Author: Vision & Global Trends – 26/11/2019
We are pleased to announce the issue of a very interesting article by Fabrizio Vielmini about the Osce and EU actions towards Georgian separatist conflicts. The paper – published in the book Armenia, Caucaso e Asia Centrale (Edizioni Ca’ Foscari 2019) – is mainly focused on the Ossetia case.
Abstract Boththe OSCE first and the EU got involved in the management of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflictconsidering it as a testing ground for their capacities to act as security actors and easier to deal with in comparison to the other unresolved confrontations in the in the Post-Soviet area. By this way, they disregarded the root causes of the conflict and then proved unable to deploy the necessary resources to respond to the security expectations of the two sides, especially since the regional geopolitical environment switched from cooperation to confrontation between Russia and an expanding NATO presence. Following the 2008 War, the EU is left as the only mediating player on the ground but is not recognised as such by the SO side supported by Russia while Georgia has thwarted the possibilities of conflict resolution adopting a punitive “Occupied Territories” narrative.
For the OSCE first and the EU subsequently, involvement in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict has been considered a testing ground for the two organisations’ capacities to act as security actors in the Post-Soviet area. In the first decade following the Dagomys/Sochi ceasefire agreement, facilitated by then complementarity of great power interests in the region, the OSCE proved effective in adapting to the existing legal framework of internationalisation of the conflict making the difference in the negotiations for its political solution. Towards the end of the 1990s, the EU joined the OSCE efforts, first as a sponsor of reconstruction and then also as a diplomatic player. However, the EU/OSCE European members approached the South Ossetian conflict perceiving it as easier to resolve in comparison to the other Post-Soviet wars. On the base of this assumption, they disregarded the root causes of the confrontation and refrained from the necessary security engagement on the field. With the change of the larger geopolitical environment surrounding the conflict since 1999 NATO intervention against Yugoslavia and the antagonistic policies pursued by Georgia in the new context, the set was ready for the “unfreezing” of the conflict. In the post-2008 War conditions, given the “new realities” created by Russian recognition of SO independence, the OSCE lost its role of mediator, a function that the EU tried to assume following the deployment of the EUMM monitoring mission. However, from one side, Georgia decided to encapsulate conflict resolution efforts in the punitive framework of an “Occupied Territories” narrative, from the other, sponsored by Russia, South Ossetia adopted a line of self-isolation. Against such a background, given the EU firm support of Georgian positions, with a permanent stress placed upon an impracticable territorial integrity, its efforts of transformation of the conflict are not only bound to remain irrelevant but risk to feed further confrontation. This, especially since the Ukrainian crisis dumped EU-Russian relations into a logic of geopolitical containment of Russian influence in the region, which further turned South Ossetia into a field of contention and a base of Russian power.Against this stalemate, the OSCE potential as a Eurasian negotiation platform remains important.
Summary: 1. Introduction 2. A Short Background of the Georgian-South Ossetian Conflict 3. First Phase of International Involvement: The Conflict as a Key engagement for the OSCE 4. Second Phase of International Involvement: 1999 caesura and the EU Entrance in the Conflict Resolution Field and the “Unfreezing” of the Hostilities 5. Third Phase: the Exit of the OSCE and New EU Role after August 2008 Watershed 7.Conclusions: The Need for a Clear Change in the Western Approach.
Keywords: South Ossetia, De facto States. Post-soviet Conflicts. International Organisations, EU-Russia Relations, Caucasus.
Fabrizio Vielmini, MA
Senior Research Fellow, Center for Policy Research & Outreach
Westminster International University in Tashkent – UZ
Senior Analyst at Vision & Global Trends – International Institute for Global Analyses – Italy