Kazakhstan to Assume Chair of OSCE, Europe’s Largest Security Organization
December 14, 2009
Q1: On January 1, 2010, Kazakhstan will assume the chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an organization that now spans 56 countries. What is the significance of this development?
A1: Kazakhstan will be the first Central Asian, post-Soviet, and predominantly Muslim state to chair the OSCE, an organization that celebrates its 35th birthday next year. Even though the Kazakh government has come under criticism from human rights lobbies for its shortcomings in implementing European standards of democratic governance, Kazakhstan is in a unique position to better assimilate and adapt those values the more secure it feels as a contributing member of the OSCE. The chairmanship will enable to country to develop closer ties with Europe and the United States and to make its own contribution to Euro-Asian security. CSIS, working together with the Institute for New Democracies in Washington, D.C., and a task force of leading experts, has just published a comprehensive Policy Paper on Kazakhstan’s upcoming OSCE chairmanship. The report contains a number of concrete recommendations for the Kazakh government.
Q2: What could be the major achievement of Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship?
A2: It would be valuable for the Kazakh government to prepare an OSCE security summit at this important juncture in the organization’s development. Amidst growing questions about the OSCE’s role and given the new security threats that confront the entire OSCE region, a summit assembling all heads of state in 2010 could serve four important goals.
First, it can take stock of what the OSCE has accomplished in enhancing international security and begin to develop some consensus on its future direction. Second, the summit could assess the existing security threats within and around the OSCE area and formulate more effective common responses through the pursuit of the OSCE’s three dimensions: security, economy, and human rights. The organization can also make a significant contribution in Afghanistan through the training of border patrols, police officers, and the national administration.
Third, the summit would need to examine the effectiveness of other security organizations active in the OSCE region, including NATO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), in such areas as conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, and post-conflict reconstruction, and devise ways to improve cooperation between them. And fourth, the summit could promote the integration process between Central Asia and the Euro-Atlantic sphere for the benefit of both regions, particularly through energy, trade, and business connections.
Q3: How does the proposed summit link with Russia’s recent proposals for a new European security architecture?
A3: To be effective, the summit should not become a mechanism for sidelining any existing security organization, legitimizing any country’s “privileged interests,” or undermining existing European security treaties, including the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty or the 1975 Helsinki Final Act that effectively launched the OSCE. To avoid potential failure, the objective of the OSCE summit should not be to forge some overambitious European Security Pact or an unnecessary new “security architecture” as recently proposed by Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev. This would simply create confusion and duplication without contributing anything concrete to international security. Instead, the summit can provide a unique opportunity to recommit all member states to the core values of the OSCE, including the democracy agenda, national sovereignty, and international cooperation.
Janusz Bugajski holds the Lavrentiadis Chair and is director of the New European Democracies Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
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