DATE=11/19/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=O-S-C-E EVOLUTION NUMBER=5-44796 BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=ISTANBUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The 54-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- the O-S-C-E -- has completed its two-day summit in Istanbul with a consensus on the need to enhance its role in peacekeeping and prevention of the spread of conflict in Europe. The group also expanded its area of concern to actions within the borders of its member countries that pose a threat to regional stability. V-O-A Correspondent Laurie Kassman takes a closer look at the European security organization that traces its origins to an accord signed in Helsinki a quarter of a century ago. TEXT: Czech President Vaclav Havel remembers the signing of the Helsinki Act 25 years ago. He says it took a leap of faith back then to trust that Cold War enemies would actually abide by an agreement to reduce their nuclear and conventional forces and decrease the risk of war. /// HAVEL ACT /// Many believed that this was only a ruse through which Communist leaders won from the West a confirmation of the legitimacy of the European status quo and thus implicitly of the division of Europe in return for promises which they had no intention of keeping. /// END ACT /// Nearly a quarter of century later, the atmosphere of reconciliation is a reality. Europe is clearly shifting from conflict to cooperation. In that context, the O-S-C-E is expanding its mandate and its responsibilities. It has become an integral part of international peacekeeping missions and now encourages international responsibility for dealing with conflicts that develop -- even within national borders. Not every member favors that approach. Russian President Boris Yeltsin balked at O-S-C-E efforts to help resolve the Chechen crisis and disapproves of what he calls outside interference -- even for humanitarian reasons. He is heard through an interpreter. /// YELTSIN INTERPRETER ACT /// Not all the ideas that have arisen in the course of discussion about Europe seem to be justified. I'm thinking in particular of the appeals for humanitarian interference -- this is a new idea -- in the internal affairs of another state, even when this is done on the pretext of protecting human rights and freedom. /// END ACT /// President Bill Clinton has countered that argument, pointing out the interdependence of states committed to the basic principles of democracy. In his speech to the summit, he reminded President Yeltsin of the benefits of interference had he been jailed for his own daring reforms. /// CLINTON ACT /// If they had put you in jail instead of electing you president, I would hope that every leader of every country around this table would have stood up for you and for freedom in Russia and not said that is an internal Russian affair that we cannot be a part of. /// END ACT /// The O-S-C-E's expanded mandate for peacekeeping also signals Europe's shift from confrontation to reconciliation, which is apparent now in several disputes. Armenia's president, Robert Kocharian, points to direct talks with Azerbaijan -- not war -- as the best way to resolve the dispute between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabach. He is heard through an interpreter. /// KOCHARIAN INTERPRETER ACT// Realizing that resolution of the conflict serves the interests of our peoples, we, through direct contact, are trying to convey to each other and to the rest of the world the seriousness of our purpose and resolve. /// END ACT /// Cypriot leaders appear to be on the same path as they prepare for proximity talks on the future of the divided island. Even Greece and Turkey are sounding more reconciliatory about how to resolve their diplomatic disputes. So, is it time for the O-S-C-E to declare success? Norwegian Prime Minister Kjel-Magne Bondevik says "not yet." /// BONDEVIK ACT /// We must strengthen conflict prevention. Open conflict mean political failure. The military option is the costliest one in resources and human suffering. The lesson learned is this we must redouble our efforts to defuse tension and contain disputes before they turn into open conflict. /// END ACT /// The Norwegian leader also underscores Europe's responsibilities in pressuring states to initiate and implement democratic reforms. That can mean interference or isolation or both. Europe's isolation of Yugoslavia through sanctions and support of the political opposition there is the latest example of the new approach. Yugoslavia -- one of the founders of the O-S-C-E -- is the only member absent from the summit gathering. (Signed) NEB/LMK/JWH/KL 19-Nov-1999 10:27 AM EDT (19-Nov-1999 1527 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .