Russian and Ukrainian parliamentarians discuss conflict resolution at OSCE PA-German Bundestag retreat
LEINSWEILER, Germany, 29 March 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the German Bundestag hosted a retreat and seminar in Leinsweiler, Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany on 28 and 29 March to discuss conflict resolution strategies and hear from experts on German-French rapprochement and post-conflict border issues. The seminar facilitated one of the few direct meetings between Russian and Ukrainian parliamentarians since the crisis in and around Ukraine began.
"A few weeks before the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and in this 40th anniversary year of the Helsinki Final Act, we need to draw lessons from examples of reconciliation and post-conflict rehabilitation between neighbors," said OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland).
"Despite the differences between the conflicts, the German-French example shows that conflicts can be resolved when there is political will and incentives to do so. I hope that my Russian and Ukrainian parliamentary colleagues can take lessons learned from history, and from this seminar, back to their capitals and be inspired to work hard for peace," Kanerva added.
COPENHAGEN, 24 March 2015 – The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today criticized the continued official targeting of civil society organizations in Russia, exemplified by the fine levied against the Sakharov Center this week.
"The Sakharov Center plays a crucial role in commemorating and educating about Soviet-era repression. How sadly ironic is it, then, that the Center itself has been branded with the Soviet-era 'foreign agent' label and now fined for resisting that label? I also lament the targeting and fining of the Regional Press Institute and other civil society organizations that may be forced to close due to financial pressure. These developments underscore that Russia must repeal its foreign agent law and recognize NGOs as one of the best parts of a democratic society," Santos said.
COPENHAGEN, 18 March 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) today issued the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea, Ukraine by the Russian Federation:
"Last March, Russia attempted to legitimize its occupation of Crimea and the fabricated 'referendum' that followed by supposedly integrating the Ukrainian territory into its own. One year later, the annexation is not one bit less illegal, Russia's actions are not one bit less reprehensible and the blow to the OSCE's founding principles is not one bit less intense. While the situation in the east of Ukraine may have since taken Crimea's place in the headlines, the world must never forget this clear breach of international norms.
"I am also alarmed at the steady deterioration in human rights and civil liberties that we have witnessed since the illegal annexation: Minorities, particularly Crimean Tatars, have been stripped of their rights, activists and NGOs have been silenced and the OSCE has tracked a systematic attack on media freedoms.
"I look forward to the day when all of these injustices will end and when Ukrainian sovereignty over all of its territory will be restored. Russia, as an OSCE participating State, has an obligation to facilitate both."
The third event in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Helsinki +40 seminar series took place on 11 March in Stockholm, with experts, policy-makers, ambassadors and OSCE parliamentarians considering how the European security architecture, and the OSCE's inclusive security community in particular, can better prevent conflicts and respond to new threats.
Among key ideas to emerge was the need for the Organization to rededicate itself to work on the ground and field presences in order to better mitigate economic, governance and human rights challenges before they escalate into conflicts. Other suggestions included the development of a specific mediation mandate for the PA; the need for greater civil society involvement in the Organization's work; the promotion of active self-evaluation by participating States; and the need to boost co-operation with other international organizations.