The Mirror of The Real Continental Cooperation

By Arthur Dunn

About the suggestions of the USA and Russia on the problems of conflict prevention and regulation within OSCE area.

Initially the two documents on conflicts prevention and regulation within OSCE area were officially introduced by the delegations of the USA and the Russian Federation on October 16th and November 19th of 2009 respectively. The both documents were proposed as a project for ministerial decision of the oncoming OSCE Foreign Ministers Councils to be held in Athens in December of 2009.

However, because of the mutually exclusive approaches, eventually the two documents were withdrawn from the agenda of the oncoming OSCE Foreign Ministers Councils as initially invalid, as their adoption demanded a consensus decision.

Later on, this January unmodified Russian variant of the text was initiatively suggested as a joint decision of the OSCE Permanent Council and OSCE Forum on security cooperation.
The USA Project

USA flag The US project presented on October 19th 2009, as diplomats notice, was the reaction on critics towards OSCE and inefficiency of this Organization within the issues of prevention and regulation of crisis situations and conflicts. It is strictly connected with the experience of the August 2008 events.

The core, the main message of the document – granting the immanent power to OSCE Chairman and the respective directive bodies of the Organization for operational influence on any conflict development, independently from the existence of a consensus decision on this or that situation and confirmation of special delegated authorities.

The document is directly based on the events in Southern Caucasus in August 2008. It mainly appeals to the Istanbul European Security Charter of 1999, quoting a passage from this documents: “…the most important prerequisite of effective conflict prevention, crisis regulation and a post-conflict recovery is the ability of rapid engagement of civil and police expert potential”.

Getting back to the Istanbul Charter, it’s worth mentioning that the article 42 of this document included the “settled intention to develop among the member-states and in the OSCE the potential for the establishment of groups for rapid expert support and cooperation”, the so-called “REACT” groups subordinate to OSCE. It should have helped OSCE bodies and institutions, acting in accordance with their respective procedures, to provide assure the OSCE member-states with experts to assist in following OSCE norms, conflict prevention, crisis regulation and post-conflict recovery. It suggested that the kind of potential of rapid engagement would cover a wide range of civil experts possessing knowledge and experience, which would allow solving problems before their growing into crises, and if necessary, to deploy a civil part of the peacekeeping operation. These groups could also be used as a mobilizing resource assisting OSCE within deployment of big-scale and specialized operations.

Introducing its project in October previous year the US delegation to OSCE underlined that it suggested conceptual frameworks of a new approach towards the issues of crisis and conflict prevention.

The essence of this concept – as stated in the text was to guarantee for an Acting Chairman a readiness to manage the conflict arose in effective and practical way. The assurance of this phenomenon should include the introduction of the following:

1. powers to make political statement if necessary, provide the arena for negotiations, intensify a ceasefire treatment conclusion and undertake other measures to prevent and stop military actions;

2. powers to direct a small mission to a potential or actual conflict area to perform corresponding functions approved within the framework of the mechanism. The missions’ scope of activity comprises unbiased monitoring, fact reporting on local security and humanitarian situation, and also the fulfillment of the function of a link and humanitarian aid provision.

It is supposed that such missions will be proportionate to the tasks, specified by the Acting Chairman within the limits, stipulated in the mechanism. The mission duration will also be limited with terms, pointed in the mechanism.

Missions will be financed for account of voluntary contributions of the member-states and partners, which will establish a correspondent fund for these purposes.

All the member-states can join missions without any preliminary conditions.

Thus, in case of the need to interfere into the conflict, a Chairman  in force and OSCE structures will be able to organize strategic field missions independently, to select stuff, finance and manage them rapidly.
The Project of Russia

russia It’s absolutely natural that Russian diplomacy couldn’t remain indifferent to the kind of American project.

Some Russian analysts think that the document introduced by their national delegation doesn’t include great innovations and was just a reply on American initiative.

The 2-pages document itself in accordance with the established practice appeals to the Helsinki Final Act, Paris Charter for New Europe, other OSCE documents and particularly to the Measures on crisis situations stabilization of 1993.

It suggests that the Parties, i.e. OSCE member-states are agree:

  •    with the necessity to follow strictly the United Nations Organization Charter;
  •    to prevent the use of force and the threat of its usage;
  •    to reach the peace between the parties to conflict only by peaceful means;
  •    to respect the views of all the parties to conflict;
  •    to respect the existing negotiation process and formats of peacekeeping, acceptable for the parties to conflict;
  •    to gain gradual development of the regulation process, with emphasis on non-use of force, promotion of trust and continuous political dialogue between the parties;
  •    to gain the protection of civilians within conflict areas, to prevent their humanitarian blockade.

