The report we present here is the product of two years of effort by a group of former senior officials from government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations who came together as participants in the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative. Our agenda has been to address the future security needs of the Euro-Atlantic region. We set as our goal the development of an intellectual framework for our nations, societies, and peoples to build a security system that will meet the twenty-first-century security challenges that face our region.  

Our report sets forth practical steps to begin building this future and calls upon our leaders, governments, and societies to act. As co-chairmen of the Euro-Atlantic Security Commission, we present this report with the endorsement and support of all commission members. We hope that our effort will lead to greater security for all in our region and to our region’s strengthened capacity for global leadership in the promotion of increased stability, safety, and progress in the world beyond.

Funding for the project has come from all three corners of the Euro-Atlantic region, and for that we are deeply grateful to the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Hurford Foundation, the Robert & Ardis James Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Starr Foundation, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the United World International Foundation.

Throughout the two years, the staff of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has provided critical organizational support. 


 Igor Ivanov 

 Wolfgang Ischinger          

 Sam Nunn




Today, unprecedented challenges from without and within threaten to reverse the progress toward the safe, secure, undivided Euro-Atlantic world hoped for in the wake of the Cold War. Moreover, these challenges risk both overwhelming the security structures of the Euro-Atlantic region and leaving our nations incapable of global leadership in the new century. To overcome that future, a twenty-first-century problem demands a twenty-first-century solution, one that at last builds an inclusive, effective Euro-Atlantic Security Community.

The Challenge

Two decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Euro-Atlantic security cooperation continues to be blighted by Cold War postures and thinking. The vision of a safe, secure, and undivided Euro-Atlantic world that so many hoped for has not come to pass. Old twentieth-century divisions along with unresolved post–Cold War security issues and patterns of thinking rooted in confrontation perpetuate mistrust and division within the region and leave its nations and societies dangerously ill-prepared to handle the challenges of the twenty-first century.

To remedy this urgent problem, a unique process was created in 2009 called the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI). This project brought together former policymakers, diplomats, generals, and business leaders from Russia, North America, and Europe to look at options to address the region’s faltering security system and to chart a roadmap of practical action that would lead to a more secure future. 

What was a good idea two years ago has now become a political imperative. Economic malaise and a crisis of leadership and legitimacy have left the peoples of this huge region feeling disillusioned, discontented, and skeptical of politics. There has been a renationalization of decisionmaking and a weakening of traditional bonds between North America and Europe as nations turn inward. Historical enmities between Russia and the United States and among others across the region inhibit effective cooperation in meeting urgent security challenges, such as the risk of renewed violence raised by unresolved conflicts between and within Euro-Atlantic states, the threat of cyberwar, and the tensions generated over the critical trade in gas. At the same time, the lack of Euro-Atlantic unity prevents governments and leaders from providing the global leadership so essential in a stressed and increasingly fragmented international order. 

There are precedents that give hope that today’s dysfunctional system can change for the better. The successful manner in which European economic cooperation was built out of the wreckage of the Second World War and the way in which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has successfully brought old enemies together under a common security umbrella show that it is possible to work together.

The ideological divide between a communist East and capitalist West has disappeared. Precedents have also addressed historical mistrust, providing practical examples of cooperative efforts that have united rivals in the past: Russia and the United States share responsibility for a research station in space; it is accepted practice for Russian companies to engage European and American directors and for Europe and the United States to host investment from Russia’s market. There is a growing pattern of cooperation and engagement across formerly impassable frontiers that provides a base on which to build.

The Proposal

As a result of our discussions and study, we concluded that the only means to assure the long-term security of our peoples lies in building an inclusive, undivided, functioning Euro-Atlantic Security Community—a community without barriers, in which all would expect resolution of disputes exclusively by diplomatic, legal, or other nonviolent means, without recourse to military force or the threat of its use. Governments within this community would share a common strategy and understanding in the face of common threats and a commitment to the proposition that the best and most efficient way to tackle threats, both internal and external, is through cooperation. As part of this process, the security of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other new states must be assured and the area’s frozen conflicts resolved. We believe, in short, that our security problems can only be solved by working together and that we can no longer afford or accept the divisions of the past that stand in the way of that cooperation.

Our target is ambitious and will be the work of decades. But unless we begin to move in this direction now, the risk that the Euro-Atlantic community may retreat to old patterns of suspicion, confrontation, and distrust is all too real. 

