France and Russia in tune on Europe’s security


Meeting in the French resort city of Evian, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev yesterday (8 October) turned a new leaf in the Georgia crisis and voiced similar messages about the need to reconstruct Europe’s security architecture.

Addressing a forum organised by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Sarkozy voiced his satisfaction over the “departure of Russian soldiers” from buffer zones in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which in fact coincided with the Evian conference. 

The Russian President had “kept his word”, said Sarkozy, adding that he had discussed with Medvedev the details of the Geneva conference on 15 October, seen as the next milestone in managing the Georgia crisis. 

Sarkozy deplored that following the fall of the Berlin wall, the feeling today was that the world had “no compass” and “no guidelines”, while “the unipolar order, around which it was said that the world would organise, did not resist the multiplication of crises”. 

The French President proposed that a summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe be held “to discuss (Russian) proposals and those of the European Union for new concepts of a pan-European defence.” He said this summit could take place before the end of 2009. 

These statements appeared to be in harmony with Medvedev’s own plans to convene a forum to discuss a new European Security Treaty, an idea he suggested recently and expanded upon in detail for the first time in Evian. 

“First, the Treaty should clearly affirm the basic principles of security and intergovernmental relations in the Euro-Atlantic area,” Medvedev said. What’s more, he advised avoiding violence wherever possible and providing “equal security”, meaning “no security at the expense of others”. Without naming NATO, he made it clear that Russia was opposed to the enlargement of military alliances near its borders. 

“Fourth, it is important to confirm in the Treaty that no state or international organisation can have exclusive rights to maintaining peace and stability in Europe. This applies fully to Russia as well,” continued Medvedev. As a fifth and last principle, he saw establishing “basic arms control parameters and reasonable limits on military construction”. 

The Russian president also lambasted the US for conducting “unilateral actions” in Afghanistan and again criticised “Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence”. 

“But the real issue is that NATO is bringing its military infrastructure right up to our borders and is drawing new dividing lines in Europe, this time along our western and southern frontiers. No matter what we are told, it is only natural that we should see this as action directed against us,” Medvedev said. 

The Russian president blamed the current US administration for reviving “ghosts” from the past. “Sovietology, like paranoia, is a dangerous disease. And it is a pity that part of the US administration still suffers from it,” the Russian president said. 

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