It’s been two months since Kazakhstan become the Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This is a mission of honor, but also a responsible one. Stagnation within the regulation of conflicts in South Caucasus, unmastered wave of tension between Russia and West, continuous arguments on democratic ideals and the status of Kosovo, and the current economic crisis. This is an incomplete list of problems, with which OSCE entered 2010 – the year of Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the Organization. How successful is our diplomacy within the solution of these and other problems? Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to OSCE Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov dwells on this and other aspects of OSCE Presidency.
In January of 2010 Kazakhstan took up a duty as an OSCE Chairman. Two months have passed and now we can draw some preliminary results. We are talking with a Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to OSCE Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
- Mr. Ambassador, time is passing fluently, and now it is March of 2010. Could You please summarize the results of the first two months of OSCE Presidency?
- I’m sure, that many readers are familiar with the address of the Head of our state to the members of OSCE Permanent Council of January 14th, where President outlined the priorities of Kazakhstan Chairmanship.
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The program of our Presidency includes the work on counteraction towards new threats and challenges, the search of long-standing conflicts solutions, rehabilitation of Afghanistan, cooperation within the sphere of transport, tolerance promotion and other important directions. Yet on the eve of Chairmanship we initiated the idea of OSCE Summit. The Summit is called to create a powerful impulse for OSCE adaptation to modern challenges and threats, to enhance the trust and respect to the Organization itself.
The start of Chairmanship was pretty intensive with events. As known, the Head of the state constantly consults with his colleagues on urgent issues of OSCE agenda. The acting Chairman – the Head of Foreign Policy Department Kanat Saudabayev have already held a series of important negotiations, many principal agreements have been reached, including the issues on Summit arrangement, interaction with other international organization, and also on personnel issues of OSCE.
Our work in the OSCE Headquarters in Vienna is performed in a strict accordance with the schedule of events, that is detailed literally by hours. One of the unique differences of Kazakhstan Chairmanship is the fact that we have covered all member-states with consultations. This helps to promote our priorities greatly. The voice of each member is significant and should be considered in the Organization with consensus decision-making. Naturally, in the epicenter of our activity in Vienna lies the coordination of arrangement and work of weekly meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, and also auxiliary bodies of the Organization.
Simultaneously with the current activity of the Chairmanship we’ve started to accomplish the program of European security dialogue promotion (the so-called “Corfu process”). These two months were significant from the point of view of coordination of work with OSCE Secretariat, institutions and field missions of the Organization, and also with the group of special and personal representatives of the acting Chairman. I should say that the persistent preparation for the Presidency gave great results, and since January 1st Kazakhstan Chairmanship and OSCE structures have worked a single unit.
Besides, yet in October of previous year we started presiding the Advisory Committee of our Organization on management and finances. A significant success of Kazakhstan on this post was the approval and early adoption of the OSCE consolidated budget for 2010. This is a success, as since 2006 budget had been adopted behind time.
- You have mentioned the so-called “Corfu process”. Please, tell us about it.
- Active discussions on the future of European security began during the Ministerial Meetings of OSCE in November 2008 in Helsinki. In June of 2009 they obtained the shape of informal process, called “Corfu process” after the place name of unofficial Ministerial meeting, incited by Greece.
In essence, this is a logical reaction of the OSCE community on pretty complicated and dramatic events, happening within the area of the Organization lately. The result of the first year discussion was the adoption during the Athens OSCE Ministerial Council of the two documents – Declaration and Decisions of “Corfu process”, which proves the readiness of member-states to proceed with informal dialogue. As you know, the Declaration contains the initiative of Kazakhstan on OSCE Summit in 2010.
Having taken the duty of a Chairman in Power, Kazakhstan launched a new stage of “Corfu process”. During the period since January till June of 2010 it is supposed to hold about eight multilateral meetings, aimed at overwhelming dialogue on all the aspects of common European security, covering the subjects of all the three dimensions. It is planned to engage all OSCE institutions, partner states of the Organization, academic circles, NGOs, representatives of regional security organization into the informal dialogue. In the course of “Corfu process” Kazakhstan intends to invite OSCE Foreign Ministers to the informal meeting in Almaty city this summer. The results of the current stage of the process should contribute into the content of OSCE Summit in 2010.
