Will OSCE Baku Group solve Ukrainian crisis?

By: Nazrin Gadimova

Committees do not solve crises unless there is the will of the parties concerned. Do Russia and Ukraine have the required will to end this crisis? That remains questionable as the two sides remain engaged in a war of words.

OSCE has taken an initiative to act as a bridge to connect Moscow and Kiev in this difficult conflict, that resulted in the division of Ukraine. The war that has pitted Ukrainians against each other will prove to be a mission impossible for the OSCE.

OSCE Baku Group was created to resolve the Ukrainian crisis during the 23rd Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, held in Baku on June 28 – July 2.

Addressing the event, OSCE PA President Ranko Krivokapić said discussion of this issue began at the Vienna meeting of Ukrainian and Russian parliamentarians, held in April, 2014.

“Vienna Group, established there, has made some progress,” Krivokapić said. “But for the purpose of further progress, we have created the Baku Group. Unlike Vienna Group, other countries will also be included in this group. It will carry out the necessary work in connection with the solution of the crisis and the resumption of peace talks.”

He also noted that one should react to events in Ukraine objectively to prevent a catastrophe.

The OSCE initiative was met with skepticism as many parliamentarians were quite pessimistic of the group’s abilities pointing to the previous unsuccessful experience of the organization’s Minsk Group which was involved in the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for over 20 years.

Head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the OSCE PA Bahar Muradova said she hoped that Baku Group for inter-parliamentary dialogue not to follow the OSCE Minsk Group and bring concrete results.

Muradova stressed that the international community and international organizations, in particular the OSCE, did not respond properly to the violation of the Helsinki principles in conflict zones, and as a result, the world is facing new conflicts.

“Azerbaijan recognizes the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We hope that the day will come when we will put signature on a document that will lead to lasting peace. Ukrainian and Russian peoples are fraternal and should not become enemies,” she said, adding that she hopes that this group will bring concrete results.

Further criticism came from Azerbaijani political scientist and former diplomat Fikrat Sadikhov who said, “as practice shows such groups do not achieve their goals mainly due to their divergent political interests.”

“The fact that such a group was created in Baku gives some hope,” Sadikhov said. “Maybe, this group will work harder to be more productive than the OSCE Minsk Group.”

“The OSCE Minsk Group did not meet expectations of the Azerbaijani people and in fact, the problem has not been resolved yet. Time will show whether this contact group could find approaches needed for convergence, and advance some constructive suggestions or not. It is too premature to say something concrete,” he said.

The organization tasked with promoting security and cooperation in Europe, could be a useful tool in solving conflicts in its area of operation, given it influence, power – both politically and economically – and the scope of coverage. Absence of necessary mechanisms makes it really ineffective.

The shortcomings of the Minsk Group come as no great surprise given its inability, as MP Azay Guliyev, Chairman of the Council of State Support to NGOs under the President of Azerbaijan, stated “to find effective mechanisms for the enforcement of decisions has long been a subject of discussion.”

There is a serious need for dialogue, said Guliyev, between parliamentarians, international organizations and states.

“We need to broaden the dialogue on many issues. Therefore, I believe that the OSCE PA should be ready to discuss any issue with the governments in future,” he said.

Ukraine is divided between a largely Russian-speaking population in the industrial east and Ukrainian-speaking in the west, where more pro-European Union views prevail. Moscow says Russian-speakers face threats from the Ukrainian nationalist militants, an accusation Kiev denies.

Western countries blame Russia for the unstable situation in Ukraine and threaten to impose economic sanctions on the country.

In Moscow President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia will defend Russian people everywhere.