Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. A. Elizabeth Jones
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs - U.S. Department of State

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Senators, Congressmen, I am pleased to have the opportunity to report to you today on the Administration's views concerning the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

I want to provide you today with an assessment of where we see the OSCE going. To do that, I would like to develop three themes. First, I want to elaborate on the importance of the OSCE to the United States as a resource to advance our core foreign policy objectives of (a) promoting democratic development and respect for human rights throughout Europe and Eurasia, (b) resolving conflicts, and (c) assisting states in addressing complex threats to security and stability, such as those posed by international terrorism. Second, I want to highlight a few significant accomplishments, resulting in great part to U.S. leadership, of the OSCE in 2003, and how we will build on that in 2004. And finally, I want to sketch out for you the Administration's vision for the OSCE and how, with the Helsinki Commission and the welcome support of the Congress, we can continue to exercise our influence to keep the OSCE engaged on issues of vital concern (such as human rights, including religious freedom) while at the same time working to develop greater cooperation with OSCE participating States in the economic and political-military security dimensions.

What the OSCE Does for the U.S.

Let me offer three reasons why we attach great value to the OSCE. First, it is a "can-do" organization. Its solid performance and its unique strengths, among them its field presences in 18 countries and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Representative on the Freedom of the Media justify this reputation.

Second, the OSCE helps us to pursue our goals of strengthening democratic governance and effective civil institutions in countries throughout Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, where multilateral approaches are often the most effective and efficient way to offer assistance.

And finally, the authority and respect OSCE enjoys from participating states and partners enables it to do the necessary and often unappreciated work that does not make headlines, but which is essential for peace and stability. In doing so, it makes a contribution to security for the people of Europe and Eurasia, and the people of the United States.

Significant Accomplishments at OSCE this Year

Let me turn to a description of three major OSCE accomplishments in 2003. I first want to pay tribute to The Netherlands and to this year's Chairman in Office (CiO), Foreign Minister De Hoop Scheffer. The Dutch Chairmanship is providing dynamic leadership for the OSCE. From early January, when the Chair outlined its priorities, we have worked together very closely and productively.

Tackling Anti-Semitism, Racism and Xenophobia

The OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism, which took place in June in Vienna, demonstrated that the OSCE could mobilize to respond to a pressing concern. Indeed, the Helsinki Commission last year raised the increase in anti-Semitic violence in the OSCE region and suggested that the OSCE might play a role in addressing this issue. With the support of the Commission, the Administration succeeded in building consensus for the anti-Semitism meeting in Vienna. Under the leadership of our Ambassador to the OSCE, Stephan Minikes, and the U.S. head of delegation, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the conference raised awareness of this problem and identified possible follow-up action by participating States, including passage of hate crime legislation, compilation of statistics on hate crimes and analysis of that data. The Vienna conference focused on practical measures governments, legislatures, and civil society can take to counter a recent increase in anti-Semitic violence and behavior in the OSCE region. It defined anti-Semitism as a human rights issue and emphasized the need for appropriate law enforcement, legislation and prosecution. No international organization had previously treated anti-Semitism as a human rights matter or committed to a regular review process. We appreciate Germany's offer to host a follow-on conference in Berlin in 2004. Our goal at the December ministerial is to gain the support of all OSCE members to grant full OSCE status to the Berlin meeting, in the same way that status was accorded to the Vienna meeting. We will work to keep the OSCE focussed on anti-Semitism and would welcome the Commission's help to make the case to parliamentarians from other participating States, and to support follow through on conference
conclusions.

Last week the OSCE also held a conference on Racism/Xenophobia. The U.S. delegation was led by former Congressman J.C. Watts. We were pleased that the conference identified specific areas in which OSCE participating states should concentrate efforts to address problems, including public opinion and the media, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue and the development of civic tolerance building programs.

