Transdniestria is not a region that excites a huge amount of conversation up and down the byroads and boreens ofIreland. However recently we have seen a good deal of Irish official interest in this “frozen conflict” with the main players arriving in Farmleigh for talks. Now when we hear on the main morning talk show that people are coming to Ireland to talk about conflict we could be forgiven for thinking the odds of success are low. I would have more confidence if the principles were bundled in to a few small country cottages away from the glare of the media and their domestic political audiences if we wanted to see a real breakthrough. Of course when we say Ireland we really mean the country holding the chair of the OSCE, it is hard to say when Ireland itself has had anything much to say on conflict in the Caucasus or Moldova.
Irelands chairing of the OSCE is a big issue in our foreign policy at the moment. Attention on the issue of “frozen conflicts” is one of the themes, this all sounds quite impressive. However we didn’t seek out the chairpersonship of the 56 member conflict prevention and resolution body it is really a case of taking our turn. Furthermore we didn’t establish the priority of “frozen conflicts”, a cursory Google search shows action by the chairperson in office some four years ago. Maybe we protest too much.Irelandis taking a leading role in these conflicts so let’s go with that. However we might be forgiven for asking what happens after we relinquish the role of chair at years end (there is a troika system so members keep a leadership role for 3 years in reality).
Will we still be chairing meetings and getting everyone together about Abkhazia and South Ossetia into 2013? I think we know the answer. This is somewhat ironic as The Department of Foreign Affairs has put a lot of effort in to establishing a conflict resolution unit which seems to do good work but on a rather piecemeal basis. So here’s a thought. Couldn’t our conflict resolution unit and some of the diplomats rehired on a temporary basis for our OSCE term keep working on one of these conflicts bringing whatever experience and perspective we might have as a small country which has suffered from conflict itself? It doesn’t have to feature on Morning Ireland or in the news at all.
Maybe this does go on behind the scenes and we don’t know about it but somehow we wonder. Maybe, like with the Middle East, we could be treated to diverse leaders emerging form a discrete location somewhere in Ireland with a bit of paper in a few years time to everyone’s surprise and delight. If it doesn’t work at least we would have tried.