To avoid such a regression and the decrease in security for each of our countries that would certainly follow, our region will need to take an approach to security different from that of the last two decades: rather than relying primarily on expanding existing alliances, creating more new institutions, or drafting more treaties and declarations, nothing short of a transformation of relations among states and societies will suffice. The way forward must focus on overcoming mistrust between Russia and the United States and the security fears that perpetuate it. No less must it strive for a historical reconciliation between states whose lingering enmities plague many parts of the Euro-Atlantic region. To begin, we urge steps that will foster cooperation on practical tasks, initiate new patterns of action, and open a process in which key parties work together. They in turn must be guided by ambitious goals. Two are particularly important:

  • To transform and demilitarize strategic relations between the United States/NATO and Russia
  • To achieve historical reconciliation where old and present enmities (for example, between Russia and its neighbors, Turkey and Armenia, Moldova and Transnistria, and the communities in Cyprus) prevent normal relations and cooperation

Launching and advancing this process depends on identifying a few critical areas where progress would break the current inertia and give the idea of building a Euro-Atlantic Security Community tangible form. We propose six initiatives in three critical areas. These six initiatives, however, only have a chance if there is strong leadership from the United States, Russia, and the European Union (EU) acting together. Strong leadership on the part of the three, moreover, must involve more than invigorated traditional diplomacy. In a world of new communications technologies, global information space, and populations demanding their voice, effective security can only be built by making better use of underutilized institutions such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the untapped potential of civil society (churches, academic and scientific institutions, and nongovernmental organizations). 

1. Military Security 

The bedrock of Euro-Atlantic security depends on eliminating the use—or threat of use—of military force to settle disputes within the region. Two steps are particularly important:

Dialogue to Increase Stability and Reduce Tension

We urge U.S., NATO, and Russian national leaders to mandate a serious and sustained dialogue at both the military and political level on steps to increase warning and decision time so that no nation is left to fear a “short warning” attack. If Cold War nuclear postures are to be eliminated and security policies reoriented to address twenty-first-century threats, military leaders and defense officials must be charged with engaging in a comprehensive and sustained dialogue that includes all aspects of the problem: perceptions, capabilities, operational doctrines, and intentions. 

The goal would not be a formal negotiated treaty or new security architecture but rather a dynamic confidence-building process to lengthen warning and decision-making time in both of Europe’s military spheres—conventional and nuclear. It would unfold in a variety of forums, with some involving all Euro-Atlantic states, others at a bilateral level. 

In the conventional area, the dialogue could, for example, focus on transparency in deployments, limits on exercises near the NATO-Russian border, constraints on maneuvers and reinforcements in quarters of Europe where sensitivities are highest, and a readiness to eschew the forward deployment of certain offensive weapons systems. In the area of tactical nuclear weapons it might stress the stabilizing effect of separating warheads from delivery systems and storing them some distance apart. And in the area of missile defense, the dialogue, by stressing steps such as shared intelligence and jointly manned operations centers, would seek to eliminate the risk that either NATO or Russia would misread a decision to launch interceptors.

In addition, the dialogue could address new areas of concern such as cybersecurity. The United States, Europe, and Russia have unmatched resources for dealing with this problem, provided that together they define legitimate and illegitimate cyber-activity, standardize and strengthen national legislation against cybercrime, create cooperative early warning systems, share information on “best practices,” and develop a network of national agencies willing and able to share research and innovation for enhancing the resilience of key Internet protocols. 

Missile Defense 

To bury lingering Cold War attitudes once and for all and become genuine strategic partners, NATO and Russia must learn to cooperate at the strategic level. We believe that, despite the current diplomatic impasse, cooperative missile defense offers an avenue to the larger goal of transforming the very nature of security relations between the Russian Federation and the United States/NATO. In other words, it can be a game changer.

Success must be the highest priority of our governments. Were the three sides to begin fashioning such a shared system, they would be removing an issue that has poisoned U.S.-Russian relations for two decades and instead be creating a powerful new instrument of cooperation. U.S.-NATO-Russian missile defense cooperation is not only insurance against a potential intrinsic threat but also a critical component in building a larger security community, and it must not be allowed to fade from the very center of the security agenda. 

In turn, failure to achieve a cooperative approach to missile defense risks being a “game spoiler,” with deeply damaging effects not only on the prospects of moving toward a more inclusive Euro-Atlantic Security Community but also on the future of security cooperation in general and U.S.-Russian relations in particular. The consequences of failure are predictable. We have been there before: an arms buildup at great economic cost, heightened tension and mistrust, and the increased likelihood of nuclear miscalculations on both sides. This is a failure we cannot allow to happen. 