- As we see, the scope of activities in OSCE is a great one, however the wave of critics towards the Organization doesn’t reduce. Skeptics points its dependence, especially within crisis situations. How relevant is the role of OSCE in current conditions to your mind?
- Scepsis towards OSCE had occured long before its establishment. Henry Kissinger in one of his books recollects that American press blamed the Conference in semantic verbiage when the delegations had been approving the text of Helsinki Final Act of 1975 more than two years. And in the result the established then structure has been a single platform for more than 35 years, where countries discuss current problems of security within Euro-Atlantic region. There have never been still air and idyll within the Organization. It was established to overcome crisis situation. Hardly would anyone hypothetically suggest that relations in Europe would have been better without such a Forum. Our common task is to preserve and enhance the role of OSCE as an influential body for equal dialogue and mutually acceptable decisions.
And dwelling on its relevance I would note that despite the rigid critics towards OSCE sometimes, its members don’t plan to change already existing format of consultations and decision-making, and moreover to withdraw from the Organization because of its “irrelevance”. The demand for OSCE, its value added, if you like, lies in the range of its geographical coverage of participants, overwhelming approach to the issues of stability and security, consensus principle of decision-making and, I’m sure, in powerful political will of the Heads of states and their Governments.
- What do we mean under the necessity of OSCE reforms?
- The most important task of Kazakhstan Presidency is an overwhelming reinforcement of the Organization, promotion of its efficacy and the ability to react adequately on current challenges and threats.
As the Head of state N.A. Nazarbayev noted in his January article, “we don’t support revolutions within the Organization, but also we are not going to act by inertia”. That is why when we are talking about reforms, we don’t mean the review of its fundamental principles or mechanisms worked out during decades. We are for the renovation of the Organization and its adaptation to the changed geopolitical reality. Our goal is to establish favorable conditions for its evolution, improvement of its potential, strengthening of its mandate, development of the three security dimensions. We declare the necessity of balance between the three “baskets” – military-political, economic-ecologic and humanitarian – without reduction of the significance of any. However, there is an evident crisis in the first “basket”, when the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) doesn’t work and the instruments on conflict prevention are weak despite all efforts. The last eleven years there have been no summits of the Heads of states and Governments of OSCE, since 2004 the Ministerial Councils have been held without the adoption of final declarations, the adoption of budget is often delayed because of the disagreements. In many instances, grounding on the necessity of the new view on OSCE future, we intend to encourage the European security dialogue. Except for that, we are sure that the member-states should treat seriously the initiative of Russia to conclude a treaty on European security. The history of OSCE itself demonstrated the urgency of sufficient transformations of the forum about each decade, in accordance with the demands of regional situation – Helsinki Act of 1975, Paris Charter of 1990, Istanbul Charter for European Security of 1999.
All member-states acknowledge the necessity of improvement of legal basis of the Organization. First of all the group of states rise the issue of adoption of OSCE Charter, convention on its legal status, privileges and immunities. In essence, now OSCE from a legal point of view functions not as a full-value international organization with legal status, but more like an advisory forum.
Our common goal is to return the spirit of trust and understanding of mutual interests within OSCE arena, in which, in fact, participate four nuclear states. The situation within the continent of the XXIst century demands reinforcement, but not a weakening of OSCE. We should settle long-standing local conflicts, cooperate in a civilized manner in the sphere of human rights, democracy promotion, protect the rights of minorities, solve ecologic problems, promote economic relations, struggle against drug trafficking, human trafficking, utilize old unexploded ordnance, help Afghanistan… But it’s impossible to cooperate fruitfully without re-establishment of trust. These all encouraged Kazakhstan to initiate OSCE Summit.
- I would like to touch upon the issue of democracy and human rights which stands individually, evidently prevailing over other dimensions of OSCE…
- Human dimension is one of three compounds of the concept of overwhelming security and naturally it is an important direction of OSCE activity. Also we should understand that human dimension has a very good PR. When there are no hot conflicts, this subject gains a wide media-coverage.
