Title

Mitigating Inter-Ethnic Conflict in the OSCE Region

Tuesday, May 04, 2010
United States
Members: 
Name: 
Hon. Benjamin Cardin
Title Text: 
Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Name: 
Hon. Alcee Hastings
Title Text: 
Co-Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Name: 
Hon. Christopher Smith
Title Text: 
Commissioner
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Witnesses: 
Name: 
Heidi Tagliavini
Title: 
Ambassador and Under Secretary of State, Switzerland
Body: 
Head of the European Union Investigation of the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict
Name: 
Peter Semneby
Title: 
Special Representative for the South Caucasus
Body: 
European Union
Name: 
Soren Jessen-Petersen
Title: 
Former Special Representative for Kosovo
Body: 
United Nations

This hearing, presided over by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, discussed the Helsinki Process’s role in mitigating inter-ethnic conflict in the OSCE region. The hearing discussed the situation in Kyrgyzstan, ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus, the still-lingering effects of the 1944 mass deportation of Crimean minorities, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Witnesses at the hearing included Heidi Tagliavani, Ambassador and Under Secretary of State for Switzerland and head of the European Union investigation of the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict; Peter Semneby, Special Representative for the South Caucasus for the European Union; and Mr. Soren Jessen-Petersen, former Special Representative for Kosovo for the United Nations.

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The Helsinki accord has not brought dramatic changes in East-West relations, but history may note it as more than a small step toward peace and a stability based on something more than mutual fear. Two years is a relatively short time in which to alter the long standing practices of sovereign nations, either in regard to one another or to their citizenries. In measuring the achievements of the Helsinki accord, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance cautioned the Commission, "I do not think that one can take a look at it in this moment alone and say it has either been a success or a failure. I think what you have now is a mixture of things. We have some slight movement forward in certain areas; we have no movement in others; and we have retrogression in others. But I think that a process has been started. . . and that we must stay with that process and continue to press what we believe to be correct." 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