• read the article paying attention to the words in bold
  • summarize the main ideas
  • comment on the ideas expressed by the author
  • compose 3 questions for discussion


dimensionаспект, сфера, элемент, измерение
mediate быть посредником, содействовать соглашению 
diluteослабленный, слабый
stalemate тупик, безвыходное положение
plausible правдоподобный, вероятный
consentсогласие, разрешение, соглашаться
urge убеждать, побуждать, настаивать
inclination предрасположение, предрасположенность, склонность
purviewкомпетенция, сфера, область, границы, нормы закона


  1. commitment to 
  2. at the height of
  3. record on 
  4. live up to 
  5. in charge of
  6. on the grounds
  7. respond to
  8. coincide with 
  9. confront
  10. solution to
  11. plausible for
  12. from the perspective of
  13. consent to 
  14. in practice
  15. under the purview

A Kazakh Appointment Highlights the OSCE’s Many Challenges

Paul Stronski

Dec 16, 2020

For the first time, an official from a former Soviet country has been named to a senior position at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kairat Abdrakhmanov, a well-regarded diplomat who served as Kazakhstan’s foreign minister from 2016 until 2018, was appointed earlier this month as the OSCE’s new high commissioner for minorities. His job will be to protect the rights of ethnic minorities in the OSCE’s 57 member states—part of a broad commitment to protecting human rights that was enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which stabilized relations between the Soviet bloc and the West at the height of the Cold War and led to the creation of the OSCE.

By including a separate section or “basket” for what its drafters called “the human dimension,” along with economic and security dimensions, the Helsinki Accords embraced the principle that human rights violations anywhere are of concern everywhere, and preventing them is a key component of international stability. Since its creation, the OSCE has worked to mediate conflicts and monitor the state of democracy and human rights in member states—much to the chagrin of authoritarian members like Kazakhstan.

In theory, having an official from Central Asia serve in a senior OSCE position for the first time could be seen as a breakthrough that symbolizes the region’s democratic progress. Given President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s well-publicized reform agenda, that is certainly how Kazakh officials are selling it. However, Abdrakhmanov’s appointment in fact risks diluting the OSCE’s own human rights standards, unless he is willing to use his position to push his own government—whose record on democracy has been poor—to make changes that are systemic, not simply cosmetic. After all, if Abdrakhmanov does not call his own government out on human rights, why should other states pay attention when he pushes them?

His appointment also highlights the unrealized aspirations that many in the West had for countries like Kazakhstan when they became independent. The membership of Central Asian countries in the OSCE, ostensibly a European body, is a legacy of the early post-Cold War era, when Western officials hoped that including former Soviet states in the organization would help jumpstart those countries’ democratic transitions. But while a few have made progress, far too many are still failing to live up to their basic OSCE human rights obligations, Kazakhstan among them.

Abdrakhmanov’s rise to the uppermost ranks of the OSCE is the product of months of diplomatic wrangling to end a leadership vacuum at the organization. In June, three democracy laggards in the OSCE—Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Turkey—blocked the perfunctory reappointment to a second term of Icelandic and French diplomats as heads of two key OSCE offices in charge of monitoring and reporting on democracy and human rights. Both the officials had sharply criticized all three countries’ illiberal-leaning or authoritarian governments. Russia quietly backed this diplomatic move by Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

Iceland and France, whose citizens’ reappointments were blocked, responded by preventing the reappointment of the other two positions, including the secretary general and the high commissioner for minorities, on the grounds that all four jobs should be filled together, as they had been in 2017. Several like-minded states joined them, resulting in an East-West stalemate that sapped the OSCE’s ability to respond to multiple crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, mass protests in Belarus, violent unrest in Kyrgyzstan, and six weeks of bloody conflict in the South Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The challenges confronting the OSCE are unwelcome reminders that the tools and institutions that underlie multilateral diplomacy have atrophied greatly in recent years.

