The Caucasus Imperative

YEREVAN – Summit season is upon us. Following the G-20 meetings in Seoul and the NATO summit in Portugal, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold its first summit in 10 years in Astana, Kazakhstan’s spanking new capital city.

This is only the fourth post-Cold War summit convened by the OSCE. The first was held in 1994 in Budapest, the year the group transformed itself into a new, post-détente organization. There were two more, in Lisbon in 1996 and in Istanbul in 1999.

Not coincidentally, the ten-year gap between summits overlaps with Russia’s re-emergence as a global player, following the trauma of the Soviet Union’s collapse. As a result of Russia’s revival, a range of disagreements has arisen within the OSCE – the only pan-European and trans-Atlantic organization that includes old Europe and the post-Soviet states.

On challenges ranging from election monitoring to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, there is no common ground among the 56 member states. Worse, there is serious acrimony between Russia and the rest on many matters, including a new, alternative security architecture, which Russian President Dmitri Medvedev imagines could be placed under the OSCE’s umbrella.