While the European arms control regime is quickly eroding or needs urgent renovation, states are investing more and more in deterrence capabilities, primarily with conventional armed forces. This means more military units, more modern weapons, higher levels of readiness, more exercises, frequently not far from borders. In this context, the Steinmeier initiative for reviving arms control in Europe was a welcome reminder that security and stability cannot be achieved by ever more weapons, but primarily by political means, including arms control. The ensuing Structured Dialogue in the OSCE has shown that there is much support for new efforts in conventional arms control, but also stiff political opposition by a number of States.
But this is not the only obstacle. The efforts on conventional arms control are also hampered by a thorough lack of adequate new concepts. Discussions in 2017 resembled those in 2013. This was the rationale for the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions to address the issue and launch the project "A New Concept for Conventional Arms Control", led by Wolfgang Zellner from CORE / Hamburg.
On 19/20 July, the project’s first workshop convened about 20 participants from the USA, Russia, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Latvia and Switzerland. Key points of discussion were a new leitmotiv for conventional arms control after the CFE Treaty, sub-regional arms control, new military capabilities and types of equipment, crisis management and arms control as well as confidence-building, transparency and verification. The participants agreed to elaborate a draft report to be discussed at a second workshop in Moscow in November together with the Russian expert community.