17:55 GMT +322 May 2019
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    The OSCE's unhappy anniversary

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Vladimir Simonov.) On August 1, 1975, in Helsinki, the Soviet Union, the United States, Canada and 32 European countries signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

    Throughout the 1990s, the new Russia tried hard to make the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - as the CSCE was renamed in 1995 - a basis of the European political system. But this idea ran into strong resistance from NATO and the European Union. Moscow is especially disappointed by the thematic distortion of the OSCE's activities: out of its three core fields, the OSCE focuses only on humanitarian issues, while the economic sphere and military-technical cooperation, including the fight against terrorism, are left to stagnate.

    Russia does not agree with this. If the OSCE does not want to lose its identity and find itself with nothing to do, it should carry out reforms, first of all restoring the balance between the three fields, Moscow warns.

    Over time, the OSCE moved away from its goals and became a tool serving the interests of a small group of its members, or even individual states. In fact, the current OSCE has degraded to a taskmaster monitoring the political situation in some countries that are not members of the EU or NATO. Its forums are dominated by arbitrary division of its members into "safe" and "unsafe". As a result, the OSCE is increasingly often used as a platform for some states to preach endlessly to others.

    Moreover, OSCE experts also embrace double standards when they assess human rights situations, the quality of an election campaign, or the degree of freedom in national mass media. If elections in Ukraine or Chechnya are at issue, OSCE observers are inclined to paint them black. But if these are elections in Afghanistan, Kosovo or Iraq, where hundreds of thousands were deprived of the right to express their will, the very same observers applaud the "triumph of democracy".

    In another staggering example, for several years OSCE experts have been silent about blatant violations of the rights of Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia. Europe should be flushed with embarrassment at this real apartheid taking place in its center. Over 700,000 people residing in Latvia and Estonia hold passports of another color that sentence them to the humiliating status of a non-citizen. Lawyers from human rights organizations have found 62 differences between the rights of citizens and Russian-speaking outcasts in Latvia, and 46 in Estonia.

    The way in which these two new EU members act has nothing in common with the democratic principles interpreted in the Helsinki Final Act, whose 30th anniversary is being celebrated at the moment. Despite numerous Russian efforts to draw attention to this deplorable situation, the OSCE keeps silent, and this silence is seen as consent with the flagrant violations of common European standards in Riga and Tallinn.

    Distortion of the human rights process is inherently contradictory with the very goals the OSCE was designed to pursue: The creation of an indivisible common European security space with the same democratic principles applying to everyone.

    This is why Moscow insists on comprehensive reform to optimize the work of OSCE institutions and its Secretariat. In February, the incumbent OSCE president, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, visited Russia, which helped both parties to better understand the necessary parameters of this reform.

    Some people may think that Russia is simply irritated by the Organization's disagreements with its assessments of the processes in the former Soviet republics. In reality, the motives Moscow is guided by are deeper and more serious. It does not want the OSCE to forget about its original mission of uniting Europe. The OSCE's mandate is much broader than the unilateral services it is forced to deliver today.

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