Tbilisi/Georgia, EaP Civil Society Forum: Is Donald Trump enemy no. 1 for Europe’s freedom?

Donald Trump is Europe’s enemy no. 1 – because he wants to violate art. 5 NATO Treaty on the mutual defense clause and wants the US‘ intervention to be dependent „if the bill has been paid“. A real problem for European NATO states, and no miracle that Putin praised Trump to be a „wise man“. This was no. 1 out of 10 policy theses set up by Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Chief Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (www.eufaj.eu), during an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Tblisi/Georgia end of July 2016, when speaking on „Security Challenges of the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood“. This event was organised jointly by the EaP Civil Society Forum, Brussels (www.eap-csf.eu), represented by its Co-Chair Krzysztof Bobinski, and the Liberal Academy Tbilisi, whose director Lasha Tughashi is also National Coordinator of the EaP CSF National Platform in Georgia. It was opened furthermore by Kakha Gogolashvili, Director of EU Studies at Rondeli Foundation (GFSIS), and Ambassador Janos Herman, head of the EU Delegation in Georgia. Here is what Hans-Jürgen Zahorka expressed:

Challenge no. 2: Erdogan. While it was legitimate to do everything necessary against a military putsch against a democratically elected government, the behaviour of the Turkish president after the putsch attempt shakes the whole region: not only in most of the EaP Caucasus countries there is now uncertainty, incalculability what Turkey wants really. He breaks democracy and human rights in a big NATO state, and his attempts to flirt with Putin are neither credible nor acceptable for NATO. There is a lack of consistency in Turkish NATO membership attitude, and the alliance has somehow to react, as there is a rule that NATO means also democracy, human rights and openness. This is also the fundament of the EU-NATO joint declaration from 8.7.2016.

Challenge no. 3 is nationalism, populism, lack of solidarity between European states- as there are populist and nationalist parties now in every country, and solidarity e.g. in the refugee question is often just not existing. Had the EU Member States found a solution for a proportional (including economic strength) distribution of asylum seekers, there would have been no need for a shaky Turkish refugee agreement. This new egoism is also expressed by the rising number of protectionist acts in the WTO member states, at present 22 per month, and of course by the Brexit of the UK from the EU, which brings a high economic damage – and this mainly to the UK. So the danger comes from within – also in the form of xenophobe, racist, glorifying the own country populist parties (partly financed by Russian institutions!), which are anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-European integration oriented. In short: who want to turn back the wheel, which requires a vivid, attentive civil society in all the EU and EaP member states.

Challenge no. 4: CSDP (EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy) will gain momentum within the EU – in particular if Trump ever would win and the Brexit approaches. Then the Europeans really have to do something. The German Federal Armed Forces White Book from July 2016 is a signal for the right way, in stressing a European integrated defense, but of course also the EU Strategy Paper from a week before.

Challenge no 5: We will get an EU army – but (unfortunately) not today or tomorrow, but after tomorrow. The development will go step by step, taking also in account possible external threats which may accelerate it. Maybe this army will be much more „electronic“ than a traditional army, but there will be EU structures. It can be taken for sure that unlike in former conflicts a „levée en masse“ won’t be neither necessary nor possible, but due to the modern ways of tomorrow’s warfare, electronic warfare, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) etc. will play a more pivotal role then anytime before – also in preventing such conflicts. We have already pooled monetary policy, when national competences don’t do it anymore. We can also pool our armed forces.

Challenge no. 6: hybrid threats. This is now a clear part of the reaction potential under the CSDP, and the EU reaction (and the EU is more able than NATO to respond to hybrid threats!) was started with a Joint Declaration from 6.4.2016. It should be directed against all ‚divide et impera‘ and attempts to destabilize a country. In the EaP, this can be done with a better know-how about the potential of small enterprises. So social unrest can be prevented – and the economy can be brought to thriving mode. In this context, I see an urgent need for informing SMEs about the chapters of the free trade agreements, where signed, to be de facto implemented – and they should be much better known to the economy. Hybrid threats shall also – see proposal no. 18 of the Joint Declaration – be treated together between EaP countries and the EU. There will be common risk assessments, and analyses and action plans of common activities. The EU, however, is asymmetrically concerned by hybrid threats, which imposes the chance for EaP countries to tell their own experiences in some countries of the EU. To meet civil society there should be a new task for the EaP civil society.

