Editorial

Now confirmed by many official and NGO sources, the use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria represents a major challenge to the global non-proliferation regime, as it appears to be the first confirmed use of CW in decades and a breach of the international taboo on CW use enshrined in the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

The EU which has been since the adoption of its WMD non-proliferation strategy in December 2003 a major player in both the support of the multilateral regimes and the management of non-proliferation crises has an important role to play in preserving the norms and values it stands for.

Speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 7, Catherine Ashton made this point clear when stating that ‘strong evidence’ indicates that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical-weapon attack on August 21’. In her words, such a fact is ‘a blatant violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity’. She added that the EU ‘encourages the UNSC to fulfill its responsibilities and take all initiatives to achieve this goal’ and that ‘the EU and its member states intend to play a full and active part in that context’.

As the international response to these events remains under discussion in the UN and elsewhere, the EU and the member states - which have all condemned the attack in spite of differences of approach regarding the most appropriate response – will play an important role in preserving the international norms and treaties which are an essential element of its broader effort to support WMD non-proliferation and “effective multilateralism”, which are both currently challenged.

Camille Grand and Benjamin Hautecouverture
EU Non-Proliferation Consortium / Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)

August/September 2013, Issue No. 11

The permeability of Greece’s borders may cause concern

The EU Common Security Defence Policy will be the central topic of the European Council in December. It will be an opportunity to look into EU border security issues, notably in the South Mediterranean.
Thanos P. Dokos has held research posts at the Hessische Stiftung Friedens und Konfliktforschung (1989-90), in Frankfurt, and the Center for Science and International Affairs (CSIA) at Harvard University (1990-91). He served as the Director for Research, Strategic Studies Division, Hellenic Ministry of National Defence (1996-98) and as an Advisor on NATO issues to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1998-1999). From August 1999 until August 2006 he was the Director of Studies at ELIAMEP. He is currently the Director-General of the Foundation. His research interests and publications include international security, arms control, Mediterranean security, Greek-Turkish relations and Turkish foreign policy.
What role does strategic research perform within ELIAMEP? Although the Balkans are much more quiet than they were in the 1990s, the Eastern Mediterranean and its adjoining regions remain an extremely turbulent and unstable neighborhood. Furthermore, Greece is the EU’s most sensitive external border (in fact, playing the role of a ‘buffer country”) in the context of immigration. As a result, ELIAMEP spends considerable time and effort in research related to challenges in Greece’s immediate region. We maintain, however, a strong interest on nuclear non-proliferation developments (especially Iran), energy, maritime security, terrorism, as well as Europe’s foreign and security policy, its global role and relations with BRICs. Because of financial and manpower constraints, we emphasize cooperation with other institutes and participation to research networks and consortia. As a specialist of the Middle East, how would you qualify the election of Rohani in relation to the Iranian nuclear proliferation crisis? President Rohani is expected to be more moderate on the nuclear issue. However, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei remains the core player of Iran’s decision-making process on both domestic and foreign affairs and Iran’s domestic political scene is extremely complex, with actors that have multiple agendas. Therefore, Rohani will have to try hard to modify Iranian negotiating policy on the nuclear issue. If there are signs of change, the international community should be ready to seize the opportunity. Its negotiating strategy should consist of a skillful synthesis of readiness to accommodate Iran’s legitimate concerns and integrate this important country into an inclusive regional security system, accompanied by concrete incentives, together with reasonable timetables and a clear understanding of the possible consequences for Tehran if it continues its spoiling actions in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East. How does Greece contribute to preventing the traffic of dangerous materials involved in WMD programmes in the South Mediterranean? The permeability of Greece’s land and maritime borders and its proximity to the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean may constitute causes for concern. Various criminal groups both inside Greece and in neighbouring countries have been using “corridors” for trafficking of both people and illegal goods. Only a combination of law enforcement efforts, sound intelligence and international material support and intelligence cooperation can reduce to acceptable levels the potential risk of illegal movement of rad/nuc through Greece. In this context, Greece has been trying to maintain an efficient control mechanism at key points of entry and to cooperate with FRONTEX, NATO (Operation Active Endeavour) and the US.

Interview conducted by Laetitia Sanchez Incera
Research Assistant
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), Paris


Interview conducted by Laetitia Sanchez Incera
Research Assistant
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), Paris