The 4-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016 has shown that a shift in the political and military balance of power between the conflicting parties is not enough to reverse the status quo by military means. The use of force and the threat of war aggravate the conflict’s security dilemma, further consolidating the status quo. As the osce Minsk Group’s mediation efforts remain hostage to the geopolitics behind the conflict, it is the political will of the conflicting parties and their adherence to fair play and mutual compromise that can shift the logic of the conflict’s dynamics into a more constructive course.
Anna Hess Sargsyan
Providing Effective Monitoring for the Ceasefire Regime
Seeking to place the smm within the broader matrix of actors and initiatives involved in Ukraine, the contribution discusses the role of the osce smm in supporting the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The smm has a role in monitoring, reporting and facilitating the implementation of the ceasefire elements in the Minsk Agreements, and interacts with a range of stakeholders across different levels. The contribution discusses some significant challenges and impediments to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and looks at how the smm’s possibilities and limitations to monitor and report on the security related aspects of these Agreements are affected by such constraints.
The paper evaluates the attempt to launch a National Dialogue process in Ukraine backed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (osce) from the perspective of its teleology, design and impact in the context of the aggravating internal divisions, problematic legitimacy of the post-Maidan leadership, Russia actively backing the forces in opposition to the interim government in Kiev and subversive of the integrity of the Ukrainian state, and peaked geopolitical tensions in the broader region. in the run up to the extraordinary presidential election in Ukraine scheduled for 25 May 2014, the osce backed the launching of a National Dialogue to prevent further escalation of the destructive and increasingly violent internal conflict. The efforts aimed at the consolidation of the Ukrainian political elite from across the country, including in the rebellious East and South regions, and across the political spectrum, also involving the party of the fugitive President Yanukovych.
This endeavor, by the osce Swiss Chairmanship, provides insight into the opportunities and limitations of the top-down and elite-based approach to the National Dialogue in Ukraine, particularly in comparison with the local grassroots dialogue initiatives in the divided communities as well as the center-region dialogue formats, on the one hand, and with the extra-national formats of talks involving Ukraine and Russia, on the other. Besides, lack of the strategic sequencing and embeddedness of short-term objectives of the stakeholders to either keep or challenge the political status quo and long-term accommodation of political differences by the reformed political and administrative arrangements and national reconciliation prevented the National Dialogue from gaining the momentum, was prohibitive of its continuity and did not get traction with the population irrespective of the political preferences.
There were objective reasons that prevented proper design and implementation of the dialogue, such as urgency, extreme polarisation and strong pressure on the post-Maidan leadership at the time from opposing constituents that ardently rejected dialogue, a factor that could not be ignored against the backdrop of the upcoming series of elections. However the osce political imperative had prevailed over the professional approach to the design and facilitation of the National Dialogue. In particular, no clear agenda that resonated with the diverse constituencies’ actual needs and grievances was developed, no broad consultations had been held prior to the dialogue, disagreements between the stakeholders regarding the participation were not resolved, and the very design of the events, including media presence, was not conducive of the genuine deliberation and joint search for the mutually acceptable short-term and long-term trajectory of the country.
The Minsk Process for Nagorno-Karabakh has directed unprecedented engagement from key world powers on this decades-old dispute. osce’s first peacemaking effort survived a rocky start, evolving into a functional multi-faceted conflict management instrument. While the envisioned “Minsk Conference” was never held, not one of the myriad peace proposals adopted, no status determination for Nagorno-Karabakh ever made, and no refugees or lands returned, the Minsk Process may still be considered a success. Frequent criticism notwithstanding, it has kept Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a near continuous diplomatic dialogue, restrained large-scale fighting, and belied fears of a significant regional conflagration. That is a noteworthy achievement.
Fighting Windmills like Don Quixote
Conflicts and their management in Central Asia have never been prioritised by the osce although five states of the region are among its participating states. This has been due to that unlike in some other parts of the post-Soviet space most of the conflicts did not threaten with military escalation, and the intensity of strategic rivalry is less noticeable in this distant part of the osce area than closer to the heart of Europe. The fact Russia is not a direct party to the conflicts in Central Asia also reduces the interests of many participating states. There was one high intensity conflict in the region, the Tajik civil war that came too early for the osce. Lower intensity conflicts, ranging from border skirmishes, disputes about access to water, violation of rights of national minority groups, rigged elections are monitored and their resolutions are facilitated by the organisation. Some of them, like the 2010 Kyrgyz-Uzbek conflict had such short shelf-life internationally that no consensus-based inter-governmental organisation could have effectively intervened into it. The osce has been successful in conflict management when the party or parties also wanted to break the stale-mate that the Organization could facilitate. Domestic change in some Central Asian states is essential for advancing the osces cooperative security approach.
Challenges of Third Party Engagement in a Post-Soviet Environment
This article focuses on challenges to peace mediation in the post-Soviet context by looking at the the case study of the Transdniestrian (td) settlement process. It offers a brief overview of the osce led td process and aims to explain why the conflict has failed to “respond” to the osce (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) led mediation efforts. Highlighting key process design shortcomings, the article offers a series of recommendations to practitioners to improve mediation processes in the osce context.