The Spectre of a Multipolar Europe

Building security in a multipolar Europe: a new order for Europe’s three great powers
‘The spectre of a multipolar Europe’: Embargo: 15th October 0001 CET
Europe must rethink its security architecture, holding talks between the EU, Russia and Turkey to prevent a return to an age of spheres of influence. That is the conclusion of a new report published by ECFR, ‘The spectre of a multipolar Europe’.  
On Monday 18th October, the leaders of Russia, Germany and France are meeting in Deauville to discuss security cooperation, ahead of a NATO summit in November. But the authors argue that:
‘The Merkel-Medvedev-Sarkozy summit has the right agenda but the wrong participants. We need an informal European security trialogue that brings together the three key pillars of European security – Turkey, Russia and the EU.’
Mark Leonard:     +44 7958 725 328
Ivan Krastev:
Jana Kobzova:    +44 7946 806 335
Dimitar Bechev:   + 359 899 939 447

The findings:
·         The post-Cold War order is unravelling. Rather than uniting under a single system, Europe’s big powers are moving apart. Tensions between them have made security systems dysfunctional: they failed to prevent war in Kosovo and Georgia, instability in Kyrgyzstan, disruption to Europe’s gas supplies, and solve frozen conflicts.
·         The EU has spent much of the last decade defending a European order that no longer functions. Russia and Turkey may complain more, but the EU has the most to lose from the current peaceful disorder.
·         A frustrated Turkey still wants to join the EU, but it is increasingly pursuing an independent foreign policy and looking for a larger role as a regional power. In the words of foreign minister Davutoglu, Turkey is now an ‘actor not an issue’. Its accession negotiations to the EU should be speeded up, and it must also be engaged as an important regional power.
·         Russia never accepted the post-Cold War order. Moscow is now strong enough to openly challenge it, but its Westpolitik strategy also means that it is open to engagement – that is why Dmitri Medvedev suggested a new European security treaty a couple of years ago.
·         Obama’s non-appearance at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was the latest sign that the US is no longer focused on Europe’s internal security. Washington has its hands full dealing with Afghanistan, Iran and China and is no longer a European power.
The Recommendations:
·         An informal ‘trialogue’ involving the EU, Turkey and Russia should be established, allowing cooperation over security to build from the ground up.
·         In order to strengthen Turkey’s European identity, Ankara should be given a top-table seat at the trialogue, in parallel with enhanced EU accession negotiations. New chapters should be opened on CSDP and energy.
·         The EU should be represented by the foreign affairs high representative, Catherine Ashton, institutionalising the EU as a security actor.
·         A European security identity should be fostered by encouraging the involvement of Russia in projects like missile defence that focus on external threats to Europe.
·         Russian resolve should be tested by a commitment to dealing with frozen conflicts and instability in the wider European area.
‘The spectre of a multipolar Europe’ draws upon extensive research by ECFR in all 27 EU member states, including more than 250 interviews and a detailed study of relevant national security documents. The research suggests that Europeans now take peace for granted, and worry more about risks to standards of living than traditional threats. Although they fear marginalisation in a world of rising powers, there is a surprising amount of agreement about perceived threats, and an appetite to institutionalise the EU as a coherent and credible security actor.
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 “This analysis is bold and will be controversial but that is necessary. Elites are simply not confronting the real concerns and interests of the people and as a result opportunities are being lost and dangers unaddressed. ‘The spectre of a multipolar Europe’ made me think in fundamental ways about old certainties.”
George Robertson, former Secretary General of NATO
“An important and bold report that will open a vital debate.”
Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy
"The ECFR Report is really interesting and thought provoking and it can give a push to Turkey's integration in the EU."
Suat Kiniklioglu, AK Party deputy chairman for external affairs, member of the AK Party Central Executive Committee, and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Turkish parliament.
"This original - even explosive - report will launch a much-needed debate about European security and Turkey's place in Europe.  It is worth reading even for people - like myself - who believe that a trialogue would be unhelpful and counter-productive for Turkey's European future.  The only way to anchor Turkey in Europe is to allow the accession process to move forward rapidly and in a fair manner. I am opposed to any arrangements which could deflect the EU from this goal."
Emma Bonino, vice-president of the Italian senate and former European Commissioner.
1.     This paper, like all ECFR publications, represents the views of its authors, not the collective position of ECFR or its Council Members.
2.     The report was written by Mark Leonard and Ivan Krastev, with Jana Kobzova, Dimitar Bechev and Andrew Wilson.
3.     ECFR is grateful to the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs for funding the research that went into the report. The analysis and recommendations are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Finnish government.
4.     You can reach the communications office of ECFR by e-mailing or by calling +44 (0)20 7227 6874. A full list of our experts and their contact details is at
5.     The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European foreign policy think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy.
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