What's In Blue

Posted Mon 6 May 2013

Briefing by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office

Tomorrow, 7 May, the Security Council will be briefed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Council last received its annual briefing from the OSCE chair (which rotates on an annual basis among OSCE members) on 9 February 2012 from Eamon Gilmore of Ireland (S/PV.6715). (Generally this briefing takes place soon after the OSCE chair takes office, but scheduling difficulties delayed the current briefing.) Kozhara may cover the organisation’s role in Kosovo as well as mediation regarding Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Transnistria region of Moldova.

There may be interest in hearing more about the OSCE’s role in implementing the “First agreement on principles governing the normalisation of relations” initialled on 19 April by Prime Minister Ivica Dačić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo. The agreement states that municipal elections will be held in northern Kosovo during 2013 with the assistance of the OSCE. In a joint press statement on 19 April, Kozhara and OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier welcomed the agreement and emphasised the OSCE’s intention to assist with its implementation.

With Azerbaijan as an elected member of the Council, there is likely to be interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict mediation led by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by France, Russia and the US. The co-chairs were in the region 18-22 March and then again 1-6 April, meeting with the presidents and foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the visit, the OSCE issued a press release stating that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process and would continue to engage at the highest levels. The Minsk Group co-chairs have announced their intention to organise a follow-up meeting among foreign ministers.

With the UN and the EU, the OSCE also co-chairs the Geneva International Discussions concerning developments in relations between Georgia and its break-away regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that were launched after the outbreak of hostilities in August 2008. The twenty-third round of talks was held 26-27 March, while the next round of Geneva International Discussions has been scheduled for 25-26 June. Council members may want further information about the outcome of the March talks.

Discussions regarding Moldova’s secessionist region of Transnistria (eastern Moldova bordering Ukraine) have been mediated through a “5+2” format including the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, US, and EU plus Moldova and Transnistria. Resolution of the Transnistria dispute, which dates back to a brief armed conflict in mid-1992, is reportedly a high priority for Kozhara during his chairmanship of the OSCE and he is expected to provide the Council with an update on any progress made thus far. The most recent round of 5+2 talks was held in Lviv, Ukraine, on 18-19 February and the next round of talks are scheduled for 23-24 May in Odessa, Ukraine.

In addition to these four conflicts, the briefing may also address areas where the OSCE and UN could expand their cooperation, such as arms control, conflict prevention, counter-terrorism and fighting organised crime.

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