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Statement on the Structured Dialogue

Delivered by Deputy Director Thomas Devold at the 12th Meeting of the Informal Working Group Structured Dialogue, Vienna, 22 March 2021.

Chair,

Norway would like to thank the Spanish Chair of the Informal Working Group for convening this meeting. We have studied the documents you have circulated for 2021 and we support that you continue the good work conducted last year under the motto “Understanding for Security (U4S)”.

The report from last years Structured Dialogue demonstrated the value of this process, but also the challenges we face. We know that this has been and will continue to be challenging in the current COVID-19 environment.

This meeting concentrates on the two first pillars of the U4S concept; “Listening and Reflecting”. The outcome of this meeting will hopefully make us better prepared for the work in the OSCE. To us, capital involvement adds value to our discussions, strengthen the possibility to introduce new ideas, creates ownership and reinvigorates the processes here in Vienna, be it in form of experts, politicians or ministries.

In our opinion, the Structured Dialogue is a CSBM in itself that allows us all to address our differences and our commonalities, as well as share best practices.

Let me therefore shortly share some practical examples covered under the three clusters in today’s meeting and use the bilateral relation between Norway and the Russian Federation as a framework. We see transparency, risk reduction and incident prevention (TRRIP) as crucial to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation during military activities.

  • Norway remains committed to dialogue. Military to military contacts are important tools to avoid misunderstandings and unintended escalation.
  • Norway suspended bilateral military cooperation with Russia after the illegal annexation of Crimea.
  • Simultaneously, Norway decided to continue practical cooperation with Russia in specific areas important to stability and predictability in the High North, such as coast- and border guard cooperation, search and rescue, and the Incidents at Sea-agreement. This gives us arenas for military to military contacts, that also have a confidence building function.
  • We are concerned that the prolonged pause in military contacts caused by the COVID 19 pandemic may have negative results. We remain committed to confidence and security building mechanisms, and we hope to be able to resume activities under the CFE Treaty, Vienna document and Open Skies Treaty as soon as the pandemic situation allows.
  • Norway supports the current trend in the FSC where more and more Participating States inform about their exercises and other military activities. We would welcome more such presentations which enhances the transparency and shows the willingness to act in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Vienna Document. We would like to see a modernized Vienna Document lowering thresholds thus leading to more transparency of this kind.

The current security-policy environment is demanding and in these difficult times, we welcome the continued focus of the Structured Dialogue on politico-military issues and on all security threats and challenges of most concern to the OSCE participating States. Dialogue to foster a greater understanding on these issues, could help us in building a common basis for a way ahead.

To conclude Chair,

Norway sees the SD as a valuable arena for discussion and exchange of ideas and opinions, not necessarily focusing on a predetermined outcome. We think it is important that participating States work together in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect, towards creating an environment conducive to reinvigorating Conventional Arms Control and CSBMs.

As the Lisbon Framework for Arms Control of 1996 (FSC.DEC8/96) states: “Building on existing arms control measures, the OSCE will seek to develop new ways to deal with security concerns affecting all States in the OSCE area”.

We believe the Structured Dialogue contributes to this. Norway is indeed ready to turn every stone to contribute.

Thank you.