Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: The Honorable A. Elizabeth Jones
Assistant Secretary for European Affairs - U.S. Department of State

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OPENING

Chairman Nighthorse Campbell and Co-Chairman Smith, thank you for this opportunity to appear, along with Assistant Secretary Craner of the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, before the Helsinki Commission. I will outline how the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) advances important policy goals of the United States and address our priorities for the organization. I will highlight some human dimension issues, but will leave the bulk of that topic to Assistant Secretary Craner.

INTRODUCTION

My testimony today comes in the wake of one of the worst tragedies the United States has suffered. It is therefore somewhat different than what I had planned to say September 12. In addition to summarizing how the OSCE has traditionally advanced the interests of the United States, I will discuss how we believe OSCE can contribute to the war against terrorism. This will be a long campaign.

In the 26 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, OSCE has evolved from a Cold-war discussion forum into an operational body. It has 20 field missions ranging in size from a half-dozen international staff in Tajikistan to nearly 800 in Kosovo. At the same time, the OSCE remains an important political forum in which states have been willing to undertake far-reaching commitments to strengthen rule of law and democratic principles. The OSCE provides valuable assistance to states in meeting commitments and holds periodic reviews of progress.

The OSCE is an important partner in furthering peace and stabilityacross Europe. OSCE remains the most flexible and responsive Euro-Atlantic foreign policy instrument for non-military contingencies. It is the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation in its region. It is not the forum for discussion or decision regarding all security issues. However, it offers strong advantages in dealing with intra-state conflict and in addressing trans-national threats to stability.

The OSCE’s broad composition, which includes the Russian Federation and all the states of the former Soviet Union among its 55 participating states, provides it with broader participation and geographic reach than NATO, including into the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The OSCE´s comprehensive approach to security recognizes that human rights and economic and environmental issues are as important as political-military ones. Security is seamless.

OSCE has specific institutions for democracy and human rights, national minorities, and freedom of the media, an important economic dimension, and key political-military activities. By providing support and direction in these areas, we contribute to overall security in the region, and also advance other U.S. national interests by promoting democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, arms control and confidence building measures, economic progress, and responsible or sustainable environmental policies.

Our share of OSCE expenses is about 15%, approximately $55 million. This is reasonable when compared with other international bodies. Americans account for about 15% of OSCE personnel. Were it not for the OSCE, many of its programs likely would be pursued bilaterally -- at greater cost to U.S. taxpayers.

U.S. PRIORITIES

The United States traditionally has sought to strengthen respect for and implementation of the Helsinki and other commitments across the OSCE area. This remains the cornerstone of our approach to the OSCE. These commitments to democracy, human rights, religious freedom, the rule of law, and responsible economic and environmental policies are fundamental to addressing the scourge of terrorism as well as to achieving our other goals. These goals include implementation of the adapted CFE Treaty and of related commitments made at the Istanbul Summit in 1999, further progress in addressing post-conflict needs in the Balkans, and strengthening OSCE’s capabilities without damage to its inherent flexibility and quickness. We also expect to close the OSCE missions in Estonia and Latvia at the end of the year, as it seems they have met the criteria for closure agreed by OSCE states. To accomplish these priorities, we must engage Russia and continue to work cooperatively with key allies and friends..

Counter Terrorism

OSCE states agreed as far back as the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 that they would refrain from direct or indirect assistance to terrorism. This commitment has been strengthened over the years. The Budapest Summit in 1994 condemned terrorism in all its forms and stated that it could not be justified under any circumstances. The 1999 Istanbul Charter stated that “Whatever its motives, terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is unacceptable. We will enhance our efforts to prevent the preparation and financing of any act of terrorism on our territories and deny terrorists safe havens.

We must now look at how we can best operationalize these declarations. We welcome the initiative of the Chairman-in-Office to create a working group and develop a plan on OSCE’s role in fighting terrorism in time for the Ministerial in Bucharest December 3-4. We believe the OSCE can play a valuable role in combating terrorism by exploiting its wide membership, traditional strengths in democratization and rule of law, and valuable operational capabilities. Possible activities the OSCE might undertake would include: urging members to sign relevant international conventions regarding terrorism; reviewing compliance with relevant OSCE commitments; reviewing legislation and assisting with drafting new legislation that meets international norms. In addition, we should explore ways to increase police involvement in countering terrorism. We should appoint a senior police advisor in the Secretariat to coordinate these efforts. These are our initial thoughts. We will continue to develop them in cooperation with our friends and allies.