The main instrument of decision adoption in accordance with the Russian version is naturally a consensus.

The content of main elements of Russian projects was perfectly known. After the events in South Ossetia they were repeatedly declared within official addresses.

Particularly, in the address in June 2009 of the Ambassador-at-large of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Russia D. Tarabrin  during the session of the Annual OSCE Conference on review, which had an eloquent subject name: “Approaches and Activity of OSCE in the Sphere of Early Prevention and Post-Conflict Rehabilitation”, in the address of the Head of the Department for Common European Cooperation of Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry V. Voronkov  during the joint meeting of OSCE Forum on security cooperation and Permanent OSCE Council, on September 15th 2009, and also in the address of the Permanent Representative of Russia to OSCE A.Azimov during the meeting of OSCE Permanent Council on January 1st this year.

Pretty detailed about this subject was Ambassador D.Tarabrin, who during the mentioned address underlined that prevention and regulation of regional conflicts should base on universal principles, clear for everyone, instead of “artificially enforced virtual reality grounding on double standards”. The Ambassador said the situation is unacceptable when a sovereign state is forced externally to refuse of a significant part of its territory, as in case of Kosovo, and at the same time there are frontal attempts re-declare the territorial integrity of the aggressor-state within the frameworks of no longer existing boarders”.

Missions should possess a potential of trust, but not just to be the centers for monitoring.

The Head of Foreign Affairs Department, V. Voronkov in his turn stated that anti-crisis mechanisms, developed in OSCE, either are not implemented or don’t work, referring by this to the “undeservingly forgotten” document of 1993 “Measures on Stabilization of Local Crisis Situations”. But the main thing is the implementation of “double standards” towards similar crises, meaning Kosovo and Abkhazia with South Ossetia. During this address he suggested to start the development of unified Principles of conflict regulation simultaneously within the framework of OSCE Permanent Council and OSCE Forum on security cooperation. This development could be supported by the discussion in political-analytical formats.

Reacting on the discussion of the suggestion to introduce the practice of decision-making on conflict regulation on non-consensus basis, he noted that Russia observes as absolutely unacceptable any attempts to undermine a unanimous order of decision-making in OSCE. The stance of Russia: “The rule of consensus is the embodiment of a sovereign equality of all member-states of our Organization”.

Thus, the key elements of the project can be the following:

  •    development of unified Principles of conflict regulation, which to be implemented equally to all crisis situations within OSCE area;
  •    development of absolutely definite and transparent procedures and mechanism of OSCE in the sphere of early prevention of conflicts and post-conflict rehabilitation;
  •    reinforcement of consensus principle of decision-making on conflict regulation.

As seen, there is no real novelty in the Russian document. We can agree that its main motive for its development was the blocking of American initiative.
Current Political Environment

Analysts think that the occurrence of different initiatives within the sphere of security is mainly connected with the number of changes and current situation. They are the sings of the new security architecture in continental and global plan, as many experts think.

As for the observed situation, we can note that the reasons of suggestions arose are pretty clear.

The Caucasus crisis in Summer of 2008 showed the limits of competence and abilities of OSCE. At that it was a reveal to a greater extent for Europeans and the USA. Russia has already for a long time treated the field missions of the Organization within the conflict areas pretty pragmatic, and even cynical (i.e. pretty adequate as the Caucasus illustrated). The scope of claims to them from Russia grew persistently. In some cases they were direct opponents of Moscow. And the inability and weakness of the missions as well as the whole OSCE architecture incited great confusion among Europeans and Americans.

Many people starting discussing the end of “Helsinki process” and OSCE, as a multifunctional format. This Organization seemed to them as an atavism of the bipolar world.

Anyway, they had to react on the situation, to draw conclusions, promote efficiency and ability of OSCE, as many great politicians noted.

This motivated American diplomacy to introduce its concept, although it seems that Washington didn’t really hope that the destiny of the initiative would be cloudless and it would be adopted.

The main obstacle in its way is the principle disagreement of Russia. And the case even not in the fact that it’s possible to establish and finance in practice autonomous and engaged missions under the cover of OSCE. In practical way, the kind of missions will hardly be able to do something serious, i.e. to change the situation. First of all the problem lies within another fact – Russia in reality is a direct participant of several “frozen conflicts” (Transdniestria, South Ossetia), and in this case the missions are unacceptable for it as they will be able to shape political view of OSCE, without a need for consensus. It’s evident that if mission is sponsored by a definite state with definite interests, it will be really hard to expect an absolutely unbiased vision of the conflict.

