Bishop of Worcester – Russia and Eastern Europe (Written Answers)

On 26th February 2015, the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, received answers to two written questions, on the subject of security in Russia and Eastern Europe.

WorcesterThe Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, as a member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, to bring about renewed discussions with Russia on a possible Euro-Atlantic security community. [HL5013] 

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns): The UK has regular discussions with Russia and all other participating States under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), including through the Helsinki +40 process, towards the goal of a security community as outlined at the OSCE Astana Summit 2010. I recently met Michael Link, the Director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and emphasised the need to uphold the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security and the rule of law through strong commitments and institutions. The UK continues to underline to Russia that its illegal annexation of Crimea and its destabilising actions in eastern Ukraine are unacceptable, and a violation of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments. Additionally, in December 2014 the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office launched an Eminent Persons Panel, with a remit to make recommendations on how to take forward an inclusive and constructive dialogue across the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions, and to reflect on how to ensure effective adherence to the Helsinki Principles that OSCE participating States have signed up to. The UK looks forward to engaging with the work of the panel this year.



The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, under the umbrellas of NATO and the European Union, to strengthen commitments and reassurances to Moldova, Georgia, and the Baltic states which could be vulnerable to further destabilising Russian action in those regions. [HL5014]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: At the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Wales Summit, the Alliance launched the “Readiness Action Plan” (RAP). This included an increase to the package of assurance measures for Eastern Allies in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and aggressive actions in Eastern Ukraine. All 28 Allies are supporting the effort. As in 2014, this year the UK will contribute four Royal Air Force Typhoons to Baltic Air Policing from May and deploy over 3000 troops to exercises in Eastern Europe.

As part of the RAP, Allies also agreed to establish a new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), able to deploy at very short notice in response to a range of threats faced by the Alliance. At the NATO Defence Ministers meeting on 5 February the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr Fallon), confirmed that the UK will lead the VJTF in 2017 and also contribute to new forward integration units in the three Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and to the regional headquarters in Poland and Romania.

At the NATO Summit, the Alliance also agreed a ‘Substantial Package’ of support for Georgia to strengthen her defence capabilities, and interoperability with the Alliance, and provide a new “enhanced partnership” status. Separately Allies agreed to establish Defence Capacity Building (DCB) Missions in Georgia and Moldova. The UK will contribute £250,000 to a new Trust Fund to facilitate this and manpower to the Georgian DCB Mission.

Georgia and Moldova have chosen to pursue closer ties with the EU. These countries have decided of their own free will to sign Association Agreements in order to support their own reform programmes and to seek closer political association and economic integration with the EU. We fully support the sovereign choices of Georgia and Moldova and strongly believe that no third country should have a veto over their decisions.

The EU provides continuing financial and technical support to the implementation of these reform programmes. Under the European Neighbourhood Instrument, the European Commission currently plans to allocate a minimum of €610 million for each country, with up to €746 million of funding available depending on the pace of reform. On 6 May 2014, the European Commission announced an additional support package for Georgia and Moldova, worth €60 million. The UK is providing technical assistance, in areas such as trade and human rights, to both Georgia and Moldova in their implementation of the Association Agreement reform programmes. In Georgia, the UK Regional Conflict Advisor for the South Caucasus continues to engage in dialogue with the conflict-affected communities. We also fund secondees to the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia. We have a number of projects in Moldova (including in the Transnistrian region) that work to increase engagement and build confidence between the sides of the Nistru (Moldova and the Transnistrian region).

The UK plans to complete the ratification process for both Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova before the General Election.