REGIONAL SURVEY

I will now review our other priorities in a regional context.

Engagement with Russia

OSCE is an important forum for engaging cooperatively with the Russian Federation. The Russians have sought to elevate the OSCE to be the over-arching trans-Atlantic security organization and a forum for discussion of issues which we believe are more properly addressed elsewhere. They have maintained that OSCE places too much emphasis on human rights at the expense of other issues and is too focused on states to the east of Vienna.

We want to work with Russia as a partner in the OSCE. It can be a valuable means for strengthening democratic development in Russia and other states, as well as their ties with their neighbors and the West. The Russian Federation has indicated a strong interest in utilizing the OSCE to fight terrorism. We will cooperate with them. At the same time, we must not compromise on fulfillment of key commitments or respect for fundamental principles. We will address these issues soon through bilateral consultations with the Russians on the OSCE. These consultations will include Chechnya, reform of the OSCE, efforts in the Balkans, and how we might improve cooperation with the Russian Federation.

OSCE involvement in Chechnya has been a visible and contentious issue with the Russians. Then President Yeltsin committed in 1999 to allow OSCE human rights monitors -- the Assistance Group -- to return to Chechnya, and the group returned to Chechnya in June after the Secretary secured a commitment from Foreign Minister Ivanov. We have welcomed the decision. The Assistance Group has been active in carrying out its mandate of monitoring the human rights situation and working toward the economic and social rehabilitation of the arae. If called upon, it is ready to assist in working toward a political settlement.

Central Asia, Caucasus

Throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus, OSCE missions work to support democratic development. They help ensure the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. An OSCE border-monitoring mission at the Georgian side of the Georgian-Russian (Chechen) border helps defuse tensions caused by the conflict in Chechnya. The head of the OSCE mission in Moldova actively supports efforts to resolve the dispute between Moldova and Transnistria and to facilitate Russia’s efforts to fulfill its 1999 commitments on withdrawing troops and destroying or removing military equipment.

The OSCE is also providing a framework for mediation of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute through the Minsk process. It is preparing for a larger OSCE role in the event of a resolution of the conflict. Should the process bear fruit, this could very well become OSCE’s most challenging endeavor. The logistics of deploying a large group as well as ensuring appropriate security, command, control, communications, and logistics, could exceed any previous OSCE undertaking.

In Central Asia and the Caucasus, OSCE continues to look for ways to foster human rights, religious freedom, and democratic development, while at the same time addressing urgent security, environmental, and economic needs. Several of these states face real security threats. However, if human rights and religious freedoms are not respected, the governments will aggravate the situations they are trying to address and their policies will breed further threats to stability.

Belarus

OSCE played an active role in attempting to ensure that presidential elections September 9 in Belarus met international standards for free and fair elections. This was not accomplished. The Lukashenko regime failed to meet the four criteria laid down last year by OSCE’s parliamentary troika. It harassed opposition leaders, denied fair access to state media, stacked electoral commissions, prohibited activities by domestic monitoring groups, and impeded the work of ODIHR and other international monitors.

We and our friends and allies cannot accept the outcome of elections that failed so clearly to meet accepted international standards, including those in the OSCE Copenhagen Document. We are working with other OSCE participating states, including Russia, to bring Belarus into conformity with the commitments it has accepted.

We remain very concerned about credible reports of a Lukashenko regime organized death squad reportedly responsible for up to 30 murders, including those of 3 opposition members and a journalist, and have called on the GOB to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of public charges made by two former prosecutors and the wives of disappeared and imprisoned Lukashenko opponents. Both groups visited Washington in July. Since then, documents have been published adding more credence to the charges. We take these allegations very seriously.


Arms Control and CFE Issues

OSCE's role as a venue for effective engagement with Russia is nowhere more apparent than on CFE Treaty-related issues, in particular on implementation of the historic commitments made on withdrawal of Russian forces and equipment from Georgia and Moldova at the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul.

OSCE's role is critical in two ways, political and practical. The international attention these issues have received in OSCE has been vital to achieving progress. Politically, we and our NATO Allies and friends have used the OSCE as a forum for emphasizing the importance of Russia's full and timely fulfillment of the Istanbul commitments and that this is a matter of concern to the entire international community, not just an issue for Russia and Georgia or Russia and Moldova. OSCE has played a critical role in practical terms as well, through establishment of Voluntary Funds to assist in implementation of each of these commitments.

