Intense Debate at Power Breakfast on OSCE Network RISK Study, Vienna 12 February 2019
Early in the morning on 12 February, Vienna saw an intense debate on the OSCE Network Report “Reducing the Risks of Conventional Deterrence in Europe. Arms Control in the NATO-Russia Contact Zones”. About 70 diplomats had followed the invitation of Swiss Ambassador Claude Wild to a power breakfast on this subject. Switzerland holds currently the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation. Among the participants were many heads of national delegations to the OSCE, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre Marcel Pesko and other OSCE officials.
Network Coordinator Dr. habil. Cornelius Friesendorf (CORE/IFSH), Ambassador Philip Remler (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Prof. Andrei Zagorski (IMEMO) opened the meeting with a presentation of the key ideas in the report that was elaborated by 17 experts from seven countries – Germany, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, USA - around key drafter Dr. Wolfgang Zellner (IFSH).
The starting point of the RISK Study is the realization that the dominant military risks in Europe are no longer large-scale offensive action on a continental scale, but the “eventuality of cross-border offensive operations in sensitive areas where Russian and NATO armed forces may directly engage with each other. This is particularly acute in the Baltic and Black Sea areas.” The debate in Vienna showed once again the highly controversial, and to some extent mutually exclusive positions of the European governments. The RISK Study and the power breakfast were another track II contribution of the Network to familiarize participants with these positions.
The RISK Study was sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Foreign Office, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Offices in Vienna and Moscow.