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Moscow Times
September 24, 2008
Lavrov to Push Security Treaty at UN
By Nabi Abdullaev / Staff Writer

Russia will make its case this week for a new collective security treaty under which European governments would act as independent states rather than members of blocs and alliances.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will address Moscow's vision of a new European security alignment at the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Russian officials said Tuesday.

No details were available about Lavrov's speech, and a ministry spokesman said Tuesday that he could not provide immediate comment.

But the idea of establishing a new, legally binding European security treaty was first proposed in June by President Dmitry Medvedev, who said the new arrangement should be based not on ideology, but rather "purely" on national interests.

The previous major European security pact, the Helsinki accords of 1975, divided the continent between NATO countries and countries in the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.

With disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia -- and the emergence of new European states -- existing structures such as NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have failed to ensure security on the continent, Medvedev has argued.

This, he said, necessitates the creation of new European security arrangements.

Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, had been scheduled to discuss the proposed treaty with NATO ambassadors Wednesday in Brussels at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

But NATO and Russia drastically reduced cooperation in the wake of Russia's war last month with Georgia over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, and the planned NATO-Russia Council session was scrapped.

There may have been few concrete details for Rogozin to discuss with his NATO counterparts anyway.

An official with Russia's delegation to NATO said by telephone from Brussels on Tuesday that no document outlining the proposed new treaty exists.

"We need first to collect different proposals from the governments and then hold an all-European summit, where these proposals would be integrated into a single document," he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

So far, nine countries have expressed interest in the idea, the official said: Germany, Italy, Belgium and six members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- a Russia-led alliance comprised of former Soviet republics.

Denis Daniilidis, a spokesman for the EU's delegation to Russia, said EU member states consider Moscow's proposal an "interesting idea to explore" and are open for discussion.

Daniilidis added, however, that the new security arrangements should not exclude NATO and the OSCE but rather buttress existing security cooperation between countries.

Daniilidis' call for inclusion echoed Lavrov's comments in Ireland on Monday, when he said the treaty being championed by the Kremlin was not intended to sideline North American NATO members.

"Russia's stance is that the United States and Canada should become part of the process," Lavrov said, according to a Foreign Ministry transcript.

Daniilidis said the EU needed "more detailed proposals."

"So far, we've heard only general statements from the Russian officials," he said.

A senior OSCE official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the governments of several member states are mulling Russia's proposals.

But because the OSCE demands consensus among its members, it is too early to speak of any general acceptance of the idea of a new security pact, the official said.

European governments are prepared to discuss the proposed treaty but not until Russia provides specifics, said Vladislav Belov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences.