as human rights are concerned. This Organization is also based on a set of political, economic and societal principles enshrined in the Charter of Paris of , Since, it has developed a broad spectrum of instruments, processes, institutions and mechanisms to prevent, manage, and resolve conflict.
The OSCE's Commissioner on Human Rights and Democracy has the right to investigate the situation of minorities in member states, to request unrestricted access to people who may have grievances, and to report to the Council of the Organization on his findings. The work of the Commissioner was quite important to settle the sources of conflict among the Baltic states, and between Latvia and Estonia and Russia.
The Forum for Security Cooperation in which all OSCE members participate works as watchdog and review body for the various confidence-building measures, and as a negotiation machinery to enhance and amend them and to create, as appropriate, new agreements. As its name tells, the approach is broader than arms control proper, it encompasses the full range of security issues. The Center for Conflict Prevention serves as an early warning, information collecting and disseminating tool. It is connected to the mechanism to deal with unusual military activities, whereby a country can call for explanation from the state that conducts such activity, and to mobilize the Committee of High-ranking Officials usually the political directors of foreign ministry that meet regularly between Council meetings of all members if the explanation is not satisfactory.
Similar mechanisms exist for political crises and for securing minority rights. While it is quite true that these tools were not good enough to prevent violations of such rights and the emergence of conflict, they have made events within states a legitimate matter of concern for all. The prevailing norm in Europe is thus that rulers cannot deal with their subjects as they like, but have to observe basic standards.
One tool which the OSCE uses are so-called long-term missions, that evolved out of observer missions which the organization had sent into trouble spots. Long-term missions are stationed in areas of potential conflict, watch the actions of the antagonists, talk to them, and report back to the organization their analyses of the situation and recommendations for actions. The presence of these observers as such has often a calming and mitigating effect on the actors. While most institutions and activities aim at creating, stabilizing and enhancing peace and security within Europe, there are also efforts to deal with the risks at the periphery by means of cooperation and dialogue.
While NATO's approach is confined to security issues in the narrower sense, the European one, called the Barcelona process after the City where it started, corresponds to the broad scope of the Union itself, and thus addresses practically all areas suitable for cooperative endeavours, including the economic, cultural, and environmental fields. It is hoped that thus a broad approach will help to deal with the sources of instability and risks in the Mahgreb and Middle East regions and will induce countries that are otherwise involved in disputes and rivalries to embark on cooperation.
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In my personal view, the most successful peace institution in Europe has been the European Community, now the European Union. For centuries, the rivalry between France and Germany was at the roots of violent conflict in Europe, The French-German partnership, embedded in the Union, has laid this scourge of the peoples of Europe to rest. It is often said that the relation is not harmonious.
I see it quite differently: the relationship is so stable now that it sustains the daily irritations that flow from varying interests, traditions, and mentalities. Outside of Europe, the degree of achievement in the Union is often underrated. Let us start with the astonishing fact, that our countries have given away for good one of the basic tools of statecraft, namely foreign trade policy. Europe's citizens, as individuals, can take their governments to the European Court.
Most recently, a ruling of the Court has even necessitated a forthcoming change in the time-honoured interpretation of the German Constitution, when the European Court ruled that gender difference is no justification to suspend the right to equality in the armed services. From now on, women must be admitted to combat service in the German armed forces.
This example shows to what a degree basic issues of policy have become Europeanized.
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It is hard to imagine for foreigners that among most members of the Union, borders have ceased to exist. When I drive from Germany to Portugal, over a distance of about kilometers, passing through France and Spain on my way, no one will ask for my passport or force me through customs control. Since most of the former border installations have been dismantled, I hardly notice when I leave Germany for France, or France for Spain, or Spain for Portugal. Guarding borders has been a time-honoured ingredient of state sovereignty.
Central Asia: Border disputes and conflict potential
It has ceased to play this role in most of the European Union. Less than two years from now, most European countries will use the same currency, the Euro. National central banks have already lost their defining power over currency exchange policy. This is now in the hands of the European Central Bank: Another transfer of core state power to a supranational process.
It has been subject to heavy criticism, because attention focuses only on its failures, when, for example, European members of the UN Security Council disagree openly.
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Yet the process of this policy is multifaceted, complex, and intense. More than thirty working groups meet between six and twelve times a year, coordinating and converging national policies, preparing Common Positions and Joint Actions that are then be adopted by the Council, the Union's highest decision-making body. The desk-officers members of these working groups produce a large traffic of fax, phone and e-mail communications every day.
This process of convergence is slow and protracted, but it is seriously under way. Because much of this is going on confidentially, not only non-EU governments, but our own publics are somehow unaware of the processes intensity. The efforts to pool Europe's military resources, to create a truly European pillar within the Atlantic Alliance that is capable to operate independently if need be is only the latest step in a long chain of developments that have made serious conflict, not to speak about war, among the members of the European Union impossible.
The prudent and well-considered enlargement of the Union will enhance the geographic zone of peace before the end of the decade.
We have discussed the tools the Europeans have created to deal with the risks, and these tools are many and appear well-devised to address the issues at hand, even if they are frequently not used in an optimal way. A look down the road, however, confronts us with quite another problem that could unravel the fabric of European security policy, if it is not thoroughly handled.
This is the different, even contradictory vision the major European players have about the future of the security order. Let us start with the mightiest one among them, the United States. Over the last decade, the inclination of the US to work systematically through the means of multilateralism and to subject itself to constraints on its freedom of action, a readiness that multilateralism requests from all participants, has declined markedly. The attitude towards multilateralism has turned even hostile in parts of the Senate, notably its Republican membership, as witnessed in the vote against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and Senator Helms's formidable diatribe before the UN Security Council.
But pushed and pulled by the Congressional attitude, the administration has itself developed a certain disregard for international law and a preference for unilateralism. It appears that the US envisages the European future as a hegemonial order in which US military might is the decisive tool, controlling deviant behaviour including, if necessary, Russian moves.
The US sees the European periphery, including the republics that have emerged from the former Soviet Union, as legitimate objects of the hegemonial order, Russian interests notwithstanding. Arms control has lost most of its appeal, as there are risks that it will be increasingly aimed at restricting US superiority.
The emergence of a security identity in the European Union is acceptable for Washington, as long as the US keeps some operational control over what the Europeans are doing. The dominant Russian ideas are quite different from the American ones. Russia wants to be accepted as a big power on an equal level. The vision is similar to the Concert of Europe that was installed after the Napoleonic wars in order to prevent major conflict from emerging in Europe anew. The ideal institution would be an European security council in which the major powers would hold permanent seats and where the main issues of high politics in Europe would be considered and decided.
In particular, Russia wants to have the decisive say about the exploitation of the energy resources in the Caspian and the Central Asian region.
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