Russian diplomat: the role of the OSCE has increased, but the deficiencies in the activities of the organization remain

Russian diplomat: the role of the OSCE has increased, but the deficiencies in the activities of the organization remain

Recently the OSCE has been at the centre of European and even world politics, but this organization did not become significantly better. It preserves all the shortcomings that were inherent in her. In the OSCE there is no balance, and there is still a bias in favour of so-called “third basket”. This was stated in an interview with the Director of the European cooperation Department of Russian foreign Ministry Andrey Kelin, who for four years served as the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE in Vienna.

– Recently in Moscow was held a meeting of Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with Secretary General of OSCE Lamberto Zannier. About what was discussed during these talks?

– Took quite a detailed conversation about the current state of Affairs in the organization. We drew attention to the fact that the OSCE is now out on the cutting edge of European and even world politics, but this organization did not become significantly better. It preserves all the shortcomings that were inherent in her before. In the OSCE there is no balance, and there is still a bias in favour of so-called “third basket”, i.e. advocacy and protection of democratic values. For these activities is spent to two thirds of the organization’s budget to the detriment of the first two “baskets,” which include the issues of European security and economic cooperation. Do not cease attempts to use the OSCE primarily as a tool to impose Western models of democracy to the countries East of Vienna.

However, the main disadvantage is the organizational looseness, no installation document, its Charter, its normative base. This creates big problems for the organization itself. There is a lot of talk about that on the basis of the OSCE and its experience in the Ukrainian crisis was possible to go further and to conduct so-called “operation world”. This is non-military operations, involving the participation of the OSCE in conflict and post-conflict areas approximately according to the same modalities as is the case in Ukraine. But without the legal Foundation of all this is just plans for the future. In the current situation it is simply not feasible. Until you create a solid legal Foundation, to argue about such operations, their prospects and serious involvement of the OSCE in the settlement of other conflicts in the Euro-Atlantic space is large does not make sense.

What is this Foundation?

– We have been holding discussions about designing the organization’s Charter, on the basis of which it would be possible to provide sufficient financing, and to take the necessary documents, in particular, on the privileges and immunities of those who work in the OSCE. To have the installation document you need. I would like to emphasize that of the 57 States parties OSCE 56 countries in favour of its adoption. Only one country against it. This Is The United States Of America.

– They motivate their reluctance?

– Nothing. They are simply against. Although their argument is understandable. They wished to retain maximum flexibility for OSCE institutions – the Office for democratic institutions and human rights (ODIHR), high Commissioner on national minorities, representative on freedom of the media, to working as flexibly as possible and totally Autonomous, not subordinate to the Central authorities, the Permanent Council and the Secretariat. In this case providing money on an extrabudgetary basis, they can be manipulated and commissioning to perform those tasks on “the promotion of democracy in the East”, in which are interested first and foremost the United States itself.

– A Statute of such “liberties” will exclude?

– The Charter would have disciplined the entire structure, which works in the OSCE. The OSCE should not be any structures that do not obey Central bodies. That’s the main thing. Now the leadership of the OSCE sometimes it seems that the Director of the ODIHR – as the second Secretary-General. This is unacceptable.

These shortcomings – separatist ODIHR, coupled with the outrages that repaired the Polish organizers, vengeance was manifested during the September review meeting of the OSCE on review of implementation of commitments in the human dimension, held in Warsaw. Especially got to the NGO representatives who came from the Crimea. They were impugned and in the issuance of visas, and accommodation, and during the meeting. Unpleasant, sometimes scandalous moments were quite a lot. So we made a pretty heavy impression on the work of the ODIHR and the Polish organizers and now I am thinking that we need to tighten this Institute under the “umbrella” of the OSCE. Maybe don’t need it to be in Warsaw and has translated it into a vein. It would be more reasonable.

– You mentioned the Crimea. As far as the Crimean topic is relevant now in the OSCE?

