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OSCE field activities: verbal encouragement, factual cutback

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The OSCE reality reveals an ambiguous picture of the Organization's field activities. There is significant verbal encouragement, but also hesitation about further field engagements and an alarming actual cutback of existing field missions. During the Corfu Process in 2009-10, the participating States shared with each other opinions on these processes in a friendly tone which was as such a positive signal. At the OSCE Summit in Astana in December 2010, the Heads of State or Government of the 56 OSCE participating States collectively emphasized the value of the OSCE field missions. Beyond the declarations however, the picture is quite disappointing, the reduction of OSCE field activities that started about a decade ago continues on. Reasons include the marginalisation of the OSCE in general and emphasis put on other international organisations, fundamental mistrust and divergences between participating States, the perception of OSCE field operations as vehicles for interfering into internal affairs and traditional zones of interest, budgetary constraints of many participating States, shifts of regional interests and the takeover of various activities and responsibilities by the European Union, especially in South-eastern Europe. Apart from this, it is particularly disquieting that the OSCE is clearly about to lose its position as leading conflict manager. The second Kyrgyz crisis in June 2010 demonstrated once again the deep uncertainties in various participating States about OSCE conflict mediation. Aside from diverse brainstorming activities hosted by the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship in 2011, there is currently no fundamental discussion on preventing the Organization's field activities from slowly, but surely losing profile and standing.


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