COPENHAGEN, 24 March 2017 – Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden), the Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Belarus, today expressed concerns regarding an increasingly hazardous atmosphere pertaining to demonstrations that have taken place in recent weeks and other gatherings that are reportedly planned to be held tomorrow.
“The Belarusian authorities need to show restraint in handling the demonstrations. The fundamental rights of citizens must be upheld, including freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully. I am particularly concerned by the preventive arrests and intimidations that reportedly aim to obstruct certain people from taking part in the demonstrations,” Harstedt said.
He added however that demonstrators also have obligations.
“Freedom of assembly comes with responsibilities. The organizers and the participants in the demonstrations need to ensure that they occur in a calm and peaceful manner. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the people in Belarus expect the behaviour of all those involved with the demonstrations to be moderate and responsible,” Harstedt said.
COPENHAGEN, 24 March 2017 – OSCE parliamentarians will observe the upcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia and provide leadership for the OSCE’s short-term observer mission.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz has appointed Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain) as Special Co-ordinator to lead the expected 250 short-term OSCE observers for the 2 April vote. Geir Jorgen Bekkevold (MP, Norway) will serve as Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation, which will include some 55 members of parliament from 23 countries.
“My fellow observers and I are following the electoral process in Armenia in great detail. These elections will be the first conducted under Armenia’s revised Constitution, marking a significant transition from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. I look forward to observing how these important elections play out,” Special Co-ordinator Sanchez Amor said.
VIENNA, 23 March 2017 – Improving the level of engagement of women in discussions on security, including conflict resolution and addressing violent extremism, was in focus today at a day-long conference hosted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna.
The conference, “OSCE Security Policy – Female Perspectives,” featured the participation of parliamentarians, representatives of OSCE field operations, academicians and civil society representatives. Panel discussions explored issues such as the role of women in developing a new pan-European security architecture and prospects for gender mainstreaming in OSCE field work.
The President of the Austrian National Council, Doris Bures, and OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) opened the event, with Speaker Bures offering condolences to the United Kingdom for the attack near the Parliament building on Wednesday and participants observing a minute of silence on behalf of the victims. “Terrorists will not succeed in destroying our democratic values,” Bures said.
In her opening remarks, Bures noted that impacts of conflicts are disproportionately felt by women, and therefore women have a unique and crucial role to play in addressing all aspects of the conflict cycle.
COPENHAGEN, 22 March 2017 – Following an attack today near the British Houses of Parliament, which is reportedly being treated as “a terrorist incident” by the London police, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) issued the following statement:
“I strongly condemn the terrible attack that took place outside the UK’s Parliament building in London today. My thoughts are with the victims, with my colleagues in the area, and with the families of those who have lost their lives. I wish the injured a speedy and full recovery.”
In January President Muttonen visited London and in meetings with House of Lords Speaker Peter Norman Fowler and members of the UK’s delegation to the OSCE PA, emphasized the need for reinforcing comprehensive security by utilizing all the tools offered by the OSCE.