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The evolution of the Russian Federation's policy towards the OSCE?

case study: the OSCE Mission to South Ossetia and the diplomatic crisis of 2008

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The evolution of the Russian Federation's policy towards the OSCE?

case study: the OSCE Mission to South Ossetia and the diplomatic crisis of 2008

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

The aim of this paper is to reflect on Russian-OSCE relations and how this has changed from Russia's constructive engagement to gradual disillusionment. The history of Russia’s engagement in the OSCE is traced back to the founding of the organisation in 1975, while there is particular focus on the Yeltsin and Putin administration. This paper looks at the root causes for the current crisis within the OSCE and analyses the significance of the Russian factor in it. In order to gather the data for the research, extensive desk research has been conducted in addition to personal interviews. The interviewees recruited for this research were OSCE experts, each with a unique point of view on the issues covered in this paper. A detailed study of all the developments and complexity of the OSCE is beyond the scope of this study.
After the end of the Cold War, there were ambitions of building a collective European security. The Yeltsin administration had a cooperative stance towards the OSCE as it had liberal aspirations and sought rapprochement with the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia had ambitions to make the OSCE the leading security organisation in Europe and pushed this idea in 1994 at the Budapest Summit and later in 1997 with a proposal for a “Charter on European Security”. There was also fear of NATO and Russia viewed the OSCE as buffer against its eastward expansion. Several events led to Russia’s realisation that its ambitions of turning the OSCE into a treaty-based security organisation were futile. One of them came in 1999 at the Istanbul Summit which happened at the time of NATO’s bombing of Serbia. Russia disapproved of this action and realised that it had no support in its vision for European security. In addition, the closing down of the OSCE missions in the Baltic States at the beginning of the millennium was considered as premature by Russia which led to further disillusionment. Even though Russia no longer desired to turn the OSCE into the overarching security organisation in Europe, the OSCE was still important to Russia as it hoped to use the OSCE as a tool to stop NATO’s eastward expansion. Russia hoped to achieve a central position for the OSCE, if not a dominant one. Putin’s coming to power was marked by a much more confrontational attitude towards the organisation. Putin criticised the organisation heavily of imbalance between the three dimensions of the OSCE, of bias towards the East and for being subordinate to NATO and the EU. With regards to the three points of criticism, experts believe that some dimensions are more developed than the others. As for the bias, experts say that there are indeed more human rights violations East of Vienna than West of Vienna. It must be admitted that the OSCE has no legal status, it is a consensus-based organisation which puts the organisation in a weak position if participating States do not agree. The case study on the OSCE Mission to Georgia examines the OSCE’s role in the South Caucasus and how Russia’s involvement in the region affects the OSCE Mission. The Mission to Georgia was a failure not only because the OSCE lacks sufficient institutional tools but because the parties involved in the conflict are either unwilling to compromise, or in the case of Russia, have no real interest in having the conflicts solved. Russia, with a foreign policy that is dictated by the principles of realism feels that it has interest in maintaining its hegemony in the former Soviet space and thus promotes controlled instability in the region. However, Russian OSCE policy also has elements of rational institutionalism and thus Russia also seeks to instrumentalise the OSCE in order to address its economic concerns.
The current crisis in the OSCE is the result of deep dividing lines within the organisation. The OSCE’s failure to develop as a values-based security community is at the heart of the crisis and the reason for the protracted conflicts in the Caucasus. Even the renewed East-West confrontation is the result of fundamentally different perceptions about security. Experts agree that there are no prospects of resolving the differing security perceptions between Russia and the West but the dialogue needs to be open.

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OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
OpleidingMO Europese Studies / European Studies
AfdelingFaculteit Management & Organisatie
Jaar2015
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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