The implementation record to date is mixed and there is more work to be done. However, I am pleased to report that as of today, the withdrawal process is moving forward in both Georgia and Moldova.

Largely though the efforts of the Head of the OSCE Mission in Moldova (who is an American), the Transnistrian leadership has for the first time agreed to cooperate in an international assessment of options for destruction or removal of some 40,000 tons of stored munitions in Moldova. Completion of this task should facilitate Russia’s drawdown of forces by December 31,2001, as agreed at Istanbul. Meanwhile, Russian forces in Moldova have begun to destroy CFE Treaty-limited equipment and have developed a schedule for eliminating all of Russian CFE TLE by the December 31, 2001 deadline set at Istanbul.

In Georgia, Russia met its undertaking to withdraw CFE Treaty-limited equipment in excess of agreed levels -- approximately half of total Russian TLE in Georgia -- on time, by December 31, 2001.

But two key commitments relating to Georgia have not yet been fulfilled, and that is a major focus of our diplomatic
efforts in OSCE now. The Istanbul commitment required Russia to close two key military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001. One of those, the Vaziani base near Tbilisi, was transferred on time to Georgia. This was a major priority for the President Shevardnaze Government.

The Gudauta base, located in the Abkhaz region, has not yet been closed and transferred to Georgian control, a fact which was the object of broad international criticism in the OSCE, in the NATO-Russia context, and in U.S.-Russian bilateral exchanges. Working with our OSCE partners we have reminded Russian officials that their failure to meet this commitment jeopardized its standing in the international community; and that message has given heart to Georgia. At this point Russia and Georgia are negotiating on this issue at senior levels.

The United States and other OSCE states are also pressing Russia to fulfill the Istanbul requirement to agree on a deadline for withdrawal of Russian forces from remaining bases in Georgia. At issue here is the basic principle of a nation's sovereignty over its own territory. Through the OSCE we and our Allies have pressed hard for resolution of these basing questions in a manner consistent with the desires of the host state.

The Balkans

OSCE continues to play a leading role in the enhancement of peace, stability, and democracy throughout Southeastern Europe in the wake of the conflicts there. OSCE missions in Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia, and Albania are key to this effort. The establishment last year of a mission in Belgrade already is paying dividends in helping to support the democratic transition in Yugoslavia.

OSCE is responding energetically to the current crisis in Macedonia. Well before the current crisis, however, the OSCE played an active role in supporting the independence and democratic development of Macedonia. The Spillover Mission was established in 1992 to alert the international community to external threats to Macedonia and to support democratic development. The High Commissioner on National Minorities played the lead role in establishing a private Albanian university. Other OSCE personnel assisted with preparation of a new electoral law. When inter-ethnic tensions increased, OSCE observers provided valuable reporting on sensitive conditions. This continued after fighting broke out and then after a cease-fire was agreed.

The OSCE is now moving to gain agreement to implement measures in support of the recent political agreement reached by the parties. In particular, OSCE will provide monitors to assure a smooth return of Macedonian security forces to conflictive areas, train new recruits for a multi-ethnic police force, and support strengthening of democratic institutions. It will accomplish these tasks in close and effective cooperation with NATO, EU, and other bodies.

In Kosovo, OSCE seeks to decrease the level of violence, promote multiethnic institutions, support the establishment of provisional self-government for Kosovo's citizenry, and safeguard human rights and religious freedom for all residents of Kosovo, including Serbs and other ethnic minorities. The OSCE mission in Kosovo will conduct province-wide elections in November.

In Bosnia, the OSCE continues to support the objectives of the Dayton Agreement through its work in elections support, human rights, and democratization. As a result of its efforts, many activities have been returned to local control and the mission budget reduced commensurately.

In Croatia, it will continue to seek Croatia's compliance with its commitments related to return of refugees and displaced persons, democratization, and implementation of the Dayton Agreement. Again, progress has led to significant downsizing of the OSCE mission.

OSCE also oversees the implementation of the arms control annex to the Dayton Accords, specifically concerning confidence-building within Bosnia and arms reductions among Bosnia, Croatia and the FRY.


DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT

The OSCE, primarily through ODIHR, plays a leading role in supporting democratic development and strengthening rule of law. OSCE implements programs in a variety of areas, from election monitoring to judicial training to the fight against trafficking in human beings. When successful, the OSCE's efforts help to prevent conflict and thus U.S. expenditure for costly military engagement and post-conflict rehabilitation. Working multilaterally to prevent conflict and build democracy can be significantly more cost-effective than full reliance on unilateral efforts.

