Print
Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article
Andrey Zagorsky

Head of the Department for Disarmament and Conflict Resolution Studies at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor of MGIMO-University, RIAC Member

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the current activities of European security institutions are evident, with military activities and exercises either downsized or suspended, field activities restricted and scheduled conferences, such as the annual OSCE security review conference this June, moved to the virtual sphere. This will limit the dialogue to just the delivery of formal statements. Proper communication outside the conference room – the form of communication that provides the most added value - will not take place. These effects will remain in place as long as there is no vaccine or proper medicine against the virus. Precaution measures are likely to affect travel, conferences, and field and military activities even beyond that.

However, several considerations suggest that the effect of the European security agenda and architecture is likely to be minimal once the current pandemic is over. Business as usual is most likely to prevail, unless the pandemic leads to significant social and political change in the region.

For the last two decades at least, preventing and combatting pandemics has been on the list of "soft" transnational security threats. Little has been done, however, to raise awareness of the incumbent dangers or foster international or regional cooperation in this regard. Will the current coronavirus pandemic alter the agenda of European security and increasingly focus it on new transnational health threats? Or will business as usual prevail on the European security agenda?

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the current activities of European security institutions are evident, with military activities and exercises either downsized or suspended, field activities restricted and scheduled conferences, such as the annual OSCE security review conference this June, moved to the virtual sphere. This will limit the dialogue to just the delivery of formal statements. Proper communication outside the conference room – the form of communication that provides the most added value - will not take place. These effects will remain in place as long as there is no vaccine or proper medicine against the virus. Precaution measures are likely to affect travel, conferences, and field and military activities even beyond that.

However, several considerations suggest that the effect of the European security agenda and architecture is likely to be minimal once the current pandemic is over. Business as usual is most likely to prevail, unless the pandemic leads to significant social and political change in the region.

First, there is no historic evidence that even the most disastrous pandemics have seriously challenged the existing political order of the time. The Black Death – the deadly 14th century pandemic – provides probably the most illuminating example of this. The Spanish Flu did not stop World War I, which continued for half a year after the pandemic broke out.

The second consideration is that responses to transnational threats in general, including those threats that were generated by pandemics and formulated by states or groups of states in the OSCE region, have remained extremely compartmentalized over time, despite occasional scientific cooperation. The current pandemic seems to have increased this compartmentalization.

The OSCE is the only pan-European institution that could deal with the threat of repeated pandemics in a more cooperative manner. It seems unlikely, however, that it will be empowered in the wake of the crisis. One of the reasons is that the global nature of pandemics requires global responses. This would suggest that the World Health Organization should be empowered rather than regional institutions. However, for the time being, even that response is not obvious.

Source: EUREN.

Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article
 
For business
For researchers
For students