Russia Calls for New Security Plan for Europe

VIENNA (Reuters)–Russia on Tuesday defended its proposal for a new security structure in Europe and said it was not aimed at undercutting the U.S.-led NATO alliance, but rather at banishing division on the continent.

The United States and NATO reacted coolly last year to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s call for a new “security architecture” in Europe, arguing that Cold War-era institutions like NATO cannot defuse tensions in a multipolar world.

Many NATO allies appear willing to discuss the proposal but say it cannot work unless Russia gives up what they regard as an old “sphere of influence” approach to security.

He stressed that such a treaty would help to overcome the shortcomings of the European security structure, therefore, the conclusion of the treaty is of significant importance.

“We’re not attempting to undermine NATO or any other organization active in the security field,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a conference at the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“Quite the contrary, we are in favor of coordination and synergies between existing international structures to ensure that no single government (or) organization in the Euro-Atlantic area work against each other,” he said through a translator.

“We’re not attempting to force anything on anyone. We’re only inviting you to negotiations and talks.”

OSCE foreign ministers will meet on Corfu, a Greek island, this weekend to weigh this and other European security issues.

Lavrov said the OSCE should be given greater powers to deal with security problems and criticized Western powers for expanding NATO instead.

The OSCE, whose permanent council comprises 56 countries, is Europe’s biggest security and human rights group, is struggling to strike a deal with Moscow to maintain its broader Georgian monitoring mission, whose original mandate expired at the end of 2008.

A follow-up mandate which allowed for just 20 military observers is due to expire on June 30.

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