by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a panel discussion at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Symposium in Berlin

  • 08 Dec. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 10 Dec. 2021 08:48

(As delivered)

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]: [Translated]

I am happy that this panel on peace and security policy, - 50 years after the Nobel Prize was bestowed to Willy Brandt-, consists of renowned experts on these issues today.  From Brussels, we have NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.  Good evening, Mr Stoltenberg.  We have the Head of OSCE, Helga Schmid.  Good evening, Ms Schmid.  Frau Schröder is here, she is Conflict Researcher and she heads the Institute for Peace, Research and Security Policy in Hamburg.  And the Chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Mr Schulz is here, long year President of the EU Parliament. 

Mr Stoltenberg, I would like to start with you before we shed some light on the current situation at the eastern border of the EU, the relationship to Russia. 

Now, I would like to start with your special relationship to Willy Brandt, which is multi-layered.  You are NATO Secretary General.  You were the Minister President of Norway. A country that has always had special relations to Willy Brandt.  He went to exile in Norway.  His wife Rut was Norwegian.  He got the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  And you're the son of a man who knew Willy Brandt personally.  Your father was also a diplomat.  You once said that Willy Brandt was your role model, that he shaped your own career.  How does he also shape your policy, maybe also against the backdrop of the current crisis?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:

Well, Willy Brandt was a great leader and an important statesman, and he shaped the time when he served as Foreign Minister and Chancellor in Germany, but he still sends a very clear and important message to those who are serving today in different political positions.  I

think the main message that really stands out is his message about dialogue, the importance to talk to, at that time, the Soviet Union, but also to do that based on unity and a firm approach. 

And that’s exactly what NATO does today.  We have what we call a dual track approach to Russia, deterrence and defence but also dialogue.  And there is no contradiction, as Willy Brandt pointed out, between being firm in our approach to our neighbour in the East, at the same time engaging in dialogue. 

But let me also say that my relationship with Willy Brandt is exactly as you mentioned. He has very close connections to Norway.  I met him two times in Oslo. As a quite young Social Democrat, and he spoke fluent Norwegian.  He came to Norway in 1933.  He moved back to Germany in 1946, then as a Norwegian citizen working for the Norwegian government.  And then he, after that, went into German politics again and became the Mayor of Berlin, and you know the rest of the story.

But he visited Norway many times and I remember when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, it was a big march, exactly 50 years ago, in Oslo, with thousands of people with torches, showing their respect for Willy Brandt, from the left to the right of political spectrum. 

And then he also came back the year after, in 1972, and there was a big, big manifestation on the big square in the middle of Oslo, where he spoke fluent Norwegian to thousands, tens of thousands of Norwegians. And I was there as again a young man, listening to Willy Brandt speaking about the importance of the European Union, of standing together in Europe, and he tried to convince the Norwegians to join the European Union.  I was on the yes side, but the yes side lost, so Norway is still out of... not part of the European Union, but Willy Brandt was really the man that made a huge effort to try to also convince Norwegians to join the European Union. 

So, he was a great leader and is highly respected in Norway.  And actually, just a few days ago, the Norwegian authorities in Oslo decided to name a square in Oslo after Willy Brandt, just close to where he actually lived for many years in Oslo.  So, there will be a Willy Brandt Square in Oslo, 50 years after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Stoltenberg, but let us come back to the current situation, please.  We have seen that the conflict or the tensions, vis-a-vis Russia, have aggravated in the last days.  There's a conflict about to break out.  How close are we to a potential escalation?  How far away are you from a dialogue with Russia?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:

Because we are in the serious situation because we have seen over some time now, significant Russian military build-up close to the borders of Ukraine, and actually also inside Ukraine, because Russia occupies Crimea, which is part of Ukraine.  And Russia also is present and support the separatists in Eastern Ukraine, in Donbas. 

And we see Russian heavy military equipment, we see armoured units, we see drones, different kinds of capabilities also to do electronic warfare, and tens of thousands of combat ready troops. 

Of course, no one knows with certainty, there is no clarity about Russia's intention, but we know that Russia has used force against Ukraine before.  They did so in 2014 and the continue to undermine the stability of Ukraine, with their presence in the Eastern part of their country, in Donbas.  And they have conducted cyberattacks and other hybrid attacks against Ukraine.  So, we know their capabilities, we know their track record and therefore this is a very serious situation. 

But again, dialogue is the way and we need a political solution.  So, therefore we call on Russia to de-escalate, to withdraw their... to reduce tensions and to be transparent about their intentions.  And therefore we also welcome the talk that took place between President Biden and President Putin yesterday, and we really hope that Russia, this time, will not use military force, but respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a sovereign independent state in Europe, Ukraine.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mrs Schmid, your organisation is an organisation in which all the conflicting parties are represented.  You are an organisation for understanding entente dialogue.  What can be the role that OSCE can play in the face of this conflict?

Helga Schmid [Head of OSCE]: [Translated]

Well, first of all, I'd like to second what Mr Stoltenberg just said, dialogue is of the essence.  And I also welcome the telephone call between the two presidents, Biden and Putin, that took place yesterday.  The OSCE, since 2014, has carried out an observer mission in Ukraine.  We've deployed more than 700 observers from 14 OSCE participating states, that monitor the ceasefire 24/7 and, in the face of the current situation, this is of utmost importance.  They draft regular reports on it, but they are also a very element to build trust. 

