Russia demands OSCE reforms
OSCE delegates are considering a raft of Russian proposals to make the organisation ‘more effective.’ Russia effectively held a gun to the OSCE’s head a year ago, when it threatened to withold it’s budget contributions unless it’s proposals were taken seriously.
In particular, Russian diplomats want to force changes to the Office of Democratic Institutions (ODIHR), which monitors elections. In particular, says RFE/RL:
Russia dislikes its custom of issuing a comment on elections soon after the polls close. In Russia’s view, ODIHR should submit its reports to the Permanent Council in Vienna and allow it to decide whether they should be published.
The Russian government is unhappy with the OSCE monitors, of course, because they tend to take a critical position on elections held in countries allied with Russia – countries which, to put it charitably, have a tendency to not hold free and fair elections. Submitting reports to the Council for approval would, they hope, allow Russia to either moderate the content of election monitors’ reports or, at the very least, to delay their publication until well after the election in question, at a time when the news cycle has long since moved on.
Russia is a key member of the OSCE and, as such, has every right to make its demands heard. The heavy handed way it has done so, however, has not won it any friends, and shows clearly how out of step Russia is with most other members states.* The OSCE should, and I think will, reject these proposals. If they reject them out of hand, so much the better.
At the very least, one would hope that the OSCE would grow a spine and tell Russia to quit acting like a spoiled crybaby.
*Although I’m critical of Russia’s heavy handed methods here, I am finding it hard to resist the temptations to draw parallels here with the way the United States has at times used the threat of witholding part of it’s UN dues in an attempt to prompt reform within that organisation.