You are here

Statement by Ambassador Väino Reinart at the Opening of the CSCE Review Conference

10. October 1994 - 8:35

Ambassador Väino Reinart, Director of Bureau for International Organizations and Security Policy, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, 10-11 October 1994, Budapest


Mr. Chairman,

We begin this follow-up conference in a time of continuing and rapid change in the international environment and, consequently, with a packed agenda. During the ensuing two months, we hope to discuss a myriad of issues relevant both to the substantive work as well as to the organization and structure of the CSCE.

It is a special privilege to speak here today, since as of 31 August 1994, my country stands before this forum unfettered by the presence of foreign troops on our soil. The role the CSCE played in helping remove the last vestiges of World War II was not small, and we would like, once more, to address our special thanks to those governments and statesmen who paved the way for this important achievement.

In my remarks today, I would like to focus on the three broad areas Estonia sees as being central to our discussion: first, issues related to the human dimension; second, ideas on the CSCE's future substantive role; and third, proposals for CSCE organizational reform.

Let's begin with the human dimension. Estonia has been the beneficiary of intense CSCE activity in this area, most visibly through the High Commissioner for National Minorities and through the Permanent Mission in Estonia. That these two institutions have done a lot of good work is demonstrated by increasing focus on narrower and concrete questions. These efforts have offered substantial support in finding and shaping the solutions required.

Estonia has not been the only beneficiary of this involvement. The CSCE has also benefited from having further developed the concept of preventive diplomacy based on the experience in Estonia. This additional experience has furthered the idea and the mechanisms of preventive diplomacy, which other countries may find useful in the future.

As always, a good thing can be improved, and the CSCE's performance in the human dimension is no exception. First of all, we must be careful to apply human and civil rights standards non-selectively. There can be no exceptions because of the size or geographic location of a nation, because of cultural heritage or history, because states are in transition or because the political situation is delicate. The standards that are applied to one must be valid for all other states in the CSCE area. In other words, there should be no rubber rulers.

Second, we must refine our definitions of such terms as preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, crisis management, peacekeeping and so forth. A rose by any other name does not smell as sweet. The amplitude these terms represent is wide, altogether too wide to encourage effective action. If all regions under CSCE scrutiny are regarded to be areas of crisis, then the areas of authentic crisis will not receive the attention and help they deserve. Moreover, this confusion of terms leads to confusion in thinking, and, in turn, to confusion in policy. By mixing and matching terms, the CSCE risks harming severely its own credibility. Finally, other international organizations that deal in this area would also benefit from better and more exact wording. If the terminology in the preventive diplomacy-to-crisis prevention sphere were consistent in the CSCE, the UN, the EU and so forth, we could all devote more time to resolving issues rather than discussing semantics.

I would turn now from the human dimension to the substantive future of the CSCE.. There are two issues I would like to address here. First, geography and levels of development demand an expanded interest in areas of the CSCE that until now have received too little attention. Specifically, Estonia believes the CSCE should devote increased attention and energy to the Commonwealth of Independent States, and in a much more vigorous fashion. We should channel our resources to those areas that need CSCE expertise the most. It is our international duty to support sovereignty and the idea of territorial integrity in the entire CSCE area, and to bring such states out of isolation by way of cooperative efforts toward integration. The caveat, of course, is that the goodwill of all interested states is required in order to make political progress, as the Nagorno-Karabakh case demonstrates.

A second substantive area that we see increasing in importance for the CSCE is peacekeeping. We have said it before, and we'll say it again: The principles of peacekeeping outlined in Chapter III of the Helsinki Document of 1992 remain valid today. It is up to the CSCE to improve mechanisms for assuring compliance with those principles, in exceptional cases through negotiated international mandate, multilateralism and impartiality, transparency and explicit consent by the conflicting parties. The Participating States must also find the political will to guard against any watering down of those principles.

Part of the debate this Autumn over peacekeeping will involve the use of third party forces in conflicts. Estonia's position on this is clear. If we are considering the use of force, then the UN Security Council must approve such a move. If we are considering peacekeeping operations, then it must transpire under the principles set down in Chapter III. If those conditions are met, then we are not concerned over whether those forces are labeled as third party or second-hand.

I will now address some proposals that have been tabled for CSCE organizational reform. First of all, we fully support the idea of bringing an additional military-security component into the CSCE in the form of regional tables. This is an idea we have promoted for some time, and we are gratified to learn that others are considering regional security tables, that would be complementary to the Stability Pact roundtables. I have the pleasure to recognize among you many good colleagues with whom we negotiated the Stability Pact. This guarantees that the efforts within the Stability Pact will be made hand-in-hand with the CSCE and would exclude unnecessary overlapping efforts.

Secondly, we welcome proposals for greater lateral coordination among various international organizations and processes. We firmly believe such lateral, rather than hierarchical, coordination will increase effectiveness by avoiding duplication of effort and by making use of the complementary aspects of various bodies.

Thirdly, we welcome strengthening the CSCE as a regional organization. This kind of bolstered role would take advantage of the CSCE's unique position in Europe, and would complement the UN, which enshrines the role of regional organizations in its Charter. It goes without saying that modeling the CSCE as a mini-United Nations for Europe would lead to decreasing efficiency while fundamentally changing the CSCE's own nature. Let's play on the strengths we currently enjoy.

Fourthly, as common obligations can only be founded on common rights, we firmly believe that consensus in decisionmaking has to be preserved. It is dubious whether the efficiency of consensus-based decisionmaking can be improved by giving up this very principle.

Finally, Estonia believes the fewer sub-bureaucracies and offices and bodies and secretariats attached to the CSCE, the more effective and financially reasonable the process will be. One of the great advantages of the CSCE is its thriftiness--as a small state, we firmly support fiscal responsibility.

In closing, I would turn to the two documents expected to signed at the Summit culminating this meeting. We regard the Code of Conduct to be a significant step forward in the CSCE's military-political dimension. This document must not be put on a shelf to gather dust, but should be implemented, its implementation monitored and the initiative developed further.

Second, the general political declaration signed at the 1992 Helsinki conference has, by now, been outstripped by events. We would hope that this year's declaration will reflect the current atmosphere as well as delineate those principles that should serve as our guideposts in the future. These include but are not confined to a clear rejection of spheres-of-influence as a concept of international relations, a reiteration of the need for collective reaction and solidarity in case CSCE principles come under challenge in the area, as well as the non-recognition of territories taken over by force.

Mr. Chairman,

We have a lot of work ahead of us. Estonia wishes you, and all of our colleagues here, a productive, effective and fruitful conference.


Thank you.
 

About Estonia

Get closer acquainted with Estonia, coming here for a visit, studies, business or investments!

Official Estonian Gateway

Get closer acquainted with Estonia and see what are the most important facts and main areas of activity here.

Digital Society

Estonia has
transformed itself into
one of Europe’s business success stories of the last decade, mainly thanks to the sophisticated e-solutions available here.