Crimean topic regularly get out of our Western partners, primarily the Americans. They are not resigned to the fact that we severely limited the work of the Special monitoring mission (SMM) of the OSCE only in the territory of Ukraine. Crimea is beyond the SMM. As a result, each time you extend the mission’s mandate or when considering other issues the U.S. and the EU make interpretative statements about what is considered Crimea a territory of Ukraine. We also make our own interpretive statements and emphasize that in our understanding of the mission’s mandate extends only to the territory of Ukraine, as Crimea is part of Russia.

In addition, Westerners are constantly pushing the Secretary-General, the OSCE chairmanship and the mission leadership to ensure that they either imitated, or tried to pretend that spread work SMM on the Crimea.

Attempt to simulate reality, and to imagine that the Crimea is part of Ukraine, made at the end of September, the ODIHR and the OSCE high Commissioner on national minorities. Their experts submitted a joint report on the situation of human rights in Crimea based on a survey of one hundred people, living outside of Crimea, expressed his opinion about what is happening on the Peninsula. The report was paid for from extrabudgetary funds. He has obviously custom-made character and completely untrue. However, this document revealed an unsightly thing, showing that the high Commissioner on national minorities Mrs. Astrid Thors and head of the ODIHR Mr. Georg link is a biased position and follow the line very far from any balance. In fact, they are spreading false information.

– Can you comment on the refusal of the ODIHR to send observers to the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan?

– This . Still always managed to find a negotiated solution. In General, the situation with the ODIHR looks very strange. For example, the elections in Germany went just two experts, and on elections in Kyrgyzstan wanted to run about 600 people. The same applies to the elections in Belarus. And in regard to elections in Azerbaijan there was a scandal. The ODIHR expressed a desire to send a disproportionate number of observers. Azerbaijan said, “No, we would like to take a more limited mission.” A similar situation has occurred in the past. This is nothing new. Many countries say that they do not need thousands of troops observers who do nothing but seek out the weaknesses. It’s a common thing. Here and Azerbaijan said, “No, let’s negotiate.” And here why-that the ODIHR takes on a very strange decision to cancel the trip altogether.

In General it just confirms what we talked about involvement of the ODIHR. In addition, the ODIHR standards are by no means “Golden”, and they are interpreted quite arbitrarily, but that they should be clear rules of observation, the same for all countries East and West of Vienna.

Is it possible to somehow “senses” the ODIHR, for example, by the method upravdoma from the movie “the diamond arm”, threatening to cut off gas to the obstinate residents to cut back, if not to deprive this structure of financing until it stops?

– Of course, we can trim the budget part, but it is small. In addition to a modest budget, extrabudgetary huge “bubble” which is filled by additional financial injections “Westerners”. These extra-budgetary funds mainly exists ODIHR. The money Bureau conducts a significant part of its work, performing market orders like the above-mentioned report on the Crimea. That such manipulations are possible, lies one of the main weaknesses of the OSCE. In search of an answer to the question “What to do?” we’ll be right back where we started – the need to develop a Charter and a strict organizational structure.

– And how Affairs with the OSCE parliamentary Assembly?

– Hope that after a summer of “misfire” in Finland when the Russian delegation was not allowed to participate in the session of the OSCE PA, the leadership of the Assembly made the necessary conclusions and would never happen again. The autumn session was held in Mongolia is “lossless”, but a more thorough “test of strength” will be the winter session of the OSCE PA, held in Vienna in February of next year.

– You spoke about imbalances in favor of the “third basket”. Are there attempts to replenish the first two?

Disarmament aspects now not at the forefront – not the moment when we can talk about disarmament. The Treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe is no longer working, and attempts to revive it did not bear fruit. However, the parties adhere to established ceilings and flank limits and even talking about some new develop disarmament concepts. However further conversations business does not go. That’s when our Western colleagues will ripen the understanding that you have to move forward, then we’ll come back to this. And while they push the fact that they need to keep those tools that you have. It is, in fact, the Vienna document 2011 on confidence-building measures and security and the Treaty on open skies. Both documents are working. We and our partners actively use the possibility of mutual inspections.

