CSIS-IND Conference: Passing the Torch of the OSCE Chairmanship
January 27, 2011
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Panel Discussion – Passing the Torch of the OSCE Chairmanship
Moderator: Janusz Bugajski, CSIS
Outcomes of the Astana Summit – Ambassador William Courtney
Military Security: Vienna Document and the CFE – Jeffrey McCausland, U.S. Army War College
Priorities of the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship– Simonas Šatūnas, Embassy of Lithuania
Protracted Conflicts – Vladimir Socor, Jamestown Foundation
Human Dimension: Freedom of the Media, Protection of Civil and Political Rights – Michael Haltzel, SAIS
The Performance of the Kazakh Chair – Ambassador Erlan Idrissov
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Lunch Keynotes and Discussion
Moderator: Margarita Assenova, IND
Ambassador Kairat Abdrahmanov, Kazakh Ambassador to the OSCE (Vienna)
Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati, President and CEO, International Centre for Democratic Transition, Hungary
Janusz Bugajski, CSIS
On Thursday, January 27, 2011 CSIS and IND hosted a conference titled “Passing the Torch of the OSCE Chairmanship,” which evaluated Kazakhstan’s chairmanship, its challenges, achievements, and shortcomings. The panelists also highlighted important issues that need to be addressed by the Lithuanian chairmanship and suggested policy approaches for Vilnius that could enhance the effectiveness of the OSCE.
Several panelists expressed the view that the OSCE is a fading organization which is suffering from an identity crisis. As Vladimir Socor (Jamestown Foundation) noted, “Kazakhstan displayed a successful chairmanship of a failing organization.” Indeed, the Astana Summit, which brought together the leaders of the OSCE member states for the first time in 11 years, was able to recommit the members to the principles stemming from the three baskets of the organization. Michael Haltzel (SAIS) emphasized that the third dimension is the most vibrant. It was further reinforced by the Astana Summit, the Civil Society Summit, which was held parallel to the OSCE summit, and overall NGO and civil society engagement with the OSCE over the past year.
Unfortunately, the Summit also exposed the organization’s weaknesses. According to Ambassador William Courtney, the Astana Commemorative Declaration failed to address the Kyrgyz crisis, Russian occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the meager election results across Eurasia, and the fact that Russia has used its veto power within the Permanent Council in hindering major efforts in conflict resolution. The Astana Summit did not deliver on passing the Action Plan, which would have provided a framework for the resolution of two other frozen conflicts within the OSCE: Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ambassadors Erlan Idrissov and Kairat Abdrakhmanov gave a more positive report on the OSCE’s role within the international community as a proactive and legitimate organization. Finally, the panelists all gave useful suggestions to the Lithuanian chairmanship for 2011. Since the Action Plan was not approved because of disagreement over language regarding the protracted conflicts, Lithuania must continue to work with all member states in order to approve and implement a framework that will eventually lead to more impact in resolving conflicts. Furthermore, Vilnius should recognize, as noted by Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati, the three important challenges that the OSCE faces: terrorism, human rights violations (not all members agree on the definition of these rights), and security. These are vast issues ranging from Afghanistan to human trafficking and cyber security to the ineffectiveness of the CFE Treaty. Lithuania must aim for small-step consensus in specific areas.