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The Baltic states: a missed opportunity in global politics

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Munich SecurityConference 2018

Currently, the world’s political stage is divided between superpowers and their allies. Opposing sides criticise any step made by the other.

Guaranteeing international security in today’s world is a major issue and it’s no secret that currently its key players are unable to fulfil all the necessary functions to guarantee security. Global international security needs to be reformed, and it is yet to be decided how this will be done, and who will fulfil this role.

The most likely political platforms for this reform are the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (the OSCE is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation). But, I would argue that the preparatory stage for any new decision should instead come from different forums and conferences, such as the and the Moscow International Conference on Security.

This year the Munich Security Conference took place on February 16 – 18. More than thirty heads of state and government officials and over 100 cabinet ministers from across the globe came together to discuss major international security challenges. The Estonian President, as well as the Lithuanian and Latvian Ministers of Defence attended the event to discuss the future of their countries and of a wider Europe.

On 4 and 5 April Moscow hosted the annual Conference on International Security. The agenda covered the fight against global terrorism and other key security challenges.
Many European countries did not consider it necessary to attend. It makes no sense to blame them for this choice. They share a view on what is happening in the world, and they also agree on who is to blame. But if they could distance themselves from the current geopolitical situation and confrontation between Russia and the West, these politicians would see such forums as an opportunity for making the world safer. The reason for not attending is because politicians have forgotten how to listen to each other. The have forgotten that only by discussing controversial issues is it possible to reach a consensus.

Another matter that should be examined is the list of participants at these conferences. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, representatives from at least 95 countries, including three deputy prime ministers, 30 defence ministers, 15 chiefs of staff, 10 international organisations and military delegations attended the Conference on International Security. Participants include the defence ministers of India, South Africa, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Armenia, Mozambique, Serbia and Israel. Thus, almost half of the 193 UN member states sent representatives to the conference.

It’s evident that Russia has powerful partners and allies who are ready to discuss even the most difficult questions and find mutually beneficial solutions. Those who attended the conference do not necessarily agree with Moscow and support its foreign policy, but they clearly understand that without Russia it is impossible to improve international security.

OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger echoes this sentiment, stressing that Russia is a key partner in European security issues. The problem is that the Baltic states are blinded by a mutual dislike and distrust of Russia, thus they place their political ambitions above common sense. It’s clear that Russia isn’t happy with NATO’s actions near its borders. NATO in turn disputes the lawfulness of Russia’s behaviour. Daily confrontations are making the situation tenser and leading to an arms race. The only foreseeable solution is through discussion. The Baltic states as usual missed the opportunity to express their position on key international security issues and be the pro-active performers in global politics.

 Author: Adomas Abromaitis | Editor: Lidija Liegis

Adomas Abromaitis
Adomas Abromaitis, the Baltic Review author, a Lithuanian expatriate living in the United Kingdom.

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