Annual Security Review Conference

During my testimony last year, I explained that the U.S. had launched a major initiative to establish an OSCE Annual Security Review Conference, or "ASRC." The first ASRC, held in late June, was a success in terms of promoting dialogue and serious discussion of collective efforts on such matters as travel document security, an idea proposed by the U.S., as well as ammunition stockpile security and destruction, and enhanced export controls on man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). We intend to follow up on this idea aggressively. Were 55 countries to agree to upgrade standards for travel documents, it would constitute a significant step toward further enhancing U.S. security and security of our partners. The U.S. invested considerable time and effort into creation of the ASRC, and we are already reaping the benefits. The conference generated the practical ideas noted above for improving security cooperation, as well as appreciation from OSCE states for our efforts to strengthen the OSCE's ability to help them cope with such security threats as terrorism.

OSCE Action Plan on Trafficking-in-Persons

Trafficking was very appropriately identified by the Dutch Chairmanship as a key focus of the OSCE for 2003. In February 2003, the OSCE held an international seminar on the National and International Economic Impact of Trafficking in Human Beings in Ioannina, Greece. In May, the Economic Forum was devoted to the national and international economic impact of trafficking in human beings, drugs and small arms and light weapons. The adoption of an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings by the OSCE participating States on July 24 is a major event. Through this Plan, the OSCE is piloting an innovative and important new initiative, the national referral mechanism. The Plan aims at providing participating States with a comprehensive toolkit to help them implement their commitments to combating trafficking in human beings, and calls for more effective co-operation between the OSCE and other relevant international actors, such as the United Nations. As to how the OSCE should marshal its own resources to do so, this needs to be studied, to ensure coordination and avoid overlap of duties. The Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human
Beings works under the auspices of the OSCE, and through their joint efforts the SEE region has become a global leader in intergovernmental coordination
on combating trafficking. The OSCE efforts complement our own bilateral efforts against human trafficking in the region, and we see some results, particularly in Bosnia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, among others.

Where is the OSCE Headed?

Let me turn to our priorities for the OSCE in the short-term -- from now through the Maastricht ministerial December 1-2.

Run-Up to Maastricht

First, a word about a special opportunity the U.S. will have to shape the OSCE's security agenda in the run-up to this year's ministerial. In line with the normal rotation of responsibility, the U.S. assumed the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Cooperation on September 1. We have taken the chair at a time when cooperation and coordination between the Permanent Council (PC) and Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) are good and improving. We intend to work within the FSC to consider how the OSCE can help address, first, growing problems of ammunition and weapons stockpile security, and better accounting, and second, control of Man-portable Air Defense Systems, i.e. ground to air missiles capable of bringing down military or civilian aircraft. Both issues have real relevance and security implications for many states, including the U.S.

As for our broader objectives, the U.S. is actively involved in shaping the substance of the ministerial. We are working to ensure that at Maastricht OSCE states will constructively address the following issues:


  • How the OSCE can better address threats to security and stability in the 21st century. This project originated at the Bucharest Ministerial when, following the September 11 attacks, Ministers wanted a review of how the OSCE might adapt itself to help states more effectively cope with complex threats. The United States and Russia accepted a tasking from the Portuguese Chairmanship in 2002 to launch this review process with a paper outlining how the OSCE's Permanent Council, Forum for Security Cooperation, and the Chairmanship, and its field presences, institutions, and Secretariat could better coordinate to maximize the efficiency of its resources. The outline we jointly produced with Russia was endorsed at the Porto Ministerial as the basis for the work that has been ongoing this year.



    Taking OSCE's strengths, namely its expertise in the areas of democratization, human rights policing and training, and its field presences and institutions, we and many of our partners are drawing on these strengths, and bringing them to bear in the context of international cooperation by having the OSCE work more closely with other multilateral organizations in Europe, especially NATO and the EU, and by having the OSCE refine its work or, in a few instances, take on new tasks, to fill gaps not covered by other organizations. Police training and border security are areas where we believe the OSCE is well-positioned to make a valuable contribution.



