Holding OSCE Summit in Astana very bold and serious initiative - Russia's Permanent Representative to EU V. Chizhov

By Dimash Syzdykov

It is not a secret that in various periods there existed various opinions regarding the effectiveness of the OSCE, and in the recent past its work aroused a lot of sharp remarks. Many experts said it was conditioned by several factors such as ambiguous status of the OSCE member states in the process of geopolitical transformation of the world. Critical moments caused by the conflict of geopolitical interests are still questionable; these problems have been piled up for years.

The December OSCE Summit in Astana will definitely give a new impetus to the activity of the Organization, outline the strategic directions and the 'road map' of development of this international structure.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Russia to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told about current problems of the OSCE, initiatives of Russia and Kazakhstan within the Organization and about the upcoming Summit of the OSCE in Astana in the interview with Kazakh journalists.
Mr. Chizhov, many international experts consider that the principles and work of the OSCE have become a bit obsolete and do not correspond to current realities. Can you share your view on it?

In my opinion the principles of work have not become obsolete, but the practice of the OSCE work does not meet the principles. I believe the problem is in deviating from basic principles. When the founders of the OSCE, it was then the CSCE, started this large-scale project they thought about founding a commission and then organization that would be based on several principles, first of all on the 10 Helsinki Principles. Consequently within the OSCE three dimensions were founded; military-political, economic and environmental, humanitarian. However practically we saw a shift of emphasis both in conceptual and geographical aspects. In geographical terms the activity was concentrated westward from Vienna, and in regard to concept there was an obvious tendency toward humanitarian dimension. This is what urged the group of countries including Kazakhstan and Russia to raise the issue of dissatisfaction with the OSCE work. This issue was considered and something was revised. At least nobody denies now the necessity to reform the Organization. When I worked on this issue before going to Brussels it was very difficult to persuade anybody to even talk about it. Now this topic is discussible. The 'Corfu Process' that was started when Greece chaired the Organization is continued by Kazakhstan's chairmanship. Surely, it does not solve all the problems of the Euro-Atlantic security because the OSCE has not enacted any legally binding documents in its history. All the documents of the OSCE are political ones.
At the informal meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers on July 16-17 in Almaty Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to unite European and Asian security spaces into one global system. Russian president also expressed his view on the necessity of adopting a new European security treaty. What do you think about these initiatives?

I believe that the problem of true international legal consolidation of security is not the problem of only Europe but the whole world and Asia included. Geographically, our concept of the European security treaty provides for participation of all countries of the OSCE including Central Asian, North American countries and organizations that are involved in this sphere such as the NATO and EU. Certainly, having addressed the problem of European or Euro-Atlantic security we should not stop. Asian security is a priority as well and African should be in future. Therefore I consider all the initiatives are useful and mutually complementary.
As is known the OSCE Summit has not been held for 11 years. Kazakhstan has managed to organize the Summit that will take place on December 1-2 in Astana. How successful, in your opinion, this event can be?  

I took an active part in preparation and holding of the previous summit in Istanbul in 1999. I remember common agreement reached among highest political echelons to hold the OSCE Summits, at least, once in two years. But 11 years elapsed and I think that the initiative of Kazakhstan to hold the Summit this year is a very bold and serious. Certainly it comes along with a lot of difficulties, including the organizing process, but I believe that Astana will show the world that it is capable of holding such eminent events. The problem is also could be in preparing final documents. I do not want to go deep into the matter but it is a very delicate multilateral process of negotiations that is held in Vienna as well as in the capitals. We hope that the results of the Astana Summit will meet our expectations.