Ideal speed-dating opportunity for foreign ministers
BEHIND THE SCENES:The lists of endless speeches and carefully choreographed sessions should not hide the fact that an OSCE ministerial council is really speed-dating for foreign ministers.
While ambassadors nod off in the main hall during the plenary statements, the top echelons of foreign ministries are scurrying between meeting rooms pressing the flesh with other delegations.
With US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov among the hot dates, there could be room to devise a new Irish set dance for the RDS which could be put to the words, “she stepped out and I stepped in again, I stepped out and she stepped in again”.
And there was real love in the air. Officials say Eamon Gilmore has been a popular chair of the OSCE, notwithstanding his distraction caused by domestic budgetary matters which some officials grumbled about. A few of the countries had warmed to the Tánaiste so much during the past year that they greeted him in Irish during side meetings.
No matter that they were some of the more frightful members of the organisation from central Asia that regularly crush their populations.
The OSCE is a happy family during its ministerial council with sworn enemies resorting to threats only to shoot down each other’s declarations as the worst form of aggression.
Though this cannot be confirmed.
The big speculation at the meeting was how Lavrov came to have a bandaged hand and, according to the Russian press, a bruised face. There were reports he had been taken to hospital while in Istanbul on Monday, after a fall at his hotel.
But with so many countries on hand that lived under Russian control, it could be that things got out of hand in one of the airless rooms in the Dublin 4 complex. Or perhaps he got lost in the warren of corridors flanking the main meeting hall and had to fight his way out. The white partitioned area, which was used in part at the London Olympics, could make anyone’s head spin.
Narrow passageways with signs outside tiny rooms saying “field missions”, “CPC”, “Executive Management” and “SRCTHB” could prove a Kafkaesque nightmare for any Russian diplomat.
Anyone lost could always follow the murmur of chatter that could be clearly heard in the main hall where worthy speeches on human rights, religious freedom and border security were being made.
Were these the sounds of tense negotiations on oil pipelines across Kazakhstan or peace in the Caucasus?
No, it was of course the chat from the cafe bar at the back of the hall where the weary diplomats were settling in.