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LEONID KOZHARA: UKRAINIAN YEAR IN OSCE – CHAIRMANSHIP’S EQUATOR
20 July 2013 21:23

For more than 6 months Ukraine is taking the lead in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – the largest regional security organization that brings together 57 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America. Of course, a midyear is not the best time to strike the balance of the Chairmanship. It will be possible to take stock of progress made after the 20th OSCE Ministerial Council which will take place in Kyiv in December this year. However first six months have already proved that Ukraine carries out its responsible mission with due care.   

REVIVAL OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE AS BIGGEST OSCE CHALLENGE

A state, chairing the OSCE, assumes a great responsibility, since the Organization holds a special place in the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian security architecture. Its uniqueness is determined by three following factors.

First – its wide geographical coverage – “from Vancouver to Vladivostok”.

Second – comprehensive security mandate.

Third – decision making process based on consensus rule.

Having appeared almost 40 years ago, CSCE/OSCE has become an important platform for a dialogue between ideological rivals, and served as a trigger for further democratic developments in the region.

It would be no exaggeration to say that we have, first of all, to thank the Organization for bringing a longstanding ideological confrontation between two adverse camps in Europe to the end.

Many countries, after undertaking important commitments in Helsinki, started changing internally. Also social atmosphere began to alter gradually in the countries affected by an authoritarian virus. In result, these developments caused the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain.

Ukraine has always paid special attention to the OSCE. Having secured the right of people to self-determination, thus, the Helsinki Final Act gave a strong impetus to civil movement and laid the cornerstone in the foundation of the Ukraine’s independence. Also common norms and standards, elaborated within the CSCE up to then, in particular those related to democracy and human rights, significantly determined development of the national political and legal systems.      

Upon becoming a full-fledged participating State of the then Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1992, Ukraine has got a unique opportunity to participate directly in discussions and solving of burning international security problems in the OSCE space.  

Today the OSCE region has become a main arena where Ukraine exercises its foreign policy and economic interests. It suffices here to remark that last year 25 of the 30 most important trade partners of our state were represented by the OSCE participating States or its partners. Also majority of the Ukraine’s strategic partners belongs to the area of the OSCE responsibility.   

In the last years the importance of the OSCE for Ukraine has even increased. The non-block status of Ukraine plays a key role in this process. Naturally, non-participation of Ukraine in any other politico-military organization determines our interest in increasing efficiency of the OSCE, its capacity building, as well as in better implementation of its potential.

 Therefore we are considering the Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship as a unique opportunity to contribute to further strengthening of the Organization.  

It is supposed that all strategic tasks, the Organization was facing in the 70s and at the beginning of the 90s, were generally performed.

And naturally the following questing is arising – what is the agenda of the Organization for tomorrow?

So, we have to look for a common answer in a quite severe environment.

Participants of the last OSCE Ministerial Council, which took place in Dublin in December 2012, spoke openly about lack of trust and confidence and political will within the Organization.

However, one cannot place all responsibility on the shoulders of the Organization and blame it for weakness and inefficiency of its toolbox.

The real side of the coin is that concerning issues which impose burden on the dialogue within the Organization are of external nature. Cooperation within the Organization only reflects a mode of the inter-State relations and a level of confidence between the OSCE participating States.    

Unfortunately, the balance of interest of all 57 participating States is extremely fragile. Overcoming confrontational thinking is still an important task. The Chairmanship’s mission is to strengthen spirit of cooperation; however, this goal is hardly achievable without political will of all participating States.    

We have some expectation for the three-year Helsinki+40 process launched by the Ukrainian Chairmanship. We are pursuing this process in close interaction with incoming Chairmanships of Switzerland and Serbia. Its core goal is to revive the “spirit of Helsinki” which allowed the historic Helsinki Final Act to be signed in 1975.

In general all participating States agree that while approaching the 40th anniversary of signing of this document the Organization has to elaborate a common vision of its role in modern security realities, as well as to specify steps which will help to strengthen confidence between the participating States and to increase the efficiency of the Organization.   

The ultimate goal is to come closer to a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community, which is prescribed by the OSCE Commemorative Declaration adopted in Astana in 2010.

What is the Ukraine’s contribution to fulfilling this goal?

First of all, we have managed to achieve relevant dynamic of the process and to generate a keen interest among the participating States in discussing the most complex issues of the OSCE agenda.

We consider representatives of the academic circles and civil society as integral participants of the process. Their participation will add value to the recommendations, which will be drawn up by the Ukrainian Chairmanship on how to increase efficiency of cooperation across all three OSCE dimensions.

PROTRACTED CONFLICTS IN CHAIRMANSHIP’S FOCUS

Settlement of protracted conflicts – in Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia – seems to be the most pressing issue for the OSCE community. 

