The 40th Anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act and the 5th Anniversary after the Summit in Astana are the milestone events that have become more important amid tumultuous developments around the world. At the same time, they make us deliberate over the OSCE role in ensuring security and cooperation in the Eurasian and Euro-Atlantic area. Strengthening multilateral interaction mechanisms between the OSCE participating states is one of the most urgent and complex challenges of our time.
We are living at time of changes and turmoil. Each year brings us new challenges such as wars, conflicts and economic upheavals, human and drug trafficking, refugee crises, pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, proliferation of nuclear materials, arms race.
The Ukraine crisis having developed into a national tragedy has undermined global security and revealed differences in perceptions of security system. Amid existing contradictions, fundamental norms and principles of international law embedded in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act have been interpreted in different ways.
Therefore, called “dividing lines” which are frequently discussed by politicians and diplomats emerged long time before the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. We have witnessed conflicts that turned into “frozen” ones and then - into “protracted” ones. All of them have taken place in the post-Soviet area. There are reasonable concerns that the Ukraine crisis may slide into a “frozen” conflict in case of non-compliance with Minsk agreements.
Therefore, we still pin our great hope on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. This forum comprising 57 participating states including four nuclear powers can and should help to strengthen trust among countries in the interests of comprehensive security.
It is well known, the OSCE created during the Cold War tensions have been playing a key role in preserving peace and stability on a vast area from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The OSCE served as a valuable structure to maintain optimal temperature or equilibrium in international relations at the end of the Cold War. We should praise the OSCE for preventing the conflicts from devolving into large-scale calamities and bloodsheds across its region.
40 years after the OSCE spanning huge geographical area and taking comprehensive approach to security remains crucial and relevant. It offers an indispensable platform for dialogue where its participating states coordinate their positions and take collective decisions.
In this regard, it is high time to make special emphasis on the outcomes of the OSCE Summit in Astana in 2010. It was this forum to introduce the notion of “security community” replacing the old one - “security space”. This security community comprises a geographical area stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok “free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence and zones with different levels of security”. The Astana Declaration noted “the security of each participating State is inseparably linked to that of all others”. Indivisible security is the “spirit of Astana” which launched the common EuroAtlantic and Eurasian security community.
The OSCE Summit in 2010 marked the culmination of the Kazakhstan successful chairmanship. This meeting took place after more than 10 years of an involuntary break and gave a strong impetus to achieving consensus on security matters.
In our view, the OSCE participating states should continue their efforts to resolve the question of its legal framework. We fully realize how difficult this task is, however it does not imply that this issue is not on the current and future OSCE agenda.
This task is becoming even more critical given that old approaches to security need to be adjusted to new geopolitical realities.
First and foremost, it is essential to strengthen first of all trust among states as it is trust that brings predictability in international affairs. Unfortunately, international system lacks this glue.
Contradictions among the world powers result in their divergent perceptions and interpretations of events that they have for centuries. Yet the highest wisdom of a statesman is to seek common ground to avoid a war for the sake of humanity. The clash of strategic interests of states should not be a dominant trend in the contemporary world. We ought to make security and cooperation the top priority as the name of the Organization says. Therefore, the Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship made special emphasis on rebuilding and strengthening trust between states.
Proceeding from this idea the President of Kazakhstan initiated the first meeting of Russian and Ukrainian leaders in Minsk which was the starting point to stop the bloodshed and resolve the crisis.
There is no alternative to dialogue. The OSCE is unique for its potential to facilitate negotiations fostering consensus. It is very complicated, but we, as the “security community”, must make efforts to improve the international climate.
The world is changing fast. The signing of the Helsinki Final Act was a turning point of the Cold War that led to its end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet a new type of confrontation that occasionally becomes chaotic succeeded the standoff between political systems and ideologies. 40 years ago, nobody could even imagine that international terrorism would emerge as a cynic and destructive force as it is today.
40 years ago, China, currently an economic giant, was a poor country that had come through a cultural revolution and was at odds with another socialist nuclear power, the USSR. The signatories of the Helsinki Final Act while taking commitments not to change the European borders most certainly did not think about the reunification of Germany, a “velvet revolution” in Czechoslovakia, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the break-up of Yugoslavia. The essence, the nature and even the scope of the OSCE have changed tremendously especially with the accession of Mongolia to the Organization, which was also difficult to imagine 40 years ago. Furthermore, it was unconceivable that later the OSCE would have to address such a difficult crisis in Ukraine. Therefore, at this time of changes the OSCE should encourage and even generate positive trends in international developments.
On the initiative of the Swiss Chairmanship, the Panel of Eminent Persons was established.
The author of this article was also invited to join the Panel. This group is working on recommendations on how European security could be re-consolidated as a common project including on how to help the OSCE work more efficiently.
I am convinced that the OSCE may play a more visible role in crisis diplomacy. Conflicts of all types and at all levels - international, local, interreligious or sectarian ones, not only jeopardize the security of millions of people, but also undermine the world economy with far- reaching consequences for the generations to come. Against this backdrop, President Nursultan Nazarbayev addressing the 70th session of the UN General Assembly called for building a zero conflict world pursuing the concept of “New future” and enhancing the rule of international law.
It should be noted that Asia plays an ever- increasing role in global affairs. It is in the interests of the OSCE to enhance its cooperation with Asian fora for security including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In many respects the OSCE and CICA are identical forums and could agree to hold joint consultations and after that to cooperate. Such steps would help enhance security across Eurasia.
The Parliament of Kazakhstan pays special attention to the activity of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. We must take full advantage of opportunities that this forum offers. In 2008, Astana hosted the annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly, which would then contribute to the success of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the OSCE. I would suggest reaping the full benefits of this forum. Thus, the parliamentary delegation OfKazakhstan takes an active part in its sessions and meetings.
While dealing with international security architecture, we should not forget about the OSCE's economic and environmental dimension, which was somehow put aside amid increasing battles in the politico-military and human baskets. This dimension is very promising since successful economic cooperation based on mutual benefits wifi ensure building a world free of conflicts. It is worth mentioning the words of one of the founders of the European Coal and Steel Community, a French politician and diplomat, Mr. Robert Schuman who said that this organization “wifi make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”. This declaration is still relevant nowadays.
The OSCE remains a valuable and indispensable forum that seeks solutions to the most acute issues of regional security. Building of a “security community” outlined in Astana is the primary goal of the OSCE for years to come. At the same time, the Organization should not only serve as a venue for discussions and negotiations on security, but also generate positive developments in European and global politics.