It is been a while, a while since World War II came to an end, a while since Gerald Ford and Leonid Brezhnev among 35 countries signed the Helsinki Act in 1975, a while since the Paris Charter, these have been chain reactions looking for peace, made to gain the will of peace from the OSCE/CSCE members.
From Vancouver to Vladivostok, diplomatic efforts have been done to promote and to foster peace under the umbrella of security, but with a “not always clear” roadmap to follow.
Situation is already given now, only re-action is possible at this stage, but an action plan should be developed for being able to implement long-term policies in all OSCE/CSCE fields of action (arms control, education, democratization, border management, good governance, combating terrorism, human rights, and other aspects they are working on). We have no excuse for delaying the creation of a clear roadmap away from electoral demands, analysing facts from each member but focusing on community interest-based strategies in the long run.
No surprise to anyone to read that OSCE/CSCE has slow and mostly individual reacted to the Ukrainian crisis, in their approach to Russia and to the causes of the crisis; although CSCE is on the field now, observers fear same conclusions as extracted from the field assessment Mission to the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan Surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh:
“In travelling more than 1,000 kilometres throughout the territories, the Co-Chairs saw stark evidence of the disastrous consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the failure to reach a peaceful settlement. Towns and villages that existed before the conflict are abandoned and almost entirely in ruins.”
It is happening, now! A great exodus of 3 million people living in the eastern regions of Ukraine, have left the conflict zone, relocating themselves to Russia or to western Regions in Ukraine, not ready to absorb all these inland refugees at once, escalating services demand and housing market prices, “helping” Ukraine’s inflation growing.
The CSCE/OSCE decision N.1117, from March 2014, was to deploy a special OSCE monitoring mission of international observers to Ukraine. For the ones who already felt asleep while reading, Russia is inside the CSCE/OSCE, but seems there is no “special” collaboration regarding the situation, not on the field.
Give me some facts! Well the truth is that Russia wants, again, to create another stagnated situation on their “buffer” security zone, this is nothing new, but for EU and OSCE/CSCE seems to be something “unexpected” coming from Russia. Why do we treat Russia as a Democratic country when they are not?
Why Russia keep on doing this? Uhm, they have been doing the same in Transdniester, for example, and they will repeat the scheme:
Russia won’t let Donetsk and Lugansk joining the Russian Federation, Russia will still fuel them, to maintain on its orbit, while pushing Ukraine, especially Kiev, to step into Federalism, making sure Russia retain influence at the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) by controlling de-facto these two regions. For Russia, it is better that the Separatists-Rebel Regions keep in Ukraine, for Russian sake!
Russia has clear objectives as stated by Gerasimov, they have even published in the Newspapers, very well translated to English by Mark Galeotti’s Article. So, no surprise that if we move right for co-opting some new commercial partners enlargement, or even just for trade agreements, they move left according to their public doctrine, feared of another “Invasion” Napoleon’s style! They act exactly as they think, so, why we wonder? Why we do not have a clear pathway to follow?
First, External Action Service is still an “under-construction” pledge, so most European countries, OSCE/CSCE Members included, react to these situations as good as they can, showing Russia how divided we are, although we have agreed on most sanctions after seeing this conflict affects everyone’s security (after MH117 was taken down).
Given this situation it will be good to agree on transferring some more power to Ms. Mogherini and to the OSCE/CSCE Chairmanship, Germany in 2016, if not, Russia will again choose their interlocutors and handle this as part of its “private” backyard.
Second, foster peace settlement and economic growth connecting transportation and economic links again, for employment to grow and for a faster arms lay down connected to people’s desire for peace. How?
In my last article, in Spanish though, I do think we have some clues:
All actors involved should look for a solution, so called “Rebels”, Russia, EU, all on board, Ukraine and partners like OSCE/CESCE. While studying translation I had a professor who said to me “When you translate something to another language, this should make sense in both languages”, so, when looking for solutions, these should make sense for all sides of the conflict, if you do not want to see the same situation again soon.
Another point is a double trade-agreement, for Ukraine with Russia and the EU, since Ukrainian Industry is highly dependant (in the eastern side above all) on Russian imports. Since the conflict has begun, Russia has pivoted to buy former imports from Ukraine from other countries and sources, Ukraine can not do that since its Industry is not able to pivot at this speed, not even to up-to-date itself, a pre-requisite to be able to sell to EU. This Double Trade-agreement will be temporary, will help to update the industry, and will last no longer than 15 years. Some saying this will flood European markets with Russian products smuggled through Ukraine, they could remain calm, commercial routes to Russia are still impracticable, and will be controlled by Ukraine in the near future, according to the Minsk II agreements, end of 2015. If we are thinking rebels and Volunteers (Ukrainian side) are going to lay down arms without a previous deployment of an Employment plan, we will never solve this conflict.