In May of this year, I was on the ground myself and I could get an impression myself.  But this mission is also crucial for another reason. Because it provides very specific, hands on support for citizens, negotiating on local ceasefires that allow for necessary repairs to take place in the infrastructure, gas pipes, electricity. Because in each and every conflict - and this is something we tend to forget - people are the ones that suffer and that bear the brunt.  But as OSCE, we're also involved in political conflict resolution.  We're part of the trilateral contact group.  There is a special envoy of the OSCE to bring about a political conflict resolution and, in this context, let me state that Germany plays an important role as part of the Normandy Format, when implementing the Minsk Agreement.  And, to my mind, this remains the only viable path, i.e., fully implementing the Minsk Agreement.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Ms Schroder, you are a conflict researcher.  What would you say?  What would be your take?  Are we right on the brink of an unintentional escalation and how can we ever avoid it?

Ursula Schröder [Conflict Researcher, Institute for Peace, Research & Security Policy]: [Translated]

Well, what we see today is a situation which is very much shaped by escalation dynamics.  This is something that has become very rare an occurrence in Europe.  And the way in which this escalation that we can call a security predicament is compelled on both sides by rhetorics.  Well, this is something that has to be stopped in order to minimise risk, and this takes us back to Willy Brandt, to the necessity of dialogue and why we need that dialogue so direly.  Because we do know, and research tells us so and we know it from our experience made in the Cold War, that dialogue formats are indispensable, to be able to talk to one another, to understand the intentions that are underlying behind certain actions, and to understand the interests behind certain activities.  And sounding out interest, putting interests on the table, looking at where we find a common denominator.  This is something we have to go for. And, one of the simplest things we have in common at the time, is to avoid an unintentional escalation of a military conflict in Europe, to prevent this from happening.  And we're closer to that than we've ever been and here we need central dialogue formats between NATO and Russia, and they no longer exist, they are no longer resorted to.  The central dialogue format within the OSCE are not used in a way they could be used.  So, one of the options at hand to make change happen is to resort to OSCE more strongly.  And another option would be to enhance the communication between NATO and Russia, to resume this communication, understanding that containing violence will only work if people talk to one another.  And if institutions are in place and are funded and are retained, that gives a forum to talk to one another.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Schulz, you just travelled to Moscow.  You were on the ground.  What is your take on the current situation?

Martin Schulz [Chairman, Friedrich-Ebert Foundation]: [Translated]

I believe the... well, the most essential impressions that I gained were just outlined by your, Ms Schroder.  I think there is a verbal arms race going on, on both sides, and words at some point result in actions.  This is an escalation spiral that can lead to military confrontation, so let's face it, it could eventually lead to an armed conflict.  So, everything has to be done which would contribute to de-escalating.  I fully share the point of view expressed by Jens Stoltenberg, who just pointed out that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were on the phone yesterday for two hours, and those who talk to one another don’t shoot at one another.  This may be a most trivial thing to say, but in this case it holds true when we look at this dramatic situation.  And for sure it does make sense and it is a sign of progress. 

I feel that all the formats in the world, this is an important wording that you’ve just chose, all the formats that are at hand and that are around, and that could set a framework within which the conflicting parties can do something which might bring about peaceful solutions, i.e., sounding out where we can deepen our joint interests and where is it more fruitful than pursuing confrontation.  Well, this framework has to be made use of, has to be harnessed.  The OSCE is such a framework and it was established as a consequence of Willy Brandt's action.  Let me reiterate this, when we think of Willy Brandt and commemorate Willy Brandt's policy of the 1960s and 1970s, for which he was bestowed the Nobel Peace Price, followed a basic philosophy, overcoming borders.  Overcoming borders also meant, at the time, overcoming the frontiers between antagonist blocks, ideologically speaking, but just armed and being aggressively confronted to one another.  And Willy Brandt pursued this philosophy of change by rapprochement recognising realities.  And what resulted from it was to be prepared to enter into a dialogue, aiming at the renunciation of violence.  So, this was the roadmap that he devised together with Egon Bahr.  What this all boiled down to was the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that set such a framework.  Another framework of the like is, without any doubt, the NATO-Russia Council which, for manifold reason, is no longer convened.  But this was also a similar dialogue format, so it's a good thing that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin spoke to one another.  Another format, another option is, and let's stick to it, the United Nations.  All these institutions, the OSCE, the European Union, the United Nations, and their subsidiary organisations, are multilateral structures, so I believe what is required, and this Willy Brandt's basic message, i.e., that conflicts cannot be solved singlehandedly, but they have to be solved by networking and linking up joint interests. And, to do so, you need global and regional frameworks.  And this is a most timely thing to do.  I just listened very closely to what Member of Parliament, Jan [Deren], said, he said that Willy Brandt was an expression of societal development of his time, of his era, and without any doubt this was the case. 

Heidi Wieczorek-Zeul at the time was a young Chairwoman of the Young Socialists, emanating from the 1968 movement.  Willy Brandt understood to involve and integrate all of these people and I tend to say that this type of policymaking within the Social Democratic movement is one that we experience today. 