Two institutions deserve special mention. The High Commissioner on National Minorities, currently Rolf Ekeus, is critical in improving inter-ethnic understanding and cooperation.

The Free Media Representative, Friemut Duve, is a strong factor in promoting policies that support development of free media.

ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

OSCE recognizes that economic and environmental issues can be the basis for security concerns, and if not addressed may threaten stability. Its economic dimension seeks to bring states together to address common problems such as water resources, development issues, and corruption.

The United States is a strong advocate of efforts to counter corruption. This was reflected in the 1999 Istanbul Summit Declaration. If not countered, corruption can corrode respect for public institutions as well as undermine efforts to create a positive climate in which economic growth and development can take place. This result can create conditions which play into the hands of extremists. OSCE has implemented several programs aimed at countering corruption or supporting good governance. In the coming years, we will develop further OSCE activities in these areas. One example is establishment is an ombudsman in the Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities.

OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

Another top priority is to continue to make the OSCE a more effective organization. Political leaders increasingly rely on the OSCE for rapid and effective deployment of human resources to trouble spots in the region, most recently, for example, expanding the OSCE's role in Macedonia. To this end, we have worked vigorously to develop the REACT concept (Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams). REACT provides for an international electronic roster of rapidly deployable experts – on human rights, elections, public administration, policing, rule of law. These individuals will be able, on short notice, to serve as an OSCE surge capacity to help address problems before they become crises, or to manage emerging crises. REACT is on line, but so far only a minority of participating states has gotten their systems up and running.

A related issue is general managerial effectiveness. OSCE expanded its activities more rapidly than it created systems to manage them. Secretary-General Kubis noted this situation in his remarks to the Meeting of theParliamentary Assembly in Paris in July. Significant progress has been made in this area. SYG Kubis announced that the external auditors issued an unqualified audit report for the year 2000. The report noted that great strides had been taken to address earlier shortcomings – many related to the forced hasty departure of the Kosovo Verification Mission – but that some work still remained. We are committed to ensuring that the OSCE implements the necessary procedures and systems to ensure effective managerial control of its operations.

LEGAL STATUS

The question of the legal status of OSCE has come to the fore. Key OSCE states have been pressing for a convention according OSCE international legal personality, which would effectively transform OSCE into an international organization (IO). This matter has arisen in the context of problems in the area of privileges and immunities for the OSCE and its personnel. Many states have been unable to implement the 1993 Rome Ministerial Council decision on that subject. They seek a convention that would both accord international legal personality and provide for privileges and immunities.

As we consider how the OSCE has evolved and how best to address issues that hinder its performance, we need examine how our interests would best be served. We are presently reviewing this matter. As we consider this issue, the OSCE’s flexibility, its consensus-based method of operation, and the political nature of OSCE commitments are of fundamental importance to us.

SCALES OF ASSESSMENT

Another issue is the scale of assessment. Last year, it became obvious that the so-called Helsinki Scale for large missions (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo) was no longer viable. A new scale was agreed. The U.S. share increased to 13.5% from 12.4%. Part of the agreement was that OSCE might examine the scale for large mission as well as the regular scale in 2004 with an eye toward possibly consolidating
them. In that event, a country’s total share would be capped at 14%.

Some states now wish to renegotiate the basic scale. We see no reason to move ahead the agreed date for reconsidering the scales of assessment.

POLICE ACTIVITIES

Police training and executive policing are topical issues. They are especially important in the Balkans, but experience gained there might be applicable in other regions, especially Central Asia. OSCE has done a solid job in police training in Kosovo and in Serbia. It is expected to assume this responsibility in Macedonia. In addition to training, there are needs for actual police operations in some situations. OSCE may be best-suited to assume this task. We are looking at whatrole OSCE might assume in this area and what resources would be required.


CONCLUSION

The immediate challenge is to enlist OSCE in the fight against terrorism. This will be a sustained campaign. Applying OSCE commitments and principles in our common struggle against global terrorism will be crucial to success in this effort.

The challenge in the next several years will be to further develop and fine-tune the OSCE’s mission in the evolving Euro-Atlantic security architecture and improve its coordination with NATO, the EU, and other bodies. Engagement with Russia will continue to be a key goal. Development of common policies with the EU and its member states will increase in importance. Success in these areas will better ensure OSCE activities continue to serve U.S. national interests.