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Ukraine Col. Ihor Kosiak, Chief of Territorial Defense Department and Chief Operational Director signs the Garmisch Peace Accord following a week of intense negotiations to resolve the Ukraine crisis.  Kosiak portrayed the Russian Federation delegation chairman and broadened his own perspectives of the security situation in his nation. (Marshall Center Photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn/RELEASED)

By James E. Brooks,
George C. Marshall European Center Public Affairs

Garmisch-Partenkirchen (February 11, 2016) --  Delegates from Ukraine, United States, European Union and the Russian Federation reached a peaceful solution ending two years of conflict in Ukraine at the George C. Marshall European Center, Feb. 9.

News of that agreement would make headlines, if true. 

Instead, the signed “Garmisch Accord” represents the determination and hard work of 41 government and military professionals from 26 countries who examined regional security in detail and reached a shared perspective to resolve a regional crisis; one of the main objectives of the Marshall Center’s three-week, Seminar on Regional Security. 

“We told the participants when they started this course, negotiating a peaceful solution to a regional conflict such as Ukraine is like an international taxi ride.  Each nation is a passenger in the back seat shouting directions to the driver.  You, the students, are the drivers…the diplomats….whose job it is to get everyone to the same destination,” said German Luftwaffe (Air Force) Col. Jörg Kunze, executive director for the Seminar on Regional Security Studies.

The George C. Marshall European Center’s approach to developing regional perspectives to security situations was as close to reality as any seminar could ever be.  Participants met and heard from U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt; Ukraine Vice Parliament Speaker, Oksana Syroyid; European Union Institute for Security Studies Director Dr. Antonio Missiroli; Bundeswehr Military Attaché Christian Farkhondeh; Deputy Ministry of Defense for Ukraine Ihor Dolhov and the Representative of the German Delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Claus Neukirch.  Each official shared their respective views on the current security situation in the region. 

Seminar participants were divided into four delegations representing Ukraine, United States, European Union and the Russian Federation.  Original documents like the Minsk Agreement package establishing the current ceasefire in Ukraine were course materials used by the delegations.

“Committees were formed and negotiations commenced.  The delegations reconvened with their delegation head at the end of each day.  Marshall Center faculty served as the secretariat to make sure protocols were followed.  The only difference between our seminar and real life is we allowed all of the participants to watch and listen to deliberations among the four leaders of each delegation.  In real life, those delegations are kept private,” said Kunze. 

To bring even more realism to the Garmisch Accords, the Deputy Head of Mission from the Office of the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Peace Talks on the conflict in ‎Ukraine Marian Staszewski acted as advisor to guide participants.

“There was a high level of professionalism during this conference which includes very good statements by the head of the delegations. The discussions here in Garmisch are more rational and less emotional and that’s not always the case during the Minsk discussions.  Some people say it’s the force of the arguments, not the arguments of force that marks the difference between Minsk and here,” Staszewski said to the seminar after the exercise.