Let me recall, Mr Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken can be very proud of this day, when the Social Democratic Chancellor was voted into office.  And if we listen to the young generation, Deren is a young MP from my circumscription whom we saw in the video, when taking a closer look then once again we're right in the midst of a process of integrating a new generation into the Social Democratic movement. 

And what is the aim of these young men and women?  It's tolerance, respect, dignity, across all borders, going beyond ideological limitations.  And this is nothing else but Willy Brandt's message. 

I believe that 50 years down the road from that Nobel Peace Prize, here at the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, we commemorate Willy Brandt and we are not only paying tribute to somebody being put in a museum because, at the time, he was the embodiment of societal change of his time, but because he brought about something else. He was that symbol but he was also, let's face it, a ground breaking personality for history who was able to incarnate, as a person, what the war ridden generation experienced, as a consequence of their own experience, and they worded it as such.  We want structures that put an end to a repetition of atrocities and the demons of the first half of the 20th century and, to do so, they needed instruments, and those instruments were created by Willy Brandt.  And this is what he received the Nobel Peace Prize for.  And these instruments are still valid today; we can resort to those instruments to day.  The OSCE is just one example.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Well, in this format, and you mentioned the tools, we would like to listen to the young MPs once again.  Young MPs expressing themselves on realities and topicality of Willy Brandt.

[Video plays of young MPs – in German, no translation provided]

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Stoltenberg, one question goes out to you.  What are the new instruments that we would need in our toolkit, in the face of a conflict ridden world, a world that is more and more influenced by conflict?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:

First of all, we need strong multilateral institutions, strong international institutions where nations come together and sit around the same table, and then find political solutions to disagreements and conflicts, instead of solving them on the battlefield.

And this is what we need today, but that’s the same message as Willy Brandt conveyed when he was a strong proponent for developing exactly those institutions. 

And I totally agree with Martin Schulz that we need to use those institutions to ensure peace and stability. Especially now when we see increased tensions and a more unpredictable and uncertain world.  Then we need strong multilateral institutions, like for instance NATO. 

I also believe that we should use the tools and the platforms we have to engage with Russia.  And NATO really believes and continues to strive for a meaningful dialogue with Russia, including in the institution we established after the end of the Cold War, the NATO-Russia Council, where NATO Allies and Russia come together and meet and discuss a wide range of issues, including Ukraine, risk reduction exercises, arms control, and many other issues. 

Therefore I regret that actually now for 18 months we have not been able to convene any meeting on the NATO-Russia Council.  NATO has offered to convene a meeting, we have invited Russia again and again, but Russia has rejected any invitation to meet in the NATO-Russia Council.  Our invitation stands. 

And the reason why we are not talking in this institutionalised framework is that Russia has just said that they are not ready to meet.  We still have what are military lines of communications with Russia.  I meet with of course... I met recently, for instance, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but that’s a different thing than having the institutionalised, organised conversation/dialogue with all Allies and Russia. 

Let me also highlight that what's going on in Ukraine now is the result of Russia's aggressive actions.  We all have a responsibility to not escalate and to carefully calibrate our language and rhetoric.  But there can be no doubt that the reason why we are in the problem in Ukraine is that Russia don’t want Ukraine to be an independent sovereign nation. 

One of the most important documents that actually came out of the Ostpolitik was the Helsinki Final Act, that all countries in Europe subscribe to, including the Soviet Union and, today, Russia, which states very clearly that every independent nation, every nation has the right to choose its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of. 

Despite that, Russia says that it is a provocation towards Russia that eastern countries, or countries in the eastern part of Europe, Poland, the Baltic countries, have joined NATO.  And it's a big provocation, according to Russia, that Ukraine is aspiring for NATO membership. 

Russia wants to go back to a time where big powers, great powers, had spheres of influence.  Where big powers could decide what smaller neighbours could do or not do. 

We don’t want to live in that world.  That’s a different world than the world that is enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, stating clearly that all independent nations can choose their own path and we have to respect that.  So, I respect countries that decides not to join NATO, but also respect the sovereign right of, for instance, Ukraine to strive for membership, to aspire for membership.  And then it's only the 30 Allies and Ukraine that has the right to decide when Ukraine meets the standards to become a NATO Ally.  And we had to be very clear on these principles because they are actually enshrined in documents that are the child of the Ostpolitik and that are the principles we are standing up for.  And that’s also the reason why we so much reject that... or dislike that Russia, for the first time since the Second World War, have used military force to take a part of another country, by annexing Crimea back in 2014.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Ms Schroder, let me come back to you.  You're saying that dialogue formats and dialogue in general is very important, also with regards to the current crisis.  The NATO-Russia Council is on ice.  You also say there's a new generation of arms experts that don’t talk to each other anymore.  Many arms experts have retired, there's no dialogue anymore.  So, what is left in terms of dialogue formats?