    To expand on that point for a moment, as follow-up to the ground-breaking May 22-23 Ohrid Balkan Border Security Conference, which was co-sponsored by NATO, the EU, the Stability Pact and OSCE, we support the OSCE contributing its training expertise to outside states to train border security officials. We very much welcome the regional approach to ensuring that borders remain open and that the legitimate flow of people and goods is expedited, while inhibiting the exploitation of less-controlled borders by terrorists, organized criminals and traffickers in human beings, drugs and weapons. There is great potential here for further cooperation which, if effectively developed, could be applied to other regions and also constitute another OSCE contribution to the fight against terrorism.



    More than ever now, there is a need for closer links and cooperation with other key Euro-Atlantic institutions, particularly NATO and the EU. The OSCE is not in competition with NATO and the EU. Rather, the OSCE has long worked closely with these two organizations in the Balkans. Working cooperatively and productively with the EU, especially after enlargement, is critical. OSCE is, in fact, the forum that more than any other highlights what the U.S. and EU have in common, and where we work together day in and day out to achieve shared objectives.

  • Russia's Fulfillment of Its Istanbul Commitments: Russia agreed at the Porto Ministerial that it would complete its withdrawal of weapons and ammunition from Moldova by December 31, 2003. To facilitate implementation of this commitment, the United States and its partners in the Moldova Voluntary Fund have offered to assist Russia in meeting the cost of this withdrawal, including through destruction and transportation back to Russia of some 40,000 tons of stored ammunition and many thousands of small arms. The OSCE Mission in Moldova estimates that Russia has now removed over one-third of its stored ammunition. Unfortunately, the Transnistrian regime has exploited its ability to impede the departure of ammunition trains for its own political purposes, slowing, and at times, stopping the trains. In the end, in spite of any difficulties introduced by other parties, it remains the responsibility of the Russian Federation to fulfill its Istanbul commitments and complete the withdrawal of Russian forces to which it committed in Istanbul. We hope to be able to welcome the completion of this task at Maastricht.



    Likewise, in accordance with the commitment it undertook at Istanbul, Russia must also reach agreement with the Government of Georgia on the timeline for closure of two remaining Russian bases on Georgian territory, and on the status of the Russian presence at a third facility, in Abkhazia. We and our NATO Allies stand united in declaring that fulfillment of these commitments on Moldova and Georgia, together with Russia's commitment to reduce its CFE Treaty limited equipment in the flank region to the levels set in the Adapted CFE Treaty, is a necessary condition for us to proceed with ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty.

  • Enhanced OSCE Economic and Environmental Work. We hope to adopt the first new set of commitments since the Bonn Document of 1990. The so-called "Strategy Document" focuses on good governance and transparency, as expert after expert has named these as pre-requisites for economic development and integration, as well as for maximizing the benefits of globalization. The Strategy Document will include a section on reforming the Economic Forum. We are leading efforts to make the annual Economic Forum more of a workshop, rather than just a forum for discussion. The lack of economic opportunity is one of the most powerful obstacles to a civil society in significant parts of the OSCE area.



    In addition to work on these areas, as I noted earlier, we hope that at Maastricht the OSCE states will be ready to endorse follow-up on recommendations made at the anti-Semitism and Racism/Xenophobia conferences and at the ASRC. In addition to making political commitments to address stockpile security and MANPADs, we hope the Ministerial Council will commit all OSCE participating states to implement new biometric standards for passports, as well as enhanced security procedures for handling and issuance of travel documents.



    We are optimistic about the potential for Maastricht to demonstrate that the OSCE is actively, practically dealing with issues of importance in the areas of human rights, economics and political-military security.



Post-Maastricht

The annual Ministerial Council provides the impetus for much of the future work of the OSCE. But, especially in light of the ongoing exercise to develop an OSCE strategy to address Threats to Security and Stability in the 21st century, our OSCE partners are looking beyond the present to the medium term. I'd like to go a beyond the Ministerial and put forth our thinking on where the OSCE might focus its limited resources.

