World » Europe
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russia, Colin Powell spar on OSCE's double standards issue

The Russian administration has been dissatisfied with OSCE observers' work during Ukrainian election

The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Sofia ended up with a rather serious quarrel. The fight took place between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the former US Secretary of State, Colin Powel (the latter enjoyed the support of his European colleagues).

The conflict occurred on account of different opinions as far as the functions of the organization are concerned. Sergei Lavrov stated that the OSCE's fault was about the use of double standards in its activities. The Russian politician added that the organization needed to be reformed: “The organization is supposed to unite nations, not to separate them,” said he.

Lavrov did not say anything in particular about the poll crisis in Ukraine. The foreign minister, however, made it clear that the Russian administration was dissatisfied with OSCE observers' activities in Ukraine. Lavrov also stated that Russia would boycott the OSCE's session, devoted to the budget 2005.

Colin Powell stood up staunchly to defend the European democratic stronghold.  The outgoing US Secretary of State stated that OSCE missions do not interfere in internal matters of other countries. Powell also rejected double standard accusations, having said that the OSCE was focusing its attention on the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Colin Powell also set out his concern about the unfulfilled promises made by certain OSCE members to propagandize democracy and respect fundamental freedoms. Powell was talking about the suppression of freedom of speech in Russia and about the situation in Belarus. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and other foreign politicians supported the OSCE too.

Double standards allegations have been rather conspicuous recently in the relations between Russia and the West. Russian President Putin released quite a harsh statement (at the end of November during his visit to Portugal) pertaining to attempts to use the organization's authority: “We know how difficult the election was in Afghanistan, we know how the election was happening in Kosovo, when hundreds of thousands of Serbs could not participate in the voting because they had been ousted from their homes. I know in advance, what conclusions the OSCE will make as far as the Iraqi election is concerned. If someone continues using the OSCE as a mechanism to achieve political goals, the organization will continue losing its authority and the point of its existence on the international arena,” Putin said.

Western leaderships have not released any official comments on Putin's statement. However, it is not hard to understand, whom Vladimir Putin meant when he said “someone.” The press happily returned to the hackneyed theme about the “authoritarian KGB colonel,” though.

The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has not remained unnoticed after such impartial remarks.