Callenge no. 7: Terrorism.. EaP countries are affected differently, but this can change very fast. In this context, a full role of the INTCEN EU Intelligence Centre must be advocated, with compulsory exchange of information. EaP countries can and should take part in this exchange – to the benefit of all.

Challenge no. 8: The EU was not able to prevent frozen conflicts and conflicts in its Neighbourhood. No miracle, as no instruments were available. But for the future, the EU must have a close look on its geographic environment. It is advocated, n this context, to explore the possible deplacement of EU peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh, together with simultaneous EU-monitored negotiations which might last for many years. Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as the directly concerned Karabakhis should and could agree to this – and they would, in view of the alternatives which are not possible for various reasons (Russia, USA, OSCE, NATO).

Challenge no. 9: The EU and the EaP countries should endorse the strengthening of the OSCE – with a binding mediation mechanism, with armed peacekeepers etc. Countries or regional insurgents etc. who do not recognise the legitimacy of the OSCE must be isolated as far as possible, and modern communication can also contribute to keep a distance between these de-facto governments and the populations.

Challenge no. 10: The whole EU and the EaP countries, if possible, should endorse a value-oriented legislation and state-building. Security is more than the absence of war. In this context, the principle of being firm on principles and values of the EU while dialoguing with Russia is right. Borders cannot be changed by force. And the rules as in art. 2 Treaty of the EU can be accepted also by every EaP state, as they represent the common denominator of European civilisation: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, human rights, minority protection, and this in a society of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, ustice, solidarity and gender equality.


See also the three illustrated posts on EUFAJ’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/eufaj


OSCE Peacekeepers for Eastern Ukraine?

The Chief Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, will publish in a few days, in the next issue of EUFAJ (2/2016) this short comment on the question of OSCE peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine. They are – and will be – discussed in OSCE circles, in particular regarding the Minsk II Agreement on Ukraine, and the local elections in Eastern Ukraine. See the whole artcle (and others) in the week after the 9.5.2016 under http://www.eufaj.eu. The author had also contributed to a booklet: Ofelya Sargsyan/Hans-Jürgen Zahorka,  OSCE – Idea, Histoty, Challenges (with documents), with a short overview about the possible future of OSCE (see also http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/flyer-OSCE.pdf)

Should there be peacekeepers stationed in eastern Ukraine? With what kind of mandate, and how long? This question is examined also now in the framework of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), although not (yet?) officially. Russian peacekeepers alone are excluded, EU peacekeepers probably as well, and NATO peacekeepers too. Peacekeepers should be accepted by all the parties of a conflict. Whether this would be the case of OSCE armed personnel might be written in the clouds, but it is good that this possibility has been and will be discussed.

This led to a statement by a spokesperson of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office on alleged plans for armed OSCE mission to eastern Ukraine, on 27 April 2016. Germany is holder of the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship, and issued the following statement in Berlin in response to reports on alleged plans for an armed OSCE mission to eastern Ukraine: „The OSCE monitoring mission currently in place in eastern Ukraine is a civilian, unarmed mission. This was decided by the 57 participating States of the OSCE, and neither Germany nor France are involved in any agreement about changing the civilian nature of the mission – neither within the OSCE nor in the Normandy Format („N4“ – France, Ukraine, Russia, Germany).

It is true that we have, in our capacity as Chair of the OSCE and following consultations within the Normandy format, asked the Secretariat to develop options for improving security at the planned local elections. It is too early to say what the findings will be.

Without wishing to pre‑empt any decision, we can say that we find it difficult at this time to imagine what an armed OSCE mission might look like, that had the objective of effectively ensuring the security of the elections in the separatist areas and enhancing the security of OSCE observers. The OSCE currently has no precedent for an armed mission. On the contrary, being civilian in nature is a particularly important feature of OSCE monitoring missions, which require the consent of conflict parties to operate. When you take the idea of an armed mission to its logical conclusion, it raises a whole range of difficult legal, political, practical and military issues. We plan to arrange another meeting in the Normandy format in the foreseeable future, which will include the foreign ministers. A meeting of this kind would be the right opportunity to raise all the issues relating to the OCSE monitoring missions for discussion among the Normandy partners.“

In the background was a condemnation of threats against OSCE monitors in Ukraine: OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also on 27 April 2016 had expressed concern following the recent increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine and the growing number of incidents involving OSCE monitors. Referring to recent threats against the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, Steinmeier had declared: “The SMM is a civilian, unarmed mission. It is instrumental for supporting the implementation of the ceasefire. The safety and security of SMM monitors must be assured by the sides. Those responsible for threatening or using force against the monitors must be held accountable.”