We look forward to replicating with the incoming Bulgarian Chairmanship the close cooperation we now have with the Dutch. We believe that Bulgaria will bring unique experience to helping participating states make effective use of the OSCE's potential to promote good governance, rule of law and market-oriented development to promote legitimate business development. We look forward to commenting on the goals of the Bulgarian Chairmanship when they are known in greater detail. In the meantime, I'd like to offer our thoughts on U.S. priorities in 2004.

Political Settlement in Moldova

We are encouraged by the progress being made in talks between Moldova and the leaders of Transnistria on establishing a new federal structure, enabling a united Moldova to turn to the pressing task of economic development. My team here in Washington, Ambassador Minikes and his in Vienna and our embassy and the OSCE Mission in Moldova work hard at trying to forge a solution and will make every effort to achieve the maximum degree of progress toward thawing this 10-year old frozen conflict by the time we meet in Maastricht.

But the hard work to establish a lasting peace will go on long thereafter. It is a great credit to the OSCE, to Dutch leadership and the dedication and perseverance of negotiators, including the OSCE Head of Mission in Moldova, Ambassador Bill Hill, that significant progress has been made. The OSCE has a special responsibility to provide civilian observers and the mandate for a peace stabilization force that would guarantee the terms of any political agreement. Facilitating a settlement would be a major accomplishment for the OSCE, but the OSCE's work in Moldova cannot end there. With a revamped mandate, the OSCE mission needs to play a crucial role in helping a post-settlement Moldova accelerate its modernization and reform process.

Equally important in neighboring Ukraine will be facilitating free and fair elections in 2004 and promoting practical economic work through the OSCE office in Kiev to promote foreign investment and Ukraine's integration into European economic institutions. In Belarus maintaining the OSCE's focus on civil society and development of democratic institutions will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to that country and its people.

Conflicts in the South Caucuses

We are committed to continuing our mediation efforts as a Co-Chair of Minsk Group Process, with Russia and France, to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nargorno-Karabakh.

Similarly, we are committed to a resolution to the South Ossetian separatist conflict in Georgia. The United States has strongly supported, politically and financially, the OSCE's Border Monitoring Operation (BMO), which now monitors the entire border between Georgia and the Russian Federation.

Preventing and Combatting Terrorism

Combating terrorism is another area where the OSCE has enjoyed real success. Through our ongoing commitment of U.S. financial and personnel resources to OSCE's growing and effective Action against-Terrorism Unit, and to many of the OSCE's core activities, including promoting human rights, tolerance, freedom of the media, and the rule of law, we believe we are making progress in helping make societies more resistant to manipulation by extremists. In addition, we are supporting OSCE efforts in the following areas:


  • Police training and other law enforcement enhancement: OSCE is forging new ground with its development of programs to better detect, deter, and prosecute criminal activity and promote a partnership between police and civil society. Newer initiatives on counter-terrorism reflect our increased use of the OSCE's political reach. This is practical help countries, such as those in Central Asia, want. It enables the OSCE to promote respect for human rights within the framework of police training efforts, a model that is working very well in the Balkans.

  • Travel Document and Border Security: As I noted earlier, should all 55 OSCE states agree to adopt the new ICAO biometric standards for passports, as well as enhanced handling and issuance procedures, another important step will have been taken to close doors to terrorists. Furthermore, the OSCE provides an umbrella under which officials within a country and among countries (border authorities, customs, etc.) can talk to one another and better coordinate their own and regional approaches to problems. In working in these directions, we are encouraged by our success last year in getting all OSCE participating states to agree to complete the Financial Action Task Force self assessments on compliance with its Eight Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing.



Importance of Field Missions

We firmly believe that field missions are one of OSCE's greatest resources, setting the organization apart. Field missions represent a solid commitment by the OSCE to work with host governments and civil societies to address their political, economic and security problems. It's hardly a secret that many countries that host OSCE field missions have at times complained that field missions are not responsive enough to host country needs and that they represent a "badge of shame" before the international community. For this reason we initiated in Vienna a broad discussion on field missions. We have been clear that we have certain bottom lines, especially regarding the important role that missions play in fostering democratic institutions and the development of an involved, informed civil society.

