The current OSCE President, namely the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has outlined his activity in the largest security structure in the world, with 57 Member States which – also and especially thanks to OSCE – try to prevent their internal conflicts.
From Japan to New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, the OSCE network allows a range of operations never experienced before by a network for collective security.
Furthermore, these are crucial areas for the future development of the globe, not only at economic level.
The latest action, but certainly not the least relevant, is the 2017 Business Conference for “green” and telecommunication technologies, which will be held in Vienna on January 25 next.
This is a good example of the activities carried out by OSCE, an international security and stability structure which – in a context that is already shaping – could replace or otherwise improve the work of other collective security organizations.
In a recent interview, Minister Steinmeier has also noted that, under his yearly presidency, OSCE has organized as many as 300 major events in Vienna, Berlin and in the whole region of the Organization.
From Ukraine to Turkmenistan and Armenia, ODIHR – hence OSCE – has endeavoured to monitor the proper organization and development of many legislative and local elections and will do so also in the near future: in February, elections will be held in Liechtenstein and, on February 12, in Turkmenistan; on March 15, elections will be held in the Netherlands; in April 2017, presidential elections are scheduled in France and, on April 2, elections will be held also in Armenia. Furthermore, in May and June OSCE will also carry out electoral observation activities in Serbia and Mongolia.
These are all highly sensitive areas where certifying the regularity of the electoral process is key to the international political legitimacy – and hence also to the economic and financial one – of those new governments.
While, initially, the issue may make a cynical reader of Hobbes or Machiavelli smile, think of what would happen if all these elections were devoid of international legitimacy and certification.
There would be the blocking of international funding, destabilizations carried out by various international actors, the “sword jihad” and the economic disruption of those countries, also as a result of migration.
Hence, if Trump’s new US Presidency has not NATO as a guiding star – an organization that the US President-elect believes, and not entirely wrongly, to be obsolete – or if the EU is a “general partnership” for the individual EU Member States’ interests, only OSCE – which, in 2018, will be led by the Italian Presidency – will be in a position to convey and meet – in a credible way – the demands for collective security that cannot be disregarded.
It is also worth recalling that next June general elections will be held in France and, on June 18, elections are also scheduled in Albania.
On June 26, presidential elections will take place in Iceland, a country of which only those who know the full complexion of NATO’s network can understand.
We do not know yet when general elections will be held in Germany, while next September parliamentary elections are scheduled in Norway.
No matter whether they are democratic countries – they are essential countries for global balance.
In 2017 important elections will be held in Slovenia and Bulgaria even though, once again, we do not know yet the precise dates. In 2017 also the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will hold its municipal elections, which are crucial in political terms.
Finally, in October 2017, presidential elections are due in Kyrgyzstan and parliamentary ones in the Czech Republic.
These are only the OSCE electoral observation activities and its list only can make us understand their importance.
Hence, during the 2018 Presidency – granted to Italy unanimously – we shall monitor the efficacy of the electoral process in Ukraine – not only with specific reference to elections, but also in relation to the extremely complex issue of intercontinental migration and the relationship with South Mediterranean countries.
Hence the decisive lines of Italy’s foreign policy and the essential issues for the structure and future of European countries and many of the other 57 OSCE Member States.
Everything will be decided between 2017 and 2018, during the OSCE Italian Presidency.
An issue by which the 2018 Italian Presidency will certainly set great store is the solution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
As we may recall, the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia led to the Armenian occupation of approximately 20% of the Azerbaijani territory and military operations ended with the bilateral agreement reached in Bishkek in 1994.
Heaven knows to what extent this agreement is desired by Russia, which does not want backyard wars on its borders.
All international resolutions, namely Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, as well as the others adopted by the UN General Assembly itself, and the other adopted by OSCE in January 2017, call for the unilateral withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani territory.
This is an interesting aspect also at strategic level: how can OSCE make its decisions and the many talks held credible?
As we have seen repeatedly, the UN “Blue Helmets” are not effective.
They freeze the clash until they are on the field, but later everything returns inevitably to the way it was.
