Vienna Experts Roundtable
Sixteen experts from leading think tanks and research institutes across the OSCE region met with OSCE officials and delegations on 13 December 2010 at the first OSCE Vienna Roundtable. They exchanged views on the outcomes of the OSCE Summit on Astana on 1-2 December and discussed the future role of the OSCE.
The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the OSCE or its participating States.
Outcome of the OSCE Summit
Chair: Virginie Coulloudon, OSCE Spokesperson
Amb. Kairat Abdrakhmanov of Kazakhstan, OSCE Chairmanship
OSCE Secretary Genera,l Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
Director of OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, Herbert Salber
The roundtable opened with presentations by the representative of the 2010 Kazakh Chairmanship of the OSCE, the OSCE Secretary General and the Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre. Members of delegations also contributed to the discussion.
It was pointed out that bringing all 56 participating States to the Summit was an achievement in itself. The fact that there had been no OSCE Summit for 11 years was seen by some as a paralyzing factor, and the Summit was therefore viewed as a positive development for the Organization.
The background to the process that had led up to the Summit was presented. It had started with President Medvedev’s proposal for a new European security architecture, which had received a mixed reaction. In the OSCE Helsinki Ministerial Council meeting of 2008 real progress was made on this, crystallized with the launching of the Corfu Process at the OSCE informal ministerial meeting in Corfu in July 2009. The 2009 Greek Chairmanship instituted regular informal ambassadorial meetings as part of the Corfu Process, also involving representatives from OSCE capitals, ahead of the Athens Ministerial Council in December of the same year. The idea of the Summit was discussed there. The first half of Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship was then spent discussing whether or not to have a Summit, and even at the start of the Almaty informal ministerial meeting in July 2010 it was unclear whether consensus would be reached. But the attitude of Summit-sceptics gradually evolved, and the decision to hold a Summit was officially taken with just four months’ notice. In the past, OSCE Summits have been held with at least two years’ notice, but this was a fragile moment to seize. A Review Conference held in three parts, in Warsaw, Vienna and Astana, was organized, while a parallel track on drafting documents was set in motion. This drafting effort covered the three elements of commemoration, acknowledgement of current challenges and priorities for future action.
In Astana, a “Commemorative Declaration,” which included all three of these elements, was agreed upon, but without the more detailed “framework for action” that had been discussed in the run-up to the Summit. Speakers said that many states had expressed disappointment with the lack of a formally agreed action plan and with the lack of movement on protracted conflicts. Participants suggested that this disappointment was largely the result of high expectations and should not obscure the real achievements of the Summit, namely the Astana Commemorative Declaration itself. This document reaffirms the most important fundamental freedoms, including language that declares that human rights violations are not an internal matter but a concern for all. While this language was first included in the 1991 Moscow Document, it was agreed in Astana for the first time at the level of Heads of State and Government. It was remarked that, given the political nature of the OSCE, such commitments need to be regularly reconfirmed at a high level if they are to maintain their relevance and their force; from this point of view, Astana was a remarkable success. Other positive results highlighted included the decision to move forward with updating the 1999 Vienna Document on confidence- and security-building measures, in 2011, and to launch formal negotiations aimed at ending the current impasse on conventional arms control in Europe (although one participant pointed out that this latter issue is not formally within the OSCE framework).
On protracted conflicts, speakers highlighted the joint statement that had been agreed by the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group. One speaker said that the OSCE had come closer than at any time since 2008 to agreeing on language on Georgia. In Astana there was a very good triangular relationship between the US, EU and Russian Federation, and in the final stages there was a very intense consultation process between them. The lack of agreement on language concerning Georgia meant that there was no agreement on protracted conflicts in general and no action plan.
In some cases, the lack of progress on protracted conflicts was deemed to be due to factors beyond the control of the Organization – for example, elections in Moldova took place a week before the Summit, meaning that there was no government in place in Chisinau that could have used the Summit to press for progress on Transdniestria. The need for willingness on both sides of conflicts to make compromise was also underlined - the OSCE, in its role in the 5+2 Talks, for example, can only assist in the process.
The speakers suggested that the action plan should not be seen as lost – progress can be made on this during the 2011 Lithuanian Chairmanship and beyond, at the level of the Permanent Council – where all 56 participating States meet weekly in Vienna. A lot had been agreed in Astana, and there seemed to be good will on all sides to use the nearly-agreed “framework for action” as a starting point for further work in 2011 and beyond.
It was said that the OSCE, like any organization, needs to renew its methods, and that the Summit is an important step, just as the recent NATO Summit was an important step forward. The changing relationship between Russia and NATO was highlighted for having important implications. However, the added-value of the OSCE is that it is a dialogue that gathers all participating States and offers a real say to all States in decisions.
Chair: Paul Fritch, Director of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General
Andrew Kuchins, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Marie Mendras, Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales
Hanspeter Neuhold, Vienna University
Alexander Rahr, German Council on Foreign Relations
Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow Center
Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, Institute of International Relations and Political Science
The question of the inclusiveness of the transatlantic security concept was raised. Several participants highlighted the importance of considering the views and interests of states that lie outside formal security arrangements, and those whose aspirations for membership in NATO and/or the EU have now stalled. One speaker discussed the concept of “frozen states”, who have weak sovereignty, and therefore weaker security. One representative of an OSCE participating State found resonance in this, pointing out that during the negotiations in Astana the sticking points were not between the old rivals of the US and Russia, but rather some of the “in-between” States.
Some speakers pointed to other organizations now dealing with comprehensive security, and claimed that since the OSCE had failed to adopt the framework for action, it risked being pushed out by “competitors” such as NATO or the EU, which had both recently updated their security concepts. In response, one participant pointed out that the OSCE is a different kind of organization, not an alliance of common interest but rather an organization that aims to bring together opposing sides. The blurring of this distinction probably contributed to the negative media coverage of the Astana Summit, following on so soon after the NATO Summit, and therefore raising expectations about what a successful outcome was likely to resemble.
