After the end of the socialist system in Europe, following the dissolution of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, new sovereign states with new borders appeared on the map of Europe. In the context of the current geopolitical realities, participating nations of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) need to come to the negotiating table to revise the Helsinki Accords to reach a mutually acceptable understanding of the previous frameworks and discuss their possible modification. Panelists in this session will offer their perspectives on the role that may be played by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly – and by the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) – in this undertaking.
Moderator: Dr. Vladimir Petrovskiy, Chief Academic Researcher, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Dr. Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General, Council of Europe (1999-2004)
Dr. Alexander Dubowy, Researcher, Austrian National Defense Academy, Austria
Ms. Dalila Khorava, President, Georgia for Refugees, Georgia
Hon. Viktor Ielensky, Member of Parliament, Ukraine
Dr. Leo Gabriel, Journalist and Anthropologist, Austria
The third panel (Panel C) addressed the theme of a “New Dialogue between Europe and Eurasia”. The panelists discussed the potential revision of the Helsinki Accords, which established new borders in Europe following the dissolution of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, taking into account the new geopolitical realities in the region. The panel brought together distinguished scholars and political leaders from Russia, the Ukraine, Georgia and Austria. The academic and political experience of the speakers attracted many participants coming from regions concerned by this sensitive issue.
As the session moderator, Dr. Vladimir Petrovskiy, Chief Academic Researcher, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia, noted that the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 triggered a process which might go on and on for a long time. Formally, these developments go beyond the frames accepted for the standard nation-states, which ignore the rights and interests of those who fail to fit for objective historical reasons. It has become clear that Russia and Ukraine are still building up their nations and national states.
He further noted that the principles of territorial integrity and of the inviolability of frontiers, manifested by the Helsinki Act, referred to the system of bipolar confrontation which existed at that time. After the process of destruction of the socialist system, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization and the Council of Economic Mutual Aid, etc., which started in 1989, and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia, new sovereign states with new borders appeared on the map of Europe.
Dr. Walther Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe (1999-2004), Austria, agreed that the Helsinki Act should be revised, in view of the current geopolitical realities. The conflict situation around the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine, to his mind, is the focal point for any effort to ease the current tension. Dr. Schwimmer suggested that the European Union should play a central role in any dialogue between Russia, Europe and Ukraine.
In his turn, Dr. Alexander Dubowy, Coordinator, Centre for Eurasian Studies, University of Vienna, Austria, suggested that a ‘Helsinki-2’ accord is needed, not only to deal with the Ukrainian crisis, but also to address the other conflict and crisis situations, which have emerged in the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union (Nagorny Karabakh, Trans-Nistiria, the Baltic States, etc.). In this context, he stressed that Russia’s national security interests should be legitimately considered.
Hon. Dalila Khorava, Member, Government of Abkhazia in exile (Georgia), pointed to the necessity of ‘Helsinki-2’ to restore the humanitarian ties between the peoples and ethnic groups of the former Soviet Union, which, to her mind, would help to restore mutual confidence and assist in the conflict resolution efforts.
However, Hon. Viktor Ielensky, Member of Parliament, Ukraine, refused to consider ‘Helsinki-2’ as a framework for the overall discussion across the whole range of issues which emerged in Europe and Eurasia after the collapse of the bipolar international system. He limited his arguments to the necessity of confronting ‘Russian aggression against Ukraine’, which, to his mind, makes any type of broad and free discussion of the situation in Europe and Eurasia ‘untimely’.
Dr. Leo Gabriel, (Vienna, Austria), a social anthropologist and journalist, UPF Ambassador for Peace, and a Member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, made the point that the situation in Ukraine (which is essential, but not the only issue to be addressed in the region), resembles more an internal, rather than an international conflict. The key point is to involve the civil society institutions on the both sides of the conflict to restore people-to-people friendship and traditional ties.
Finally, the majority of the participants in the session agreed that, to normalize the situation around Ukraine, and to restore normal relations between Russia and the West, it is necessary to reach a mutually acceptable understanding of the previous frameworks and the ‘rules of the game’, established before, and and/or agree on their possible modification. So, the time has come for the OSCE Member States to come back to the negotiation table and to revise the Helsinki Act and the related documents, in the context of the current geopolitical realities.
The speakers and discussants at the session also agreed that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) may play a prominent role in the ‘Helsinki 2.0.process’, while the International Associations of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) may become its reliable partner and ally in this important undertaking.
The participants suggested that the IAPP could issue a brief resolution calling on the OSCE PA to take specific actions to promote Helsinki 2.0, including a special OSCE PA session in Minsk, with the partnership of IAPP.