As of 1 January 2013 Ukraine assumes its responsibilities as Chairman-in-Office and head of the decision-making process at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This occasion is both a huge challenge and an opportunity for Ukrainian diplomacy, as well as a recognition of Ukraine’s contribution to the strengthening of international security.
Ukraine has been a full member of the OSCE since regaining its independence in 1991. The unanimous approval by the OSCE’s member states of Ukraine’s candidacy for chairmanship reflects the unprecedented international support received by our country.
‘We understand that just as the chairmanship is not a platform for promoting specific national interests, equally, it is not the means for states or groups of states to push their own agendas’. The priority for Ukraine is to facilitate the development of the common position of the OSCE member states on various international issues and to act in accordance with the interests of all states concerned. During the 2010 OSCE summit in Astana, the Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych made it clear that Ukraine would strive to be ‘a fair broker’ in discussions taking place within the OSCE platform. Thus, as the OSCE Chair, Ukraine will be guided by principles of equality, partnership, cooperation, inclusiveness and transparency. Most of all, it is important for those members of the Organisation which do not belong to any political and military alliance.
The main tasks of Ukraine’s OSCE chairmanship agenda, presented this summer at the Permanent Council meeting in Vienna, are: the strengthening of democracy and human rights; military and political cooperation; and energy security. ‘My country is committed to promoting balance in all spheres of the Organisation’s activity, and increasing the OSCE effectiveness in addressing the issue of frozen conflicts.’ Ukraine is interested in contributing to the establishment of the OSCE security community, free from spheres of influence or zones of responsibility.
During its Chairmanship Ukraine intends to initiate a new dialogue within the OSCE aimed at elaborating fundamental principles for future conventional arms control applicable to all the OSCE participating states. Ukraine wants the OSCE to be effective and transparent on the pre-empting of military plans and military forces deployment, in particular near national borders, with the aim of ensuring that the threat from any conflict – be it local or regional – will not turn into military confrontation. It is going to take years for this initiative to be realised, yet we would like to begin the process and to take steps in that direction under our Chairmanship. In this regard it is important to mention that the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation support Ukraine’s approach for solving these problems within the framework of OSCE.
Ukraine stands for strengthening the role of the Organisation in resolving protracted regional conflicts. We believe that sustainable and long-term settlement of conflicts in the OSCE area can be reached only by peaceful means. To achieve this goal all parties concerned should more effectively utilise the collective mechanisms provided by the Organisation. Ukraine is committed to the Transdniestrian settlement process in the established ‘5+2’ format. We will also intensify our efforts to provide more significant and efficient OSCE mediation in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and will seek its final resolution. We are also aiming to encourage discussions in Geneva regarding conflict resolution in Georgia.
In economic and environmental fields, our major focus will be on the environmental impact of energy-related activities, energy saving and renewable sources of energy.
Strengthening of democratic principles will also remain a priority for Ukraine during its Chairmanship of the OSCE. Ukraine will support the application of best practice in monitoring elections. The creation of favourable conditions for the international monitoring missions by the states concerned will also remain on the agenda.
Ukraine strongly believes that the humanitarian activity of the OSCE should remain the focus of the Organisation. Since the security of human beings remains at the heart of the OSCE’s approach, implementation by all participating states of the existing commitments in the human dimension will be at the top of the Ukrainian Chairmanship agenda.
Particular attention will be focused on media freedom and developing necessary legal framework, as well as on the fight against human trafficking, youth education based on the principles of tolerance and non-discrimination, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, additional efforts in the area of cyber security, promotion of gender equality, and constructive engagement of civil society in achieving the goals of the OSCE.
It is worth mentioning that the OSCE is not without a number of problems, and it is necessary to restore the atmosphere of trust within the Organisation. Despite its shortcomings and critics, this Organisation remains a unique forum for its members – regardless of their political system, level of economic development or participation in other alliances. It is a forum for discussion of how to overcome common challenges to EuroAtlantic and EuroAsian security.
Accordingly, when Ukraine chairs the OSCE in 2013, it will face a number of challenges. However, we are confident that our experience of chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will be beneficial in this endeavour.
To conclude, I have to say that without a doubt my country’s Chairmanship of the OSCE will facilitate better understanding of Ukraine by other states. For its part, Ukraine will exert all its efforts to turn the EuroAtlantic and EuroAsian region into a shared area of peace based on common values – trust, transparency and tolerance.