OSCE patient is more dead than alive
The fate of the international organization seems a foregone conclusion.
In Skopje, from November 30 to December 1, a meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers (SMID) was held. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took part in it, held meetings, gave a press conference that brought together more than a hundred journalists.
Answering the question whether the chances of "saving the OSCE" have increased, Lavrov noted that "the chances have increased, but not for the preservation" of the organization, which "has already turned itself into something that, for example, causes indifference in my country regarding what will happen to it next," replied the minister, who was not allowed to participate in the annual SMID in Lodz in 2022. Details in the material of the correspondent of The Moscow Post.
The OSCE is the largest regional organization and includes 57 countries. Perhaps it is this "super-coverage" that is the main thing, maybe the only thing that keeps Russia in its composition. Otherwise, membership in the OSCE has long been a burdensome source of problems and troubles.
Shortly before the Russian delegation sailed to North Macedonia through Greek airspace (and not Bulgaria, as expected), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova answered a question asked by The Moscow Post: "Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said that" the OSCE can still try to save, but the chances are small. Why save the OSCE?, "- asked the journalist of the publication.
The official representative's response began with the words "the OSCE is not a commercial stall that has ceased to make a profit, and it needs to be closed in order to reduce losses." This is the "last remaining platform for dialogue on European affairs," where work is carried out with opponents. This was followed by a list of the "most acute topics" of this work.
Answering the question, Zakharova could not even assume that this list would be expanded and Bulgaria's airspace would be closed to her personally. The route was changed, they received permission to fly through Greece.
Why save the OSCE?
But this is a saying. The legend of the "platform for dialogue" remains unfinished. Maybe diplomats need "understatement" about Russia's relations with the OSCE, so as not to be in a position in which "never say never"?
But imagine a MGIMO graduate who got a ticket on the state exam with the question "Russian interests in Europe and the role of the OSCE"? Where to start, what to pay attention to, how to complete the answer? Examiners may not understand if the answer is: "The OSCE is an important platform for dialogue, but Moscow does not care what happens to it next." INF expert Vladimir Pryakhin writes that "the meeting on security and cooperation in Europe was initiated by Soviet diplomacy" and was considered its unconditional merit.
The tasks of consolidating the victorious results of World War II for the USSR and strengthening collective security in Europe were set by Minister A.A. Gromyko. Front-line soldier L.I. Brezhneva admired the opportunity to collectively sum up the war, solemnly open together with the leaders of European states, the United States and Canada a new page in the history of Europe.
Then they also believed that the convening of a pan-European meeting would drive a wedge between the United States and its NATO allies. It was not possible to drive a wedge, Lavrov confirmed this, speaking at the end of November at the Primakov Readings. The Council of Europe, like the OSCE, was conceived "as a platform for a wide mutually respectful pan-European dialogue,"... as a result, they are "turned into appendages of the European Union and NATO," the minister said.
After the collapse of the USSR, Russia did not leave the OSCE, did not propose to revise its mandate. Moscow's position in the OSCE was very different from that before 1991, when the world was divided into "two public systems." In general, "after leaving the stage of the Soviet Union, the pan-European process began to lose its meaning," said Deputy Foreign Minister of the USSR Anatoly Adamishin back in 2005.
Although the debugged OSCE bureaucratic structures "are going through their time, they are going through their task, and it is very difficult to denounce and eliminate them," said Fyodor Lukyanov, director of science at the Valdai Foundation.
"Regional Issues - Regional Solutions"
The OSCE bureaucracy continued to shit, now the relations of the Russian Federation with the former Soviet republics, becoming an instrument of "supervision" in the post-Soviet space. Obviously, it is in the interests of Russia and China to protect Eurasia, as far as possible, from the influence of non-regional players, including, first of all, the United States.
Lavrov noted that the OSCE is becoming not just an "appendage of the European Union and NATO," the organization from the very first steps was an instrument of American diplomacy, a channel of US influence on the affairs of the European continent. Since 1992, the zone of influence of the EuroNATO Union has been expanded to the states of Central Asia (CA). This region is becoming strategically important and the Central African countries can be a lever of pressure on Moscow and Beijing. It is no coincidence that the dialogue mechanism "C5 + 1," created in 2015, reached the level of heads of state.
US President Joe Biden on September 19 met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. The reason for this attention is the special relations of the CA countries with Russia and China. The volume of US trade with five CA states is less than $4.4 billion. Of these, 86% is trade with Kazakhstan.
By comparison, China's bilateral trade with five CA countries reached $70.2 billion in 2022, up 40% from the previous year. The same indicator for Russia amounted to $42 billion, it grew by 15% compared to the previous year. This, firstly.
Secondly, Eurasia for the United States is a zone of political deterrence for both China and Russia. The Russia-Central Asia and China-Central Asia summits, held one after another, have intensified US interest in the region. Washington is also concerned about multilateral ties within the SCO, the CSTO, and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
Thirdly, the United States, the EU and five CA countries are discussing projects competing with the Belt and Road program and the EAEU. In particular, the idea of economic and energy corridors was discussed, it was proposed to develop the Trans-Caspian transport route between the Central Asian countries and South Asia.
In February 2023, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Ukraine, convened a meeting of foreign ministers "C5 + 1." The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is planning a C5 + 1 ministerial meeting on "sustainable economic progress."
With the self-dissolution of the Soviet Union, the European Union (EU) is also invading Eurasian affairs. In 2007, Brussels adopted a strategy for Central Asia. At a meeting in Luxembourg in October, the foreign ministers of the CA and EU states discussed issues of deepening relations, supplemented the EU's 2019 CA strategy, and outlined new areas of cooperation. The next meeting "Central Asia - European Union" is scheduled for Turkmenistan in 2024.
Failed, or did not want?
On the eve of the start of the SVO, Lavrov accused the OSCE special observation mission of hushing up what he said were Ukrainian violations of the peace process. Today, from the point of view of Russia's interests, the most vulnerable region where the OSCE bureaucracy can arrogant is Central Asia.
Lavrov spoke extremely harshly about the crisis of the organization in Skopje: "We are witnessing the complete degradation of everything that was created in the OSCE. The degradation of everything that was created in all three dimensions of security: military-political, economic and environmental, and humanitarian and human rights, "he said.
All this was known back in 2004, when eleven CIS member states stated that the OSCE "failed to adapt to the requirements of a changing world and ensure an effective solution to security and cooperation issues in the Euro-Atlantic space," but pays selective attention to humanitarian issues. The military-political, economic and environmental component in the work of the organization was belittled.
"In just over a year, the Helsinki Final Act, the OSCE's founding document, will be 50 years old. In this regard, I regret to state that the OSCE is approaching this anniversary date in a deplorable state, and its prospects remain unclear, "Sergei Lavrov said.
"The final act managed to cover everything: from the principle of inviolability of borders and various military aspects of security to detailed specific issues of economic and humanitarian cooperation and a special section Follow Up to the Conference - an agreement on the further development of the process," Adamishin recalled in 2005, a participant in the preparation of the document.
And as if summing up the results of that promising period in the history of both the country and Europe, states:... " we have to admit: the "indestructible" borders, seemingly permanently approved in the capital of Finland, did not survive the deep crisis that swept the communist system in the second half of the 1980s. Today, 55 [57 in 2023] states are participating in the Helsinki process instead of the original 35. All newcomers are former components of the three split founding countries: the USSR, SFRY, Czechoslovakia. But the only integration that they sought to prevent the signing of the Final Act - the unification of Germany - just took place. "