Ursula Schröder [Conflict Researcher, Institute for Peace, Research & Security Policy]: [Translated]

Well, I think we have to distinguish between different forms of dialogue.  We need to re-establish formats of dialogue or perpetuate them.  Of course there are the classical dialogue formats, NATO-EU Council... sorry, NATO-Russia Council is an example, however it's not working well at the moment.  And then we have to set up scientific commissions, we have to set up civil society formats, we have to have diplomatic talks.  And one of the possibilities is to discuss it in policy format and to figure out who are our counterparts, who are the people on the other end?  Who is this new generation of Russians that we can talk to, that we have to live with, that we are going to negotiate with and thus have to know?  It's always about communication and dialogue.  It comes down to knowing each other and it is about playing repeated games, as we say, to meet again and to wait and know that, in the future, you're going to meet again and you're going to negotiate again, hence it doesn't make any sense to leave the negotiating table.  Everybody knows that we have a long shade of it in the future, we are going to cooperate in the next 30 years and we have to get to know each other.  And in addition to classical negotiation diplomacy, we need civil society formats, or formats like we have it.  We have created a format where we have the young arms control and disarmament controls of the US, of Russia and Germany, we bring them together so that they get to know each other, that they can exchange their positions, so that they can pursue business like peace policy in the spirit of Willy Brandt. 

Willy Brant, in his speech, said policy for peace is the real policy for our era.  I would still subscribe to this.  It is not about idealistic dialogues, looking into each other's eyes and just talk. No.  It is about a business like analysis.  Who is the other side?  What do they want?  How can we get together?  It is a typical negotiating position and situation, where the security dilemma that I tried to sketch can be solved.  The security dilemma we see in NATO, in its interaction with Russia, so the perception of the counterpart causes aggression on either end and then we have this armament and aggression spiral.  And this has to be broken up urgently.  And we can only do this if both sides talk to each other, if either side understands what the other side wants. 

Maybe also looking into history is helpful.  Why does Russia pursue certain security policy interests? 

Why does Russia pursue certain status oriented interests?

And what does this have to do with NATO's east enlargement? 

A very old debate, but the current snapshots that we see have to be connected to the last 20 years of security policy in Europe.  And there are perceptions on the Russian side that exist.  We don’t have to like them, but we have to accept them and we have to learn how to deal with them.  That would be a first step. 

If we want to deescalate the conflict, if we want to talk to each other, we have to figure out how do we get out of this highly escalated situation and how do we minimise risks?  

And the concept of risk minimisation is the concept that comes from the OSCE and can be perpetuated there.  You have to know each other to minimise risks and to avoid unintended consequences.  And that’s the first step that we need.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Ms Schmid, how can we make sure that this is going to happen?

Helga Schmid [Head of OSCE]: [Translated]

I totally agree with Ms Schroder.  Dialogue and cooperation is what it comes down to, and this is OSCE.  In OSCE, you have 57 member states.  They all sit at one table. 

I have just attended the Minister Council in Stockholm and we had 50 ministers represented there, including the Russian Foreign Secretary, the Ukrainian and the American Foreign Secretaries.  And we, in this format, have a chance. 

I mean, every Thursday I spend with the 57 ambassadors in Vienna and the entire topics are put on the table and are discussed. 

And I totally agree with Ms Schroder, we have to talk to each other, we have to know each other.  That doesn't mean that you throw your principles overboard. 

And here, the Helsinki Final Act is one of the most remarkable documents and the principles, Mr Stoltenberg mentioned a few of them, are not up for debate. 

We have everything.  We have the organisation, we have the principles, we have the instruments, but they have to be used and applied.  And let me give you an example of how we do this.  I also agree that we need informal dialogue formats.  We have focused a lot on conflicts and on the current example, of course, but the framework is much broader.  Willy Brandt also stands for holistic notion of security that the OSCE also focuses on, and it implies that peace and security are not just dependent on the military dimension, but they are also influenced by environment, economic and social issues. 

Willy Brandt said that there is no permanent peace without social justice, which is absolutely true.  This is why, in OSCE, we launch many corruption combat programmes.  We also foster the participation of women.  Or the third dimension, human rights, fundamental freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, etc., also through our media commission.  Or the high commission for minorities that in particular deals with the issues of minorities, which is also part of conflict prevention. 

But let me give you an example, disarmament has been mentioned, it's very important yes.  Formal structures are blocked.  During the German presidency of 2016, a structured dialogue was launched.  This is an informal possibility to do exactly what Ms Schroder sketched, i.e., to minimise risks.  And now imagine, we are in the 21st century, artificial intelligence, autonomous weapon systems, all these things exist, imagine they take leadership and replace humans and human control.  Inconceivable. 

A few months ago, for instance, in OSCE, I started a security chat.  I invited experts from Russia, from the United States and also from other countries.  These are experts on artificial intelligence.  These people deal with exactly these issues and I asked them what would happen etc., in such a case.  And I think that was very relevant.  We have to raise awareness of these threats in order to minimise the risks.  The OSCE is one of the few dialogue formats where we have talk channels.  Mr Stoltenberg said that the NATO-Russia Council hasn’t met for many months but, in OSCE, militaries talk to each other, they still do, which is very relevant too.  And then the meaning of civil society.  In Stockholm at the Minister Council, I also talked to members of civil society.  I do this on a regular basis because their concerns are also very, very relevant to understand what security really means and also to include their interests in the notion of security. 