While NATO and the EU are likely to remain important pillars in the institutionalization of the future European security architecture, this, it was pointed out, is not what Russia wants, and therefore the OSCE has a chance to strengthen its role as a complementary pillar, if it manages to strengthen its toolbox.
The vision of a “Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community”, as included in the Astana Commemorative Declaration, was discussed. Participants said this new vocabulary was important, and reflected a real long-term shift away from old Cold War delineations, and also highlighted the importance of thinking about security beyond the boundaries of Europe. The security challenges in Eurasia, in particular those emanating from the current situation in Afghanistan, are going to be present for a long time. They will continue to have an impact on the security of all OSCE participating States, and the OSCE has a role to play in addressing them. One participant cautioned over attaching unrealistic attributes to this concept. While the present time offered a window of opportunity, the 2008 Georgia conflict should not be forgotten, and two problems remained, namely the insecurity of Russia as regards US power and the insecurity of Russia’s neighbours vis-à-vis Russia. The OSCE can be a valuable toolbox, but only if these two problems are tackled head-on.
New threats to security
Chair: Amb. Heiner Horsten, Permanent Mission of Germany to the OSCE
Julian Cooper, University of Birmingham
Marc Finaud, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
Martin Kreutner, International Anti-Corruption Academy
Alexandr Nikitin, MGIMO
Raphael Perl, OSCE Action against Terrorism Unit
Goran Svilanovic, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities
Wolfgang Zellner, Centre for OSCE Research
This session heard presentations on a range of topics, including trafficking in human beings, terrorism and corruption as well as transnational threats in general. The OSCE’s work in this area was also outlined.
It was observed that, since the August 2008 conflict in the Caucasus, which shaped the environment for much of the OSCE’s work since, transnational threats have emerged as an area where there is agreement on the need to work together.
This was crystallized with the December 2009 decision of the Athens Ministerial Council on transnational threats, which had been co-sponsored by the US and Russia. This had also been an important element in the draft framework for action, and it was suggested that this section of the draft (which had been acceptable to all 56 participating States) could form the basis of further OSCE work in this area.
One participant observed that the OSCE also still had old, unresolved threats on its agenda, but on the level of rhetoric it had moved on to work on new threats. The phrase “quality of togetherness” was mentioned, but it was suggested that in this area the quality of togetherness had not improved, and there needed to be recognition that within the OSCE there was no universal mechanism for working on either transnational threats or frozen conflicts. It was pointed out that neither in Georgia nor in Kyrgyzstan was the OSCE community able to operate as one. The Kyrgyzstan Community Security Initiative is quite small, in an area where, it was argued, there was scope for much more significant action on the ground.
One participant pointed out that among the post-Soviet states, the fact of former togetherness with the Soviet Union was no longer the decisive factor, which is a new situation. The split between CSTO and GUAM countries was even deeper than the divide between Russia and the West, according to one participant.
Several participants urged greater co-operation and co-ordination between international organizations.
Security and Human Rights
Chair: Usen Suleimenov, Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the OSCE
Mehmet Hasguler, International Strategic Research Organization
Walter Kemp, International Peace Institute
Daniel Kimmage, Homeland Security Policy Institute
Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
Martha Brill Olcott, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Ruth Pojman, Deputy Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
Amb. Andrew Tesoriere, OSCE Centre in Bishkek
Andrei Zagorski, MGIMO
Presentations were given by external experts as well as OSCE officials working on particular human dimension issues, including media freedom and anti-trafficking. Recent events in Kyrgyzstan were also highlighted.
One speaker pointed to a gap between the words of the Astana declaration and what happens in practice with respect to human rights and the different understandings of participating States. The participant questioned whether, even if the draft framework for action had been adopted, it would really have served as a road map, and pointed to examples of where States’ encouraging words on human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law had not changed the realities on the ground.
A representative of the Kazakh Chairmanship pointed to the participation of NGOs in the OSCE Review Conference and a parallel NGO conference in Astana ahead of the Summit.
One participant questioned whether the need to continually reaffirm human dimension commitments was not itself an indication that these were not universally shared. It was suggested that some countries might not believe that advancing human dimension issues serves security.
The main challenge for the 2011 Lithuanian Chairmanship, according to one speaker, was how to avoid creating a schism within the OSCE through its attention to civil society, which could further reduce the engagement of some participating States in the OSCE. A need to be able to handle different levels of violations of human dimension commitments was highlighted, using the example of the difficulties the OSCE had in deploying a small police advisory group to Kyrgyzstan.
Wrap-up and looking forward
Ambassador Renatas Norkus, Lithuania, OSCE Chairmanship 2011
OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
Looking ahead to the 2011 Lithuanian Chairmanship, the need to be creative in structuring the OSCE's work within existing formats was highlighted. It was said that full use should be made of existing bodies, including the Permanent Council and the Forum for Security Co-operation, exploring new ways to make them and their subsidiary bodies more operational.
A combination of formal and informal tracks was mentioned as the best way to move things forward, to harvest both “low and high hanging fruit”, when formal dialogue is bogged down. The importance of maintaining Corfu-style ambassadorial meetings was stressed as well as initiating an inclusive “Track II” approach, involving think-tanks from participating States who could be called upon to provide “out of the box” ideas and input to help reinvigorate dialogue in more formal channels.
The only way to show that OSCE still matters, it was argued, was by doing “actionable” things – perhaps small steps, but with concrete deliverables. Pragmatism and managing ambitions were two things that would inform the work of the incoming Chairmanship.