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OSCE’s Uncertain Future

  • December 1st, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

astana.jpgA summit of the OSCE has begun amid widespread skepticism about its future and the bona fides of the host country, Kazakhstan.

The gathering of Heads of Government the Oganisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, (1-2.12.10), its first since 1999, has drawn several leaders including President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and also the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.

kazakh-man.jpgOpening proceedings, at the city of Astana, the Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev (picture), declared, “this summit is a sign of the rebirth of the organisation”, calling for an extension of its writ to the “Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Indian Oceans” – on the premise that the worst security threats to Europe came from outside.

On that point, observers pointed to violence within and between national communities, conflict between states (notably the 20 years’ recent trouble between Azerbaijan and Armenia over  Nagorny-Karabakh), and documented cases of repression of human human rights across Central Asia.

A commentary published by German Radio Deutsche Welle pointed to the current embarrassment of the United States, with the Wikileaks publication of its diplomatic cables – including some observations on Kazakhstan itself.

Political elites in that country, it appears, are seen in some of the cable traffic to Washington as prone to extravagance, and here and there even too much drinking.

The commentary continued:

“Along with criticism of Kazakhstan’s less-than-stellar human-rights record, experts are divided as to whether the oil-rich nation plays a positive role in a region ridden with ethnic and economic conflict.

“In June of this year, for example, clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Southern Kyrgyzstan left around 2,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced …

“This has not been a good year for peace in Central Asia.”

See EUAustralia Online, “Kyrgystan Crisis”, 22.6.10.

osce-logo.jpgThe OSCE, set up in the mid-1970s as the CSCE (Commission on Security and Cooperation …), under the Helsinki accord, nevertheless has a strong pedigree on effective salvation and protection of rights.

The former Eastern bloc governments that signed up on guarantees of human rights, glad to sign-up also for Helsinki protocols on non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, found their commitments being used against them in the revolutions of 1989.

In the 1990s the OSCE was called in as an agency to help settle the conflicts in the Balkans region, though it’s been criticised since as too slow to respond, to intervene in crisis.

President Dmitry Medvedev has an answer to that.

He told the gathering in Astana a new OSCE treaty, watching rights issues from “Vancouver to Vladivostok”, (presumably via the longer route), could play a vital role coordinating other bodies such as NATO, the European Union and Council of Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (drawn from the former USSR) and CSTO  (Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a regional alliance, formed in 1992, made up Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan).

The OCSE gathering is discussing several issues including terrorism, the drug trade, and the fighting in Afghanistan.

The organisation has 56 members including countries from Europe, Central Asia and North America, and the European Union; it is concerned with military security, focusing on conflict prevention, crisis management and post conflict rehabilitation.

Ukraine has been elected to hold the presidency of the body in 2013, with before that Lithuania.


Jefferson Chase, Chuck Penfold, “WikiLeaks, Central Asia top concerns ahead of OSCE summit”, Deutsche Welle, Bonn, 30.11.10.,,6280621,00.html, (1.12.10).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, “International Relations: Kazakhstan’s human rights record scrutinized ahead of OSCE summit”, 18.11.10.,,6241147,00.html, (1.12.10).

OSCE, Vienna, “OSCE Summit in Astana begins with call to Heads of State to advance Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security”. 1.12.10., (1.12.10).

Voice of Russia, Moscow, “OSCE losing potential, needs updating – Medvedev”, 1.12.10., (1.12.10).

Stuart Williams, “Kazakhstan hosts first OSCE summit in decade”, AFP, Paris, 1.12.10., (1.12.10).


Astana, Pres. Nazarbayev – OSCE