Armenia, which has tortured relations with both Turkey and Azerbaijan, backed France and Iceland in the dispute, which coincided with an uptick in fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that had been mostly controlled by Armenia since the mid-1990s but is inside the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. It developed into to a full-blown war in late September, in which Turkey provided diplomatic and military support to Azerbaijani forces. The OSCE’s Minsk Group, a framework co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States that has long tried to broker a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, appeared powerless to stop the violence. Without a high commissioner for minorities, the OSCE lacked a high-ranking voice to warn against ethnic atrocities, which other human rights organizations have documented. Similarly, in Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE had a limited public response when the country’s sitting president was ousted and replaced by a convicted criminal recently sprung from jail.

Abdrakhmanov’s appointment is part of a compromise that also led to senior German diplomat Helga Schmid’s appointment as the OSCE’s secretary-general—the first woman in that top job. Matteo Mecacci, a former Italian parliamentarian, will head the democracy, human rights and election-monitoring office, while a Portuguese diplomat, Maria Teresa Ribeiro, will be the new commissioner for media freedom—both sensible appointments. However, as the global balance of power shifts, it is no longer plausible for Western countries to push for only their officials to lead the OSCE. Western countries’ insistence on appointing only their officials to the organization’s leadership is also an unfair and outdated practice.

From the perspective of many Western countries, appointing a commissioner for minorities from a country with a problematic record on the democracy front seemed to be a somewhat lesser evil because the position is far less focused on democracy, elections, or free speech shortcomings. Moreover, looking east of Vienna to former Soviet countries, there are few options beyond Central Asia for someone who can credibly monitor ethnic tensions, given the internal rivalries among competing ethnic groups that have ravaged parts of the Balkans, the Caucasus and Ukraine. From that perspective, a Kazakh official looks sensible, too, if not ideal.

However, we have seen this movie before. In 2010, Washington consented to Kazakhstan’s Russia-backed bid for the OSCE chairmanship due to then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s promises of reform. But Kazakhstan sadly followed its OSCE chairmanship with a bloody crackdown on labor protests a year later, and remains highly authoritarian. When Nazarbayev resigned in 2019 and Tokayev took power in an election that the OSCE deemed neither free nor fair, he also promised a new round of reform, but has done little in practice to advance that agenda. Kazakhstan looks primed once again to deny its citizens’ their choice in the upcoming January 2021 parliamentary elections, in which only government-friendly parties are running. Ethnic tensions are rising too.

There is little that skeptics in the West can do about Abdrakhmanov’s appointment. But to ensure his own credibility and that of the OSCE, he needs to use his position to urge real reform at home. His new role likewise marks an opportunity for the OSCE to make headway in addressing basic human security in Central Asia, a region where it is not often guaranteed. Other OSCE member states will need to hold Abdrakhmanov accountable to pursuing the organization’s mission, unlike in 2010.

To help make that happen, President-elect Joe Biden’s administration should step up its OSCE engagement and quickly appoint a seasoned U.S. diplomat as its OSCE envoy. It should certainly not repeat the Trump administration’s approach of waiting two years before nominating a former governor of Virginia, James S. Gilmore III, who lacked a clear mandate and inclination to push for progress on the OSCE’s human dimension.

More broadly, the growing challenges confronting the OSCE are unwelcome reminders that the tools and institutions that underlie multilateral diplomacy have atrophied greatly in recent years. Biden’s foreign policy team will be tested almost immediately as it tries to turn its public commitments to multilateralism and democratization into tangible changes that improve conditions across the vast area under the OSCE’s purview.

Paul Stronski is a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


  1. What are some of the challenges that the OSCE faces in protecting the rights of ethnic minorities?
  2. How has the OSCE’s work impacted authoritarian member states like Kazakhstan?
  3. What other initiatives has the OSCE undertaken to promote international stability and human rights?




