23 Oct 2012

Secretary general of OSCE Lamberto Zannier: Russia’s active stance is instrumental for moving forward on our vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community

Lamberto Zannier, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is in Russia on a visit these days. Zannier has given an interview to Interfax.

Q.: What is the purpose of your visit to Moscow, and what priority issues are you planning to raise with the Russian leadership?

A.: The Russian Federation is a key stakeholder in the OSCE and its sustained and constructive engagement in the work of the Organization is essential. My visit here today is part of my regular dialogue with participating States, which takes place both in Vienna and in the respective capitals.

Today the world and all of us - our communities, our countries and our regions – face a number of global challenges that demand global and co-ordinated strategies, as well as the adaptation of existing structures. Economic crisis, new security threats of increasingly transnational nature, consequences of the Arab Spring, deeply worrying developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, situation in Afghanistan – all this has a direct and serious impact on the security in our larger region, and all this creates uncertainty in our lives.

What implications all of these factors may have on the OSCE region, how our Organization can help to effectively deal with the emerging challenges in politico-military, economic and environmental, and human rights areas, and how Russia views and contributes to the process – these will be the key topics of my meetings with Minister Lavrov, Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko, as well as with the heads of the Russian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

In light of the current and future challenges, we will discuss regional matters such as the protracted conflicts in the OSCE region and the situation in Central Asia. Especially in the light of the expected 2014 transition in Afghanistan we will discuss border security issues, transnational threats, including terrorism, organized crime, and trafficking - the threats that many of our participating States, including Russia, are facing.

Russia’s active stance on promoting the principle of indivisible security is instrumental for moving forward on our vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. It is only through a collective effort of governments, parliamentarians, regional organizations, and with a contribution from the academic community and civil society that we will be able to make this vision a reality in the OSCE region. This is one of the key items on our agenda within the OSCE and also a key topic to be discussed at our annual Ministerial Council meeting in December in Dublin.

I am also looking forward to an exchange of views on this and other security issues with the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and a lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Q.: How do you assess Russia‘s role in the OSCE? Russia has long insisted that the organization needs reforming and should have a charter. Do you believe that the OSCE is in danger of being disbanded? Many experts and politicians claim that the organization fails to cope with many of its tasks and that, in some respects, it duplicates other European bodies.

A.: Russia is a very active participating State of the OSCE that frequently makes suggestions and proposals to develop an agenda and to improve our functioning. Other countries also have ideas and suggestions and this makes for a lively debate. The fact that so many countries are so actively engaged in the OSCE is very positive, even though ideas often differ. But then, this has always been the role of the OSCE: building trust by bridging differences in a community that shares basic principles and values but that, at the same time, is politically, socially and economically very diverse.

I do not believe that the OSCE is in danger of being disbanded, mainly because I am convinced that there is still much need for it today. Though the Cold War is well behind us, the OSCE remains the only forum where states from the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space meet and co-operate on the basis of equality. The community of values that the OSCE represents –based on voluntarily accepted political commitments- has not been replicated by any other international or regional organization. And –more importantly- the goal identified in 1975 is not yet mission accomplished. The 40th Anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act provides an excellent opportunity to consolidate approaches with a view to strengthen the OSCE contribution to establishing a security community by 2015. With this in mind, this year’s Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE launched the “Helsinki +40” process, which would also help the Organization to sharpen its working processes and refocus its agenda.

All organizations have to constantly find ways of doing things better and more efficiently and this is also true for the OSCE. During my meetings in Moscow, we will discuss with my interlocutors the current and future focus of our Organization and ways to make it more effective, able to respond in the best way to the needs of our participating States and to the current security threats.

As for the OSCE’s role vis-