Astana Summit Can Give a Signal of the Readiness of the Dialogue between West and Asian Partners of OSCE

By Andrew Slov

The crisis of international political organizations affected the OSCE. The power of the Organization and the interests to its events is not that high as it used to be.

The main reason of the current crisis in the Organization is a latent contraction of the states to the East and West from Vienna. Thus, the main mechanism of decision-making - the consensus method – appeared to be “blocked”. This resulted that since 2003 in the framework of the structure no serious documents have been adopted. The level of representation has reduced, limited maximum with negotiations of the Foreign Affairs Ministers. Summits have stopped. The last OSCE Summit took place in 1999 in Istanbul, although according to the regulations Summits should be held once in two-three years. The OSCE stagnation was logical. West criticized East for being non-democratic, and East – for the attempts to turn the OSCE into the instrument of the assurance of foreign policy interests of one group of states towards another one.

The absence of common line on main issues of the agenda, although, hasn’t interrupted the active work of such OSCE bodies as ODIHR and field missions, which went on to democratizing the states of the former USSR block, thus irritating their political government. By 2010 an urgent need appeared to hold the OSCE Summit. As many OSCE member-states capitals think that the resume of the practice of regular OSCE Summit holding should promote the overcoming of the system crisis of the Organization and gradual enhancement of its role and significance within the modern system of international affairs. The OSCE label is still influential. The logo of the Organization is a very favorable addition to the national diplomacy of the member-states. The OSCE Chairman-state intends to use this period ad libitum.

Kazakhstan OSCE Chairmanship is interpreted as a specific friendly praise of Western countries towards the post-Soviet area states.

Indeed, provided there was a problem of the choice of a state from the group of the CIS states for this post, then its solution in 2008 would have been pretty successful.

President Nazarbayev managed to convince his OSCE partners in the necessity of Summits, as well as in the fact that exactly Kazakhstan can become an intermediate between East and West, to build bridges between the civilizations and to rehabilitate a significantly reduced “spirit of Helsinki”.

The choice of Kazakhstan simultaneously demonstrated the intention to build bridges between Europe and Central Asia, to level the relations with Russia, considering the deep political coordination of Astana and Moscow. And of course for the scale of Astana, the Kazakhstan Chairmanship at the OSCE, and than also the Organization’s Summit becomes a serious achievement, enhancing international prestige of the country. Which will be the results by December, we’ll soon observe. But now we can draw some preliminary conclusions the way Astana uses the chance it gained. On the example of such a sphere as an extension of the cooperation with Asian OSCE partners.

As an Acting Chairman Kazakhstan promotes the interaction of the OSCE with Asian states, including the format of the OSCE Group of Partners for Cooperation in Asia (Australia, Afghanistan, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and Thailand).

Maintaining the policy of Greek Presidency and underlining the significance of partner relations, Kazakhstan has appointed a Personal Representative to the Asian Partners Group for the term of its presidency. And this is a representative of Turkey, a carrier diplomat E. Tezgiur.

In April 26-27th in Almaty, under the aegis of the acting President of the OSCE and by the assistance of Austria, Belgium and Finland the round talks took place under the name “Comprehensive Cooperation on Security Issues in North-East Asia and the Applicability of the OSCE Practice”.

They discussed and developed measures on the process promotion of the comprehensive cooperation in the sphere of security within North-East Asia, considering the OSCE practice, and on the strengthening of a peaceful regime of security and non-proliferation of weapon in Korea Peninsula and in general in North – East Asia.

The OSCE Chairman focuses greatly on the significance of partnership relations development of the Organization with other regional bodies including CICMA.

Within the framework of the 3rd CICMA Summit in Istanbul on June 7-8th  under the aegis of Kazakhstan Chairmanship at the OSCE a special event was organized “Security and Economic Cooperation in Eurasia within the XXI Century”, which included more than 21delegation of the OSCE and CICMA member-states, including 6 Asian and 3 of 6 Mediterranean (Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia) partners of OSCE, Lithuania and Greece as the members of the OSCE “three”, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan. The main thesis of the event was the one that the OSCE and CICMA cooperation is objectively conditioned already because today the notion of European security goes out of the continental boarders, covering significance part of Eurasia.
During the meeting Kazakhstan suggested to consider the issue of the establishment of the OSCE-CICMA Forum that could become a permanent dialogue arena of the both structures, allowing to discuss and analyze current problems of security and cooperation within the huge Eurasian continent.

It is acknowledged that a significant event in the sphere of strengthening of the OSCE cooperation with other international organizations , was the informal dinner of the Heads/representatives of key international organizations on security in Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia, which took place during the informal OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Almaty on July 17th. The first kind of the meeting gave an impulse for the development of dialogue and cooperation between such multilateral institutions as the OSCE, CIS, EU, NATO, UNO, Council of Europe and CICMA. But everything is not that simple within the process of multilateral dialogue establishment.

Already today it is evident that during the oncoming Summit in Astana the far-reaching issue for the future of the OSCE can become the subject of the initiative of the President Medvedev. We are talking about the Treaty on European Security and the similar French suggestion on the establishment of “Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security area”. As we can see, Moscow has focused on the establishment of direct relations with NATO and the USA, omitting an extended international format. For example, according to the information of the General Stuff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the EU and Russia set a joint working group on the planning and coordination of common actions in the sphere of defense and security. It seems that the participation of OSCE is not supposed.

This is planned in Moscow. However, according to some information, the bilateral promotion of Medvedev’s initiative will face severe obstacles within the formats of NATO and the USA. In Washington the kind of cooperation format on this issue is ignored in practice. They think that it’s urgent to increase the efficiency of already existing security and defense bodies. It’s more probable that in case of the inclusion into the OSCE Summit agenda of the subject on the new European Security Treaty, it will remain for good as a discussion within the depths of the OSCE. Most likely, the same fate will cover the other initiative. In the course of the ongoing discussion on the content of the December Summit in Astana, the President of Turkmenistan has presented the idea of the OSCE analogue establishment for the states of Central Asia and Caspian regions. And here noteworthy is the suggestion, arose simultaneously with this idea, in general to reorganize the OSCE into a pure Eurasian organization, without the USA and Canada, -  these ideas are given by some Moscow experts.

The kind of the OSCE prospects are absolutely unreal not only by the current Chairman of the Organization, but also by the future one Lithuania the member of the EU and NATO. Vilnius says that it will consider and use all the practice and achievements, accumulated by the currently chairing Kazakhstan. And already working together in the new OSCE “three” composed of Lithuania, Kazakhstan and Ireland, which will undertake the chairmanship after Lithuania, as expected, energy security as an efficient tool of the dialogue development between West and Asian partners of the OSCE will become one of the priorities of OSCE.