Opinion | Diplomacy | VADYM PRYSTAIKO Published: Wednesday, 08/07/2013 12:00 am EDT The unique character of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to a great extent is derived from its geography (from Vancouver to Vladivostok), comprehensive mandate in security-related issues, and consensus-based decisions. Although no better platform to discuss the security of Europe-plus has been suggested so far, it is barely a secret that the OSCE became notorious for its under-performance and lack of palpable results. Some argue that the organizationʼs mandate became obsolete with the dissolution of the two military blocsʼ stand-off and no additional value has been produced by it. Ukraineʼs OSCE chairmanship approach is simple. While critics talk, we decided to walk the walk. Realizing the fragile balance of views among the OSCEʼs 57 participating states, Ukraine has focused its year-long chairmanship on pursuing a practical and results-oriented list of priorities consisting of small but rather consistent and meaningful steps aimed at rebuilding confidence, developing dialogue, and securing agreements.
Healing wounds We give first priority to a number of protracted conflicts with which the collapsing USSR rewarded the new Europe some 20 years ago. So far, the OSCE remains the only international body deeply involved in keeping all these conflicts from reigniting. These conflicts in Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia keep affecting millions of people and threaten regional security, slow down economic development of the countries involved, and restrain thousands of refugees from coming back to their homes. There is no magic remedy for these conflicts and no universal approach has been invented either. Ukraine is co-chairing the Geneva International Discussions on the Conflict in Georgia, regarding South Ossetia, which also involves the United Nations and the European Union. Ukraine is also facilitating monthly meetings in Georgia on security-related issues at the administrative border with South Ossetia, trying to stabilize the situation and reduce military clashes. In striving to peacefully resolve the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Ukrainian chairmanship renders its full support to the efforts of France, Russia, and the United States that form the so-called Minsk Group. But given geographic proximity, we give priority to the settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict in Moldova, having held three rounds of negotiations through the “5+2” talks and planning more for the rest of the year. At the same time, we are devoted to keep the balance between all the OSCE dimensions: politico-military; economic and environmental; and human. We are looking forward to finalizing
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the work on the outdated OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation adopted almost 20 years ago. Ukraine has also initiated a document on trust-strengthening in cyber and data security within the OSCE, which I believe constitutes an interest for all of us. We would like to call on OSCE states to share these commitments and help us fulfil them.
Bringing energy to the fore Strangely enough in our energy-dependent world, until 2013 energy security was on the sidelines of the OSCE. The Ukrainian chairmanship is endorsing and supporting a high-level international conference on energy security and sustainability, scheduled to take place in October in Ashgabat. Itʼs also supporting an economic and environmental forum scheduled for Sept. 11 to 13 in Prague. Both events will bring together policymakers responsible for energy, sustainable development, and foreign policy to share their expertise in spheres related to energy security in the way each of them sees it. To some, this could mean source diversification and independence from monopolies that are threatening consumers. To others, it could mean fair price formation to prevent increased market volatility that bothers producers, or the safety and security of infrastructure, or environmental impact. Undoubtedly, Canadaʼs input could be unique here, bearing in mind its vast energy resources and expertise.
Human trafficking Although the human dimension is the third of three priorities, Ukraineʼs chairmanship does not treat it as the least important, believing that the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must hold a special place in the OSCEʼs comprehensive security concept. Ukraineʼs chairmanship has undertaken four major international events, but let me highlight a two-day conference on Strengthening the OSCE Response to Trafficking in Human Beings, which took place June 10 to 11 in Kyiv. This conference became the first effort in many years to take the human trafficking issue to a practically new level, consolidating international and domestic efforts in fighting against human trafficking. Canadaʼs own experience and know-how were presented at the conference by member of Parliament Joy Smith, a devoted anti-human-trafficking activist and expert. On her governmentʼs behalf she addressed the opening of the conference attended by Ukrainian ministers, OSCE leadership, and representatives of more than 50 states. The effective fight against human trafficking and other hate crimes is closely linked with education and awareness-raising, promoting tolerance, and non-discrimination—especially in our young generation. With this aim, Ukraine is hosting the first-ever OSCE Youth Summit, which brings together more than 750 young people from 62 countries. The summit has just finished in the International Childrenʼs Center “Artek” in Crimea. I hope that this initiative will become a good tradition and many more countries will join us in facilitating contact between youth representatives through training sessions, workshops, competitions, and festivities.
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Whatʼs next There are difficulties, but the OSCEʼs model of security co-operation remains unchallenged. The 2012 accession of Mongolia to this organization proves it. This year, the Ukrainian chairmanship sent a mission of experts to Ulan Bator that will help establish the level of support that Mongolia needs to meet OSCE commitments. The other example is Libyaʼs recent request to obtain status as an OSCE Partner for Co-operation. In less than six months, from Dec. 5 to 6, Ukraine will host the OSCE XX Ministerial Council. Fifty-seven member states and 11 co-operation partners will gather in Kyiv and we are looking forward to welcoming active participation in all the discussions of all the foreign high-level representatives, including Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Vadym Prystaiko is the ambassador of Ukraine to Canada. [email protected]