Monday, December 4

A new cold war threatens Europe

It may seem daring to tackle an issue like this, but although it is hard to think of anything other than the most resounding condemnation of this invasion and the need to put an end to this massacre, it is necessary to put on high beams.

The current spiral seems to be leading us to a prolongation of the conflict, and by this I mean that, even once the fighting has ended and a ceasefire has been reached, whatever the situation in Ukraine, the conflict between Russia and the Western countries may become entrenched birth of a new “cold war” in which the old problems that the world suffered after the second world war are reproduced.

One of the basic pillars that allowed us to put an end to that slab was the recognition of what is known as “indivisibility of security”, that is, that a country or bloc of countries cannot increase their security at the expense of that of others. or, put another way, that the security of any state is inseparable from that of others in its region.

Although no one disputes the validity of the principle of sovereign equality of States and, therefore, of their freedom to make decisions, it is no less true that the international community has admitted that, on some occasions, there may be limits to that sovereignty.

Such has been the case of Iran and its nuclear program, with whom part of the international community has adopted strict measures to prevent this development from leading to military nuclear capacity that could destabilize the difficult balance in a region like the Middle East.

There was also a clear limitation of Cuba’s sovereignty with the case of the Soviet missiles in its territory, the installation of which the US did not admit on the pretext that it put its security at risk and that it was about to trigger a nuclear war.

The way to achieve that balance in Europe was through negotiation and diplomacy. In this spirit, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was convened in 1973, whose Final Act -signed symbolically in Helsinki- marked a before and after in security relations in Europe. The document recognized “the indivisible nature of security in Europe” and the “common interest in the development of cooperation” as a way to govern our differences in the future.

Thanks to this important milestone, the concept that took hold in Europe was that of “cooperative security” that sought to achieve security through agreement and, therefore, mutual consent, between the international actors involved in the system. It was a great discovery since, instead of using the threat or use of coercive force to remedy our differences, we Europeans agreed – once again – to sit down at a table to reach solutions.

The fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the bipolar world raised fears for all these achievements of diplomacy, but the “Paris Charter for a New Europe” signed in 1990 put an end to those fears by stating that “security is indivisible and The security of each participating State is inseparably linked to that of all the others”.

Thus, we arrive at 1997, the year in which the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed, which seemed to pave the way for the expansion of the Atlantic Alliance and even created a joint committee between the two. Javier Solana, then Secretary General of the organization, would state in a speech delivered at the General Academy in Zaragoza shortly after that “neither NATO nor enlargement pose any threat to Russia.”

However, the differences began to appear very soon after when Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic became part of the Atlantic Alliance in 1999 with the firm opposition of Russia, which saw this expansion not as the result of cooperation but as an imposed fact. . Although there is no public written document that certifies that the United States gave guarantees that NATO would not be extended to some countries of the former Soviet orbit, what is clear is that the principles of indivisibility of security and cooperative security that supported the architecture of European security since 1975 were seriously damaged and would end up blowing up a few years later.

That painstakingly constructed architecture cracked irreversibly in 2008. On the one hand, with the call made by the then US President, George W. Bush, for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO at the Romania Summit in April 2008, against the criteria of a good number of European countries, including France and Germany. And on the other, with the outbreak of the conflict between Georgia and Russia a few months later, in August 2008, as a response to the above.

The conflict in Ukraine once again shows us the enormous cost caused by the lack of agreement and understanding. It is necessary to avoid a new bipolarity by betting on diplomatic and negotiation channels in order to find a way out. If we want to avoid a new cold war, the solution may be to convene a new International Conference on security and cooperation in Europe like the one convened in 1973 when circumstances allow. The cost of not doing so will be infinitely greater.