Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop

Emerging Multipolarity and the Prospects for Cooperation

Russian Amb to the EU Vladimir Chizhov

Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the European Union

Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov (left), with Lithuanian Amb. to NATO Linas Linkevicius.

" single existing organization, neither the United Nations nor NATO nor the
European Union nor the OSCE, is now capable of
dealing with the new security agenda alone."

I am particularly impressed, as a professional diplomat representing a very peaceful country to a very peaceful institution with a relatively minor military capability, by the interest of the Euro-Atlantic defense community, so widely represented at this conference, in the issue that is now under discussion. That interest has actually led me to two alternative conclusions: that the defense community is in search of a mission for itself, and that it concedes that security in today’s world is a much broader issue than just military security.


Addressing the point of our discussion—to define modalities of interaction between the various security organizations and institutions active in the Euro-Atlantic field—is not a theoretical exercise; it is a very practical issue. And given the issue’s practical dimension, we need to begin by defining two basic elements:

          1. The global and regional environment in which those organizations operate.
          2. The set of goals on which their cooperative efforts should focus.

I must admit that it is easier to address the second element. Obviously, the goals are to enhance global and regional security and to provide a joint or at least a common response to the risks and challenges of the 21st century. The issue concerning the international security environment, the international context, is much more complicated, and I would say the context itself is becoming increasingly complicated. Old divisions have become history though they can still provide useful lessons if we will learn them. And although no ideological conflicts similar to those that dominated the Cold War era are now in sight, new threats keep piling up, demanding new approaches and concerted action. 


One of the problems we all face is that many of the instruments at the disposal of the international community today remain largely the same as they were years ago; they were inherited from old times. Another point I would like to make is that no single existing organization, neither the United Nations nor NATO nor the European Union nor the OSCE, is now capable of dealing with the new security agenda alone. But that is not the case only because at least some of those organizations are products of different times and were meant to operate in a totally different environment. I believe that one of the key features of the world we live in today is its emerging multipolarity. I do not know if everybody at this workshop likes that term, but indeed it is a fact. I would add that all concepts of a unipolar world that mushroomed after the lapse of the bipolar world were doomed from the outset because they cannot fit into a world of increasing globalization and an already global economy. Globalization and unilateralism are hardly compatible.

Having said this, let me stress that multipolarity does not automatically entail confrontation. On the contrary, it has been proved by recent developments across the globe that unilateral approaches combined with an overestimated role of military force has led to an increase only of conflict potential across the world.  As far as multilateralism is concerned, history, including the more recent history of the 20th century, has shown that multilateralism only counts when it is effective. Otherwise, there is the danger of repeating the ill-fated example of the League of Nations and all the various holy alliances of the 19th century. 


No one expects a symphony of synergy (using the current phrase, based on the Greek language) to be established overnight. It may only come as a result of concerted and persistent efforts by all countries concerned. But we do not have to start from scratch. Let me remind you that it was eight years ago at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, which for some dubious reason is only remembered because of some side events, that an unduly forgotten document called the Platform for Cooperative Security was adopted. Let me also remind you that it was the European Union that initiated this document and unfortunately was among the first to forget about it. 

The essence of the platform was the idea of complementarity between interacting European and Euro-Atlantic organizations on the basis of equality and respect for each other. But the sole basis for such cooperation can only be international law, as enshrined in collective U.N. decisions. I agree with Ambassador Lintonen that the U.N. remains the main pillar of multilateral world diplomacy. It has proven its authority in much more difficult times than those we live in today, and, with the Cold War behind us, it has all the prerequisites to play its role.


I should add that this does not mean that the U.N. is not in need of reform. U.N. reform is an issue that needs to be addressed with proper care, and, actually, all the organizations we are discussing are in need of reform and transformation. NATO has evolved from debates on its own viability in the modern world, which was the focus of attention in the 1990s, to a new and, I say with all due respect, a false sense of self-confidence created by the smokescreen of euphoria over enlargement. I am sure that the current problems that the Alliance faces in Afghanistan and elsewhere are a good indication that enlargement did not bring additional efficiency to the Alliance. 

The OSCE, which is supposedly an organization of sovereign states bound together by a balanced set of 10 principles and values as outlined in collective decisions by participating states, still has no legal capacity. That is why I am referring to participating states rather than to member-states.  What is important about this, however, is that too often the prerogatives of participating states are in fact usurped by institutions that boast of their autonomy and work on the basis of self-proclaimed rules and procedures. 


Recently I participated in a discussion entitled “Will the EU Ever Have a Common Foreign Policy?” at one of the Brussels think tanks. I was surprised that the overwhelming majority of the participants, including some EU officials, concluded that the answer is more to the negative. Perhaps I am more optimistic. I think the EU Common Foreign Policy (CSFP) has a future, though of course it still faces serious difficulties: When we have a situation in which two European Union member-states conclude separate deals with a third country on an issue as sensitive as missile defense behind the backs of the European Union, then something is wrong with the CSFP and the ESDP. But of course the ultimate success of a European Union Common Foreign Policy will come and will be proven when the EU has a single seat in other international organizations like the United Nations. 


Overall, the picture is mixed. The tools to deal with the risks and challenges of the 21st century, though imperfect, are there. But adapting them to the evolving realities of the 21st century as well as enhancing their efficiency will require the concerted will of the countries involved. It is true that any international organization is as effective as its member-states want or can afford it to be, which makes me optimistic that, through the political will of the countries that belong to the Euro-Atlantic community, we indeed have a chance of successfully promoting cooperation among the various organizations active in the security area on the basis of already agreed-upon principles such as the Platform for Security Cooperation. 

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