Power Breakfast on OSCE Network RISK Study, Vienna

Intense Debate at Power Breakfast on OSCE Network RISK Study, Vienna 12 February 2019


Early in the morning of 12 February, diplomatic Vienna witnessed an intense debate on the report “Reducing the Risks of Conventional Deterrence in Europe. Arms Control in the NATO-Russia Contact Zones”, hosted by the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions. Some 70 diplomats had accepted the invitation of Swiss Ambassador, Claude Wild, to a power breakfast on this subject. Switzerland currently holds the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation. CORE/IFSH is one of the two coordinating institutions of the Network.


Among the breakfast’s participants were many heads of national delegations to the OSCE, the OSCE Secretary General, Thomas Greminger, the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, Marcel Pesko, and other OSCE officials.


Network Coordinator, Prof. Dr. Cornelius Friesendorf (CORE/IFSH), Ambassador Philip Remler (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Prof. Andrei Zagorski (IMEMO and MGIMO, Moscow) opened the meeting with a presentation of the key ideas of the report that was elaborated by 17 experts from seven countries – Germany, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA – under the leadership of key drafter, Dr. Wolfgang Zellner (IFSH).


The starting point of the RISK Study is the realization that the dominant military risks in Europe are no longer large-scale offensive action on a continental scale, but the “eventuality of cross-border offensive operations in sensitive areas where Russian and NATO armed forces may directly engage with each other. This is particularly acute in the Baltic and Black Sea areas.” The report addresses the most dangerous aspects of using arms control elements for containing the risks of potentially escalating crises in Europe.


The debate in Vienna showed, once again, the highly controversial and, to some extent, mutually exclusive positions of European governments. The RISK Study and the power breakfast were another track II contribution of the Network to better acquaint its members with these positions.


The RISK Study was sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Foreign Office, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Offices in Vienna and Moscow.