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Schulz, we said that the NATO-Russia Council is no longer meeting, the EU doesn't have close relations to Russia either, do you think that the new German government should stage its own dialogue with Putin?

Martin Schulz [Chairman, Friedrich-Ebert Foundation]: [Translated]

Difficult to answer.  I think that the approach of the new German government, and this is also part of the coalition agreement, is an approach that fosters multilateral approaches.  Bilateral singlehanded approaches are not right. 

You cannot say on the one hand, we want to strengthen Europe, make it strong so that it becomes a political union that is able to act, and then on the other hand cooperate at a bilateral level.  I think this is not mutually inclusive. 

So we need a European Russia approach. 

This doesn't rule out that Germany and the government of the Russian Federation negotiate certain things at a bilateral level. North Stream 2 would be an example because the German-Russian relationship is affected by this in particular. By the way that the German-American relationship is also affected by this.  And these examples show you that German policy singlehandedly wouldn’t work.  You have to consider all the other interdependencies.  So, solo actions of Germany wouldn’t be sufficient. 

I have the following impression, the European Union, in this concert, does not play a role.  And this is a result that Jean Asselborn already mentioned.  Mr Gonzalez also highlighted it.  This is one of the dilemmas that the European Union is confronted with.  On the one hand, we cannot act as a union of state, based on the same principle and values.  We cannot act as such a union, vis-à-vis other countries or authoritarian regimes, and criticise them and, on the other hand, accept that there are governments like the one in Warsaw or Budapest, or in Ljubljana, that consistently violate these principles and values.  This is a dilemma of the EU.  You cannot appear as a teacher and then neglect your own principles.  Or the ones that violate the principles get not sanctioned. 

Another dilemma is that, in security policy, the EU doesn't pursue a unified line.  We also have members in the EU that are not NATO members, so they don’t feel committed to NATO's strategy.  By the way, we have candidate states to the EU that are member of NATO, but have or buy weapon systems from the Russian Federation. Turkey. 

So, we are in a very difficult situation.  The European Union needs a fundamental reform, especially in the area of security policy.  The EU is developing or submitting a security strategy in spring 2022 and I hope that this strategy will result in a coherent European strategy.  If this doesn't work, then I would say that Germany, and this would be my response to your question, launched an initiative together with the French government and also with others. 

I think that Olaf Scholz, Mario Draghi, and Emmanuel Macron would be able, as the heads of the three G7 states that remained in the EU, can launch a joint initiative, not just economically, socially and ecologically, but also in the area of security policy.  These three countries are strong enough to do this. 

And if, in the EU, there won't be a consistent policy then we should use Article 20 of the EU Treaty, because these would then be the countries that want to take a common approach, for instance within NATO and with a common strategy with NATO, and appear as a European partner.  It is the strength and cooperation.  I think this is an approach that would be in the spirit of Willy Brandt.  Don’t exclude anybody, don’t push anybody out, but those who want to advance should be able to do this.  They shouldn’t be held back by those who are more hesitant and want to follow only later, once this approach has turned out to be successful.  I think this would be progress for all of us and potentially also a birthday present to Ms Schmid.  By the way, it's her birthday today and I think we should mention this in this situation.  Let's not forget her birthday.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Congratulations from all of us.  We just congratulated you before this meeting.  Ms Schroder, you said in the run up to our talk that climate change was a topic that required cooperation and dialogue and that there, dialogue was possible, even with authoritarian states.  What do you mean by that?  How do you perceive that?

Ursula Schröder [Conflict Researcher, Institute for Peace, Research & Security Policy]: [Translated]

Let's open this question up, linking it up to the European issue because what is most frustrating to my mind is to see how much the European Union is left on the sidelines, except in climate policy, because there we have the Green New Deal and things are happening here. 

My question that I'd raise to the European Union is, what are the orientations of the European Union?  How is the European Union positioned in a global order which is not only faced with an erosion of multilateral institutions, but which is also confronted with the crisis of the overall narrative that marked and shaped the post war order. 

Post war order was based on an idea that ….democratisation, economic interconnection would contribute to peace.  And this narrative is now in ashes and we are not sure where we're headed right now.

So what is the EU's position as a player which is threatened by strategic shrinkage, like Josep Borrell said. 

How is the EU positioned in a chaotic world and in an emerging world order that we cannot oversee right now? 

And then biggest issues that are confronting us are the pandemic, the climate crisis and inequalities between the global north and the global south. 

And these are questions that we cannot actually tackle with the current toolkit of international treaties and agreements. 

And the climate crisis is a big part of the problem because we see that we live in a situation in which planetary boundaries are not only at stake, but that they are also bypassed and torn down, and we are now very much threatened for our coexistence on the planet.  In order to face these climate crises, we need institutions, fora and cooperation opportunities across all ideological borders. 

And here I see an opportunity to re-grasp. And the opportunity is to interact even with states have not abided by the democratic catalogue and canon of values stipulated and promoted by the European Union.  This field of climate policy is one in which we can find a common interest across the planet, and this interest boils down to surviving.  Mere survival is what it all comes down to.  And by way of classic cooperation and cooperative security policy, you can make inroads here, establishing realms in which we can cooperation with Russia, for instance.  And here we can also cooperate with China.  It's about climate policy issues.  It's about adaptation, mitigation strategies.  This is where we can talk to one another and we can also open up ancillary fora in which we can build trust over time, building cooperative relationships. 

