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Cablegate: Osce Ministerial Focuses On European Security

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RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0168
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USOSCE 000275

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OSCE RS KZ GR PREL
SUBJECT: OSCE MINISTERIAL FOCUSES ON EUROPEAN SECURITY
DIALOGUE

USOSCE 00000275 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The seventeenth OSCE Ministerial Council,
held December 1-2, 2009 in Athens, focused mainly on the
ongoing European security dialogue known as the Corfu
Process. Although Russia,s proposed European security treaty
(EST) dominated the headlines, the U.S. achieved its highest
priority goal for the Ministerial of keeping the dialogue on
European security firmly anchored in the OSCE,s Corfu
Process discussions, which will continue in 2010 under the
Kazakhstani chairmanship. In addition, other important
decisions were taken on the OSCE Chairmanship in 2012,
strengthening Vienna Document 1999, countering transnational
threats, energy security, small arms and light weapons,
weapons of mass destruction, Roma-Sinti, and participation of
women in political life. The improved atmosphere among
participating States throughout the Fall brought consensus on
the traditionalbroad-ranging Ministerial Declaration within
reach, failing ultimately on the same critical stumbling
blocks as in prior years: the Istanbul commitments and
disagreements over Georgia. It also proved impossible to
adopt decisions on Freedom of Media and Rule of Law, largely
important for their symbolic value.

2. (SBU) Negotiations in Athens on the Corfu Process
declaration and decision were contentious and protracted.
While most delegations negotiated in good faith, Russia
consistently tore apart the draft decision and generally
indicated they only wanted general brainstorming discussions
and no concrete results from the Corfu Process. The Russians
eventually overplayed their hand, infuriating delegations to
the point that at the Ministers, working lunch on December
1, Foreign Ministers isolated Russian FM Lavrov, insisting
that there had to be both a declaration and a decision to
take the process forward in a concrete way. Lavrov apparently
personally rewrote the decision, removing most of the
objectionable language his delegation had inserted the night
before. While consensus was finally achieved on the basis of
this draft, we are under no illusions that Russia would have
agreed to the text absent such pressure from the U.S. and our
allies.

3. (SBU) Agreement on the Corfu Process declaration and
decision was also complicated by Kazakhstan's insistence on
including in the documents a positive acknowledgement - if
not endorsement - of its proposal to hold an OSCE Summit in
2010. Following Kazakhstani threats to veto the declaration,
Deputy Secretary Steinberg and Kazakhstani FM Saudabayev
personally negotiated last-minute language that closed the
deal. Ministers noted "positively" the Kazakhstani proposal
and committed to review progress on the substance and
modalities of the proposal in the coming year, to determine
if the substance would merit a high-level meeting. At the
last moment, Uzbekistan surprised everyone by reopening the
declaration to change the word "positively" back to the
previous language "with interest." Subsequently, the
Kazakhstani Ambassador confirmed that due to tensions between
the two countries Uzbekistan did not want a summit to take
place during the Kazakhstani Chairmanship.

4. (SBU) In addition to the Corfu Process declaration and
decision, Ministers adopted 19 decisions and declarations.
The most important decisions included: the choice of Ireland
as the OSCE,s Chairman-in-Office in 2012, countering
transnational threats (co-sponsored by Russia and the United
States), the OSCE,s role in energy security, small arms and
light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunition,
early childhood education for Roma-Sinti, and supporting
increased participation of women in political life. Also of
note, all 56 OSCE ministers issued a declaration reaffirming
commitments on non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons of mass destruction, and adopted a
decision to work to strengthen arms control and CSBM
instruments, specifically including Vienna Document 1999.
There were also positive 3 2 and Ministerial statements on
Nagorno-Karabakh that referenced progress in the settlement
process.

5. (SBU) The Corfu Declaration is the most important
political declaration to be adopted at an OSCE Ministerial
since Oporto in 2002. Moreover, the improved atmosphere
among participating States throughout the Fall due to the
Corfu discussions brought consensus on the traditionally
broad-ranging Ministerial Declaration within reach, though it

USOSCE 00000275 002.2 OF 002


ultimately failed. The main stumbling blocks continue to be
Istanbul commitments and disagreements over Georgia. Major
disagreements with Russia over Georgia, OSCE activity in
Afghanistan, and in the human dimension, also limited
substantive progress on other U.S. priorities though the US
and Russia did come to agreement on a CFE paragraph to be
included in the broad-based Ministerial Declaration--had
there been one. Azerbaijan and possibly Georgia indicated
they were prepared to block consensus if a JCG convened in
Athens moved to adopt the CFE paragraph. Attempts to
negotiate a statement on the Transnistria conflict in Moldova
faltered again this year over long-standing disagreements on
the Istanbul Commitments, the presence of Russian
peacekeepers in the Transnistrian region, and other issues.
Decisions on Freedom of Media and Rule of Law, largely
important for their symbolic value, were ultimately blocked
by Uzbekistan (the latter together with Turkmenistan).

6. (SBU) Comment: We achieved our highest priority, to
provide for the continuation of a comprehensive, open-ended
discussion of European security, anchored within the OSCE,s
Corfu Process. Nevertheless, the intensity of negotiations,
and the willingness of Russia and incoming Chair Kazakhstan
to play hardball presage another tough year for the OSCE.
Another factor we will need to take into account is that the
Central Asian countries are not united and have their own
political differences with Kazakhstan, as well as Russia.
The year of the Kazakhstani Chairmanship should prove
interesting indeed and will require close coordination
between the EUR and SCA bureaus and posts.
FULLER

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