MSC Core Group Meeting in Moscow (2010)

Russia on a Western Course? President Medvedev addresses MSC Core Group meeting, advocating a new security partnership with NATO

50 high-ranking decision-makers from the political and economic sphere conducting in-depth discussions of core issues of European and global security architecture in Moscow (Photo: Alexander Svet).
Deep exchange of views between Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and Munich Security Conference (MSC) representatives at the president’s country residence in Gorki (Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office).

By Oliver Rolofs


Moscow – This year’s MSC Core Group meeting focused on the closer integration of Russia into European and global security architectures and the formation of a security community by NATO and Russia. Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, too, voiced his support of these concepts when talking to participants of the MSC Core Group meeting in Moscow, distancing himself from the foreign policy pursued by his predecessor in office Vladimir Putin.

The continuing thaw between Russia and the West also had its effects on the MSC meeting held in Moscow chaired by Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference. Shortly before the meeting, the Russian president had announced at the tripartite summit of Germany, France and Russia in Deauville that he was now open for an expansion of the security partnership with the West in the process of creating a Russian-European security zone, and that he would attend the NATO summit in Lisbon in November. Under the impression of these positive statements, Mr. Ischinger was able to elaborate on core issues, especially on European and global security architectures, together with some 50 high-ranking decision-makers from the political and economic sectors in anticipation of the Lisbon NATO summit and the OSCE summit meeting in Astana.


Circle of high-ranking attendees

Attendees of the East-West security debate held at the posh Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow included Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski; Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt; as well as the German Foreign Office’s Minister of State Werner Hoyer and the Defense Ministry’s Parliamentary State Secretary Christian Schmidt, who were joined by representatives of the economic sector, including Mr. Wolfgang Reitzle, Chairman of the Management Board of Linde Gruppe and Chairman of the MSC Advisory Council; Nikolaus von Bomhard, Chairman of the Management Board of Munich Re; and Hans-Joerg Rudloff of Barclay’s Capital. While ‘European Security’ was the guiding theme, the meeting also discussed topical issues of multilateral cooperation, the tightening of arms control, the problems of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation of nuclear arms, and the consequences of the global financial and economic crisis for international stability and security.


Setting a new tone toward NATO

According to Mr. Ischinger, the Core Group Meeting in Moscow was to contribute to providing new impulses in the rearrangement of relations with Russia so as to bring Europe’s unity to completion together with Russia. President Medvedev underscored this goal, too, and, in his talks with Core Group participants at his private residence in Gorki near Moscow, sought to garner support for his initiative for an Agreement on European Security, calling upon his own country and NATO to seek to overcome the mutual distrust. “We need to overcome this view of the world,” Mr. Medvedev demanded, thus distancing himself clearly from the statements made by his predecessor Mr. Putin who, in an incendiary speech delivered at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, had caused tensions in the relations with the West. In his meeting with MSC representatives, President Medvedev confirmed that he had decided to accept the invitation to attend the NATO-Russia summit in November and, with a view to NATO’s new strategic concept, he said that in some fields it would place the right new accents. As for the NATO-Russia Council, Mr. Medvedev pointed out that now a development was conceivable which might make Russia a partner of equal stature in the talks, rather in the same way as happened when the G7 was transformed into G8. Astonishment was felt by some as they heard the new tone set by the president towards the Baltic states and Poland, whose relationships were “the most complex in Europe” because of historical burdens. It was necessary to approach these nations as well and, likewise, it was conceivable that Russia would “maintain normal relations” with Lithuania, for example, “rather than thinking only about the big nations”, Mr. Medvedev concluded. At the meeting, he also analyzed the latest results of the Deauville summit, stating that the meeting’s exclusive tripartite arrangement had been chosen to allow for the close relations by these three countries and was not to be viewed at all as an effort to split up the EU.


Facing a new start?

Mr. Ischinger showed himself pleased after the joint meeting with the Russian president and MSC representatives, stating that attendees had especially agreed on the importance for the West and Russia to make a new start. “President Medvedev agreed with us expressly on that after having made a new start we now need to come up with new programs, contents and projects to bring new life and trust into our relations.” Before, in a sideline comment at the MSC conference in Moscow, Mr. Ischinger had emphasized that the new international security architecture called for by the Kremlin was overdue. “With the current system, we were not able to prevent the conflicts in Georgia and Kosovo,” the top diplomat pointed out. So, are there any historical steps expected to be taken between the East and the West in the near future? Given the ongoing political thaw, the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon, which the Russian president is going to attend as well, should provide further indications as to the formation of a new pan-European security architecture, which then might make it possible to deal with the as yet unresolved conflicts in Transnistria and the Caucasian region. In this respect, Poland’s former foreign minister Adam Rotfeld voiced his optimism at the end of the MSC Core Group meeting. “We talked about forming a security community. I think that not only is such a community possible, but I also think that decisions on this will be made soon.” Wolfgang Ischinger has already made preparations for such a case by extending an invitation to President Medvedev to attend the Munich Security Conference and deliver a keynote speech.