26 June 2022
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1575 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1567 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities


Russia continues to view the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as one of the backbone organisations in the Euroatlantic region. Its mission is to promote cooperation among all its members to strengthen peace and security.

Today the OSCE is undergoing a long and systemic crisis. Now, almost 20 years after the collapse of the bipolar world, it is yet to determine its new destiny, however, it is struggling to uphold its primary function as a unique platform for discussion of security matters acting on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Many countries still use the Organisation instruments to realize their own goals, often to the prejudice of other partners’ interests.

The OSCE’s inability to prevent military operation in Yugoslavia in 1999 was a manifestation of this crisis, for safeguarding security of its member states is the basis of the Organisation’s mandate. According to the UN Charter and the Helsinki final act, the use of force in international relations is simply unacceptable. Moreover, the principles of the international law were grossly violated on other occasions, like the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo, and in the case of aggression of Georgia against South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers in 2008.

These “malfunctions” are often induced by the fact that the OSCE has failed to become an international Organisation in its own right, until now formally remaining a regional agreement. Its institutional build-up is still in progress, its Charter (a functional basis for every intergovernmental Organisation) is still under discussion.

As a result, the OSCE is slowly but steadily losing its prestige and political appeal in the system of international relations, especially in light of the integration processes in Eurasian and Euro-Atlantic regions, including the growing spheres of influence of such structures as the EU, NATO, CSTO, SCO.

In terms of substance, the OSCE changed their focus from political and military aspects of security (the so called “hard security”), to human rights agenda (the so called “soft security”). Attempts of intrusive democratisation became a trademark feature of the modern OSCE, which, in effect, split its member states into “objects” “subjects” of policies.

The OSCE summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana (1-2 December 2010) offered a chance to revive the Organisation. The high conference adopted the Astana Declaration, which set forth a strategic goal to form a “security community” free from division lines and zones with different levels of security. But almost two years after the Astana forum we, unfortunately, fail to see any progress in this endeavour.

Significant collective efforts must be made to improve the situation. We should begin with raising the culture of dialogue and learning to respect the positions of all political players, and, what is more important, demonstrate political will to adjust the OSCE to modern geopolitical realities.

Russia, together with its CSTO partners, suggested a positive agenda, putting forward quite a few constructive proposals and drafts aimed at raising the effectiveness of the OSCE in different spheres and making it more useful for its member-states. As early as 2007 we elaborated a draft Organisation Charter and invited our partners to optimise our activities and outline NGOs’ part in them; set uniform criteria to be used by the OSCE Office for democratic institutions and human rights (OSCE/ODIHR) for monitoring elections in member countries; introduce more transparency to the process of assigning Observer mission heads; resume work on such forgotten priorities as provision of free movement within the OSCE region/liberation of the visa regimes, detailed discussion of fate of stateless people in Latvia and Estonia and the issue of the neo-Nazi movement in modern Europe.

These and other proposals are yet to be implemented in practice by our CSTO counterparts, though our suggestions are still on the table. 

FM Lavrov on OSCE

Russia, as a member of the "troika" of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs together with the U.S. and France, aims to find a solution that will help to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. If someone wants to draw attention to themselves in public, then, perhaps, you need to talk about convictions, requirements and public scourging. If we want to solve the problem in practice, it is necessary to act with other methods. That is how the United States, France and Russia as co-chairs of the Minsk Group act.

Let me briefly recall the background. In 2007, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group prepared a draft of the Main principles for the conflict settlement. On its basis it was possible to elaborate a peace agreement. In 2007 Armenia expressed willingness to take the draft as a basis, but Azerbaijan did not accept the document. The co-chairs, resulting from the need to find common ground, continued to work in 2009, updating the draft of the Main principles for the conflict settlement and submitted it to the parties. Baku was ready to take it as a basis, but the Armenian side said it would be better to work on the basis of proposals of 2007.

In this situation, Russia in the person of  D.A. Medvedev, the state leader at the time, invited the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to a meeting.  D.A. Medvedev asked the leaders of both countries whether it made sense that Russia, in the framework of common co-chairs, approached (MG) to try to find something in between the proposals of 2007 and 2009. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed.

Around 10 meetings between the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, with participation by American and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, who were always present, were devoted to this issue. In the summer of 2010 at the summit of the "Group of Eight" the presidents of Russia, USA and France issued a statement in which they called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to approve the final version of the compromise document, developed by the Russian side on the basis of contacts with the leaders of both countries. At that time a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan was planned in Kazan. And the presidents of three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group at the meeting in Kazan urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to approve the final version of the document. It seemed to me to be a positive development of events. Unfortunately, the document was not adopted. I think you know why: the parties made the appropriate public statements.

Since then, the co-chairs have not lost heart, but contacts at the highest level have not been foreseen. Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet. The co-chairs offered them a shortened version of the document to eliminate the controversial provision. The work continues.