David Swartz, who served as the United States’ first ambassador to the then-newly independent Republic of Belarus, reviews the political strides that have been made and the work that remains in Eastern Europe in the second address of Lawrence University’s four-part international studies lecture series “U.S. and European Security: Challenges and Choices.”
Swartz, who spent the 1997-98 academic year on the Lawrence faculty as the Stephen Edward Scarff Memorial Visiting Professor, presents “Unfinished Business in Eastern Europe: The Role of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)” Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102 on the Lawrence campus. The event is free and open to the public.
In 1975, representatives of 35 nations gathered in Helsinki as members of a unique forum created to promote political, economic and scientific cooperation and reduce tensions across the then-Iron Curtain. That “conference” eventually evolved into the 55-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Since its founding, the OSCE has been actively engaged in all of the sweeping geopolitical transformations that have occurred in the Eurasian region during the past 30 years. In his address, Swartz will outline the role the OSCE is still playing today in trying to resolve some of the issues — both structural and issue/region specific — that remain in Eastern Europe.
Among the issues he will discuss are the severe economic disparities that exist between the eastern countries and the West and which is fueling significant migrations of people from east to west in search of jobs and prosperity, as well as drug trafficking and illicit and destabilizing arms trafficking.
Other topics Swartz will examine involve “hot spots” throughout the area where unresolved conflicts remain, including Bosnia and Kosovo in the Balkans, Moldova/Transnistria in the Black Sea region, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia/Abkhazia in the Caucasus and Chechnya.
Swartz served nearly 29 years in the U. S. Foreign Service before retiring in 1995. A specialist in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, he served in a variety of positions at U.S. missions in Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw. In 1992, President Bush nominated him to become the first U.S. ambassador to the newly independent Republic of Belarus, where he served until 1994.
Swartz’s Washington assignments included service as the first staff director of the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, senior inspector in the State Department Office of Inspector General and dean of the School of Language Studies, Foreign Service Institute.
In 1996, Swartz established and still directs the European Humanities University Foundation, which promotes private higher education in Belarus. At the request of the State Department, he spent two years (2001-03) as Head of the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to Moldova, the poorest nation in Europe and the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president (2001).
A native of Chicago, Swartz earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science at Southwestern College and his master’s degree in Soviet and East European Area Studies from Florida State University.
The “U.S. and European Security: Challenges and Choices” lecture series is sponsored by the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies. Named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.