The seasoned policymakers and senior experts in EASI’s Working Group on Missile Defense, drawn from the United States, Europe, and Russia, were able to agree on a basic concept for a cooperative missile defense system, the principles underlying it, and an architecture giving it practical expression. Their success can be found in the working group’s paper, and should serve as a model for both process and substance as the sides negotiate the issue.

2. Human Security

The issues of historical reconciliation and protracted conflicts are intertwined. Protracted conflicts make it harder to achieve historical reconciliation, and the absence of historical reconciliation complicates the resolution of conflicts. 

Promoting Historical Reconciliation

A process of historical reconciliation will be essential to establishing a new and effective Euro-Atlantic Security Community. Recent success in addressing old frictions in Polish-Russian relations, the settlement of long-standing border issues between Russia and Norway, and the long-term experience of Finnish-Russian relations indicate that leadership and commitment can yield progress toward normal relations. All countries in this region need to work on removing historical impediments to normal relations and cooperation. 

We have carefully reviewed the potential for such positive diplomacy. We believe that relations between Russia and the Baltic states hold a promising opportunity. Success will not come easily, but the recent Polish-Russian experience provides useful lessons. Building on steps that have already been taken, the leaders of the Baltic states and Russia should intensify efforts to address the issues that continue to divide them and their societies. In doing so, certain principles deserve attention as guideposts for this process, recognizing, however, that only strong and self-confident partners can reconcile: 

  • Seeking justice for the sake of justice is not enough.
  • The perception of being in the national interest is a necessary prerequisite for historical reconciliation. 
  • Demonstrating respect for the formerly aggrieved party by treating it as a genuine equal is critical. 
  • Reconciliation is primarily a bilateral process driven by the specific needs of the parties and the opportunities open to them.
  • The more powerful partner should take the moral lead.
  • Reconciliation can be achieved only by dealing squarely and with the greatest sensitivity with the most serious historical grievances and topics of potential controversy.
  • Symbolic gestures count.
  • Formal statements laying down the agreed official view of history should be strongly considered.
  • Civic forums and churches can play a leading role in rebuilding ties between the influential elements of civil societies. 

Protracted Conflicts

Protracted regional conflicts poison the politics of the societies party to them, retard broader regional economic development and integration, and pose the very real risk of escalation to crisis. For too long, conflicts in Cyprus, the South Caucasus, and the Balkans have disrupted efforts at broader regional cooperation. Together Russia, the United States, and the leaders of Europe should lead the way in reenergizing conflict resolution in the Euro-Atlantic region. The emphasis should be on developing new means to strengthen diplomacy, to supplement traditional negotiation with the use of instruments of civil society, and to build support for peace within the elite and wider publics of conflicting parties. In reviewing the present protracted conflicts, we believe that applying the following approaches to them, including the long-standing impasse in Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan, could hold promise: 

  • Implement a new civil-society approach to protracted conflicts.
  • Insist that leaders on all sides of the conflict work actively to make rejection of war by the population a top priority.
  • Expand traditional diplomacy to include Track II dialogue, “next generation” meetings, and the use of social media to foster a spirit of greater accommodation at the popular level.
  • Employ former heads of state and government, such as the assembly of elders created by Nelson Mandela, to address critical bottlenecks.
  • Make the rights of national minorities and of individuals and the right to self-determination on individual and group levels—without necessarily a right to secession—central to conflict resolution.
  • Encourage intersocietal links and a culture of dialogue.
  • Elevate the OSCE to a key, albeit nonexclusive, role in providing the frame-work for a reenergized effort to resolve protracted conflicts, including initiatives with civil society and as the link between traditional and Track II diplomacy.

3. Economic Security

Economic security, specifically energy security, is integral to the overall security of the Euro-Atlantic region. Two areas in particular are fundamental to advancing cooperation and economic security: natural gas and the Arctic. 

Natural Gas

The mutual prosperity and economic security of Russia and the EU depend on a stable and sustainable system of production, transit, and consumption of natural gas. While energy disputes among regional actors have frequently escalated into security disputes, a stable supply of energy benefits all of the region’s economies. The current economic stresses afflicting European economies, which will not soon disappear, make it more essential than ever to convert this central dimension of the region’s security into a positive resource for cooperation rather than a source of friction and division. It is important, therefore, that states across the Euro-Atlantic region adopt a program of action emphasizing several key cooperative steps:

  • Increase cooperation on improving energy efficiency as pursued in both the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission and the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue.
  • Create formal machinery, drawing on resources across the Euro-Atlantic region, tasked with jointly advancing research and design in energy innovation and efficiency.
  • Explore specific steps by which the divergent Russian and EU energy markets can be made more compatible.
  • Strengthen the new EU-Russia early warning mechanism with defined responsibilities for all parties.
  • The national leadership of the EU and Russia should endorse and set about implementing the concrete steps to improve energy-related investment recommended by the bilateral business-led working group organized under the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue.