International lawyers are more categoric. They easily throw over the bridge from the doctrine of immanent competence of international organizations (i.e. natural competence arising from the very existence of the organization) to another, drawn from it – the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. In other words, the doctrine of external forcing of this or that country due to humanitarian reasons and grounds.

It’s already known and practiced doctrine that is not perfect at all.

The situation, as it was earlier mentioned, is that Russian suggestions were presented as an alternative. By this, they are the reaction on OSCE weakness, but… The main complaint of Moscow to OSCE is that the Organization refuses of its principles – unique and indivisible area of security, universal security principles and so on.

The level of approvability, i.e. the adoption of Russian project is almost the same as of American one. It will be evidently blocked by the number of states, at least at the instance of Georgia.

But still Russia has decided to put it forward once again.  Diplomats relate this to a number of reasons.
1. Correction of August 2008 events estimations.

The idea of the kind decision adoption arose from the Russian estimations of South Caucasus events. The context to the kind of suggestion was a critic towards inability of a filed mission and the Organization in general to influence the conflict development, to prevent it.

The mission was blamed for aiding and non-informing of the peaceful population about the oncoming mass attack on Tskhinvali.

After the European Union report on the events in South Ossetia, in which the responsibility for the conflict escalation to the greater extent was laid on Georgia, a new situation arose in which Russia feels itself morally right. Favorable background is promoted with the changes in foreign policy line of American Administration, which currently concentrates greater on the development of cooperation with Russia.
2. The level of initiative development.

It’s also worth mentioning that the development of adequate principles and mechanisms of conflict regulation is not new. The decision of the kind of development, earlier under the initiative of Moscow, was approved within the framework of CSTO. This Organization held a number of expert procedures, consultations, including with the participation of the experts from the OSCE Conflict Prevention Center, UNO, EU and NATO representatives. The highest authority of CSTO N. Bordziuzha noted this fact during his address within the 15th Summit of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Madrid.

Except for that, the project decision can be connected with the publication of the initiative text of the New European Security Architecture Treaty. According to Russian experts and diplomats, all current Russian initiatives within the sphere of security enhance and will promote a “new philosophy of international security”. And its promotion includes the establishment of universal principles of international security by the means of adoption of a number of documents, defining “clear, agreed, understandable and acceptable for everyone ” rules of operation of all international institutions and mechanisms, including particularly OSCE.
3. New Acting OSCE Chairman.

Introduction of the joint decision of the two OSCE bodies on conflicts is also connected with the new Acting Chairman of the Organization – Kazakhstan, which can be more engaged. This is real due to the special bilateral relations between Moscow and Astana, and also from the point of view of promotion of significant decision within the period of its Presidency and gaining thus greater international authority. Here we should also add that Astana distances from the status of a so-called “collective Presidency on behalf of the CIS”.

Also due to the position of the Acting OSCE President -2009 Greece, the decision project, suggested by Moscow for the Athens Summit, was disavowed. Greece was more careful about Russian initiatives, touching upon Caucasian region, probably, due to the own problem of North Cyprus. It’s known that Russia expressed its astonishment about the fact that the report on Greece Presidency after the Annual OSCE Conference on Review included a recommendation on “more active role of OSCE within North Caucasus”, as the kind of suggestion was decisively refused of Russian delegation.

New Acting Chairman is the chance for Russian initiatives promotion.
4. Strengthening of Russia within post-Soviet area.

Besides, there is an opinion expressed, that the development of financial-economic crisis allows Moscow to lead more effective and influential policy within a post-Soviet area, including promotion of its key role in the process of solution of “frozen” conflicts, which is proved by active Russian diplomacy on Nagorny Karabakh and Transdniestria lately.
Project as OSCE Mirror

Collision of the two projects is just another slight illustration of the real weakness of OSCE. And there are no serious grounds and prerequisites to suggest, that this institution will gain power and significance. It doesn’t really work as a big multi-profile format of cooperation and it remains just in the state it can exist. Its current existence with all the problems is its real niche. Any organization is the contribution of its member-states. In this sense OSCE is the mirror of a real continental cooperation.

Some observers think, that there are only several reasons, due to which OSCE will preserve its importance, without changing at the same time into a more powerful and significant entity of international relations.
1. The ground of OSCE is the treaty basis on the issues of disarmament (the heritage of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Helsinki and Vienna disarmament treaties) and this will preserve its significance.
2. For many states, and for some of them in particular, OSCE is one of those useful formats and international arenas to sound initiatives and views.
3. A new path of OSCE, which is fixed to this institution, is the monitoring of democratic development of post-Soviet and Eastern Europe area. This also will be important for West as a keeper of democratic values, as well for the states of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. For the last ones this is a procedure of electoral campaigns legitimization.
Translated by eurodialogue.org