OSCE as a European Umbrella
Ambassador Dr. Istvan Gyarmati
Hungarian Foreign Ministry

It is sometimes said that the OSCE is a "NATO-handling" organization for Russia or, on the contrary, that it is a "Russia-handling" organization for us. There may be an element of truth in both ideas; but, more importantly, the OSCE provides a European umbrella for all European states, in particular for those that are not and will not in the foreseeable future become members of such hard-core integration organizations as the European Union and NATO. This umbrella function is essential because we want to prevent dividing lines within Europe from becoming lines of confrontation;  if, in addition, we want to turn these lines into lines of cooperation, we need an overall European umbrella to succeed.


At the Budapest Summit, however, our discussion on the security model for the 21st century showed that despite what some Russian officials sometimes say publicly, almost all European countries--including the Russian Federation--recognize that one single organization cannot operate alone. A variety of organizations, each contributing its particular advantages, must cooperate to provide this umbrella protection, if it can be done at all. Therefore, the cooperation of at least the United Nations, the OSCE, NATO, the European Union, the Western European Union, and the Council of Europe is essential. I would go even further and suggest that the involvement of several economic organizations is also needed to settle current and future conflicts.

OSCE-NATO Cooperation

Cooperation between OSCE and NATO is vital. Incidentally, this idea of cooperation, of asking NATO to do something for another international organization, originated in the CSCE when it elaborated the principles of such cooperation in the 1992 Helsinki document. The Helsinki document familiarized the international community with the idea and made possible the smooth and rapid cooperation between NATO and the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia.

The OSCE may be able to continue to cooperate with NATO in peacekeeping activities, but this may prove unrealistic. Although many see a future role for NATO out of area activities in peacekeeping, I doubt the Alliance's capability to do so. Since almost all conflicts that have occurred or are likely to occur happen on territory that was part of the former Soviet Union, it is unlikely that NATO would be invited or willing to carry out military operations there. This does not mean, however, that the OSCE or NATO could not do a useful job in support of operations such as the Nagorno-Karabakh one where support from significant NATO member-states and consultation by the United Nations and NATO would be invaluable.

Conclusions from Peacekeeping Efforts in the Former Yugoslavia

While most governments and experts have drawn two conclusions concerning the peacekeeping missions in Yugoslavia, I would like to add a third one.


Where else can NATO and the OSCE cooperate? In addition to peacekeeping, there are many political objectives for which the OSCE will need support from other countries and organizations. Let me illustrate this by mentioning the successful experience in crisis management that took place in Chechnya and the OSCE's involvement there.

The OSCE has had a relatively successful dialogue with the Russian Federation and its forces because it could offer cooperation without confronting one of the parties; the necessary pressure came from other organizations and from individual OSCE states such as the United States, Germany, France, the U.K., the European Union, and NATO. And this pressure was essential--without it, the OSCE could never have successfully negotiated with the Russians. On the other hand, pressure by the OSCE alone would have failed. So, in this case, close coordination and cooperation between organizations was clearly beneficial.

Military, Political, and Economic Negotiations

Where has this cooperation led and where do we currently stand in Chechnya? As of June 21st, all television stations concentrated on the hostage drama and showed the release of the hostages, but they failed to mention OSCE's very important role in the release (the OSCE's contribution is not important for the press). The current perception, which is somewhat truthful, is that negotiations started and a cease-fire was agreed upon by the Russian government under terrorist pressure. There is another part of the truth, however. First, negotiations took place between Russians and Chechnyans on May 25, in which they agreed to resume negotiations with the participation of military commanders as soon as a cease-fire became feasible; second, an agreement in principle, brokered by the OSCE mission on a cease-fire, was reached in mid-June between the Russian military commander and the Chechnyan Chief of Defense staff. So the cease-fire came before the terrorist attack. The terrorist attack, of course, made the situation much more public, accelerated the whole process, and secured a high level of public support on the Russian side. But the cease-fire definitely came first.

Now negotiations are continuing, still under OSCE auspices, in an OSCE building where Chechnyan negotiators feel secure. The parties have agreed to extend the cease-fire to June 23 in order to conclude an agreement by that date; they have also agreed on an agenda, which is a major step forward. The agenda is to be divided into three areas of discussion: military, political, and economic. Military points will cover cessation of military operations, release of all detained persons, cessation of terrorist acts, and, most importantly, disarmament and gradual withdrawal of forces from Chechnya. The mere fact that the Chechnyans have agreed to talk about the disarmament of Chechnyan forces while the Russians have agreed to withdraw most of their forces is obviously a very important compromise, perhaps a breakthrough. The two sides have gone even further. According to General Khulikov, Russia would be ready to withdraw all but 2,000 of the 60,000 troops that are currently there; the disarmament and disposition of arms would be a simultaneous step-by-step and region-by-region process; and federal authorities would be willing to guarantee the safety of those who laid down their arms and even buy back arms.

Political negotiations will initially focus on preparing for free elections. Although both parties agree that elections will be held, the Chechnyans propose October 28 while the Russians favor November 5. These elections, which will be both local and federal, will be monitored by the OSCE, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe. All difficulties will be resolved by peaceful means. Among outstanding questions are whether or not there will be a referendum on independence; how and when a constitution for Chechnya will be elaborated and approved; and when an agreement can be concluded between the federal authorities and Chechnya.

Concerning the economic agenda, the parties agreed to finish the federal program for the reconstruction of Chechnya, which is a concession on the Chechnyan side. They also agreed to return all goods that were removed from Chechnya during the hostilities, which is a Russian concession. Both sides also wish to establish an international fund for the reconstruction of Chechnya, which will hopefully materialize.

A Comprehensive Approach to Conflict Management

The work being done in Chechnya is a good example of a comprehensive approach to conflict management. It is comprehensive in that it covers everything from military questions up through human rights questions, and also in the sense that one organization is spearheading the work but other organizations are cooperating and supporting the activities. It is also an excellent example--the first, I think, since 1990--of results without competition between organizations. The OSCE is extremely glad to see this high level of cooperation among the United Nations and other specialized agencies, NATO, the European Union, and OSCE member-states. It is a very promising sign. Through such cooperation, we hope to obtain many more positive outcomes from the experience in Chechnya than we have drawn from the experience in the former Yugoslavia.

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