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Politico-military Dimension

Cooperation in the Politico-Military Dimension of the OSCE is primarily based on the implementation of commitments included in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Treaty on Open Skies and the Vienna Document 2011. The main goal of the first dimension is to ensure military transparency, improve security and mutual trust among participating States.

World War II ordnance recovered from the sea near the city of Kerch, Crimea, September 2009. (OSCE/Rene BeBeau)

World War II ordnance recovered from the sea near the city of Kerch, Crimea, September 2009 (© OSCE/Rene BeBeau)

The key body facilitating dialogue between the 57 OSCE participating States in areas of confidence and security building measures is the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC).

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) is considered as a fundamental basis of the European security and its “Cornerstone”. There are 30 States Parties to the CFE Treaty which are at the same time participating States of the OSCE. The State Parties to the CFE Treaty hold regular meetings in the Joint Consultative Group (JCG; since March 2015 without the Russian Federation however, which suspended its participation), a treaty body working independently on the OSCE. The CFE Treaty includes a system of limitations, information exchanges and verifications in five categories of conventional arms and equipment (battle tanks; artillery systems, armoured combat vehicles, combat aircraft; and attack helicopters). The original goal of the CFE Treaty was disarmament, elimination of the possiblility of a surprise attack and ending the arms race in Europe. At the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul, CFE State Parties signed an Agreement on Adaptation (A/CFE) to reflect changes in the European security environment after the end of the Cold War. In December 2007, in response to the Allied non-ratification of A/CFE attributed to the Russian Federation’s continued military presence on Moldovan and Georgian sovereign soil, Moscow ceased implementing the CFE Treaty. The Russian Federation has not shared CFE data or allowed Treaty inspections since then, while all other CFE States Parties have continued to implement the Treaty. In 2010 NATO member states prepared a new initiative which tried to modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe and resolve the current deadlock in regards to the Russian Federation. This initiative has been negotiated in Vienna among 36 states which are signatories of CFE Treaty and/or the NATO member states but has not materialized despite years of efforts, in light of dramatically divergent positions between the Russian Federation and NATO member states. Overcoming these differences and building and restoring a fully functional system of conventional arms control in Europe remains an import topic for the Czech Republic.

The Treaty on Open Skies aims at trust building among 34 State Parties of the Treaty who hold regular meetings within the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC) treaty body. The main instruments are observation flights by certified aircraft  to monitor the territory of other State Parties. The treaty permits each State Party to conduct short-noticed, unarmed, observation flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. These flights take medium resolution photos of lines and areas selected by inspectors. Since the inception of the Open Skies regime more than a thousand observation flights have been carried out, helping build trust and increase transparency.

The Vienna Document 2011 (VD-11) is a politically binding document, serving as a confidence and security building measure (CSBM) between OSCE participating states. It is designed to increase the transparency of military activities in the OSCE area. The document has been regularly updated since its inception in 1990. A variety of information exchanges, on-site inspections, evaluation visits, observation visits (including measures aimed to dispel concerns about unusual military activities) and other military-to-military contacts take place under the  VD-11 provisions. At the present time negotiations among pS are being conducted in regard to prepare  a new version of the document which is supposed to be approved as VD-16.

The Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, approved in 1994 by Heads of States and Governments, is a unique document consisting of a set of principles and norms that OSCE participating states should adhere to. This is the case both on the international level, in relations between individual states and on the national level, i.e. in assuring democratic control and oversight of armed and security forces, protecting human rights of members of armed forces and respecting international humanitarian law.

Other CSBMs forming a substantial part of the FSC agenda are measures set out in the Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons,  Principles Governing Conventional Arms Transfers,  Global Exchange of Military Information, as well as exchanges of information regarding military budgets and defense planning or the implementation of the provisions of the Ottawa Convention and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1540.