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World

OSCE aims to announce new focus as summit wraps up

As the OSCE summit wraps up in Kazakhstan, member states are hoping to announce a new purpose for the organization. World leaders have criticized the group for not being relevant in the face of modern security issues.

Journalists in the OSCE summit press center

The summit was the first for the organization since 1999

Member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were preparing on Thursday to announce a new action plan for the organization at the close of a two-day summit in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Diplomats representing the 56 member states were working to come to a final consensus on a new set of principles and goals to bring the organization in line with current threats to peace and security.

"I hope that in the remaining moments we can agree a declaration and overcome the differences," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told the final session of the summit, the group's first since 1999.

"I am counting on your flexibility. History has given us a unique chance and it would be unforgivable to lose it."

"Time will tell if we can deliver today and finish with something real achieved, not just a nice meeting, lunch and dinner," said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose country is to hold the chairmanship next year.

'Still a lot of work to do'

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, left, welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel has called for a critical review of the OSCE

World leaders, many of whom have already departed to leave the final agreement to the diplomats, called on Wednesday for a revamp of the organization.

The OSCE was established as a Cold War forum to address tensions between East and West, but has struggled to retain its relevance amid new threats like terrorism, border security and cyber-crime.

Leaders also recognized that the transatlantic security group's reactions to prevent conflict in Europe and the former Soviet republics have slowed in recent years, particularly in the conflict between Georgia and its breakaway regions that resulted in a brief 2008 war with Russia.

In particular, Russia and the United States differed sharply on their response to the 2008 conflict, a disparity, which could threaten an eventual consensus at the summit.

"There's still a lot of work to do. Conflicts in this region must be successfully solved, now," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told delegates on Wednesday.

She added that the organization still had some way to go before becoming a "cooperative security forum on the basis of democracy and freedom," and said human rights guarantees must be implemented in all OSCE member states.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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