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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 42, December 1999

Albright On New OSCE Charter

Press briefing given at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, November 18, 1999.

"Secretary Albright: We took an important next step in defining international norms today, in fact, of signing, being prepared to sign the charter of the OSCE. In 1975, with the Helsinki Final Act, what had happened was the international community decided that human rights were everybody's business. And what has happened as a result of today is that it, in effect, we have made - the consensus of the OSCE is that conflicts within societies that could potentially also cause regional instability were also everybody's business, and that language is embodied within the charter. And I do think that this is an important step in terms of creating tools that might help countries deal with the kinds of internal conflicts that have become, unfortunately, more prevalent.

Obviously, as we were here, the question also was, how would Chechnya impact on this particular discussion and these decisions. And when we got here, we felt on the Chechnya issue that we needed, as an organization, to pay more attention to the humanitarian tragedy, to pay more attention to making clear that a political solution was necessary, not a military one, to pay more attention to abiding by international norms, and trying to determine what kind of a role the OSCE could play within that Chechnya problem.

As a result of very long negotiations, we were able to come to agreement on language that would go into the summit declaration. And what we managed to do was to, first of all, recognize the territorial integrity of Russia and to condemn terrorism, but also to make quite clear that there needed to be respect for OSCE norms, that there had to be and could be humanitarian assistance including by international organizations, that we agreed on the need for a political solution, that the OSCE could contribute to that political solution, that the OSCE was willing to assist in developing a political dialogue, that the Russian Federation would agree to invite the Chairman in Office for a visit, and we reaffirmed the original mandate for the mandate of the OSCE mission from three years ago. …

Q: Madam Secretary, if you've reached agreement on the charter, when will the charter be signed, if that's what you're trying to tell us? And, secondly, was any of the language modified and any reference in the new charter to interference in the internal affairs of a nation?

Secretary Albright: Well, first of all, let me say the charter, as far as things look now, will be signed tomorrow, and I was not negotiating the language on the charter part, but I think from our perspective, we got what we needed in terms of creating this norm now, that it was everybody's - it was the OSCE's business to be able to deal with civil conflicts and the creation of tools - for instance, this REACT force - REACT group, that is able to go in rapidly in order to try to do conflict prevention, so that there would be a way to try to avoid some of the particular conflicts from escalating even more.

So what it did in the charter was make clear that it was the business of OSCE to deal with these internal conflicts and created the tools for how to do it. …

Q: Can you update us on the status of the CFE? And if it is going to be signed by the US, whether you think that under current circumstances there are any chances it would be ratified?

Secretary Albright: Let me say the negotiations are going on as we speak. One of the aspects of the amended CFE is that forces - that countries can make decisions about the forces that they have on their own territory. And some of the issues obviously have to do with Georgia and Moldova, and discussions are still going on. I don't want to speculate beyond that because the negotiations are going on right now."

Source: US State Department website at: http://www.state.gov/

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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