“OSCE is very small and effective, though little visible”
The OSCE has not rejected the idea of creating a new security system in Europe proposed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but Vienna doubts that Europe would need a legally binding treaty to create a new security system as such. Instead, said Herbert Salber, Europe is preparing to change the understanding of how to use the already existing instruments. Regardless, the draft will be discussed, Salber said, but it would mean creating a framework parallel to the OSCE so that Russia would have to make “more concrete proposals.”
The question of US plans to deploy missile defense systems in Eastern Europe is due to be discussed between Russia and America, because “OSCE has no position on that but OSCE can be a forum for both of them together with their allies to discuss the issue since not only Russia and the US have views on that, but also NATO might have a view on that, so it is up to them to discuss this single aspect of European security.”
According to Salber, a common European security system cannot replace NATO now.
Italy’s suggestion to create a joint European army is also unrealistic at the moment.
Herbert Salber renounced allegations that the OSCE has been ineffective and bureaucratic, saying there are only about 300 persons working for the organization’s secretariat in Vienna, and its most successful structures are so-called “field operations” that work in the Balkans, North Caucasus and Central Asia, which carry out multiple projects.
Salber said that even in Kosovo, where 700 OSCE employees are working mainly in municipalities, the OSCE assists when it comes to “ethnic difficulties and conflicts” and protection of cultural heritage – though its work remains invisible.
Still, their efforts are “a major contribution to peaceful co-existence of people and groups in Kosovo,” said Herbert Salber, adding that “we can safely say that this work over the years probably contributes to a rather smooth development in this area.”
The OSCE tries to prevent conflicts, but “it is really much more difficult when there is a political will of states or groups to go for conflict.”
During the clash between Georgia and South Ossetia in August 2008, the OSCE, chaired by Finland at the time, was rather active, but if “in 90% of the cases we are successful, there are also such cases in which after all the final result of peace is not achieved.”
Herbert Salber expressed confidence that the question of Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO is not on the agenda of the alliance.
He also said that ex-Soviet republics of South Eastern Europe have a clear perspective of joining the EU one day, which is not imminent at the moment. However, “in South Eastern Europe, there is no question of balance.”