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U.S. Department of State

The President's 35th OSCE Report to the Congress,
April 1, 1996 - March 31, 1997

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Executive Summary and Introduction

Principles for Implementation

Review of Developments in Implementation

Country Reports:

Albania The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Slovak Republic
Armenia Georgia Tajikistan
Azerbaijan Kazakstan Turkmenistan
Belarus Kyrgystan Ukraine
Bosnia-Herzegovina Latvia Uzbekistan
Croatia Moldova [end of list]
Estonia The Russian Federation .


The 35th report to Congress on implementation of commitments contained in the Helsinki Final Act and other documents of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) covers one of the most eventful and propitious years in the OSCE's 21-year history. The Organization successfully took additional steps in its transition from a "conference" to a genuine regional security institution. Its significant successes in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Albania demonstrate the expanding role (and visibility) of the OSCE in the fields of human rights and democracy building, regional conflict management and other issues of European security. At the December 1996 Lisbon Summit, Heads of State and Government decided to enhance OSCE capabilities through the creation of two new high-level positions. Currently the OSCE is working to elaborate mandates for coordinators on economic and on environmental activities, as well as for a representative on freedom of the media.

The OSCE has proven itself to be a remarkably flexible, useful institution as it has evolved following the dissolution of the Cold War. A steady but innovative approach to the new challenges in post-Cold War Europe has allowed the OSCE to play an increasingly important role in the ongoing integration of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union into formerly Western security structures.

In its Summit documents of 1994 and 1996, the OSCE maintained its commitment to leading conflict resolution efforts in a number of the Republics of the former Soviet Union. In Moldova, the OSCE mission assists in mediation efforts to reintegrate the breakaway province of Transdniestria. The level of Russian forces in Moldova has decreased significantly, although complete withdrawal has not been achieved, and large ammunition stocks need either to be removed or destroyed. In Georgia, the OSCE mission performs a similar function with regard to South Ossetia, and has begun assisting the UN in Abkhazia. To bring a lasting political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, the OSCE has offered the skills of many senior diplomats on loan from participating States. U.S., French, and Russian co-chairmanship of the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh has provided new impetus to talks. Although these separate processes have not yet resulted in formal peace accords, cease-fires have endured.

There were significant developments in the Balkans, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the OSCE--working closely with the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR, later Stabilization Force or SFOR), the High Representative, UN agencies, and other international organizations--completed its first year long mandate and renewed its mandate for a second year. OSCE took a leading role in organizing elections, supporting human rights, and overseeing implementation of regional stabilization measures. This intensive focus on Bosnia throughout the reporting period consumed much of the OSCE's resources, but paid a high dividend. In September, national, entity, and cantonal elections were successfully held, although they were marked by scattered irregularities. Nationalist parties won lopsided victories.

OSCE's next main task in Bosnia and Herzogovina is to supervise the municipal elections scheduled for September 13-14. OSCE also has an important role in implementation of confidence-building and arms control agreements negotiated under Dayton between the entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. Implementation of the confidence-building agreement has generally been successful; arms control implementation is still complicated by the problem of large-scale underreporting of its equipment holdings by the Serb entity. OSCE's role in providing inspectors and escorts for on-site inspections has proved essential to the overall success of the inspection regime.

In Croatia, the OSCE will build up its current small mission to a Bosnia-Mission size commensurate with its new tasks, including some monitoring responsibilities in Eastern Slavonia formerly undertaken by the U.N. Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium (UNTAES). The primary focus will be the two-way return of refugees throughout the country, including in Western and Eastern Slavonia and the Krajina.

The timely dispatch to Serbia by the Chair-in-Office of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez was directly responsible for the decision by the Serbian government to recognize opposition victories in key municipalities. Gonzalez also made recommendations for electoral reform and media access during the campaign period that have yet to be implemented. There may be an opportunity for follow-up in connection with Presidential elections, where OSCE could perform a valuable role in monitoring the fairness of the electoral process.

OSCE used the high-profile success of the Gonzalez mission as its model for former Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky's involvement in the Albania crisis, where the collapse of pyramid schemes early in 1997 led to a complete breakdown of civil order. OSCE served as the coordinating framework for the international community's involvement in the crisis and was set to monitor June elections. An OSCE presence will remain in Albania following the elections in order to assist with post-crisis electoral assistance and coordination of programs supporting democratization and the rule of law.

As of this writing, OSCE was still working to gain the assent of Belarus for an OSCE presence in that country to promote democratization following the illegitimate referendum organized by President Lukashenko that resulted in the establishment of a new parliament. While Belarus has said it agrees in principle to an OSCE presence, the modalities of OSCE involvement have yet to be agreed.

The OSCE's on-the-ground mediation efforts in Chechnya played a critical role in helping to bring an end to the conflict there. Those efforts will continue, as will a possible role in economic rehabilitation and human rights monitoring.

Early attention from the OSCE to unrest in Bulgaria helped galvanize the international community's view that only peaceful, constitutional means could be used to address public grievances. The Bulgarian government's agreement to hold early, free and fair elections came in no small part from the OSCE's clearly expressed view that instability in one OSCE State is of concern to all.

The OSCE also has missions to Latvia and Estonia focused mainly on questions related to the integration of the ethnic Russian community. In Latvia, OSCE also monitors the status of Russia's Skrunda radar station pending its final dismantlement.

The High Commissioner for National Minorities is active in dealing with minority problems in these and other countries, including Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary and in Central Asia.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) observed elections in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Albania, Croatia, Russia (Chechnya), and other countries.

The dramatic changes in the European security landscape resulting from the enlargement of the EU and the proposed enlargement of NATO have focused increasing attention on the OSCE's role as a regional security institution. Negotiations are under way to adapt the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Refinements in existing confidence-building regimes are being discussed in the Forum for Security Cooperation.

The OSCE has begun an intense discussion of development of "a common and comprehensive model of European Security for the 21st Century," which includes consideration of its possible culmination in a "Charter for European Security." The main focus is that of giving form to the concept of new cooperative security.

[end executive summary and introduction]

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