Maybe the „loud thinking“ about an armed OSCE mission should deter those who are against the OSCE as such („… they want to intervene in our internal affairs“, as declared often by the eastern Ukraine separatists). Indeed OSCE should think about their first armed peacekeepers, and this if only for the duration of local elections. Then OSCE would have found another, additional role – a role which would make sense if peacekeepers in Europe are needed. As mentioned, Russian peacekeepers alone are unthinkable, NATO ones as well, and the EU is not yet so far to deploy an armed force to keep the peace, if they would not be rejected as well, although Ukraine is an Eastern Partnership member state. So rests the OSCE, and in a peacekeeping mission lies a sensible and adequate task. At least it should be demanded, and who is against, this will speak for itself.

It can now be expected that at the next meeting in the Normandy format, with foreign ministers and/or presidents or prime ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, on the 11 May 2016 in Berlin also the issue will be discussed if and if yes, how the security of the local elections should be guaranteed. The date of the elections is not determined yet, but the issues around these elections have to be solved under the Minsk II Agreement. So Ukraine will be on the agenda, including the preparation and security of the elections. As SMM is not armed and a civilian force, and an upgrade of SMM is not likely at all, there may be only a solution in deploying an armed OSCE force to eastern Ukraine. After 11. May we may know more. For if there is a common position within the Normandy format, this will be also the case in the OSCE.

Azerbaijan: OSCE Opens Election Observation Mission For Presidential Election

In this blog there was repeatedly discussed about the Human Rights situation and the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, which is part of the Council of Europe, the Eastern Partnership of the European Union and a European Neighbourhood Policy Country. This is why it cannot be indifferent to European Human Rights observers.

In this context, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has made a press release from today, 29 August 2013, which we publlish hereafter in full length, just to inform others, our blog readers, about the situation:

„The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election observation mission to monitor 
the 9 October presidential election in Azerbaijan. ODIHR was invited by Azerbaijan’s government to observe the elections, in 
line with the country’s commitments as an OSCE participating State.

The mission is headed by Tana de Zulueta and consists of 12 international experts based in Baku and 30 long-term observers to be deployed throughout the country. The experts and observers are drawn from 22 countries.

The mission will assess the presidential election for its compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as with domestic legislation. Observers will closely monitor the candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant governmental bodies, election-related legislation and its implementation, the media environment and the resolution of election-related disputes.

In the course of its observation, the mission will meet with representatives from relevant authorities and political parties, as well as with candidates, and with representatives from civil society, the media and the international community. On election day, observers will monitor the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

A statement of preliminary findings and conclusions will be issued on the day after the election. A final report on the observation of the entire electoral process will be published approximately two months after the completion of the election process.“

Kosovo: satisfaction au Conseil de sécurité (ONU) après l’accord de normalisaton entre Pristina et Belgrade

Ce blog était publié dans http://reseau-multipol.blogspot.fr le 17 juin 2013.

