Cablegate: Osce: Hdim Opening Focuses On Osce Reform

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The opening session of the 2005 Human
Dimension Implementation Meeting gave participants a
chance to set out their views of the OSCE, against the
backdrop of reform discussions ongoing in Vienna.
Poland, the U.S., and Kyrgyzstan voiced strong support
for OSCE's human rights work and for the need to hold
States accountable for implementing their OSCE
commitments. Others, including Russia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, and to an extent CiO Slovenia, advocated
"updating" OSCE standards and ensuring they are
unbiased and applied equally to all countries.
Kazakhstan made a clear push for their 2009
Chairmanship bid, but in doing so also exposed the
approach towards the human dimension they likely would
take as CiO: putting economic reforms first. The new
OSCE Secretary General added to the reform debate by
proposing that the OSCE once again take up the issue of
culture as a confidence building measure to promote
tolerance. End summary.

Support for the OSCE

2. Polish Undersecretary of State Piotr Switalski gave
one of the strongest statements in support of the OSCE
that we have heard in years. He said OSCE has become a
"proxy target" for some participating States which are
really questioning the basic standards and values that
the OSCE represents. Those who fear democracy believe
that those who advocate it are plotting to destabilize
other countries and gain influence. The mistrust is
unfounded but it is damaging the OSCE. Restructuring
the OSCE or giving it a legal personality will not fix
the current situation; rather, substantive issues must
be addressed. There should be no "value gap," since it
is not true that there are differences in democratic
values among OSCE States. However, the OSCE needs to
support those States that need assistance and to deal
with a growing "civilization gap" as new minorities
migrate into Europe. Above all, OSCE States should be
willing to face the hard questions and issues: "Why is
it that we sometimes refrain from raising instances of
non-compliance with OSCE commitments? Why do we allow
the Moscow Mechanism to be perceived as offensive? Why
do States sometimes hide behind NGOs, allowing them to
raise the difficult issues?" He also raised bilateral
issues with Belarus, expressing Polish concerns with
the treatment of the Union of Poles in Belarus.

3. U.S. Ambassador Finley gave a strong statement in
support of the OSCE and in particular of its election
activities. OSCE election standards and the
independence of its election observations must be
supported. She raised specific concerns about the
human rights situation in Belarus, Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Chechnya.
Belarusian OSCE CoE Director Denis Sidorenko took issue
with the U.S. statement. He said that while "new
democracies" have made great progress over the past few
years, the "established democracies" like the U.S. have
had new problems with elections, intolerance and anti-
Semitism, and restrictions on media freedoms.
Sidorenko therefore rejected Finley's and Switalsky's
criticisms, and stressed that OSCE should focus on
concrete assistance projects.

4. As if in response to the Belarusian statement,
Kyrgyz Vice Ombudsman Mamaturaim Momunov gave his
explicit support for Ambassador Finley's intervention
and for using the HDIM to raising specific human rights
concerns with individual countries. He thanked the
OSCE for its assistance programs in Central Asia,
adding that anti-democratic developments in neighboring
countries present obstacles to reform within
Kyrgyzstan. For example, Kyrgyzstan is worried about
the use of torture and the prison conditions in other
Central Asian States. Also, while Bishkek did
everything it could to protect Uzbek refugees who fled
to Kyrgyzstan after the events in Andijon, the Kyrgyz
government came under significant pressure from its
neighbor to return the refugees to Uzbekistan.
Momounov proposed that Bishkek host a conference in
December on the protection of human rights, focusing on
the countries that have had regime change recently,
including Ukraine and Georgia, to discuss the
difficulties they face from the problems previous
regimes left behind. (Note: In a later session on
migration and refugees, a Kazakh representative
expressed disappointment over the Kyrgyz opening
statement and said she would report its contents to
Kazakh authorities.)

Other Opening Statements

5. The Russian opening statement focused on terrorism,
saying it threatens democracy but that some countries
use "combatting terrorism" as an excuse to violate
human rights due process. Russian speaker Lebedev also
said OSCE standards should be updated since today's
security situation is complicated and solutions like
the Orange Revolution are not effective. Azerbaijan
(speaking on behalf of the GUAM) said OSCE priorities
should include work on combating trafficking in
persons, forced displacement, and ethnic cleansing and
aggressive nationalism. Georgia added that the HDIM
should be held outside of Warsaw every other year and
reiterated its willingness to host it.

6. Kazakhstan's First Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat
Aliyev made a statement clearly aimed at securing his
country's bid for the 2009 Chairmanship of the OSCE,
but which signaled several Kazakh priorities that we
would oppose. (Note: The 2009 Chairmanship decision
must be made in 2006.) He stressed that States must
not use the fight against terrorism as a pretext to
crack down on opposition. However, he also said the
OSCE should look more carefully at reform processes,
since economic reform and political liberalization are
separate. He said that when civil society develops too
quickly in the absence of economic reform, then social
destabilization results. Thus Kazakhstan supports step-
by-step reforms, where economic reforms come first and
define the political system. Aliyev sees "double-
standards" when media and NGOs fail "to uphold OSCE
standards." [Comment: While OSCE documents contain
commitments for participating States, they stipulate
that NGOs and the media should be free and independent.
Aliyev's comment was a veiled suggestion that media and
civil society should avoid stirring up instability by
criticizing government leaders and policies.] Aliyev
repeated Kazakhstan's offer to hold a conference on
inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue next year.
Finally, he pointed to President Nazarbayev's recent
address presenting a package of political reforms,
including provisions to ensure free and fair elections
in December and the creation of a State Commission on
democratic reforms.

OSCE Reform Issues

7. The Slovenian Chairmanship's representative, Boris
Frlec, reiterated the OSCE principle that human rights
are not solely an internal affair. This principle
allows participating States to use peer pressure to
hold each other accountable for the implementation of
their OSCE commitments. He supported the
recommendations in the report of the Panel of Eminent
Persons to create a human dimension committee and to
ensure that OSCE election observation standards are
unbiased and more standardized.

8. OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
focused on how the OSCE could increase its cooperation
with other international organizations, noting it could
work with the newly created UN Peacebuilding
Commission. He also proposed that the OSCE - perhaps
working with UNESCO - consider resurrecting its focus
on culture as a confidence building measure,
particularly to build tolerance and combat
discrimination. OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities Rolf Ekeus stressed the need for minorities'
education and language use, participation in political
and administrative bodies, including police,
citizenship, cultural expression, and repatriation and
property restitution issues.


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