Transparency and verification measures are key for politico-military stability
Statement by Ambassador-at-Large Andrej Benedejčič, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister, at the 11th IWG Structured Dialogue in Capitals Format, on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, 1 October 2020
Let me first emphasize, on behalf of Slovenia, how very much we appreciate the holding of the 11th Meeting of the Informal Working Group on Structured Dialogue in Capitals Format. Ljubljana attaches great significance to this process and believes it can contribute to co-operative security by promoting greater openness in military activities.
I therefore commend you for the focus of this session. Transparency and verification measures play a key role in ensuring politico-military stability. They make possible peaceful co-existence and prevent all-out confrontation. Efforts to make better use of the existing mechanisms are therefore important, all the more so in light of the current security situation in the OSCE region.
Technology provides one of the ways for improvements. To be sure, this is not always easy or self-evident. A case in point is the example of the introduction of digital technology to the observation aircraft under the Treaty on Open Skies. The issue was eventually resolved through the Open Skies Consultative Commission.
For Slovenia, one of the more promising ways to enhance the existing transparency and verification measures is the so-called iMARS. This new arms control information management and reporting system is currently under development in the OSCE Secretariat. In our view, it offers a number of important improvements. Let me highlight two of them.
First, it promises to reduce the workload of all the representatives of participating States who are involved in the exchange of military information. Thanks to its flexible software, this new tool will make it possible to analyse shared data in a more efficient manner. This is particularly important for participating States that maintain smaller Verification Centres and those with limited staff and financial resources. In other words, by using modern technology instead of the more outdated reporting methods, we could significantly increase the capacity of participating Sates to use the data to the fullest and consequently enhance the effectiveness of existing transparency measures.
Second, as a modern tool for analysis of exchanged military information, iMARS has the potential to support the participating States in relevant arms control discussions and negotiations. This is because it can provide official, accurate and non-challenged military data, trends in CSBM implementation and other information in a user-friendly way. As such, this application can additionally enhance transparency by fostering fact-based discussions among the 57 participating States.
Before concluding, let me point out that it is precisely for these reasons that the Slovenian Government has decided to approve a financial contribution to this extra-budgetary OSCE project. I would therefore like to use the opportunity to encourage other participating States to do so as well, with the aim of ensuring future data exchanges in a proper digital format.
Finally, let me also say that while considering possible improvements, we should also make sure that the existing mechanisms are up and running. This especially applies to the Vienna Document. The fact that we have not been able to modernize it represents our key missed opportunity. This is especially regrettable in light of the many good proposals that we had and still have at the FSC working group level. Even so, the Vienna Document still represents the best tool we have not only for promoting arms control, but also for maintaining a culture of openness and co-operation. Let us therefore make sure that we keep implementing all of its provisions in good faith.