On the “second basket”, i.e. on the economic track, the Outlook is more favorable. Our idea of creating a common economic space resonated with many partners. I can say that a number of States, starting with the Swiss, believes that this issue can and should begin to discuss in the OSCE. On the specifics, of course, we will focus primarily on the negotiations between the European Union and the Eurasian economic Union (EEU) when it comes to specifics. However, preliminary expert discussion it is possible to establish in the framework of the “second basket” of the OSCE. For this you need to convene several events and conferences. It’s real. In addition to the Swiss, a number of old European democracies, too, believes that these need to be addressed, but practical shape of this idea has not yet acquired. By the way, Germany, which will chair the OSCE in 2016, has shown interest in the topic. Let’s see what they will offer.

– In the field of OSCE activity are invariably regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space. The events in Ukraine are not an exception. There was sent a Special monitoring mission (SMM), quite impressive in number…

– At present the mission consists of 640 observers. More than 400 of them are deployed in Eastern Ukraine in the conflict areas. This total number consists of 32 Russian observer, who work not only in the Donbass but also in Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev and other places. We have solved the issue of the future development of the mission. This is due primarily to the fact that the mission is mandated to monitor the agreement about the withdrawal from the line of contact of the weapons of the calibre less than 100 mm – tanks, mortars, artillery. They are discharged into a special storage place. It is an extensive territory of about 400 square kilometers to look after, requires, of course, more observers.

In addition on the line of contact being created about 13-15 posts ongoing monitoring, which will record violations of the ceasefire and to establish the perpetrators. It also requires human resources. So what about the closure of the mission there is no word yet. Its time (the mandate) has been extended until the end of March next year.

– Are there any complaints about the quality of surveillance and make reports?

– Indeed, we have already raised the issue that observers looked more carefully on both sides of the line of contact, as civilians continue to die from attacks on the territory LNR and DND, while on the other side of the losses suffered by servicemen and participants of the ATO. But the observer is not omnipotent, and reports only what he sees. Of course, a careful balance here, and we’ll get that fixed and sacrifices, and direction of attack, and the nature of the attack, to present a more complete picture. To achieve it it is uneasy, because the Ukrainian side, using the fact that invited the mission has on the manual CMM serious pressure.

– What can the OSCE in Ukraine along with the observation, discussed more the idea of sending an international police force?

– This idea in Kiev from time to time back, although it is unclear what would be the point. If you need more observers – please send more observers. But to arrange in the zone of conflict leapfrog from international organizations – we’ve already seen. When several international organizations are working on the same site, there is a huge problem lack of coordination of their actions. This was the case in Kosovo, Bosnia and other places. No added value here. I think in the EU, and the UN Secretariat fully understand it.

As for the OSCE, the uniqueness of its operation in Ukraine is that it covers two track – peacekeeping, i.e. the preservation of the truce and a political settlement. In particular, the resolution deals with the Contact group, which includes the OSCE representative, the Austrian diplomat Martin Sajdik.

– How is the implementation of the Minsk agreements, will they be extended?

– The ceasefire in Ukraine is fragile. To make it more durable, needed progress in the political settlement, and to achieve this quite difficult. The interpretation that was given to Ukrainian leaders after the meeting of leaders “Norman Quartet” in Paris, strongly disagree with those agreements that were reached there. It concerns Amnesty, and the Constitution and the law on the special status of Donbass, and other points of the Minsk agreement, which must be completed before the end of this year.

The extension of the Minsk agreements – a discussion. Given that LNR and DNR agreed to postpone the election until the end of the winter – spring of next year, it is clear that this should be preceded by some preliminary steps. First, in the political sub-group should be agreed modalities of the elections. It is agreed between the two parties. On this basis, the Verkhovna Rada should adopt the law. Next comes a three-month pre-election period. Only then will all this construction work.

