Berlin, 27 August 2018 – Empowering the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, as the primary vehicle for inter-state dialogue on European security issues, and stemming the ‘escalation of distrust’ were two of the central recommendations formulated at the 17th Workshop on Regional Stability in the South Caucasus, conducted last April in the Belarusian capital Minsk. The organisers, the PfP Consortium’s Study Group on Regional Stability in the South Caucasus, championed by the Austrian National Defence Academy and the Austrian Ministry of Defence, and the Berlin-based Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC), have now published comprehensive results and policy recommendations.
The working group, which first gathered in 2002, unites policy and security experts from all states and territories in the South Caucasus. The objective is to stimulate confidence-building and to promote the role and acceptance of multilateral institutions as agents of de-escalation.
As in earlier years, the Minsk workshop left no doubt that any positive direction will depend upon the acceptance, by all regional players, of the fact that their common interest in a functioning security architecture is stronger than existing enmities and rivalries. The 2018 workshop made also clear that security and stability in the South Caucasus are inalienably interwoven with security and stability on a European level. Without a new and generally accepted agreement on European security at large, real stability in the South Caucasus will remain a faint hope.
Beside the strengthened OSCE role, the workshop stressed the need for stronger mitigation of propaganda, demonisation, and negative narratives. Among its official concluding proposals were the creation of a dedicated civil society group from the South Caucasus to analyse vitiating endeavors by international and social media, and the establishment of a post-Soviet expert group – an ‘Eastern table’ – to identify solutions for ongoing conflicts that can integrated within the framework of a new pan-European security model. Solutions should cover different areas: the regional economy; conflict prevention; transnational security threats; and confidence and security-building.
DOC co-founder Peter Schulze, in his concluding keynote address, underlined that since the US has finally abandoned the “idea of unipolarity” and accepted a multipolar world, now is the time to revive dormant platforms for dialogue such as the NATO-Russia Council and the Normandy framework: “We need to challenge the post-Cold War international order, but that can only be done via new and inclusive institutions.”
Please find the policy recommendations here.