dimensionпредрасположение, предрасположенность, склонность
violationкомпетенция, сфера, область, границы, нормы закона
mediate тупик, безвыходное положение
diluteсогласие, разрешение, соглашаться
stalemate аспект, сфера, элемент, измерение
plausible нарушение
consentослабленный, слабый
urge правдоподобный, вероятный
inclination быть посредником, содействовать соглашению или сделке между сторонами
purviewубеждать, побуждать, настаивать


dimensionto reduce the strength of, as by adding or mixing something
violationhaving an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable
mediate an aspect or factor, the scope or importance
diluteto encourage forcefully; to impel to greater speed, to recommend, insist, stress
stalemate a situation in which no action can be taken or progress made; deadlock
plausible the range of operation, authority, concern/ of vision, insight, or understanding
consentan act that disregards an agreement or a right; entry to another’s property without right or permission
urge a disposition or bent (of the mind or will); a liking or preference; a tendency toward a certain condition, action
inclination attempt to settle (a dispute)/to bring about a solution between two opposing sides
purviewto permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield


dimensioncredible, probable, reasonable, convincing, feasible
violationaspect, angle, attribute, scope, factor
mediate encourage, nudge, incite, impel, recommend, propose
dilutedecrease, diminish, mitigate 
stalemate range, reach, scope
plausible infringement, negligence, noncompliance, breach, trespass
consenttendency, affinity, preference, leaning, propensity, predisposition, bias
urge deadlock, standoff, impasse
inclination arbitrate, negotiate, intermediate, resolve, reconcile, settle
purviewagree, approve, acquiesce, sanction, permit, concede, yield


dimensionthe value, the power, impact, support, competition
violationproviding, provided that, even if both partners
mediate add; political/economic dimension
diluteto see, try, reconsider]; a plan of action; the need for [safety, new measures]
stalemate a political, a diplomatic, a budget, an economic; to reach/ break/ end
plausible under/ outside; agency’s/ someone’s; includes/ will expand
consentof the right, international law, state’s sovereignty 
urge strong/ little/ natural; to yield/ compete/ amplify
inclination complex disputes, talks, conflict
purview[reason, explanation, theory]; [assumption, solution, alternative]



1. The Human Rights Council, which is made up of 47 U.N. member states, is set to vote on a resolution that would further scrutinize current human rights …………. taking place in Sudan.
2. A spokesman for the governor’s office said political inquiries are outside their ………….. 
3. The tentative pact stemmed from two years of negotiations between the carriers and unions, and the White House appointed an emergency board to ………….. the dispute.
4. The UN has already received reports of Arab militia targeting Masalit men and said the conflict has taken on an «ethnic ………….».
5. Some scientists are reluctant to put too much emphasis on new and emerging technologies like direct air capture because they fear that it could …………. the carbon cutting efforts of governments and individuals.
6. Kim Ju-Ae’s place as the next leader of North Korea is far from guaranteed, but with each appearance she makes, it certainly seems more …………..
7. Many money market funds are avoiding Treasury bills that could come due during a debt ceiling …………..
8. Arkansas and Utah’s governors signed restrictions into law that limit children’s social media usage and require age verification and parental …………..
9. Compared with other publicly traded companies, Ford has shown greater …………. to limit dividends and preserve capital in the face of challenges.
10. The MP is …………. both governments to «sit down around the same table» and look at solutions.


1. blocka) democratic transitions
2. embrace b) a political solution 
3.  respond toc) the unrealized aspirations 
4. the global balanced) the agenda
5. to end e) the principle
6.  brokerf) of power shifts
7. highlight g) monitoring 
8. to advanceh) multiple crises
9.  in charge ofi) a leadership vacuum
10. jumpstartj) the perfunctory reappointment 


E.g. _____________ remain the purview of  _____________

Analysts expect the oversight of personal data and cybersecurity to mostly remain the purview of China’s powerful internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China.

  1. _________ is not the only dimension _________
  2. _________ most plausible alternative to _________
  3. _________ were performed without consent _________
  4. _________ urged the city’s residents to _________
  5. _________ showed little inclination to investigate _________
  6. _________ is not outside the purview of _________
  7. _________ ongoing violation _________
  8. _________ an effort to mediate the crisis _________
  9. _________ could dilute any outcome _________
  10. _________ the political stalemate _________


  1. commitment __ 
  2. __  the height of
  3. record __  
  4. live up __ 
  5. __ charge __
  6. __ the grounds
  7. respond __ 
  8. coincide __ 
  9. confront __ 
  10. solution __ 
  11. plausible __ 
  12. __ the perspective of
  13. consent __ 
  14. __ practice
  15. __ the purview


  1. As part of the trip, ________ at taking up the EU’s Global Gateway initiative and the pending Mercosur trade pact, von der Leyen has already been in Brasilia and Buenos Aires this week, and heads for Mexico next.
  1. aimed
  2. aiming
  3. was aimed
  4. was aiming

2. India ________  trading power with Southeast Asian countries through Myanmar and Thailand, as New Delhi looks to use its growing renewables capacity to boost regional diplomatic engagement.