Hence, during the Italian Presidency, it would be useful for OSCE – in a collective security framework – to equip itself with an effective system to control decisions on the field.
A purely military system is not needed, a network of “sensors” on the ground would be enough. These sensors could signal to the other traditional military structures – ranging from NATO to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, up to individual countries such as Turkey and Russia – the need to assess, control and prevent undesired or marginal clashes in the new Eurasian framework.
Hence the large alliances born on the basis of the Cold War are obsolete.
NATO is obsolete and will not be taken seriously by Donald Trump’s new US Republican Presidency.
The new US President does not want useless entities standing in his way: if he wants a global agreement with the Russian Federation – and certainly so – he will reach it without, and possibly against, the Atlantic Alliance itself.
It is worth noting that the issue does not only lie in the American money spent on European security while the EU and NATO countries’ governments, in fact, earn a “peace dividend” for which they have not paid a penny.
As we will soon see with the new US President, this is not the only problem.
The issue is much broader. As Lord Ismay used to say, NATO was established to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down”.
Today the Atlantic strategic equation is completely different.
If anything, the issue would lie in keeping the Germans in, the Russians close, but the Americans still in.
Hence, why should the United States pay for almost all the NATO inefficient apparatus if they can deal with Russia on an equal footing and with excellent starting conditions?
Indeed, Russia has no interest in keeping the United States out of the regions in which it operates and is currently winning its game.
In Syria, in Central Asia, in the new regional wars which are taking shape in the Middle East, Russia wants to make the United States count – after Barack Obama’s actions without any strategic and logical sense, torn between naïve and disastrous, but merely ideological, “democratic” interventionism and political irrelevance in other equally important regions.
Russia does not want to bear the whole burden of its international operations, which – indeed – have pulled many chestnuts out of the fire and hooked the United States off a tight corner.
In all likelihood, a great peace conference will be held in the Middle East, or, in any case, there will be a network of bilateral and trilateral relations which will redesign the new balance of power.
Russia will certainly be the final arbiter, after its victory in Syria, the agreements with Israel and the stabilization of the Shiite system and the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.
Not to mention Russia’s invitation extended to Saudi Arabia to participate in the upcoming negotiations on the Syrian peace and the offer it made to the Arab Emirates to the same end.
What will OSCE do in this regard, since it will certainly be invited – and not only to monitor future elections?
Will the Italian Presidency come up with new ideas and a new perception of regional equilibria, capable of providing original and safe solutions?
Again within OSCE, could we try to ensure the management of migrant flows, as many European and Italian leaders are calling for?
It would certainly be good if the Italian Presidency made the Russian Federation and China, for example, enter OSCE.
Turkey is already a member and it should be made active precisely in the framework of our collective security action, both as regards migrants, who cannot be a way to blackmail Germany only with EU money, and as regards the redesign of the arrival lines and, above all, the selection of migrants from the Middle East.
Again within OSCE and in the framework of the Italian Presidency in 2018, the issue will lie in integrating the Maghreb countries – at least those not destabilized forever by the silly madness of the “Arab Springs” – into a collective security project for migrants and Mediterranean stability.
If, as is likely, the Russian Federation will be present – with two bases in Libya – in the territories controlled by Khalifa Haftar and the Tobruk government – while we and the other “humanitarian operators” are still tinkering with Fajez al-Serraj’s Tripoli government – the 2018 Italian Presidency shall settle the Libyan issue with an international conference and with national armies integrated within the OSCE framework, again with China and Russia.
We must remove from our collective security organization that air of association of “Northern countries of the world”, as the incomparable Willi Brandt called them.
Hence we shall open to the Maghreb region and to the countries stabilized in that area despite the madness of the Arab springs, but above all let Russia and China enter the OSCE framework.
If Italy succeeds in this endeavour, it will have a chance to replace two declining organizations which are about to be dismantled, namely NATO and the EU, with a new broad and credible collective security network.
If we remain linked to the “old thinking” and we are afraid of our own shadows, every effort will be vain and Italy shall move to a phase for which it is totally unprepared: a nationalized and autonomous foreign and defence policy.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France