The Arctic 

The Arctic is where three of the twenty-first century’s greatest challenges intersect: the pressing need for hydrocarbon resources, climate change, and the tendency to securitize areas containing these resources as well as the passages to them. Hence, the Arctic is a test of Euro-Atlantic countries’ capacities to deal constructively not only with each of these challenges but with the synergy among them. Plainly put, the Arctic should be thought of as an auspicious chance to build the groundwork for a Euro-Atlantic Security Community.

To do so, the states of the Euro-Atlantic region, and first among them the Arctic littoral states (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States) and other members of the Arctic Council (Finland, Iceland, and Sweden) must find ways to collaborate in addressing six core challenges. They are: 

  • First, to achieve peaceful, legal resolution of claims to hydrocarbon resources; 
  • Second, to meet the technological challenges in procuring and transporting hydrocarbon resources; 
  • Third, to protect the Arctic’s fragile ecology; 
  • Fourth, to create the institutional wherewithal by which to effect these goals; 
  • Fifth, to protect the interests of indigenous peoples within the region; and
  • Sixth, to ensure that the Arctic does not become a new arena of military competition.

There are several important means of addressing these challenges, including the strengthening of the Arctic Council’s authority, the conscientious development and use of technologies to safely exploit the hydrocarbons in this region, and the establishment of ongoing multilateral dialogues to avoid military competition.

Initial Program of Action

To begin building a new security community, we urge the leaders of Russia, the United States, and Europe to demonstrate their commitment to this idea by action. There are a number of practical steps that can be taken within the next eighteen months to begin the process:   

1. The leaders should publicly pledge their support for the vision of a Euro-Atlantic Security Community in advance of the May 2012 NATO summit.  

2. At the NATO summit, the leaders should adopt a two-part agenda to arrest the trend toward increasing confrontation and conflict in Europe:

  • Mandate senior military leaders and defense officials to explore reciprocal steps designed to lengthen warning and decision time in Europe in both the conventional and nuclear spheres. 
  • Further missile defense cooperation by restoring NATO-Russia military exchanges and exercises in ballistic missile defense under the NATO-Russia Council.  

3. The leaders should establish and fund a group of former heads of state/ government (analogous to the Elders created by Nelson Mandela) to reenergize conflict resolution in the Euro-Atlantic region under OSCE auspices, beginning with Moldova and Armenia/Azerbaijan.  

4. To promote further progress in Polish-Russian historical reconciliation and stimulate a more comprehensive effort between Russia and the Baltic states, each of the countries concerned should open all archives essential for addressing difficult issues between the parties involved.  

5. The leaders of Russia and the European Union should establish a joint Center for Energy Innovation and Energy Efficiency as urged in the 2010 EU-Russia Energy Dialogue report, but enlarged to include countries from the entire Euro-Atlantic region.

6. The EU and Russia should strengthen the early warning mechanism established in 2009 to deal with potential short-term disruptions in the European gas supply by undertaking mutual obligations and a detailed backup plan.  

7. Leaders, under the auspices of the OSCE, should announce the goal of visa-free travel across the entire region and begin the step-by-step abolition of visa regimes through action to allow multiple-entry visas to citizens of all nations.

8. The members of the Arctic Council should begin a formal high-level dialogue exchanging information on national defense planning for the Arctic and seek specific ways to coordinate initiatives with the aim of enhancing mutual security in the region.


This initiative began at a time when numerous international developments of a global and regional nature had reawakened frictions between old adversaries. Two years on, the states of the Euro-Atlantic world are in the midst of complex and difficult moments of political and economic change and social uncertainty, making both the international environment and the course of events within our societies ever more unpredictable. 

Animated by the dangers of renewed strategic confrontation and by a determination to look for an alternative way, we came together to develop an intellectual framework for a different future, a future that could deliver on the promise of a Euro-Atlantic world undivided, prosperous, and at peace.

The foregoing report is based on a strategy of cooperation, not confrontation, in the belief that this is the only way for the region to prosper in a world of shifting and often dangerous global dynamics. The ultimate goal should be a Euro-Atlantic Security Community that is built on mutual respect, concern for the other party’s security, the elimination of the fear of military threats from neighboring states or alliances, and cooperation in meeting new security and economic challenges.