24 augustus 2015

Background

Back to the Future: Cold War Revisited?
The Crisis of European Security

Join us at the public conference ‘Back to the Future: Cold War Revisited? on Saturday, September 12th at De Balie in Amsterdam. Organised by the PvdA delegation in the European Parliament in cooperation with the Progressive Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D Group) and the Wiardi Beckman Foundation (WBS).

The growing tensions between the EU and Russia linked to the Ukraine crisis as well as the growing impact of anti-democratic forces throughout Europe, and incidents like the MH17, raises the question: Is the security in Europe under threat? Is there a new Cold war in the making?Why did Europe and Russia drift apart in the last decade?

Opinion leaders will give their analysis of the situation and social democrats from all over Europe will debate with well-known experts to find possible answers to the current security crisis.

On the occasion of the signing of the Helsinki agreement 40 years agothe S&D Group in the EP calls for a new initiative for political dialogue in Europe. We need a new push for peace and stability on the European continent. A permanent division of Europe should be avoided and opponents should be brought around the same table.

Among the steps to be taken is the removal from the sanction lists, of both Russia and the European Union, of all members national Parliaments as well as the European Parliament. Like Michiel Servaes member of the DutchParlement (PvdA) one of the speakers at this debate. Many wonder whether there will be a future for the dialogue model that the Helsinki agreement and the OSCE represent. Before discussing a possible way out of the predicament Europe is in, we need to assess where we are, how we got there and what to expect. Then comes the question how to react: a hard line approach or continued dialogue? And what can the EU, OSCE or NATO do to improve the security situation in Europe?

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In 1975 the leaders of Europe signed the Helsinki Agreement accepting 10 principles for future cooperation on security, human rights and economic issues. Among them prominent social democrats. The Helsinki process contributed to a reduction of the tensions on the European continent and created space for political opposition in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of communism, the Helsinki document was reconfirmed through the Paris Charter and the subsequent establishment of the OSCE. An important treaty on conventional arms reduction (CFE) was added. The OSCE and its affiliates played an important role in the democratic transitions of many European countries and also acted as stabilising factor in many conflict situations. Since 1989, there have unfortunately also been serious violations of the Helsinki principles that remain unsolved – witness a number of frozen conflicts. 40 years ago the Helsinki Summit took place in the spirit of détente. Its main promotors were Germans such as Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Egon Bahr. But also Olof Palme, Bruno Kreisky and Joop den Uyl. Their inheritance is at stake now.