– You also supervise the issues of Russia’s relations with the European Union, NATO and the Council of Europe. These relationships are now experiencing not the best times…

– Really. With NATO, for example, generally practically interrupted all contacts except for short meetings with the leaders of the Alliance on the sidelines of various international events. The rest of the work frozen. Of course, it is not our fault. The Council Russia-NATO, which was created to discuss difficult situations, was last collected in the summer of 2014 at the initiative of the Russian side. Since then, we hear statements that it would be nice to renew contacts at least on the military side, but on empty appeals.

Prospects for improving relations yet. Moreover, the current escalation is used to escalate fears around the mythical Russian threat. Reports that Russia and NATO supposedly restored the “hot line” communications are not true. Even after the well-known incident in the Turkish airspace during the operation HQs of the Russian Federation in Syria a direct dialogue between the military and has not been restored. Meanwhile, Russia and NATO understand that it is impossible to ensure stability and security in Europe without the resumption of a constructive dialogue and the normalization of mutual relations strengthened by a network of bilateral programmes and projects. This safety net that allowed them to keep the relationship in a certain direction, there grew and strengthened. Break it was in General easy, but to restore it will be very difficult.

– Does the threat of further NATO expansion to the East?


The expansion of NATO to the East

The issues of further NATO enlargement discussed. Probably this topic will be raised at the upcoming December Ministerial meeting of the Alliance.

– And how Affairs with the European Union?

– Relations are in crisis. We have not only held summits (the last one took place in January of 2014), but also frozen almost all the main areas of cooperation except for a few – such as the energy dialogue, cross-border cooperation, contacts in the field of culture, education and research. On the whole counterproductive the EU policy on the maintenance of sanctions has led to the fact that for the first seven months of this year the volume of bilateral trade decreased by 38%. This is a very good result.

The dialogue between the Russian Federation and the EU supported at the working level. In Brussels no go. Consultations on the most pressing issues – drug abuse, human trafficking, illegal migration. But regular, systematic work now. She’s frozen, and in the conditions of the existing sanctions regime until nothing can be done.

The prospects for improving relations tied to the lifting of the sanctions and the lifting of sanctions, in turn, is tied to the Minsk agreements. Evaluation criteria are vague. This implicitly in Brussels are thought process on how to proceed. There is also a rethinking of the approaches to the Eastern partnership, as this program is in the form in which it is still carried out, led to the emergence of crisis situations. Before the participants of “Eastern partnership” raised the question of whom to side with – with the EU or with Russia, which, in fact, started to break the country, to put them on different levels of interaction, and this has also led to the Ukrainian crisis. Perhaps some approaches will be reviewed.

– From which it follows that Russia should be responsible for the failure to implement the Minsk agreements?

– There is no logic here, only for Ukraine to adopt a law on Amnesty, amend the Constitution or adopt a law on special status of Donbass. All this must be done by the Ukrainian side. As for the fairly abstract obligation to withdraw foreign troops from the territory of Ukraine, which Western partners often address Russia, that our troops, as is well known, there is no. Another obligation, which is associated with Russia, relates to the transfer of control section of the Ukrainian border on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. But again to the wrong address. Kyiv must negotiate with Donetsk and Luhansk, not Moscow.

– After the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the beginning of this year did not restore the powers of the Russian delegation, we started to hear voices about a possible withdrawal of Russia from the Council of Europe...

– To stop membership in the Council of Europe, as due to the European conventions all 47 member countries of this organization are working to create a common humanitarian space on the basis of General legal norms. This is very important. This is our political line, and to stop this work. This is the main line to create a single economic and humanitarian space, and the Council of Europe belongs here very big role. As for PACE, let’s wait for the January session. Perhaps by that time the intensity of anti-Russian passions will not be as great. More and more European parliamentarians are in favour of that to cancel the wrong decision. In short, we’ll see. Work in this direction continues.

Interviewed By Yuri Kozlov,