But the Caucasus war in August of 2008 and our total inability to prevent it has clearly demonstrated that the issues of “rigid” security (i.e. military-political dimension) should be worked out, scrupulously, gradually, in the spirit of cooperation. Without depreciating the importance of cooperation within human dimension, we concentrate more on the dialogue on the problems of military-political security as a significant instrument of early prevention and regulation of crisis.
- In West they often say that democracy is a part of security, the guarantee of success of the state. Where there is democracy, there will be stability, development…
- Democracy – naturally is a good for any people. And just as Winston Churchill said “humankind hasn’t figured out anything better yet”.
Today academic circles of the same West acknowledge more often, that democracy can’t be established in a single moment in any corner of the world.
There is a definite, so to say, regular sequence of development – first stability, then well-being, and afterwards democracy. By this we should realize that political stability and well-being in a historic scale are inconstant notions – they come and go. And democracy refers more to a social mentality, which is impossible to be transformed immediately. But it’s also impossible to erase the strongly routed democratic culture from the people’s minds.
Continuing the subject of human dimension, I would like to underline that the authorities of our country have repeatedly stated, that Kazakhstan will contribute into the complete performance of OSCE mandate and its institutions in the sphere of democracy and human rights. We strictly follow this position. Moreover, western states without hesitations recommend us to promote in the agenda of our Chairmanship the Kazakh experience of assurance of the rights of national and religious minorities. One of the main OSCE events this year will include the conference at the upper level on tolerance and nondiscrimination in June in Astana.
First of all Kazakhstan has proved itself the viability of its model of development, based on democracy, market and social oriented economy, century values of our people. We have faced the global crisis with many billion reserves, overcoming the difficulties we proceed with liberal reforms. It means that our model of state system works and it works well.
- Kazakhstan has tight, so to say, allied relations with Russia which today has quite difficult relations with West. Does the Chairmanship manage to follow the principle of impartiality in the work with member-states?
- You are right, there are such matters. But a Chairman doesn’t make decisions for all the members of the Organization. He is called to assure civilized discussions, aiming at consensus achievement, and then to act on the ground of consensus decisions. In Moscow as well as in western capitals they know this. They also realize the necessity of the new quality of cooperation. As I have already mentioned, we have constant consultations with all OSCE partners. We persistently and intensively coordinate actions. As not only the Chairman is interested in the success of the Organization, everybody needs this. Our alliance with Russia is an objective reality. And exactly our tight, without any exaggeration, excellent relations with Moscow should assist us in the reestablishment of such an urgent trust in Euro-Atlantic. Soon the process of “restart” of American-Russian relations will enter into a practical phase, which is demanded by the modern international context. Frankly speaking, this would ease OSCE work greatly and in general it would open the way to solution of many regional problems.
And if OSCE remains the arena for verbal arguments between the biggest nuclear powers, instead of a constructive dialogue, than it’s possible that other members will simply lose their interests to the Organization. I hope this won’t happen.
- Being the OSCE Chairman can Kazakhstan become an intermediate within conflict regulation between Georgia and Russia? Would the kind of intermediation lead to the worsening of our relations with Russia?
- I’m sure that if we had a genius solution of this conflict, we wouldn’t be waiting for the Chairmanship and would make up the both Parties immediately.
And this would have been in the spirit of the policy of President N.A. Nazarbayev, who never let go the opportunity to reestablish the trust between CIS leaders. Frankly speaking, it hurts to see our dear partners and friends harshly confronting with each other.
August conflict of 2008 has complicated even greater the prospect of political-legal solution of Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian ethno-territorial crisis. The problem demands balanced and comprehensive approach, as in practice this conflict has turned into a new dividing line, that distances West from Russia.
It showed us how fragile is the world around us.
Except for the conflict in Georgia, there is a problem of Nagorny Karabakh, Transdniestria, Kosovo.
I don’t think that presiding the OSCE, we will lose something trying to solve this conflicts and naturally we won’t worsen the relations with Russia. We are using the top post of the Chairman to move forward within conflict regulation. As stability around us is our stability. Dwelling on the problems of a post-soviet area, which are chronic, I think that the knowledge of culture, history and traditions of close nations and the tight relations with them will assist Kazakhstan Chairmanship in OSCE.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from "Liter"
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