OSCE to tackle European security challenges

Foreign Ministers at Europe`s main security organisation OSCE agreed on a framework to tackle Europe`s future security challenges.

Updated: Dec 03, 2009, 13:27 PM IST

Athens: Foreign Ministers at Europe`s main security organisation OSCE agreed on a framework to tackle Europe`s future security challenges.
Foreign Ministers from 46 of the 56-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the US and Russia, gathered here to look at developing a stronger security policy for Europe during the two-day meeting.

Greek Prime Minister and acting OSCE chairman George Papandereou, who holds the rotating OSCE chair, said member states had reached a consensus on the "Corfu Process”, which was launched earlier this year following the informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers on the Greek island of Corfu in June.

The Corfu Process aims to tackle European security challenges with concrete steps, to restore confidence and deal with the challenges and new threats for security in the 21st century.

"Our highest priority remains to re-establish our trust and confidence, as well as to recapture the sense of common purpose that brought together our predecessors in Helsinki almost 35 years ago," the statement said on Wednesday.

"The vision of a free, democratic and more integrated OSCE area, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, free of dividing lines and zones, with different levels of security, remains a common goal, which we are determined to reach," the ministers said in a declaration on the OSCE Corfu Process.

In the declaration, the ministers said they were concerned "that the use of force had not ceased to be considered as an option in settling disputes; that the danger of conflicts between states has not been eliminated, and armed conflicts have occurred even in the last decades."

The declaration also welcomed Kazakhstan`s 2010 OSCE chairmanship and noted with interest the country`s proposal to hold an OSCE summit in 2010.

Earlier, western members gave a cool reception to Russia`s proposal for a new Euro-Atlantic security pact Tuesday, saying the focus should stay on improving existing structures.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev released details of the 14-point European security pact Sunday, which aimed at finally breaking with the legacy of the Cold War and would restrict its ability to use military force unilaterally if the US and Europe agreed to do the same.

Although the OSCE is the "natural partner" for the issue, NATO officials could very well discuss it Friday when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov participates in a NATO-Russia Council meeting.

Medvedev first proposed a Euro-Atlantic security pact during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Japan last year. Western nations then agreed to consider Russia`s proposals.

The US and Britain have expressed doubt over the need to create another structure alongside NATO for military and political security.

According to the Kremlin, signatories would also be obliged to refrain from strengthening their own security at the expense of other states.

The OSCE Athens meeting also adopted decisions to strengthen dialogue and co-operation in energy security, on assigning the 2012 OSCE Chairmanship to Ireland and making Australia the Organisation`s 12th Partner country for Co-operation.

Lithuania will hold the OSCE chairmanship in 2011.