Home Human Rights The OSCE in deep crisis: Russia’s veto paralyzes Europe’s largest security body – Vindobona.org

The OSCE in deep crisis: Russia’s veto paralyzes Europe’s largest security body – Vindobona.org

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The OSCE came into existence in 1975 and serves as a vital platform for Western powers and the Soviet Union to discuss security issues. However, since the start of the war in Ukraine, Moscow has blocked crucial decisions such as approving a budget and electing a new president for the 57-member institution, which is expected to take place l ‘next year.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, currently chairs the OSCE. As Vindobona.org reported, he recently expressed concerns in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Russia’s disruptive tactics, emphasizing that Moscow’s “zero-sum approach” has effectively “paralyzed the institution “. As Osmani’s term ends in December, the appointment of his successor requires unanimous agreement of OSCE members, including Russia. However, Moscow rejected the only candidate, Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, mainly due to Estonia’s close ties with Ukraine.

The crisis comes as Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending and after Russia negotiated a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2022, the OSCE ended its monitoring mission in Ukraine and Russia has also illegally detained OSCE personnel in Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk. as reported by Vindobona.org. Russia has authorized the extension of the mandate of the OSCE mission in Moldova for only six months, instead of the usual one-year period.

Russian aggression and the OSCE’s institutional impasse have raised questions about the organization’s purpose. The crisis comes after the formation of the European Political Community, a 57-member organization for European strategic discussions championed by French President Emmanuel Macron and which excludes Russia. The OSCE’s secretary general is Helga Schmid, and the EU provides more than two-thirds of the organization’s €140 million annual budget.

Ian Lesser, vice president of the German Marshall Fund, an American think tank, said Russia’s goal is to render the OSCE ineffective, as reported by the Financial Times. Given Estonia’s strong stance against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, his candidacy for the presidency has become controversial.

European reactions to the crisis

The European Union commends North Macedonia and the previous OSCE Chairmanships for their efforts in leading the organization during Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU pledged its support for the OSCE’s contribution to ensuring that those responsible for violations of international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, are held accountable, and called for rapid adoption of the OSCE budget and supporting its unique approach to security.

Faced with these challenges, Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, loudly expressed his country’s dedication to the OSCE. Speaking at a special session of the OSCE Permanent Council, he urged member states to save the institution. “The OSCE is caught in an existential crisis,” Schallenberg warned, calling on all participating countries, particularly those in Central Asia, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans, to express their concerns and respect the fundamental principles of the organization.

The United States reiterates its commitment

In a strong reaffirmation of her commitment to the OSCE, Acting Assistant Secretary of State and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ambassador Victoria Nuland emphasized the importance of the organization’s core values, particularly sovereign equality, the inviolability of borders, the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect. for human rights. She criticized Russia’s aggressive stance and urged the OSCE to stand firm in the face of challenges.

The UK’s position on disinformation

Nicholas Aucott, a British military adviser, criticized Russia’s use of the OSCE as a platform for spreading disinformation. Aucott called on the Russian delegation to engage in meaningful dialogue and return to mature diplomacy and multilateralism. With a focus on verifiable information, he hopes the upcoming security dialogue on “information integrity” will encourage Russia to take a constructive approach to international relations.

Looking forward

As the conflict in Ukraine rages and Russia continues to veto OSCE decisions, the future of the organization hangs in the balance. Russia has even obstructed other OSCE missions, like the monitoring mission in Ukraine. These actions, coupled with Moscow’s aggression in regions such as Donetsk and Luhansk, underline the urgency of finding a solution.

However, as Foreign Minister Osmani emphasized at the recent OSCE Chairmanship meeting, the organization exists for the people and should focus on discussing solutions. Despite current challenges, many OSCE members remain optimistic about finding common ground, emphasizing the need for unity and collaboration to ensure a secure future. In this context, the fate of the OSCE rests in the hands of its members. As Osmani concluded: “The challenges ahead are enormous and we must act together to overcome them.”


Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

US Mission to the OSCE

UK Mission to the OSCE

EU Delegation to the OSCE


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