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6 Feb, 2010 09:08

Security in Europe in decline – Russian FM

European and Euro-Atlantic security has deteriorated over the last twenty years and needs change, stated Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference.

“In the last 20 years European security has become weak in every aspect. This concerns the erosion of the arms control regime, atrophy of the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe], emergence of serious conflicts, and the danger of uncontrolled escalation – as well as attempts to turn frozen conflicts into hot ones,” Lavrov noted.

He pointed out that, after the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, new opportunities opened to build a unified and equal security system for all. This, however, was hampered by the expansion of NATO, which did not only keep dividing lines in Europe but also moved them further to the East.

Moreover, several conflicts over the last two decades have shown that the security system in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic region is not be trusted – Lavrov mentioned the conflict in Yugoslavia in 1999 and the recent conflict in South Ossetia in 2008 as examples.

Thus, Russia has proposed the creation of a new legal base for a treaty to construct an equal and indivisible security system for all states in the Euro-Atlantic region. This proposal was made earlier by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and sent out to world leaders and international organizations for consideration. Its main idea is that no state should allow its territory to be used to attack another country, while an attack on any member state should be treated as an attack on all.

The unified security problem should be solved once and for all, Sergey Lavrov added.

“Thus, we will be able to create a solid base for joint actions of the US, Europe and Russia in international issues,” he said.

At the same conference the United States made it public it has begun a new stage in the deployment of a missile shield in Eastern Europe. America will discuss the plans with all the parties involved, including Russia, announced US National Security Advisor James Jones in Munich.

Moscow has said it is open to discussion, but is waiting for an explanation about the recent decision to deploy anti-ballistic missile shield elements in Romania.

The US State Department says parts of the system – which it claims is aimed at Iran – will be positioned in the European country by 2015.

Iran's nuclear deal and the rise of China on the international scene are also among the hot topics at a conference in Munich.

Both Washington and Berlin said they saw no sign Iran would make concessions on its nuclear program, despite Tehran hinting at prospects for a deal.

Meanwhile, Beijing strongly criticized Washington for selling arms to Taiwan, with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also stating that China is getting stronger on the international stage.