Does It Make Sense to Invest Efforts in Reviving OSCE?

By Somar Wijayadasa*

NEW YORK | 6 December 2023 (IDN) — With 57 participating States from North America, Europe and Asia (from Vancouver to Vladivostok), the OSCE—the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian—is the world’s largest regional security organization.

Soon, it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 that created the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). It was named OSCE in 1995.

Originally considered as a template for global governance in the 21st century, OSCE’s role has diminished due to the unprecedented expansion of NATO and the EU—violating the security interests of other countries.

Initiatives to reform the OSCE over the past decade have largely failed because of disagreements between its participants.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended the 30th Ministerial Council of the OSCE held on 30 November-1 December 2023 in Skopje, North Macedonia.

He opined “we are observing a complete degradation of everything that was created in the Organization, in all three dimensions of security (military-political, economic-environmental and humanitarian).

To avoid mincing words, the following is a verbatim summary of the salient points extracted from Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech.

I regret to admit that the OSCE is approaching this anniversary in a deplorable state, and its prospects remain unclear. 

After the end of the Cold War and the ideological confrontation associated with it, a historic chance arose for the unifying potential of the OSCE to be used to the maximum and the organization to become a platform for the broadest pan-European cooperation, a central element in the formation of an inclusive architecture of equal rights in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic. and indivisible security in all three dimensions.

As part of the military-political “basket”, the participating states adopted a number of fundamental documents such as the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), the Charter for European Security (1999), and the Astana Declaration (2010). These initiatives were aimed at, including the conclusion of the European Security Treaty and the creation of a common security space based on cooperation.

Unfortunately, Western political elites, who have arrogated to themselves the right to decide the destinies of mankind, have made a short-sighted choice not in favor of the OSCE, but in favor of NATO. In favor of the philosophy of containment, zero-sum geopolitical games and master-follower logic.

One of the key components of this line was the bloc’s reckless expansion to the East, which began after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. The NATO and EU states with their own hands destroyed the military-political dimension of the OSCE. 

In 1999, NATO committed an act of naked, brutal aggression against Yugoslavia, a member of the OSCE and the UN.

In 2008, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the principle of the inviolability of borders in Europe enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, Kosovo was seized from Serbia without any referendum. 

The same NATO states that are OSCE participants, at the Bucharest summit of the alliance in 2008, “lured” Tbilisi and Kyiv to membership. The goal was simple and unpretentious – to set them against Russia. 

To create an anti-Russian bridgehead in Ukraine, a bloody coup in 2014 and eight years of punitive operations against the population of Donbas with the encouragement of the West and in violation of the Minsk “Package of Measures” approved by the UN Security Council.

I would like to once again recall the cynical admissions of the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the ex-presidents of France and Ukraine F. Hollande and P. A. Poroshenko that they needed the Minsk agreements not for the sake of peace in Ukraine, but only to give the Kyiv regime time to build up its military capabilities against Russia.

The OSCE could have reliably resolved the situation in Moldova 20 years ago. In fact, Moldova is destined to become the next victim in the hybrid war unleashed by the West against Russia. 

The true intentions of Western politicians were once again revealed when Washington and Brussels rejected proposals put forward by Russia in December 2021 for legally binding security guarantees in Europe.

In an effort to bring down the Russian economy, the United States and its European satellites imposed thousands of sanctions against Russia, thereby putting an end to broad practical cooperation between East and West in our once common region. 

The Kiev regime is an investment by Washington in its selfish interests of containing Russia and solving its own problems at the expense of others, including the elimination of economic competitors, primarily in the person of the European Union.

Despite everything, the EU continues to dutifully play its unenviable role, bearing the brunt of the consequences of the US Ukrainian adventure and humbly abandoning the forms of economic partnership that have ensured the prosperity of the European Union for decades. 

The impression is that the EU has abandoned the original goals of its creators to improve the well-being of citizens of member countries and has turned – largely through the efforts of the Brussels bureaucracy – into an aggressive geopolitical project.

Another problem is neo-Nazism. And this despite the fact that in Europe, primarily in Ukraine and the Baltic states, there is a surge in Nazi ideology and practice, and other forms of racial and religious intolerance. They praise Hitler’s collaborators, demolish monuments to liberating soldiers, and enshrine these criminal actions in law. The neo-Nazi regime ruling in Kyiv “outdid” even the Baltic countries in its actions to legally eradicate everything Russian.

The very existence of Russians, their decisive contribution to the history of Ukraine, is denied.

People are prohibited from communicating, reading and studying in their native language, and from having access to Russian-language media and culture. There are plenty of facts, but the OSCE and its specialized institutions are silent despite the need to respect the numerous conventions of the UN, UNESCO, and Council of Europe, guaranteeing equal rights to all national minorities. 

The question arises: why do we need flawed human rights institutions that are turning into tools of those who have set a course for privatizing the secretariats of international organizations to suit their needs? What interests of pan-European security and cooperation does such an OSCE serve? 

The current situation is a direct consequence of our Western neighbors’ persistent attempts to ensure their dominance, shamelessly using the OSCE to aggressively push through narrow selfish interests and deliberately destroying the fundamental principle of consensus and the very culture of diplomacy. Any unbiased person understands that it will not be possible to resolve European security issues seriously and honestly. 

However, Western capitals with an enviable obsession are “finishing off” the OSCE’s chances for revival. They have already created a “European Political Community” without Russia and Belarus. Thus, another dividing line has been drawn on our continent, destroying the OSCE space. 

The initiators of this idea should think hard about how their brainchild relates to the noble ideals that guided the founding fathers of the Helsinki process, and the authors of the Charter of Paris for a new Europe.

The OSCE is essentially being turned into an appendage of NATO and the EU. The organization (let’s face it) is on the edge of the abyss. 

A simple question arises: does it make sense to invest efforts in reviving it? Will it ever be able to adapt to the objective realities of world development and once again become a platform for considering regional security problems based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act—firstly, the principle of equality of all participating countries?

*Somar Wijayadasa, an international lawyer, was a Faculty Member of the University of Sri Lanka (1967-1972), worked for IAEA and FAO (1973-1980), delegate of UNESCO to the UN General Assembly (1980-1995), and was the Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations from 1995-2000. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: 2023 OSCE Ministerial Council. Source: OSCE.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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