« L’accord du 19 avril représente une réalisation majeure et une étape décisive pour Belgrade et Pristina et devrait contribuer à une solution pacifique des problèmes qui ont longtemps divisé les parties », a ainsi déclaré le Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général (ONU) et Chef de la MINUK, Farid Zarif. Sa mise en œuvre, a-t-il ajouté devant les membres du Conseil, le Premier Ministre de la Serbie, M. Ivica Dačić, et M. Hashim Thaçi, du Kosovo, « nécessitera un travail assidu par les parties et le soutien actif de la communauté internationale ».
M. Zarif présentait au Conseil de sécurité le dernier rapport du Secrétaire général sur les activités menées par la MINUK, dans lequel M. Ban « félicite vivement » les dirigeants politiques à Belgrade et à Pristina, qui, selon lui, « ont fait preuve de la ténacité, de la clairvoyance politique et du leadership nécessaires pour permettre cette authentique avancée ».
M. Zarif a ensuite fourni des précisions sur cet accord en 15 points, qui prévoit la mise en place d’une association/communauté dotée d’un statut et d’un ensemble de compétences, ainsi que l’organisation d’élections locales dans les municipalités du nord du Kosovo en 2013, avec l’aide de l’Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe (OSCE).
De même, chacune des deux parties, a-t-il dit, s’est engagée à ne pas entraver les démarches de l’autre en vue d’intégrer l’Union européenne. Un comité de mise en œuvre comprenant des représentants des deux parties doit être mis sur pied avec l’aide de l’Union européenne.
« C’est le premier accord conclu entre Belgrade et Pristina », a noté M. Dačić, en insistant néanmoins sur la nécessité d’« affiner de nombreux points », comme le statut de l’Église orthodoxe serbe, la protection des sites culturels et religieux et le retour des personnes déplacées.
M. Thaçi a, quant à lui, souligné que cet accord donnait un « élan important » au Conseil pour qu’il envisage l’adoption d’une nouvelle résolution visant à mettre fin au mandat de la MINUK au Kosovo.
Catherine Maia

The Next Azerbaijani Presidential Elections in October 2013 Will Be Closely Observed

The National Council of European Azerbaijanis, a new opposition alliance for democracy, the rule of law and a corruption-free Azerbaijan, has written in an appeal to Catherine Ashton, the responsible for EU Foreign Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission, with a copy to many European Parliament members, to observe closely the Azerbaijani presidential elections in October 2013. These elections will find the strange situation that the incumbent President of this country, Ilham Aliyev, will run again after the Constitution has excluded this originally, but this possibility was created by a „referendum“. Here is the full text:

„With this petition we would like to draw your attention to Azerbaijan, and specifically to the presidential elections that take place in this year in October, considering the situation of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan.

Although Azerbaijan is located in the neighbourhood of the European Union, and cooperates in the „Eastern Partnership Programme“ of the European Union, in the OSCE, and is a member of the Council of Europe, it does not meet the standards of these organizations and experiences serious problems with regard to democracy and human rights.

Shortly after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has been ruled by the Aliyev family. Haydar Aliyev was a powerful high-ranking official of the former Soviet Union and a KGB General. He acquired power in 1993 in a non-legitimate way and later handed over the government to his son, Ilham Aliev.

International observers have confirmed that in Azerbaijan over the last 20 years the elections that took place did not meet international standards – as much in the country’s presidential elections, as in the parliamentary and municipal elections.

The legislation in the country does not allow conducting objective and impartial elections. The election commissions are under the control of the ruling regime, from top to bottom. In this country the opposition has no possibilities for participating in the election campaign. Officials of the opposition parties are being observed, wiretapped, and persecuted, there are strict limits in political campaigns, and independent media are persecuted, all TV channels are under the control of the existing regime, and the country’s prisons are full of political prisoners. In Azerbaijan there is clear evidence that there are death squadrons run by the state, and that parliamentary seats are being attributed after receipt of the purchase price.

Haydar Aliyev’s son Ilham wants to be elected in the presidential position more than the two times that he has obtained (2003 and 2008), as is constitutionally allowed. After the presidential election 2008, a referendum was held for changing the constitution to allow unlimited presidency. After this referendum, the clause in the constitution was removed that limits a person’s eligibility for more than two times as a president. Now Ilham Aliyev has a chance to be elected president until the end of his life. There are serious doubts about the legality of all these changes in the procedure.

We would like the European Union to call on the Azerbaijani government to demand the following:
1) the long-term development and stability in the country, which is a key priority for democracy, stipulating that “a person cannot be elected President more than twice”;
2) to ensure that all conditions are met in October 2013 for a peaceful, free and fair presidential election;
3) that all citizens who wish to participate in the political process, including those living in exile abroad, can participate in the election and can elect also candidates of the opposition parties, in genuine participation and with equal opportunities for all candidates;
4) to guarantee the right of assembly, and other fundamental freedoms, and to ensure that the international organizations of human rights are accredited, and that political prisoners be released immediately.

The election process in Azerbaijan offers for the EU a variety of tools for calling dubious structures into question, ensuring democratic procedures with effective measures, and  sanctions that can be imposed.