Even being in “frozen” state these conflicts still pose a threat to the European security, as well hinder economic development of countries which are involved in the confrontation. Thousands of refugees cannot return to their homes.

At the same time we have to remember – sustainable and long-standing settlement of a conflict should be assumed and supported by both the political leaders of parties to a conflict and people of relevant countries or regions. Besides, also an issue of guarantees on implementation of agreed decisions is coming to the forefront.

In this regard it is important to inspire negotiations through creating a favorable environment and proposing compromises for solving problematic issues.  

What goals have been set up by the Ukrainian Chairmanship in this regard?

These goals are maximum achievable and clear – to seek for progress by small but consistent steps, to restore trust and confidence between parties to a conflict, to provide a platform for negotiations.

Naturally, the Transdniestrian settlement is on the top of the Ukraine’s agenda among all protracted conflicts. No wonder that my first visit in capacity of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office was paid to Moldova.   

Even more, in the course of these six months we held two rounds of 5+2 talks in the Transdniestrian settlement process. Both rounds took place in Ukraine – in Lviv and Odessa. Other meetings are under preparation and will be held in the course of next six months.

We are working persistently on facilitating dialogue between the leadership of Chisinau and Tiraspol and ensuring its constant character. We are taking steps to prevent increasing of tension in the so called Security Zone.

For example, we managed to agree on the dismantling of the outdated industrial cable car crossing the Dniester River, which posed a threat to the people living beneath it.

Today such issues as improving of freedom of movement, intensification of interaction between the law enforcement agencies, promoting economic and humanitarian cooperation are on the agenda.  

We believe that progress in these spheres will strengthen the ground for Transdniestrian settlement.

In the course of this year Ukraine, together with the UNO and EU, chairs the Geneva International discussions which are a negotiation platform created after the conflict in Georgia in 2008.

Discussions with the participation of the representatives of Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, USA and Russian Federation aim at addressing urgent security issues and meeting humanitarian needs of people from the regions affected by the conflict. 

These issues were raised during my visit to Georgia in June this year, since the situation is still complicated even 5 years after the conflict.  

Meetings in the framework of the Incidents Prevention and Response Mechanism, co-facilitated by the Ukrainian Chairmanship, take place in Georgia on monthly base. The participants discuss security issues which occur along the Administrative Boundary Line with the South Ossetia.   

It is worth mentioning that the participants note objectively that this year the situation on the ground has become more stable, and the number of incidents has decreased.

Nagorno-Karabakh settlement was the top issue of my recent talks with the leadership of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Key messages which Ukraine delivers as the OSCE Chairmanship are to finalize basic principles of the conflict settlement, to refrain from unilateral actions, and to stabilize situation along the Contact Line.

Ukraine supports the activities of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs – representatives of the Russian Federation, United States and France – aimed at promoting the peaceful conflict settlement. This year the Co-chairs visited Kyiv twice and we had substantial discussions on this process. 

UKRAINE’S AGENDA FOR OSCE    

While shaping priorities of the Chairmanship, Ukraine tried to preserve balance between all three OSCE dimensions –politico-military; economic and environmental; and human.   

For instance, we can write down in the Ukraine’s balance a progress achieved in updating the OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation which were adopted far back in 1994. We expect that this work will be finalized before the Kyiv Ministerial Meeting.

Recently, work on a draft decision on confidence building in the area of cyber/ICT security has been launched within the OSCE. It would not be exaggeration to say that all 57 participating states are interested in adopting this document. 

One of the watertight achievements of the Ukrainian Chairmanship is substantial intensification of a discussion on the energy security. In fact, up to 2013 this issue was laying in the periphery of the OSCE interests.

President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych and President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov put forward a common initiative to hold the OSCE high-level conference on energy security in Ashgabat in October this year. This initiative aroused a keen interest and support among the OSCE participating States.

We believe that this conference will start a process that will significantly improve an international role the OSCE can play in the energy security.   

The most visible example of the importance of the OSCE efforts in strengthening ecological security of the participating States again is tightly linked to our country. Ukraine together with the OSCE is implementing a project on eliminating the stocks of 16,4 thousand tons of highly toxic rocket fuel component, known as mélange.  

This project is the most ambitious the OSCE has ever implemented in its history. Total quantity of mélange, which has already been removed from the Ukrainian territory, is equal almost to 11 thousand tons. The Ukrainians will no more suffer from this highly toxic chemical agent.

Although the human dimension is traditionally considered as the third, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms holds a special place in the OSCE activities.   

