OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Winter Meeting opens with calls for improving dialogue in times of crisis
VIENNA, 23 February 2017 – International terrorism, human rights and combating climate change are among the issues topping the agenda as some 250 members of parliament from more than 50 OSCE countries gather for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 16th Winter Meeting in Vienna.
Opening the meeting today, President of the National Council of Austria Doris Bures and OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen spoke about the work being conducted in Austria to advance OSCE commitments and values in addressing common challenges. In her remarks, Bures noted that “isolation and nationalism” are “not a path to a peaceful and secure future.”
“In the interests of our citizens, we must travel the more difficult but better road. Through dialogue and co-operation, we must seek solutions that embrace the ideals of our community: peace, security, prosperity and the guarantee of democratic values in the OSCE area on both sides of the Atlantic,” Bures said.
President Muttonen emphasized the unique opportunity provided by Austria holding the Chairmanship of the OSCE at the same time that she, an Austrian member of parliament, holds the Presidency of the OSCE PA. “We will be supplementing each other’s work and are working on ways to mutually support each other,” Muttonen said.
COPENHAGEN, 16 February 2017 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will hold its 16th Winter Meeting at the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna on 23-24 February 2017. The opening session will feature speeches by President of the National Council of Austria Doris Bures, OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (Austria), and OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (Canada).
In the closing joint session on the afternoon of 24 February, parliamentarians will hear addresses by Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria Sebastian Kurz and OSCE Secretary General Amb. Lamberto Zannier, followed by a question and answer session.
The three general committees will meet to hear from government representatives of OSCE countries and debate issues related to political and security affairs, economics and the environment, and human rights and humanitarian questions. (Full agendas for the committee meetings are available here.)
OSCE PA’s Migration Committee Chair Lombardi urges United Kingdom to stand by commitments on unaccompanied minors
COPENHAGEN, 10 February 2017 – The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, Swiss parliamentarian Filippo Lombardi, today called on the United Kingdom to stand by its commitments and continue to accept unaccompanied minors under the so-called ‘Dubs Amendment.’
Lombardi expressed dismay at the announcement Wednesday by the British government that it would close the scheme once a total of 350 children had been transferred from France to the United Kingdom under this provision, and noted that there had been no written agreement regarding the total number of minors to be covered by this scheme.
“The United Kingdom made a commitment to take in these most vulnerable minors and should stand by the spirit of the agreement. It should lead the way and take on a fair share of these most vulnerable refugees,” he said. “Thousands of children are at immediate risk in camps throughout Europe. It’s important – also as an example for others – that Britain stands by its values and helps a fair share of these most vulnerable persons.”
Concerns raised over U.S. travel ban by Chair of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee
COPENHAGEN, 1 February 2017 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights and humanitarian committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor today expressed concerns about United States President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt the entry of refugees and the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries into the United States, noting that this represents a major step backward in the international community’s efforts to develop a cohesive response to the refugee and migrant crisis.
“As a nation founded largely by refugees, the United States has long been a beacon to persecuted and oppressed people around the world,” Sanchez Amor said. “In the aftermath of this concerning decision, the world will be watching closely to see if it lives up to these principles and its international obligations.”
Sanchez Amor, a member of the Spanish parliament, noted that the travel ban potentially undermines international efforts to counter violent extremism.
“Fears of terrorism do not justify blanket suspicion against people of a certain national origin or of a particular religious faith,” Sanchez Amor said. “Indeed, effective counter-terrorism measures require real international co-operation based on mutual trust and respect, which is undermined when countries impose broad and unwarranted restrictions on the citizens of other countries.”