What is the OSCE Mediation Potential?

Immediately following the eastern Ukraine referenda of May 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment, as reported in USA Today, was that “the referendum results should be respected.” Putin said they should be implemented by negotiations between the eastern voting regions and the regime in Kiev, mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This proposal has been a standing one from Russia and the OSCE itself. As Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted in commenting on the referenda, the roadmap agreed on between Putin and the OSCE chairman still hasn’t been released because “some people in Washington and Kiev are against including [Ukrainian eastern] regions in a dialogue.”

As for the OSCE mediation, the chairman of OSCE (Swiss President Didier Burkhalter) spoke at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting yesterday. The Swiss government site SwissInfo.ch reported Burkhalter “announced a series of high-level roundtable discussions led by the OSCE which would bring together leading representatives from national government authorities, the Ukrainian Parliament, and representatives from the regions. Those roundtables ‘will start in a pilot format in the next few days,’ Burkhalter added, ‘and will be co-moderated by German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger. The OSCE has recommended that a bipartisan Ukrainian public figure serve as co-moderator’.”

The objectives of the OSCE mediation, said Burkhalter, are the cessation of fighting; the disarming “of both sides”; a national dialogue on language prevalence and on decentralization or federalization of Ukraine. “We do not have to agree on every detail. But we need to agree to take action and implement some measures immediately,” said Burkhalter.

Wolfgang Ischinger is a former German Ambassador to the United States, current head of the Munich Security Conference, and co-chair with Sen. Sam Nunn of the U.S.-Atlantic Dialogue.

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