In our opinion, it is absolutely necessary to observe closely the electoral process in Azerbaijan, and to organize a sufficiently numerous group of international observers for ensuring a thorough monitoring process.“


OSCE 2013: Welcome Mongolia, and Ukraine: Attention, You Will be Watched

The OSCE is not the easiest organisation, but it has proven to follow a solid policy in the sense of the majority of its member states, i. e. pro Human Rights, democracy, freedom of press etc.

In this context it may be useful if it is pointed out that some weeks ago, the OSCE has a 57th member state – Mongolia. This signalizes a political choice of a country surrounded by states like China, Russia, Kazakhstan. So welcome, Mongolia, and it can be considered a choice of confidence. In my opinion, Mongolia will be a non-problematic member of the OSCE.

Another member state has taken over today the presidency of the 57: Ukraine. This country is more problematic. This has to do with its demands to herself, like joining sooner or later the European Union. Nothing against this at all; enlargement is always the most successful aspect of any EU foreign policy, and welcome to the Ukrainians! But a country close to the EU wanting to join the club is always under closer scrutiny than a country further away.

According to an OSCE press release from today’s 1st January 2013, the country „will seek to make progress on resolving
protracted conflicts, strengthening conventional arms control, combating human trafficking, reducing the environmental impact of energy-related activities, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as OSCE Chair in 2013 the new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, said…“. It is correct when the Minister underlined „his country’s role and experience as a co-mediator and guarantor in the Transdniestrian settlement process and
welcomed the momentum achieved in these talks over the past year. He stressed the need to continue to make progress in this and other protracted conflicts in the region.“ This is correct, and maybe the Ukrainian chairmanship can change something to the positive in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. He should be wished all the best when he says; „We must re-energize negotiations within the existing formats and prevent any escalation in tensions. The resolution of protracted conflicts must remain the highest priority for the OSCE and all participating States”.

This sounds after all very well and is also realistic, together with some other accents on arms control and confidence-building measures, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office stated, as a way of strengthening security and military stability.

But there is another wish to Ukraine, too: Strengthening democracy at home, a correct handling of human rights, of elections (about which some weeks ago the OSCE election observers issued a devastating assessment), of the non-interference in the judiciary – and all this in an evident, uncomplicated, uncontested way. I have often heard the argument that some CIS countries, like Ukraine, cannot achieve within 20 years what other states – e.g. in Western Europe – have achieved since World War II (Germany), since 1789 (France) or since the 13th century (Great Britain with the habeas corpus act). Come on please, information today is global, education too, discussion too, and of course nobody would blame Ukraine for details in this field, but in general today we all live in an era with common goals, to which the preservation of power does not belong. So nobody in Ukraine lives still on the back of the moon.

The European Union Member States have just been witness of an OSCE chairmanship by Kazakhstan, not either the yolk of an egg. But it was good to go there and discuss openly, and perhaps it could contribute to an open-minded and free mass media there in the future (not during and right after te OSCE year of the country). As soon as Ukraine will have a system which is not anymore determined by corruption, by political trials, by full fundamental freedoms, then nobody in the EU will have anything against „the“ agreement EU-Ukraine. This must be taken into account by the Kiev government. The OSCE press release from today says „Emphasizing that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and implementation of existing OSCE commitments in this area remain an important integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security, Leonid
Kozhara said that Ukraine’s Chairmanship would promote fight against human trafficking, support media freedom and encourage meaningful steps in a number of human dimension issues.“ Great what he wants to achieve. But has he the freedom to do so by his own government, apart from human trafficking? There are a lot of doubts, and they are permitted. And if he wants to get rid of FEMEN, the fancy female movement which has brought a new, drastic, colourful demonstration culture to Ukraine (like „Pussy Riots“ to Russia) – then, Minister, it is very easy: Just change a couple of things within Ukraine, and then FEMEN will be obsolete. But at present they are necessary in your country.

Let’s wait until 17. January 2013. Then the Minister will present Ukraine’s priorities to the OSCE Permanent
Council in Vienna. Let’s wait if it will be an apparatchik’s speech, or something which can bring Ukraine closer to the European Union, as its citizens desire it (and please do not forget: The EU cannot be blackmailed with a possible approach to Russia!). What you say, Minister, may upgrade your country as valuable interface to Russia, why not!

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal