Dialogue in times of crisis

High-ranking military officers, including several chiefs of defence staff from the OSCE participating States, gathered in Vienna on 16 and 17 February to talk about modifications to their military doctrines in the present security environment. The High-Level Military Doctrine Seminar was organised by the Netherlands, which chairs the Forum for Security Co-Operation. General Wieker Enlarge image General Inspector of the Bundeswehr Wieker (© StäV) These high-level meetings take place at the most every five years. Given the critical developments since 2011, this year’s meeting offered a particular opportunity for dialogue in difficult times.

The deeper causes of the current crisis in European security were analysed during the opening panel discussion by General Volker Wieker of Germany (Chief of Staff, Bundeswehr), Lt Gen Ben Hodges of the United States and General Andrei Tretyak of Russia. They explained that the failure of good governance almost always marked the beginning of the current crises. In the OSCE framework, however, the momentum that led to the Helsinki Final Act needs to be renewed. Reception in the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien Enlarge image Reception in the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien (© StäV) “European Security in Crisis – How to Restore Trust?” This was the key question of a public panel discussion, which Germany and Austria organised in the context of the Military Doctrine Seminar on the evening of 16 February in the Museum of Military History in Vienna. Ambassador Patricia Flor, Federal Government Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control, spelled out the German approach: strengthening NATO’s defence capability, augmented with concrete transparency and dialogue proposals. By further developing the Vienna Document, concrete steps could be taken to reduce tensions and prevent dangerous incidents and further escalations. Members of the German Delegation Enlarge image Members of the German Delegation (© StäV) The Vienna Document is the key regime for confidence- and security-building measures (CSBM). During its Chairmanship, Germany will lobby for a substantial modernisation of this important CSBM regime. Getting started with a renewed dialogue on politico-military questions is thus a first and important step.