January 21, 2013

The Ukrainian Method of “Defrosting”

Regarding a Possible Role of Ukraine as Head of the OSCE in Regulation of “Frozen” Conflicts at the Post-Soviet Territories

One of the main tasks of Ukraine within the framework of its heading the OSCE in 2013 is favoring the regulation of “frozen” conflicts at the territory of ex-USSR. Reaching this goal is a considerable problem, as the mentioned above conflicts have remained unsolved for already 20 years... 

 The reasons for this are both, objective and subjective and are connected with many inner and outer factors. Despite their different forms, development and participants, all the “frozen” conflicts at the post-Soviet territories have a common feature - they all had been provoked by Soviet special services on the basis of existing and made up contradictions in conflictive regions in order to keep ex-Soviet republics under Moscow’s control.

At the present moment, the mentioned above practice is widely used by Russia, which supports separatist regimes in Trans-Dniester, Abkhazia, Southern Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh. On the one hand, this secures the survival of self-declared republics at the territories of Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan, on the other hand it de facto makes impossible regulation of the conflict situations via restoring the territorial wholeness of the mentioned above countries. At the same time Russia preserves abilities for preservation of its military presence at the territory of post- Soviet countries.

Besides, a sufficient problem causing factor in solving “frozen” conflicts in ex-Soviet countries if personal positions of the leaders of the separatist regimes and their surroundings, who by no means wish to give up their power at the controlled by them territories.

As the matter of fact, the mentioned above situations create actually unremovable obstacles in the way of regulation of Trans-Dniester, Georgia-Abkhazia, Georgia-Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh’s problems, as the course of narrations around these questions has testified.  

All this demands seeking more adequate to the situation approaches to securing stability at the territory of the former USSR. In particular, one of such approaches was presented by the EU and approved of by the OSCE, and suggests realization of common economic and humanitarian projects by the sides of conflicts, as the basis for strengthening mutual trusting and achieving compromises between  them.

In particular, at the present moment the mentioned above approach is being used in Moldova within the framework of Kishinev and Tiraspol (with the financial support from the EU and USA) starting a number of common programs, aiming at organization of the direct transport connection through the territory of the region, restoration of the telephone communication, improving trade, etc.

Before 2008 similar relations had been between Georgia and Southern Ossetia in the aspect of Tbilisi’s giving  large scale financial-economic help to the population of the self-declared republic (by using the USA and EU’s money) and realization of a number of humanitarian projects at its territory (building hospitals, schools and shopping centres included). The mentioned above Georgia’s actions had actually created preconditions for Southern Ossetia reintegration into Georgia. But separatists’ provocations (with the support from Russia’s side) led to an armed conflict in the region and Russia’s intervention into it.

In 2010-2011 an economic factor was used by Turkey in order to influence Armenia’s position on the Nagorny Karabakh questions. In particular, Ankara offered Yerevan to open the Turkey-Armenia border for people and goods if Armenia agrees to the realization of “Madrid Principles of the OSCE “ for solving the Nagorny Karabakh conflict (at the first stage Armenia was supposed to return 5 occupied Azerbaijan districts around Nagorny Karabakh to Azerbaijan). Sadly, the political situation in Armenia, as well as Russia’s hidden pressure on it, did not allow to realize this project.

Despite all these problems, the objective economic interests of Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as of self-declared republics, allow Ukraine to put the economy factor into the basis of Ukrainian initiatives concerning regulation of “frozen” conflicts at the post-Soviet territories.

Trans-Dniester region
Trans-Dniester region.
Source http://kievskaya.com.ua/mir/sobytiya/kishinev-i-tiraspol-poprobuyut-uregulirovat-pridnestrovskiy-konflikt.html

On the Moldavian direction - quite reasonable looks realization of the idea of uniting the efforts of Moldova, Trans-Dniester and Odesa region of Ukraine within the framework of a common economic space. At the basis of this zone there can be created a transport-transit centre,  including sea and air ports, as well as railroads and motorways, which will bring together the Black Sea region, South-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe. Creation of an area of free trade between Ukraine, Trans-Dniester and Moldova (with special preferential regimes for joint Moldova- Trans-Dniester enterprises) is also possible. Realization of the mentioned above initiatives will favor the economic development of both, Trans-Dniester and Moldova, which will be a stimulating factor of economic integration of the sides. Besides, taking into consideration the prospects of Ukraine and Moldova’s signing the agreements on association with the EU and creation of areas of free trade, the mentioned above approach will help European integration of Ukraine, Moldova and Trans-Dniester.

Southern Ossetia
Southern Ossetia.
Source http://obozrevatel.com/news/2008/8/8/252840.htm

On the Georgian direction - Ukraine should support the initiatives of the new government of Georgia headed by the country’s Prime Minister B. Ivanishvili, concerning giving up the confrontation with Russia and self-declared republics at the territory of Georgia and starting the economic cooperation with them. In particular, in this context mutual interests of the sides include restoration of Georgian goods’ access to Russia, involving Russian investments into the development of Georgia’s economy, simplifying and widening of the scale of borderland trade between neighboring districts of Georgia and Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. In this aspect Ukraine can become a go-between at the talks between Georgia and Russia, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, as well as to offer to conduct them at the Ukrainian territory.

Besides, restoration of the railway communication between Russia and Georgia through the territory of Abkhazia, as well as reanimation of the plans of creation of so called “Southern Transport Corridor” from the Northern Caucasus of the RF via Northern Ossetia to the Black Sea ports of Georgia, will be also very important. But, realization of these projects is being made complicated by Georgia’s position, which continues to link them to Russia’s leaving the occupied Georgian territories.

Nagorny Karabakh
Nagorny Karabakh.
 Source http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/5032508/post232849864/

On the Nagorny Karabakh direction - Ukraine has to address Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the initiative of returning to the variant of opening Turkey-Armenian border in exchange for Armenia’s leaving the occupied Azerbaijan’s districts. With the realization of this idea there also can be connected prospects of starting talks (through the mediation of the OSCE group and Ukraine included) on the revival of some forms of the economic (and in the first turn, energy) cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh. In this aspect Ukraine can count on the support of the EU, which is paying greater attention to the development of the situation in the Northern Caucasus, and demonstrates its being interested in the development of relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia within the framework of the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” program. As a matter of fact, absence of other alternatives for ensuring security and economic development of Armenia, finds better understanding among the moderate in their views part of the Armenian population.

Source http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Europe_location_GUAM.png

Advancing Ukrainian initiatives in the mentioned directions can be done by our country through the mechanisms of the OSCE or within the framework of the GUAM group, members of which are Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Currently this possibility has been supported by Azerbaijan.

Of course, due to the existing problems, Ukraine’s initiating the mentioned above questions and their realization will not allow to ensure fast solving the “frozen” conflicts at the territory of the ex-USSR. But the mentioned approaches can create a positive ground for realization of common   economic interests of the conflicting sides and thus, can help increasing mutual trusting. In its turn, this will help increasing stability in the conflicting regions and can become a basis for further political compromises.

All the mentioned above is very important for Ukraine, which will be able to demonstrate its readiness and being able to lead active and effective policy within the framework of its being at head of the OSCE, and to achieve positive results in the process of regulation of “frozen” conflicts, which will help increase Ukraine’s international image and its authority in Europe.