31 Mar 2009

Time to reassess the European security architecture?

The NATO - EU - Russia Security Triangle

Sandra Dias Fernandes

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NATO will celebrate its 60th anniversary in April during a highly symbolic summit hosted jointly by France and Germany. In contrast to previous key summits in 1999 and 2004, today the allies have to deal with a transformed and oppositional Russia, besides a fast-evolving security environment. A few months ago, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a proposal for a new security treaty. The proposal has added a further element to the catalogue of security disputes causing relations with Washington to deteriorate, among which missile defence continues to be one of the most divisive.
This paper analyses Russian pressures on security issues and the way the EU and NATO have been addressing them. It is argued that tensions over missile defence are closely related to NATO’s enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia and to arms control (the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe), and that these issues are poorly tackled at the multilateral level. Aside from the positive moves already undertaken by the Obama administration towards Russia, it is difficult to foresee any rapprochement in the existing incompatibility of views on the legitimacy of NATO. In this context, the role of the EU in improving the security dialogue with Moscow is substantial.