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AM 2012 Tirana bigWith more than 130 parliamentarians in attendance, OSCE PA President Riccardo Migliori (Italy) opened the 2012 Fall Meetings by speaking of the importance of inter-ethnic dialogue, the value of Albania's work to strengthen relations between communities of diverse religious backgrounds, and the importance of the OSCE taking a more pro-active approach to global challenges. In their opening addresses, host officials focused on issues central to freedom, recalling the good work the OSCE has done promoting progress in South East Europe and urging global co-operation to promote freedom in places like Syria.

Speaker of the Albanian Parliament Jozefina Topalli encouraged investment in Albania and in the face of global challenges, encouraged Members to recall how Albania overcame its struggles not long ago. "It seemed impossible for my generation," she said of the country where free speech and religion were prohibited in a land of isolation, hyper-collectivism and poverty. Albania is proof that freedom works, she said, "because in freedom what seems impossible comes true, becomes possible and tangible."

2012-FM-Tirana-Topalli-Opening-Session-Panel"Meetings like this one are essential to helping build support for the OSCE in our own countries and building bridges between nations," Migliori said, adding a call for action on the humanitarian crisis in Syria in the wake of an attack on Turkey. "The attack resulted not just in disaster and deaths. That represents our border, the OSCE. It has also created a wound to the fundamental security of our area."

Pointing to the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Berisha said Albania is "ready and willing" to make a modest contribution to help the people of Syria.

"The people of Syria need to feel the powerful support of the free nations of the world," Prime Minister Berish said. "If we sit on the sidelines bloodshed will continue."

Berisha expressed thanks to the OSCE for its assistance and contributions over the years that saw Albania's economy grow from being among the poorest country in the world to among the fastest growing in the region. "It is a road full of holes and bumps but we are more determined than ever to speed up development of my country," he said.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier drew parliamentarians' attention to the developing Helsinki+40 debate on reforming and updating the agenda of the organization and on the preparations for the December Ministerial Council in Dublin.

He said the OSCE's work on transnational threats such as terrorism and trafficking is increasingly making it a valued global partner for the UN and other regional organizations.

Zannier also called for an open and constructive engagement between ODIHR and the PA in election observation activities.

The Fall Meetings included sessions on multicultural societies, the financial crisis, and the media's role in promoting good governance, hearing from experts from the public and private sectors. Key speakers included heads of OSCE Missions in the region, international leaders and experts in the fields of finance, media and tolerance

The Fall Meetings concluded with a meeting of the Assembly's Standing Committee, which included reports from Treasurer Roberto Battelli, OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier as well as OSCE PA special representatives. Members also heard report on recent election observation missions.

At the close of the Standing Committee meeting, members voted to call for all OSCE participating States to condemn in the strongest terms the deadly attack Syrian armed forces carried out on civilians in the Turkish town of Akcakale.

The nine-paragraph resolution reaffirms the United Nations Security Council statement that the crisis in Syria has an impact on security in neighboring countries as well as regional peace and stability. It also demands that "such violations of international law stop immediately" and urges Syria to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbours.