EU Statement on “OSCE’s Framework for Arms Control of 1996”

OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation N°985, Vienna, 15 September 2021.

The European Union and its Member States would like to thank the Chairmanship and key-note speakers for this useful opportunity to discuss and assess the “OSCE’s Framework for Arms Control of 1996”.

Mr. Chair, today is a good occasion to look back into history. Doing so, we have to remember that the “Lisbon Framework of 1996” was built on a wave of optimistic, forward-looking momentum after the end of the Cold War where all participating States seemed ready to fully embrace the fundamental principles and commitments of our Organisation and the concept of comprehensive security with the crucial role of democracy and human rights at its centre. Nowadays, the political landscape has undergone a fundamental shift whereas the security architecture has been persistently eroding.

The “OSCE’s Framework for Arms Control of 1996” can and should guide us today. We agreed in 1996 that the Framework was the conceptual basis for implementing, enhancing and further developing arms control and CSBMs in the OSCE area. It reminds us that implementing, enhancing and further developing arms control and CSBMs in the OSCE area contribute to the achievement of our common goals. The co-operation, transparency and predictability achieved through the Treaties on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and Open Skies, as well as political arrangements such as the Vienna Document contributed to security and stability in the OSCE area. The framework also stipulates the need for a regular review of its impact on stability and security in the OSCE area as well as measures to improve operations or devise new instruments, if so required.

Looking at the Lisbon Framework from today’s perspective we can formulate the following remarks: Firstly, the document assumed that future negotiations would build on the successful implementation of measures already in place. Secondly, arms control regime is oriented to the relatively well-defined pol-mil threats of the nineties, and has not been adapted to the changing politico-military developments and new military capabilities. Thirdly, in 1996, after the end of the Cold War and the signature of the Dayton Agreement, the geopolitical climate was conducive to the multilateral cooperation, including in the area of arms control. Today, the situation has changed mostly due to the violations of OSCE principles and commitments, which has also led to the erosion of arms control regimes. However, it is in times like today, where tensions and mistrust prevail, that arms control and confidence-building measures are most needed.

In 2016, OSCE participating States adopted the Ministerial Declaration on the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Framework for Arms Control: From Lisbon to Hamburg. In this declaration, OSCE participating States committed themselves to work on creating an environment conducive to reinvigorating conventional arms control and CSBMs in Europe. Most recently, at the June Structured Dialogue meeting, we discussed the importance of the Lisbon Framework of 1996 to Euro-Atlantic security. We look forward to the continuation of this meaningful discussion.

The Concept Paper for today’s Security Dialogue includes a question about gender considerations at that time in 1996. Regrettably, back in 1996 when the Framework was adopted, a gender sensitive approach was not yet taken into consideration. It took four more years for the UNSCR 1325 to become part of the UN acquis, which we value and advocate now for more than twenty years. We believe that an assessment of conventional arms control today should aim to fully implement UNSCR 1325 and its follow-up resolutions, where relevant and applicable, without turning a blind eye to the implementation gap that unfortunately still exists. The Joint Statement on UNSCR1325, signed by 52 pS last December points in this direction. We welcome the intention of the Austrian FSC Chair to conduct a Code of Conduct stocktaking exercise and integrating the WPS agenda in all the debates in this forum, and look forward to contributing to this exercise.

Mr Chair, in our view the framework for arms control of 1996 still provides a useful regulatory and normative framework for implementation and further development of our arms control commitments as well as for negotiation of new measures. Full implementation in letter and spirit and the agreement to engage in the modernisation of the Vienna Document would be an important first step towards the revitalisation of arms control and building trust in the spirit of “the Lisbon Framework”. We welcome the efforts already made and encourage discussions on the measures proposed for improving implementation of the Vienna Document, and, in particular, enhancing military-to-military contacts both in the High-Level Military Doctrine Seminar and in the Structured Dialogue.

We believe that the “goals and methods for the further development of arms control” outlined in the “OSCE’s Framework for Arms Control” can still serve as guidance in this regard. At the end of the day, it comes down to political will to increase transparency, cooperation and confidence, and thus strengthen stability and security within the OSCE area.

The Candidate Countries the REPUBLIC of NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, SERBIA* and ALBANIA*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and Potential Candidate BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA, and the EFTA countries ICELAND, LIECHTENSTEIN and NORWAY, members of the European Economic Area, as well as UKRAINE, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, GEORGIA, ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves with this statement.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.