‘Multilateralism Must Be Efficient.’ OSCE Secretary General at the Valdai Club
Valdai Discussion Club Conference Hall, Bolshaya Tatarskaya 42, Moscow, Russia

On Friday, November 2, the Valdai Discussion Club hosted a meeting with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, dedicated to the future of the European order.

In his speech, Thomas Greminger stressed that the West-East relations have entered difficult times. Now more than ever, there is a high demand for security in the space from Vancouver to Vladivostok. According to him, the world needs a system of rules that will be based on common principles. Such a system already exists, it is based on the Helsinki Act, and we must come to a common understanding of these principles. There is a large deficit in this area, he said.

According to the OSCE Secretary General, the key task is to restore trust between the parties. The establishment of informal dialogue channels between diplomats and the military (according to him, the military of Russia and the West have less contacts than during the Cold war) is important. The dialogue between NATO and Russia, the EU and Russia is virtually non-existent.

The discussion on arms control in Europe is of great importance. Greminger said, that today there is not enough confidence to resume negotiations on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). According to him, this is regrettable because the system we have built for the past two and a half decades is slowly falling apart, and this creates security risks.

Greminger noted that the problems of extremism, illegal drugs and human trafficking, cyber security and migration require common efforts of all participants in global processes. “The main principle is joint work to solve these problems,” the OSCE Secretary General stressed.

Greminger highlighted the role of the OSCE in resolving the crisis in Ukraine, saying that the organization’s mission in that country is a “flagship operation.” The conflict, he said, heavily affects the relations between the East and the West and its resolution is necessary to restore the previous level of trust. However, the opposing sides do not show enough political will to fulfil the political and military provisions of the Minsk agreements. Despite the fact that a serious military escalation was prevented in Donbass, currently there is “a total impasse in the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” he noted.

At the same time, Greminger emphasized that Transnistria could serve as a model for successful peace settlement. The parties there demonstrate political will, confidence-building measures have been proposed, the process is being conducted with the participation of an “interesting set of mediators” – Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE and the EU. According to the OSCE website, in early 2017, the parties selected a “package of eight” priorities, agreements on six of them were reached in November 2017 and in April 2018. As of August 2018, five agreements have been implemented. The agreements reached in the framework of the “package of eight” marked the beginning of the process to determine the special status of Transnistria as a self-governing part of Moldova.

The issues discussed at the meeting also included the possibilities of interaction between various integration associations in the Eurasian space, including the EU and the EAEU. According to the OSCE Secretary General, transport, trade, and disaster clean-up operations can be areas of such interaction.

Supporting the findings of the Valdai Club report on unbalanced Europe, Greminger stressed that multilateralism must be efficient. “We need to understand the points of view and fears of each other, clearly state our intentions, maintain a dialogue and look for a common ground,” he concluded.