  1. considers
  2. is considering
  3. has been considering
  4. was considering

3. One congressional staffer said that moving away from HEU reactors (highly enriched uranium reactors) ________  it less likely that a non-nuclear country ________  a nuclear-weapons program via a loophole in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

  1. will make; will launch
  2. would make; would launch
  3. makes; launches
  4. is making; is launching

4. The Atlantic is an important space for interregionalism both for South America and Africa, which ________  by several state-led initiatives over the past decade.

  1. has been driven
  2. was driven
  3. drove
  4. is driven

5. By allowing emerging companies to bid on easier missions, the Space Force hopes it ________ enable those companies to eventually compete against industry leaders SpaceX and ULA.

  1. may
  2. might
  3. can
  4. should

6. Intergovernmental cooperation could develop strong actor qualities, if a regional organization ________  by a hegemon.

  1. will be controlled
  2. is controlled
  3. is going to be controlled
  4. would be controlling

7. The Authorized Economic Operator programmes represent ________ paperwork, ________ inspections, reduced fees and costs, and increased trust between traders and border authorities, as well as between traders and clients.

  1. less; fewer
  2. least; fewest
  3. fewer; fewer
  4. less; less

8. China is directing more of its AI-related research into defense applications than the United States ________  tech sector is more focused on consumer AI services such as ChatGPT.

  1. which
  2. , which
  3. that
  4. , whose

9. Maritime transport is generally open, and progress has been made in cross-border air transport services; ________  the protection afforded to national airlines and port services providers remains high.

  1. however,
  2. yet,
  3. but,
  4. nevertheless

10. China is willing to deepen practical cooperation in disaster management with all parties of the BRICS Summit, ________  jointly respond to the challenges of major disasters and accidents, safeguard the safety and well-being of people in all countries.

  1. in order
  2. so as to
  3. for
  4. thus
an aspect or factor, the scope or importance

aspect, angle, attribute, scope, factor

add a new dimension to; political/economic dimension


an act that disregards an agreement or a right; entry to another’s property without right or permission

infringement, negligence, noncompliance, breach, trespass

violation of the right, international law, state’s sovereignty 
быть посредником,
attempt to settle (a dispute)/to bring about a solution between two opposing sides

arbitrate, negotiate, intermediate, resolve, reconcile, settle

complex disputes, talks, conflict
to reduce the strength of, as by adding or mixing something

decrease, diminish, mitigate 

the value, the power, impact, support, competition
a situation in which no action can be taken or progress made; deadlock

deadlock, standoff, impasse

[a political, a diplomatic, a budget, an economic] stalemate; to reach/ break/ end
having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable

credible, probable, reasonable, convincing, feasible

[reason, explanation, theory];
[assumption, solution, alternative]
to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield

agree, approve, acquiesce, sanction, permit, concede, yield  

[providing, provided that, even if] both partners consent
to encourage forcefully; to impel to greater speed, to recommend, insist, stress

encourage, nudge, incite, impel, recommend, propose 

urge smb to [see, try, reconsider];
urge a plan of action; urge the need for [safety, new measures]
a disposition or bent (of the mind or will); a liking or preference; a tendency toward a certain condition, action

tendency, affinity, preference, leaning, propensity, predisposition, bias

strong/ little/ natural; inclination to yield/ compete/ amplify
нормы закона
the range of operation, authority, concern/ of vision, insight, or understanding

range, reach, scope

collocationsunder/ outside the purview; agency’s purview; purview includes/ will expand