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Statement on the Structured Dialogue

Delivered by Deputy Director Thomas Devold at the 13th Meeting of the Informal Working Group Structured Dialogue, Cluster II Way forward on TRRIP, Vienna, 17 June 2021.

Chair,

Norway would like to thank the Spanish Chair of the Informal Working Group for convening this meeting and the Expert Level meeting last week.

Both events have been good opportunities to share views on the current security situation under your motto “Understanding for Security (U4S)”.

Last year’s Structured Dialogue report and the outcome of this year’s first meeting demonstrated the value of this format and this process, but also the challenges we face. We share the view that the security and political climate in the OSCE region has deteriorated and that the Structured Dialogue is useful and necessary as a platform for constructive discussions among the participating States.

This meeting focuses on the two pillars of the U4S concept; “Reflecting and Sharing”. This cluster focus on the way forward regarding TRRIP; transparency, risk reduction, and incident prevention. Norway values continued discussions on these subjects. TRRIP is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations during military activities.

Fulfilling our existing commitments when it comes to arms control mechanisms, documents, treaties etc. should be our priority. This has to serve as a base from where we can start talking about exploring updates to the existing arms control regime. Ensuring strict and verifiable implementation of OSCEs politico-military commitments, in letter and spirit by all participating states remains the top priority for Norway.

Transparency is the key aspect for us to enhance confidence and trust. Norway supports the current trend in the FSC where more and more participating States inform each other about exercises and other military activities. We welcome more such presentations which improves transparency and shows a willingness to act in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Vienna Document. We would also like to see a modernized Vienna Document with lower thresholds that can result in even more transparency. Transparency also involves reciprocity. We need to see all participating states promoting transparency.

Risk Reduction and Incident Prevention should be an integral part of our discussions. At last week’s Expert Level meeting we presented an example of what a bilateral INCSEA-treaty could look like.
Such agreements provide useful platforms for military contact. At a time of increased geopolitical tension, it is important to maintain such contacts between participating states.

In our view we need to separate operational benefits from politics. We cannot solve political differences through military dialogue, but we can ensure the safety of our pilots, sailors, ships and airplanes. Like all nations, we want to avoid dangerous incidents, misunderstandings and unintended escalation. Our political differences should not stand in the way of improving our common safety. Practical cooperation and day-to-day operational contacts are necessary.

The Structured Dialogue can help us establish concrete measures and incentivize practical cooperation in areas important for stability and predictability. Some examples of such practical cooperation are coast- and border guard cooperation, search and rescue, military channels of communication, and Incidents at Sea-agreements.

To conclude Chair,

The deteriorating security-policy environment is challenging for all of us. In these difficult times, we welcome the continued focus of the Structured Dialogue on politico-military issues and on all security issues and challenges of concern to the OSCE participating States. TRRIP is an integral part of this. Dialogue that fosters understanding can help us build a common base for a way ahead. Norway sees the Structured Dialogue as a valuable forum for discussion and exchange of ideas and opinions. We think it is important that participating States work together in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect.

We see the exclusion of certain topics from the Structured Dialogue agenda as unproductive. This does not help us build a platform where we freely can discuss complex issues to improve our common safety.

Thank you.