The dynamism of field missions is evident, from Bosnia and Tajikistan where missions are deeply engaged on human rights education to the excellent programs on good governance conducted by the OSCE Mission in Yerevan to training of judges and prosecutors in the Balkans. We stand ready to work with host countries to reflect their priorities in the mission mandates, but we are not going to abandon missions. I ask for your help on the Commission to impress upon your parliamentary colleagues from OSCE participating States the need to encourage host countries to make maximum use of their missions to further these states' implementation of their OSCE commitments.

Central Asia and the Caucuses

Central Asia and the Caucasus are regions of vital importance to the United States. Our intense dialogue and cooperation with these states covers all issues, from democratic development, economic reform and common security interests. We fully the support OSCE devoting greater attention and resources to help Central Asian and Caucasus states meet their OSCE commitments as a way toward enhancing their overall security and stability.

The problems facing Central Asia will not be solved overnight, and -- in some cases -- not even soon. Full respect for, and implementation of, human rights commitments requires not just words but deeds, not for the benefit of the international community, but for the real long term interests not just of those societies but for all participating states. I will just touch upon a few concerns. I understand that Assistant Secretary Craner will go into greater detail. In Kyrgyzstan, the government needs to act on the recommendations raised at its recent political forum with civil society, NGOs and political parties. In Turkmenistan, while the Moscow Mechanism has not prompted the type of change we all would like to see, it helped raise awareness about the problems in Turkmenistan and clearly showed President Niyazov that he is under close scrutiny by the international community. A continued intense focus on Turkmenistan will be necessary for some time to come, and we commend the OSCE field mission there for meeting with courageous NGO activists and families of the politically persecuted.

The OSCE's efforts are complicated by the fact that the Central Asian governments are concerned about security matters, specifically spillover from Afghanistan. To advance better our agenda in this operating environment, we are looking for creative ways simultaneously to address Central Asian concerns and our own. As noted, we are doing more with police training and border security. At the same time, we openly tell Central Asians of our concerns about their failures to meet human dimension commitments and promote the role of OSCE field missions in addressing such concerns. Ultimately, respect for human rights and democratization and the availability of economic opportunities are the best guarantees for stability. We are strongly advocating media freedom, notably through the Media Support Center in Kyrgyzstan. As I told Central Asian Ambassadors in Vienna in July, greater media freedom provides a peaceful outlet for opposing viewpoints.

In the Caucasus, free and fair elections that meet OSCE standards will be critical to ongoing democratic and economic development. We will support continued OSCE involvement, through field missions and ODIHR. We are working hard to help Azerbaijan's presidential election meet OSCE standards. We also stand ready to help Georgia implement the electoral reform measures proposed by former Secretary of State James Baker. It is a tribute to the credibility and flexibility of the OSCE that the "Baker Plan" for Georgia envisions a direct OSCE role in selecting the Chairmen of the Georgian Central Elections Commission and regional elections commissions.

Let me here say a word about OSCE's promising new partnership relationship with Afghanistan. Afghanistan became an OSCE Partner for Cooperation in April and has signaled its interest in having an "active" partnership with the OSCE. We support developing such a relationship with Afghanistan. In the short term, Tajikistan has offered to invite Afghan representatives to participate in OSCE border training exercises.

The willingness of the U.S. to channel project funds for Central Asia and the Caucasus through the OSCE demonstrates our commitment to the regions and our interest in using multilateral institutions to promote development of civil society, rule of law, good governance and market-oriented economic development.

Relations with Russia at the OSCE

We envision continuing our good working relations with Russia at the OSCE. We find common purpose on a range of security-related issues, including OSCE counter-terrorism work, though we have differences in approach to some issues. We very much regret that the Russian Federation did not agree to extend the mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya and we support the efforts of the Chairmanship to develop a new OSCE presence in Chechnya. It will be essential, whatever form that presence takes, that OSCE personnel be permitted to carry out meaningful work with the Chechen authorities and non-governmental actors aimed at promoting greater respect for human rights, strengthening civil society and creating conditions that foster economic growth.