Looking at what is the most chronic and most devastating challenge we need to address, it is not the acute crisis happening in Ukraine, which is of course important, it is key we have to tackle it acutely, because it might escalate and might lead to military escalation with unheard of consequences for Europe, but the big crises are global ones, are planetary ones.  And here, as civil society, as researchers, as policymakers, we need to get together in order to tackle these issues thoroughly, and climate policy is an opportunity here. 

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

And this is where OSCE comes in to play, do you see a role for you here as well?

Helga Schmid [Head of OSCE]: [Translated]

Yes, absolutely.  At the Stockholm Council of Ministers last week, we resolved upon something very far reaching, allowing the OSCE to become more active in this field.  For me, climate change is the biggest threat we are confronted with in the 21st century.  I fully agree with my predecessors. 

And it is also a security related problem because, in particular in fragile countries, this might lead to an even more dire situation when it's about fighting for scares resources, increasing migratory pressure.  And this is where the OSCE can come in and do what others can't, i.e., supporting cooperation between countries that are not friendly otherwise, and this is what we've done.  We've supported joint analyses, cross border analyses because climate change doesn't stop at national borders, it is a cross border phenomenon in many areas that we looked into, the most serious are to be found in cross border regions very often. 

And then we support cross border cooperation, be it in the Western Balkans or when fighting forest fires in the Southern Caucasus.  So, it's a huge area. 

But let me subscribe to what Ms Schroder said, the biggest challenges we need to address are global ones and one of them is climate change. 

And for OSCE, what counts a lot is also combating human trafficking.  In the wake of the pandemic, it has become a huge topic, with 25 million victims per year.  Prosecution is just minimum on. We just found one perpetrator who is brought to justice for 2,500 victims.  And internationally, with other organisations, we made a very fruitful effort in order to enhance legal prosecution here, bringing in the victim's perspective and also resorting to support provided by a lot of countries, that don’t only focus on bringing perpetrators to justice but also focusing on victims, because most of them are women and children. 

And I believe that these are the major problems. 

Corruption is one as well.  We're very present in combating corruption because it undermines social justice, which gives rise to a lot of conflict.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

OK.  So, let us once again listen to the young MPs, looking at in what way Willy Brandt's legacy is still up to date and how necessary it is to commemorate his messages.

[Video plays of young MPs - not in English]

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Yeah, a strategy peace and security policy that Willy Brandt insisted upon, what could it look like today?  Mr Stoltenberg, NATO is now looking for a new strategy, you want to present it.  Where do you, as a defence Alliance, want to go?  What do you want to reach?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]:

Our main goal is to preserve peace. 

That’s the reason why NATO was established 72 years ago and that’s the main reason why NATO has to continue to exist as a strong Alliance, binding North America and Europe together: to preserve peace. 

Deterrence and defence is not something we have to provoke a conflict, but to prevent a conflict.  And therefore I also think that one of the main messages from Willy Brandt was that we need this combination of strength and dialogue, and working hard for peace, arms control and all the political tools we need to underpin our efforts, to maintain peace and stability. 

I have experienced something of that myself, as the Norwegian Prime Minister for ten years, is that in Norway, up in the High North, we were actually able to work quite closely with the Soviet Union, even during the coldest period of the Cold War.  And we worked together with them on issues like energy, military cooperation, we agreed a delimitation line in the Barents Sea.  And the reality is that that close contact cooperation, dialogue with Russia, in the High North, was not despite NATO, but it was because of NATO, because that provided the strength, the platform that made it possible even for a small country to engage with a big neighbour, the Soviet Union and later on Russia. 

And when Willy Brandt was Chancellor, he reached out to the Soviet Union.  He engaged in dialogue and took many important initiatives to promote arms control, multilateral institutions, like for instance the OSCE and other institutions.

 But at the same time, he realised the importance of not being naïve and having strong deterrence and defence, and being part of the Transatlantic Alliance.  We discussed today whether NATO Allies can spend 2% of GDP on defence, that’s the NATO guideline and many Allies are not yet there. 

When Willy Brandt was Chancellor in Germany, Germany spent 3% of GDP on defence and it was actually increasing. 

So, I am strongly in favour of arms control.  I am strongly in favour of reducing tensions, and dialogue. 

At the same time, we must never create any room for miscalculation, misunderstanding, that we are not able to defend and protect all Allies.  Because if there's any misunderstanding about that, then we risk that what has happened to Georgia, to Moldova, to Ukraine, that has suffered military aggression by Russia over the last years, can happen to a NATO Allied country. And then we are really in deep trouble.  So, the balancing act, the challenge is to reconcile the need for strong deterrence and defence with the need for dialogue.  And actually I don’t think there's a contradiction, I think actually they work hand in hand, as also proven by Willy Brandt when he was the Chancellor of Germany.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Schulz, don’t be naïve.  Do you think that Willy Brandt would have had the same position on deterrence and disarmament today as well?

