NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow outlined key steps needed to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security system in a speech at the OSCE Security Days conference in Vienna on Monday (3 October 2015). Participating in a panel discussion on ‘Preventing and Managing Close Military Encounters in Times of Crisis’, Ambassador Vershbow stressed the importance of modernising the Vienna Document on military transparency.
The Deputy Secretary General noted that the security situation across the Euro-Atlantic area has deteriorated markedly since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and launched its ongoing aggression against eastern Ukraine two years ago. He highlighted that the OSCE is the most appropriate, most inclusive forum available for discussing and resolving issues of military transparency, risk reduction and confidence-building. “Making more extensive use of the OSCE as a venue for negotiations would also help to restore trust and rebuild confidence among all 57 OSCE members,” he added.
Ambassador Vershbow encouraged Russia to engage with NATO Allies in strengthening the Vienna Document, including lowering the thresholds for notification and observation of military exercises. In Ukraine, he noted that a critical confidence building measure would be to give the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission unimpeded access to disengagement areas, and unconditional access to the Ukraine-Russia border. The Deputy Secretary General underlined that NATO will continue to seek meaningful dialogue with Russia and press for a return to the core principles at the heart of the Euro-Atlantic security system.