OSCE "looks for approaches" to regional conflicts in Tbilisi

OSCE "looks for approaches" to regional conflicts in Tbilisi

Tbilisi is hosting the 25th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The mere fact that the jubilee session is being held in the Georgian capital is considered a significant success of Georgian diplomacy. Especially since the new PA president may become the representative of Georgia – one of the leaders of the opposition party United National Movement (UNM), Gigi Tsereteli, whose candidacy has been put forward by the influential European People's Party.

However, being frightened by the strengthening of the United National Movement, the ruling party ‘Georgian Dream’ has opposed the election of an associate of Odessa’s Governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, to such a prestigious post, but Georgia's internal intrigues are secondary to the problems discussed at the forum, held under the slogan '25 years of parliamentary cooperation – build confidence through dialogue'.  Tbilisi was preparing for the event for months – appropriate banners appeared on the streets and the huge exhibition center ‘Expo-Georgia’ was converted specially for the event, as far as none of the local hotels has a conference room that can accommodate the 300 delegates from 54 countries who have arrived in Georgia to participate in the session.

Naturally, the opening was attended by the entire leadership of the country – the president, prime minister, speaker of parliament and MPs from both the ruling party and the opposition. Before the opening of the session, they talked peacefully with each other and with their foreign colleagues. The organizers gave journalists an opportunity to ask questions to each of them, and all of them repeated the mantra (within the meaning of) one and the same slogan: "Peace and stability!''

 

This is understandable – the session is taking place at a time when neighboring Turkey and the whole world is experiencing the shock of the terrorist attack on Istanbul airport. By the way, the vast majority of the session’s participants came to Tbilisi by transit flights through Ataturk Airport, which was attacked by the fanatics.

However, neither the statements nor the draft documents contain anything on how to resolve conflicts, including those in the Caucasus region. None of the speakers said anything specific about how the OSCE and its Parliamentary Assembly are going to "resolve" the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, even though the OSCE Minsk Group is responsible for solving the problem of the de-occupation of the Azerbaijani territories. Nor is there anything significant in this respect in the project of the Tbilisi Declaration, prepared for adoption by the end of the five-day session.

 

Many expected that at the jubilee session the OSCE the chairman, Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, would substantively touch on such problems as, for example, whether he would tell about the ways to return the OSCE field mission that left Georgia after a five-day war in 2008. Nothing has been said about this by the other speakers, except for the speech by the Georgian parliament’s chairman, David Usupashvili, urging his colleagues to "think about the restoration of the Georgian mission."

However, everyone understands that the organization, where decisions are taken only by consensus (talking about the OSCE itself, and not its Parliamentary Assembly), is doomed to long and sometimes fruitless negotiations on every point in any document. It is sufficient to recall that the fundamental Helsinki Final Act of 1975 was consistent for nine years, and many historians of diplomacy still consider it a miracle that it was eventually signed.

The OSCE’s PA was clearly intended to be a platform for dialogue on regional issues where consensus is not possible due to a lack of agreement between the parties. But the Tbilisi forum failed to perform this function. According to my observations, the deputies from Armenia and Azerbaijan did not intersect at the Assembly on the sidelines in an official or at least semi-official setting. Neither did the representatives of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. On the other hand, the fact of the arrival of a representative delegation from Russia in the capital of Georgia is remarkable, given the continuing tensions in bilateral relations.

This time (as opposed to the previous administration of President Saakashvili) the Georgian side has not obstructed the members of the State Duma and the Federation Council, referring to the law ‘On the occupation’, which prohibits the entry to the territory of Georgia of foreigners who have previously been in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The only thing with which absolutely every member of the meeting agrees is the need for a joint decisive struggle against terrorism. In addition, sensible thoughts were expressed about the falsity and futility of attempts to resolve the problems of national governments through isolation from the integration and communication projects in various regions of the Euro-Atlantic space, including the South Caucasus.

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