Roma and IDPs

We applaud the work of the ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues, Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe, in helping to resolve the stand-off, which stranded 700 Roma for two months on the Greek border with Macedonia. We strongly support practical efforts by the OSCE, in conjunction with other organizations, for the return of Roma, as well as other IDPs in Europe, especially throughout the Balkans and the Caucasus. We believe the OSCE is taking the right approach in involving Roma, themselves, to find solutions.

Promoting Conditions Economic Development

The incoming Bulgarian chair has chosen as its theme for the next Economic Forum: "New Challenges for Building Up Institutional and Human Capacity for Economic Development and Cooperation." The Bulgarians aim to help states develop institutional capacity for business development, as well as to create conditions conducive to domestic and foreign investment. In addition, the OSCE will be looking for ways to help individuals capitalize on the opportunities that the global economy presents.

Balkans

The OSCE has been instrumental in helping Balkan states recover from the ravages of war and instability. Much work remains to bolster the cases of these countries for integration into European and global markets, and for closer cooperation with other European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. As I said earlier, NATO, the EU and OSCE are cooperating well in the Balkans. We see similar productive regional cooperation with our transatlantic partners in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The fact that the EU is considering deployment of a police mission to Macedonia, and has taken control of policing in Bosnia, underlines the need for a continued high level of cooperation with the OSCE. We believe that the OSCE has a key role to play on the following issues:


  • Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo has provided important technical training and expertise for the Kosovar side on how to prepare for negotiations. This dialogue is essential as UNMIK prepares to pass on greater administrative authority to local officials in Kosovo.

  • Facilitating property restitution and minority returns. These are complicated--many elements must be in place to make them possible, such as housing, a legal framework, economic opportunities, safety, and minority rights. Through its field missions, the OSCE has been active in creating an environment to promote sustainable returns, and more recently, changing attitudes about returns through public information campaigns. OSCE Missions also provide advice to governments on drafting proper legislation and amending existing laws to allow for compensation and assistance to displaced persons.

  • Police training and border security, using the Kosovo Police School and the Macedonian police training program as bases, especially in close coordination with EU.

  • Finally, the program being implemented by the OSCE Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina on educational reform deserves greater attention for possible applications elsewhere in the region.


Cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly

We welcome the active engagement of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) on a broad range of matters, especially anti-Semitism and freedom of religion, and its active participation in key OSCE activities, including in OSCE election observation in the upcoming critical polls in Georgia and Azerbaijan. In spite of the vote to seat delegations from the Belarus National Assembly, the OSCE and the PA still have leverage which they must use to get the Belarus government to respect human rights and support democratic civic institutions. Here in Washington and in Vienna we want to coordinate closely with you in the run-up to the winter and summer sessions of 2004 to deliver a strong message to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly about U.S. policies on issues affecting the OSCE and the world.

Conclusions

Thirty years after the beginning of the process that culminated in the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, the OSCE is still largely known for its work in promoting human rights and democratic institution building.

And well it should be. It represents the OSCE's niche in the world of international organizations, particularly with regard to its field work. That work remains central to the OSCE's identity and has indeed been highly successful and a matter of great, and legitimate, pride for the organization. However, the organization also deserves attention for the major role it plays on an array of security issues, from arms control and confidence building measures, to counter-terrorism, border security and police training.

The OSCE has served U.S. interests well in the changing political/security environment in Europe since the end of the Cold War. I think it also serves other countries' interests, too. And that's a thought to keep in mind and to remind our partners of as, in the course of 2004, a new scale of assessment for the OSCE budget is negotiated. The OSCE works for the general benefit of all its participating states. Its values and principles are universal, its record of achievement an example for the world.

We continue to have differences of view with our OSCE partners over some issues. Building consensus on the concrete proposals to help states implement their Helsinki and other OSCE commitments is never easy. But I look forward to continued close cooperation with you on the Commission to maintain the OSCE's effectiveness in promoting democracy and human rights, and its responsiveness to the concerns of its participating states and their citizens.