Europe adapts its objectives to the new international order

, by Dimitra Kavvadia, Sarantis Michalopoulos

Europe adapts its objectives to the new international order

The annual International Security Conference - known as the “Davos of defence policy” - took place three weeks ago in Munich, Germany, under the shadow of the upcoming NATO Summit on April 3rd, which this year celebrates its 60 years of existence and action.

Taking into consideration the constantly changing conditions of the international system, the franco-german axis came up with a common attitude towards international security, dispatching in this way a “message of cohesion” on a global level.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel raised the main issues of the current reality, focusing on the challenges for the European security, which is tightly connected with the fragile geographic sub-systems that surround and inevitably affect Europe’s viability and stability. Having as main political goal “La securité, notre mission commune”, the foundations for a common diplomatic approach in terms of NATO are reinforced.

The European mood and behavior on the defense issue is quite clear in the Lisbon Treaty, where NATO is recognized as the cornerstone of the European defense system, despite the progress made by the European military initiatives such as the Solidarity Clause or the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which undoubtedly make a step forward towards the autonomy of the European defense status in long term.

Unilateralism: a fragile factor

First and foremost, there is no doubt that there is a convergence concerning the analysis of the nature of the current international system, whose only manifest characteristic is uncertainty. The unilateralism of actions, which derives from the so-called uncertainty and security dilemmas, constitutes the fundamental challenge for the European security and, accordingly, its destructive effects on the international relations and balances. Both leaders stress that the states shall abolish this practice, which increases the fragility of the international balances and simultaneously weakens any hope for diplomatic fermentations.

the unilateralism of actions constitutes the fundamental challenge for the European security

An example of unilateralism is the Russian approach to the Caucasus issue, where - after its sudden invasion - Russia proceeded to the unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the same sense, the acts by Israeli against Palestine as well as the diachronic Israeli-Turkish conflict concerning the regional primacy of the Near East, obviously concern the European south-eastern boarders.

Furthermore, in the Middle East, the unwillingness of Iran to comply with the calls of the international community as far as the progress of its nuclear program is concerned, is not only reinforcing its domestic anti-Western sentiments (as a protective cultural umbrella of the Iranian cultural identity) but, in addition, is increasing the military insecurity of Europe. After the redistribution of power that took place in the Asian continent over the last five years, the European strategic outlook keeps on re-adapting and re-considering goals and priorities.

Energy insecurity

Another issue of great sensitivity is the energy insecurity, which derives from the Russian energy policy. The recent miscommunication between Ukraine and Russia affected the European geo-economic interests in a strong way as the European gas supply was blocked, provoking various reactions mainly from Central Europe. The dilemma of the European conflicting priorities emerged on the surface of the European political scene, and Europe has now to stabilize its agenda, as its defense choices and energy suppliers seem to have difficulties in finding a modus vivendi.

The Euro-American rapprochement

The new nature of the international system inevitably affects also the options of the American foreign policy. After the presidential elections, Obama’s government seems to reconsider and inevitably adjust the United States’ geo-strategic objectives to the new environment, a fact that cannot leave the European level untouched.

At least in this very recent period, the Euro-Atlantic relations seem to have been reinforced. The convergence of the Euro-American interests is based on a common approach to the main challenges, such as the combat of international terrorism, climate change and above all, the constantly increasing Russian participation in the world politics. As mentioned before, the uncertain behavior of the main components of the international system in combination with the gradual weakness of unipolar nature of the international relations, urge cohesion and avoidance of optional and selective movements.

The convergence of the Euro-American interests is based on a common approach to the main challenges

After the fragile Bush Presidency, which increased world instability and provoked shortage of international and domestic legitimacy, a rapprochement between Europe and the United States is a pragmatic reaction and a logical necessity. Nevertheless, the American openness towards Europe with the logic of “partners with a common strategic concept” undoubtedly includes elements of high recklessness, which can cause unprecedented dangers within the European boarders. Judging from the tendency of the Democrats in the past to intervene in the Balkan subsystem (i.e., the Bosnian wars or the case of Kosovo), the danger of the European incapability to act in an autonomous way within its borders may emerge again.

Now that the European integration process seems to have found a specific institutional and political orientation under the umbrella of the Lisbon Treaty, Europe needs to take cautious steps by keeping a balance in the triangle Washington-Brussels-Moscow and by promoting its global values, strongly connected with the promotion of peace and stability on a global level.

Image: War and peace; source:


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