OSCE summit ends without agreement on action plan
Member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) failed to agree on a future agenda after marathon negotiations late into Thursday night, instead issuing a declaration recommitting themselves to their founding principles, dpa reported.
While Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of host country Kazakhstan, described the adopted declaration as a "historic success," other leaders pointed out that it fell far short of the concrete "action plan" they had sought to bolster the organization.
Originally established as a Cold War forum for resolving tensions between East and West, the OSCE has struggled to retain its relevance in the face of protracted conflicts in the region and new threats such as terrorism, border security and cyber-crime. A commitment to human rights and democracy are central to the mission of the 56- member organization, which acts on the basis of consensus.
Diplomats had set an ambitious agenda for the summit, the first in 11 years. It included boosting the authority of the OSCE chairmanship; resolving territorial disputes in Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan; and making progress towards ratification of a revised conventional forces treaty.
The drive to reach an agreement of any kind, which threatened to turn the two-day summit in the Kazakh capital Astana into a three-day event, reflected the big stakes for the organization and the strong desire of Kazakhstan to count the high-profile event as a success.
Peter Kent, Canada's minister of state for foreign affairs, said in a statement that "Canada came to the summit expecting more."
The declaration issued by the summit was a much pared-down version of an earlier draft diplomats brought with them to Kazakhstan.
One reason an action plan didn't make it into the final document was because of Washington's insistence on supporting Georgia's position regarding conflicts in the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Osettia, OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut told reporters.
Representatives of the European Union and other member states, in remarks after the declaration's adoption, reiterated their commitment to resolving the Georgian conflicts, as well as others in the post- Soviet Union, through the OSCE.
Some analysts and diplomats had questioned the wisdom of holding the summit at all, saying that member countries were too far apart on their positions going into the meeting. But others argued that the very OSCE's credibility demanded bold action.
"In the last few years, the organization has consistently failed to deliver," Polish ambassador Prezemyslaw Grudzinksi told leaders of the OSCE's member states earlier Thursday.
Perrin de Brichambaut tried to put a positive spin on the summit's modest conclusion, arguing that it is always good when diplomats can come together and discuss difficult issues.
"Please don't underestimate the importance of having this declaration and recommitment," he said.
He also praised the leadership of Kazakhstan, which holds this year's OSCE chairmanship. He said it put the organization in "the limelight like never before."