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OSCE Conflict Management in Central Asia

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Fighting Windmills like Don Quixote

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of NATO and European Security Issues, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany


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