Statement of the
“Partnership for Open Society” initiative
We, representatives of non-governmental organizations supporting the “Partnership for Open Society” (Partnership) initiative, are expressing our bewilderment and concern with the joining of Armenia to the Statement adopted on July 3, 2004 in Moscow by the member-states of CIS on the state of affairs in OSCE. We believe that some provisions of this document are contradicting the official position of the Republic of Armenia on an entire range of issues.
Having stood by our principle of refraining from interference into purely political issues, we did not respond to the Statement immediately, expecting that a serious and profound debate would take place at official level, among political parties over the grounds for Armenia’s joining to the document, the validity of this step against broader international context and its possible implications. However, the commentaries that were made were mostly monologues and as a rule, were referring to time-server aspects of the adopted Statement, while the document addressed quite specific issues related to the positioning of the signatory countries in the contemporary international arena and their vision for their own development. Such lack of broad discourse conditioned our decision to draw public attention to certain provisions of the document and stimulate discussions around them. All the more so that they have to do with the processes of democratization, establishment of the rule of law and civil society, stability and development of our region, that is with the values around which the Partnership has been formed.
First of all, it is hard to find rationale for such an explicit appraisal of the OSCE activities: the document says that the “the organization (OSCE)…has not been able to adapt in the current conditions to the requirements of the changing world and ensure an effective solution to the issues of security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic area”. Such utterly negative conclusions have to be based on specific facts and detailed reasoning. Meanwhile, we cannot recall any incidence of an official complaint over the OSCE activities for whatever case related to the issues of “security and cooperation” for the entire period of Armenia’s membership to the OSCE. And then, all of a sudden, there is this harsh statement calling into question the ability of this reputable international organization to fulfill its mission!
Secondly, any state that has undertaken certain official obligations before a community of states shall be prepared to undergo some compliance control by this community regarding its compliance to undersigned commitments. Any reference made by the authors of the Statement to such “fundamental Helsinki principles, such as non-intervention in internal affairs and respect for the sovereignty of nations” in respect to the OSCE is absolutely inappropriate. This organization simply does not possess any mechanisms for making decisions concerning the internal affairs of the member states, but it is fully entitled and even is bound to be informed and inform the whole community of the implementation progress by each country of the fundamental documents it signed, including the Helsinki Final Act (1975), Paris Charter for a New Europe (1990), and the European Security Charter (1999), which are referred to in the Statement.
Thirdly, today the OSCE is the only international organization directly involved in the settlement of the Karabagh conflict and ceasefire monitoring. It is hard to overestimate the significance of this mission of OSCE. Moreover, in the course of the last years the concerned Armenian authorities have often spoken highly of how this mission has been carried out. Thus, it remains unclear what has made them change their opinion on July 3, 2004 and what grounds Armenia has to speak of misbalanced “three dimensions of security” and “shift of priorities towards humanitarian problems”.
Fourthly, it is unlikely that the signatories to the Statement truly fail to understand why the OSCE in general and its Bureau for Democratic Institutes and Human Rights (BDIHR) in particular, focus their attention on the elections of selective “member nations” rather than “throughout the entire area of the Organization”. Unfortunately, Armenia has found itself among those OSCE member states that up until now have been incapable (or reluctant) to develop mechanisms for ensuring exercising of free will of citizens during election process and provide for functioning of a number of other democratic institutes. Naturally, the interest and attention of the world community to the “problematic”, in respect of democracy, member nations is higher than to those that have already demonstrated their adherence to the values of modern civilization. We cannot deny our partners in OSCE and other international organizations the right to know with whom they deal in our name.
It is worthwhile to mention that OSCE member-nations themselves apply to receive observers for their elections. It is only natural that in the present context of little trust towards our internal democratic mechanisms, the BDIHR appraisal of elections remains formative for the international community. The only way to escape this unpleasant situation is to conduct real reforms to raise the image of our election committees and courts of all instances and their rulings. The statements like the one adopted in Moscow, as well as the standing allusions to the “specifics of individual states” work to one end, i.e. fully convince the world that falsification of elections and neglect of human rights make part of our political culture or, as some like to repeat, of “national mentality” of these states, that is that we should be given up on. But how does this reconcile with the goal of Armenia to consolidate within the Council of Europe and even become a member of the European Union?
It goes without saying that any international institute shall “adapt in the current conditions”. However, this is normally achieved through negotiations and discussions rather than collective confrontational demarches without any specific cause. It is clear for us that Armenia does not have grounds to carry on a dialogue with OSCE in a tone of the Moscow Statement, and we regard Armenia’s co-signing the Statement as inadequate to the interests of the country and harmful to its international standing. We hope that the incident will stay isolated and interaction of our country with the OSCE, as well as with other Euro-Atlantic organizations, will be carried out along the lines of democracy strengthening and regional security and cooperation.
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