Freedom of media and safety of journalists, combating manifestations of discrimination and intolerance, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of assembly and association, democratic election and election observation, protection of national minorities’ rights are constantly in the focus of the Organization. 

In view of this, encouraging the participating States to implement the OSCE commitments on protecting human rights and freedoms has been placed among the Ukraine’s Chairmanship priorities.

We have achieved a lot of results on this arena in the course of six months.

We successfully organized four international human dimension events, two of which were high-level conferences. To imagine what scope of work was done lets recall for a moment that great differences which has been accumulated in the positions of the participating states regarding human rights and freedoms in the last years.  

Therefore building consensus around these events was very hard task to perform. However, the Ukrainian Chairmanship managed to find points of common interest among the participating States.

The international community highly appreciated the efforts put by the Ukrainian Chairmanship towards strengthening the OSCE role in combating one of the most heinous modern crimes – trafficking in human beings.     

In June we organized the high level Conference on “Strengthening the OSCE Response to Trafficking in Human Beings”. Top officials from all participating States, parliamentarians, heads of international institutions as well as NGOs, leading international experts participated in the conference.  

In fact the Conference was the first attempt over the years to raise the human trafficking issue at a totally new level. The participants presented a great number of recommendations on how to consolidate international and national endeavors aimed at combating these modern forms of slavery as well as on how to use efficiently existing toolbox to implement commitments undertaken in this sphere.     

The Ukrainian Chairmanship pays special attention to the education of children on the principles of tolerance and nondiscrimination. 

In this regard a significant contribution is expected to be done by the OSCE Youth Summit. The Summit will be held at the International Children Centre Artek (Crimea, Ukraine) from 20 of July to 1 of August under the auspices of the Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship.

This event is co-organized by the All-Ukrainian Charitable Foundation of Hope and Good, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and to be held first ever in the history of the Organization. We believe that this initiative will establish a good tradition within the Organization.

Recommendations of each event will set up the ground for implementation of the OSCE commitments on combating human trafficking, freedom of movement, promoting tolerance and non-discrimination, assuring of media freedom.

The Ukrainian Chairmanship managed to renew co-operation between the ODIHR and Parliament Assembly. This result is rightly to be considered as the most important achievement in the human dimension over the first months of the year.

Both institutions are known to carry out election observation. Therefore a statement, made by the then OSCE PA President last year in Dublin, on suspension of the 1997 Cooperation Agreement led to a paradox. During the presidential elections in Armenia the title “OSCE” appeared in the names of two separate observation missions. 

Accordingly during a visit of then PA OSCE President Wolfgang Grossruck, we paid special attention to the renewal of cooperation between these two institutions. 

I personally appointed special coordinators for the Bulgarian elections in May and Albanian elections in June.

EXTENDING SECURITY SPACE 

Despite all difficulties, a model of security cooperation, which is exercised by the Organization, still remains a relevant concept. For instance, accession of Mongolia to the OSCE has clearly proved this fact. 

And recently I have received a letter from my Mongolian colleague with a request to establish the OSCE field presence in this country. The Ukrainian Chairmanship sent an expert mission to Ulaanbaatar at the end of May. It will allow us to assess a level of assistance a new participating state may need to implement the OSCE commitments.

We are also observing an interest of other countries in developing relations with the OSCE within the partnership format. Recently the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Libya has approached me to consider the possibility of granting Libya with the status of Partner for Co-operation. Such intention can be only welcomed as the OSCE security space is indispensable from that of the adjacent regions. 

The Ukrainian Chairmanship will start shortly consultations on this issue.

AHEAD OF KYIV OSCE MINISTERIAL MEETING

In less than half year the Foreign Ministers of the 57 OSCE participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation will arrive to Kyiv to attend the jubilee the 20th OSCE Ministerial Meeting.  

The Ukrainian Chairmanship has started drafting the appropriate documents which will be submitted to this meeting. 

We deliberately set a course for future decisions which is not quantity but quality oriented, since the success of any Chairmanship has long not been measured by quantitative categories.

Our set of proposals will reflect the Ukraine’s priorities across all three security dimensions, including conflict resolution, non-proliferation principles, cyber security, environmental footprint of energy-related activities, combating human trafficking and promoting Helsinki+40 process.

We reckon upon successful implementation of these ambitious tasks. To say so, we have such ingredients of success as continued attention of the Ukrainian authorities, concerted interaction of state agencies as well as highly professional teams of diplomats in Kyiv, Vienna and capitals of the participating States.  

That’s why I believe that ahead of the Ministerial Meeting in Kyiv our work will bring substantial results in the interests of our country, the OSCE, and both regional and global security. 

Газета День, Леонід Кожара, Діючий Голова ОБСЄ, Міністр закордонних справ України

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