We could follow virtuous examples such as (well not fully virtuous, but following the essence, the day-to-day work will be never the same), the example of the truce with the paramilitary group FARC in Colombia, trying to integrate ex-combatants into society by means of work, education and assuming that it has been a conflict, not denying it. Here we could add bilingual education Ukrainian-Russian (Belgium example could be used here), demobilization of society, etc.
This part of the paper is for the sceptics. Russian or Europeans conspiranoics.
Orange Revolution and Maidan upraising were clear enough proofs of people fighting for better living conditions and civil rights, not to forget, against corruption, an endemic and rooted illness of their Institutions. Some claimed that USA and EU among other actors have “financed” the actions to stage the Upraising, not only in Ukraine, but in Egypt, Hong Kong, and on, and on… Placing grants for students and organizations abroad, could be an Instrument of public diplomacy or proselytism, but cannot be blamed, after visiting Egypt and Ukraine, for being the one and only reason for upraising.
EU and CSCE/OSCE, should act, far away before this happens, being aware of instability in nearby regions, acting in two ways:
- Trying to build bottom-up strong institutions that still alive no matter the colour of the Government. Why? Institutions and Administrations are nearer to Citizens than any political Institutions, they should resist any Government changes and keep on the track helping nationals to continue with their lives, solving their day to day administrative problems. A good example to follow is Belgium, the administrative system in Belgium has fulfilled its day-to-day duties; citizens asking for business licenses, passports, kindergarten inscriptions, without a stricto sensu Government in Office, or even without one.
- Training civil servants, government and opposition members. If we have already identified bad practices in some country, let’s be Active! Let’s bring some people to training sessions to other countries, to other Institutions, learning by doing, but in the right way. I am not considering here a country better than any other; I am just explaining that some education or administrative systems for example, work better than others, why? They have invested more time or resources developing common-frame policies to achieve a higher standard because they had already identified some deficiencies. So, why not learning from others that have already been dealing with the same mistakes we are fighting against?
Both points does not necessarily mean training people to overthrow a Government, but supporting better a society by increasing the knowledge of some individuals that could influence a broader circle. Political proselytism? Well, I leave this for debate.
Away from the Ukrainian Conflict, what is to be expected from OSCE/CSCE?
It is one of the crucial questions to answer, let’s take a look to another multilateral Organization, NATO. The implication of Russia in the Ukrainian conflict has fuelled NATO position in Europe. After Newport-Cardiff meeting, Russia really did a favour to NATO by becoming more than a “stakeholder” in Ukraine. The idea of Germany of creating a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (HRF) with around 4000 to 6000 soldiers, to avoid permanent deployment of troops at any European border, has revitalised and created a new idea of the NATO. The organisation is adapting itself to new challenges, but what about OSCE?
OSCE/CSCE principles are to expand this perspective of a global and progressive space of peace and security. Since the foundation of the OSCE/CSCE, the organization is going through changes and many more might occur to adapt itself to the new demanding sphere of the International Relations. The 57 countries should clearly state their priorities and engage for a tailor-made changing situation International Organization. Without the engagement and compromise of the countries, we cannot move forward, so the spirit of the Trio Presidency should be to fight for increasing each country’s commitment for strengthening OSCE/CSCE duties on the representation and decision-making level.
We should not be idealistics of the past but workers for the future of the OSCE/CSCE, since if OSCE/CSCE dares to act as per its foundational charter and following Paris Charter commitments, will dramatically change for good the perspectives of pan-European Cooperation.
Last but not least important is the role of Germany. In 2016 will be Chairman of the OSCE/CSCE, sharing with Swiss and Serbia. Germany has a bounded power based on Diplomacy and Economic Strength, but no army to back this soft-power. Quite an interesting exercise to observe since Russia is lately using asymmetric war and a quite hard Realpolitik.
These bright new ideas brought by Germany to the table, when talking about NATO, should be also put in place in terms of brainstorming to head the OSCE/CSCE Chairmanship to really acknowledge and re-define its duties in the Continent.
It is still unavoidable to observe some shell, military deployment and combats during escalation crisis, but Germany, given their experience in strategic thinking, having refused to use military force, in Iraq, for example, and in other multinational interventions, needs to leverage this experience at the OSCE/CSCE to bring the conflict from the field to the table, and retain it there until a Diplomatic and Economic solution is found.
Relocations of power are in place since the beginning of history, power is an ally for a few, and now Germany has a straight flush, all in a row, geographic position, economic independence, the fact that Germany is able to retain partners and is backed by most of European and non-European Countries (London and Paris have agreed on this Leadership, Ukraine is happy to have them as a mediator and Russia has chosen them as an interlocutor) and that USA is quite happy to see Germany ruling European External Affairs in the Eastern side again, since this means less headaches for them. This so called Relocation of power could also be used by Germany to exchange some NATO military power for some Diplomatic and Cooperative OSCE influence, to some extent; it might be a logical scenario in the future, why not move forward from now on?
It’s time to act.