Martin Schulz [Chairman, Friedrich-Ebert Foundation]: [Translated]

Yes, I think so.  We must not make the mistake that in hindsight we start treating people like saints.  We have to see people realistically as part of their time, so what stayed, what has had long term implications. 

I had the big privilege to work together with Egon Bahr for a long period time. And Egon Bahr was the big strategic thinker on the side of Willy Brandt, and he was his adviser.  And Egon Bahr used to say what nobody sees today is that we were Cold War people, we were Cold War proponents.  Willy Brandt was the Mayor of the [front] city of Berlin.  On the other side of the wall, there was a communist, violent regime that was aggressive.  We were surrounded by the territory of the Warsaw Pact.  We were kind of an island that was supplied by... or externally, and we had nothing in common with the communists.  We had no dealings with them.  Willy Brandt was not a friend of Leonid Brezhnev but, as a Federation Chancellor, he was the interlocutor of the Secretary General of the Soviet Union.  Hence I believe that Willy Brandt would take a very technical view and ask himself what do we need in the current situation. 

And I think that we have to take seriously what Jens Stoltenberg just said, on the one hand we need the strength and the willingness to stage and forge a dialogue, but we have to ask ourselves do all NATO members pursue this principle.  I hope so.  The Secretary General of NATO definitely has it.  We need this will because, without this will, if it is just empty words, nobody would take you seriously.  You need to show the willingness to stage a dialogue. 

But also, why does Putin talk to Biden?  And why doesn't he talk to Mrs Von Der Leyen or Mr Michel, or whoever? 

Because, on the other end, there is a person that in terms of the readiness to stage a dialogue, is a partner but it is also a person that would be willing to go into conflict.  So, I think you need both.  You need the ability to defend your own interests, if necessary with military means, and you have to present them in a format of dialogue and then realise them.  The latter is important to avoid that in the first area there will be a confrontation. 

What Willy Brandt at the time however didn’t have, and this is something that we, in the context of a future NATO strategy and in the context of a future EU security strategy, this is something that we need to consider, is challenges of the 21st century.

 Now, Ms Schroder mentioned them.  We today are confronted with, and this by the way, I find the dialogue with civil society so important, we are confronted with new forms of risks. 

We are confronted with  new risks, hybrid wars, cyberattacks, artificial intelligence and the use of artificial intelligence.  We are confronted with non state actors in the area of security, take the IS, the Islamic State, they cause trouble on our planet, so we need, in the context of multilateralism, new structures to also master these challenges. 

And this is what is missing in our discussion, because these are things that Willy Brandt could not respond to in the 1970s, but we have to find answers to these challenges today. 

Having said that, I hope that in the future NATO strategy and in the future EU strategy, these issues will play a significant role, a bigger role than in the past. 

Why am I saying this?  Focusing on the 2% goal, that we earmark more money for our defence and security, is only reasonable if there is a concept behind it, saying what should this money be spent for.  It cannot just be traditional armament.  We buy an aircraft carrier, we have more Starfighters or fighter planes, we recruit more soldiers. 

We mainly need responses to hybrid and cyber challenges of the 21st century and probably we will need more money for this than solders.  .

So, this is for instance something where we in the 21st century need to find new concepts, and Willy Brandt cannot be a role model for this.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Ms Schroder, hybrid threat scenarios we have seen at the Polish - Belarusian border, so migrants that were sent across borders in other words.  What can be a potential response to that?

Ursula Schröder [Conflict Researcher, Institute for Peace, Research & Security Policy]: [Translated]

I don’t think this is a hybrid threat scenario.  I wouldn’t describe it like that.  Hybrid threats and hybrid wars. Well sometimes these concepts result in situations where everything is vague.  Everything is now hybrid wars, destabilisation campaigns come in combination with military threat logic.  I mean, everything is called hybrid nowadays. And, well it is not wrong. But I think what we are observing at the Polish-Ukrainian border is first and foremost a humanitarian disaster, which has to be dealt with totally differently by the EU.  Of course there are political interests involved.  We can talk about letting Lukashenko act by Russia, we can talk about Poland's foreign policy in detail, but in the evening, when it gets cold, what we see is, is people in forests, in Poland, and they are freezing to death.  And that is unacceptable, hence we need a European asylum policy that deserves the name.  That is not a commissioned resolution. 

I mean we have European asylum policy that has to be fostered and advanced, and this now needs to be implemented.  We need a mechanism that puts the EU in a position of handling such a migration policy crisis. 

It has to put the EU in a position where refugees, beyond the countries of first reception, can handle the situation.  Everything needs to be done in the context of the Geneva Convention and this is not happening.

 It's very hard to watch this because I see that this EU policy hasn’t worked in a long time.  Asylum policy, border policy, humanitarian policy don’t work. And we have to remedy this as quickly as possible.  And this is one facet of the interaction between Ukraine, Poland and the EU.  For me, it is a migration policy issue that needs to be handled as quickly as possible.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Mr Schulz, you're nodding and we just talked about the conflict of values [inaudible]…In what way is this symptomatic, the things we observe here?  I mean, the need of Poland to maintain its security is maybe contrary to the understanding of the European Union as a values union, in these refugee issues.

