OSCE ‘inefficient’ - Lavrov

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe needs reform. The statement came on the second day of the OSCE's summit in Helsinki.

A new structure for the OSCE was one of the main topics on the agenda. Earlier Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, whose country currently holds the rotating OSCE chairmanship, said he was looking forward to discussions on Russia’s proposal to review the Euro-Atlantic security.

Russia’s initiative was based on the argument that NATO alone is not enough to ensure security in Europe. The Russian Foreign Minister reminded the OSCE why it was necessary once again:   

“In the connection with the assault on South Ossetia, our proposal to call a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council to discuss the subject during the peak of the war was unfortunately blocked by one delegation. And we are very sorry for that,” Sergey Lavrov said.  

However, the recent war in South Ossetia overshadowed the topic during the meeting. The OSCE ministers repeatedly spoke of the need for international observers to gain access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but Lavrov pointed out that there were far more important issues on the agenda in the region.

“The Georgian government has already cut off gas supplies to South Ossetia ahead of the winter season. I cannot call this anything other than inhumane. We call on the OSCE to take urgent measures to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

Lavrov also demanded an investigation following media allegations that monitors from the OSCE knew in advance about Georgia's plans to attack South Ossetia in August. Once again he emphasised the organisation’s failure in the case:

“It’s obvious that the OSCE today cannot cope with its main function, which is to provide equal and undivided security for everyone. At the beginning of the 1990s this organisation was even able to stop wars. Now not only is it unable to prevent wars, but it also doesn’t react to the use of unsanctioned and obvious breaches of basic principles of the Helsinki Final Act.”

Greek Foreign Minister and 2009 OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Dora Bakoyannis, said that the question of the new architecture of the organisation will be an important part of the 2009 discussions.

Britain and the U.S. insist Russia should justify the need for a new structure and prove it is better than the existing one. Sergey Lavrov said the Russian proposal for a change in Euro-Atlantic security architecture has already received the support from the majority of OSCE members.

Meanwhile, in an address to the OSCE Foreign Ministers Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations and the OSCE could reconsider their role in the Caucasus following the August crisis in the region.

The Helsinki meeting involved the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

On Thursday, the OSCE discussed other troubled hot-spots in the former Soviet Union and, in particular, urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve their dispute in the Nagorno-Karabakh region peacefully.