On Feb. 15, 2017, the government of the Czech Republic approved the nomination of Štefan Füle for secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The position is currently held by Lamberto Zannier who recently condemned the increase in violence in East Ukraine last week. He has also been an advocate for infrastructure security from cyber threats. If elected, Füle will continue to address these concerns as well others developing around the world.
The nomination by the Czech Republic of Füle as the next OSCE secretary-general does have some concerned. The OSCE has been one of the more successful organizations in maintaining “West-Russia” communications recently. However, Vit Dostal, an analyst for the Association for International Affairs, has noted that Füle was “blacklisted” by Moscow at one point in time but has since been taken off the list. How Füle’s relationship with Russian will affect the organization’s agenda may be something to monitor.
Among the projects Füle may take part in the coming years are the monitoring of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia and facilitating the training of Kazakh law enforcement. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has persisted since 1988 after Armenia asserted territorial claims over about 20 percent of the Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There is a planned “referendum” set for next week on Feb. 20 of which the content will be is still uncertain.
The Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, Ali Ahmadov, recently commented that “If they [the Armenians] want to hold a ‘referendum’ to please themselves, then let them hold it. Of course, the government and people of Azerbaijan, international organizations, especially those engaged in the conflict’s settlement won’t recognize the ‘referendum’ or its results.” This conflict will continue to require the attention of the of the new secretary-general.
Reflecting the agenda of the current secretary-general, the head of the OSCE’s Economic and Environmental Activities, Andrei Muntean, has been working with, Ulan Baizhanov, the Kazakh General Prosecutor’s Office in training law enforcement officers to “meet society’s expectations . . . according to the highest international standards.” Muntean has applauded “the level of cooperation received from Kazakhstan and highlights the academy’s contribution to the effective use of scientific and education spheres as a tool to solve national and regional issues.”
Perhaps the most pressing issue for Füle will be the conflict in Ukraine. This last week there was an average of more 10,000 ceasefire violations each day. An OSCE monitoring mission in the region said, “Last week was the most violent over the last 13 months…” The European Union has committed $3.2 billion (3 billion euros) to aid in the “balancing” of public finances in its pursuit of “democratic reforms.” There is also the issue of Crimea, but as time passes this problem appears to become more of a separate concern than the ensuing violence in the region.
If elected the next secretary-general of the OSCE, Czech native Štefan Füle will have many opportunities over the next three years to apply his skills as a diplomat. Füle was the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy between 2010 and 2014 and has served as first deputy to the defense minister of the Czech Republic.
By Joel Wickwire
APA: “Referendum” in Occupied Azerbaijan Lands – Another Provocation of Yerevan
Deutsche Welles: Eastern Ukraine Witnessed ‘Most Violent’ Week in Over a Year, Says OSCE
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: Protecting Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Attacks is Crucial for International Peace and Security, Say Participants of OSCE Conference in Vienna
Prague Daily Monitor: Czech Diplomat Füle to Rune for OSCE Head
The Astana Times: OSCE to Help Train Kazakh Law Enforcement Staff Fight Crime
Trend News Agency: OSCE to Monitor Border Area Between Azerbaijan, Armenia
Top and Feature Image Courtesy of Friends of Europe Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
In-Line Image Courtesy of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine’s Page – Creative Commons License