Martin Schulz [Chairman, Friedrich-Ebert Foundation]: [Translated]

Well, I just tried to outline some of the dilemmas we have in the European Union and this is just one.  Of course Poland has the right to not be put under pressure at its borders by somebody who follows a roadmap destabilising the European Union, so he's not interested, or they are not interested, Lukashenko's not interested in the fate of these people, but he's about to destabilise the European Union.  He wants to trigger a debate that destabilises the European Union, so we need to show a solidarity with the Poles, but on the other hand, Poland is the country that refuses any progress when distributing refugees across the European Union.  It's precisely this same government and, of course, Minsk knows about it, that it's precisely this government.  And it's of course a wonderful effect that Mr Kaczynski and Mr Morawiecki, Prime Ministers, can travel Europe, asking others for help when solving the refugee problem, and then we would have to respond, well it's just the way you let us down in the refugee problem over the past couple of years, and this is what's happening. 

So, let me reiterate it. The European Union has to realise that, in all security related issues, it will at some point, - and this is not attractive what I'm telling you now but it is my deepest conviction-, Europe will have to make the resolution.  It will have to make up its mind, saying that we will settle this amongst all the 27 member states and only the 27 member states.  But if we do that then we will not bring about a solution.  If we cannot do it because, as long as we have Orbán in power in Hungary and Kaczynski in Poland, you can forget about it. 

But then there has to be a coalition of those that consider the EU Treaty as a humanitarian obligation, saying that we will stick together, distributing refugees according to principles of solidarity.  We will define a joint and legal immigration act and build towards Europe, and all the big immigration countries of the world, USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia, have legal ways of immigrating and many Europeans, by the way, make use of it. 

But just Europe is then on its own, not having this regime, because of the governments I've just pointed out to you. 

And we need standards for a joint asylum policy and distribution ratios for persons seeking refuge in the European Union, and we've had that we tabled them 25 and 30 years ago. 

The things I'm telling you now were mentioned by me in my first legislative term in parliament when I was the Home Affairs Spokesperson of my parliamentary group.  I mean, you could just retrieve some talks I gave, from the archives, that I gave at the time.  Nothing much has changed, but the problem has become bigger.  Solutions have been at hand for years, or solution approaches.  But let's face it, [inaudable] I disagree with you here.  If we cannot tackle this problem at some point, and at some point you will have a government in which you’ve got somebody like Ms von Storch who is an MP of a German parliament, a representative of her party.  She went to the European Parliament saying that, well if need be we need to shoot at the border.  This is what she said and this will take us to something, which we actually want to prevent.

Migratory issues are of course a result of ecological problems and they would be... might be a reason to trigger violence and war, and conflict.  So, it is not hybrid.  I wouldn’t call it hybrid, but it is at the brink of a conflict that can escalate and can become violent, and can become more than just a mere political provocation.

As we commemorate Willy Brandt here, there is just one instrument to remedy this.  We need to strive for dialogue and those who reject dialogue for tactical reflection shouldn’t be waited for, but dialogue would have to be organised amongst those who display the willingness to pursue a European migratory policy, respecting the aspects that we just mentioned, ecological aspects, humanitarian aspects, aspects taking into account the civil wars that place across the globe, and legal problem settlement mechanisms, legal immigration is the buzzword here.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Ms Schmid, as we are about to close this panel and as so many calls have been made on the OSCE to become more stronger and the incoming Chancellor Scholz, in his summer interview, called upon reviving the OSCE.  What would be needed for you to have greater leeway and to use it in a better way?

Helga Schmid [Head of OSCE]: [Translated]

What I'd wish for would be more visibility, greater visibility for this organisation.  So, it is endowed with a relatively small budget but carries out very comprehensive work, in accordance with Willy Brandt's legacy of a very holistic security approach.  Disarmament arms, control were mentioned and I would want to name these as priorities because new technologies that can be a blessing but, as it was mentioned before, artificial intelligence and warfare is something that we need to be... need to take a very close look at and here. More support by the new incoming German government will be important, following the tradition of the German chairmanship of 2016, where these topics were very much up on the agenda. 

But I would wish for something else to happen, i.e., that the incoming German government would become active in other fields, not just in the OSCE or... I think of climate change and I would like to refer to combatting cyber terrorism. 

Within the OSCE, we try to do something that others can't, because we follow an inclusive approach of 57 states and, in particular in the realm of cyber, we can build up a network of interlocutors so that there is no straight reaction to an incident, but that we can resort to this network of experts first of all.  This is risk reduction, minimising. 

So, we would wish for greater visibility and would wish for more verbal, outspoken support for the OSCE.  This is what I would want to wish for.

Andrea Maurer [Moderator]:  [Translated]

Let me thank you very much for this most intriguing talk.  I would like to conclude this talk with the words of Willy Brandt.  He said in 1992, just before he passed away, he said:

“Nothing will be brought about just automatically, nothing will last forever.  Be mindful of your strength.  Every era requires its own responses you have to live up to.” 

Let me thank you for this talk and the quest for the answers of our time needs to be pursued. 

Thanks to you.  Thanks to Brussels, Mr Stoltenberg.  Thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today.  Thank you Ms Schmid, Ms Schroder and Mr Schulz.  Thank you very much and have a nice evening.  Bye-bye.