AM  2016 SkopjeSome 170 parliamentarians from across the OSCE’s 57 participating States gathered in Skopje from 30 September to 2 October for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 15th Autumn Meeting. Consisting of a Mediterranean Forum, Parliamentary Conference, and meeting of the Standing Committee, the Autumn Meeting provided an opportunity for parliamentarians from across the OSCE region to discuss the theme of “Strengthening Confidence-Building Measures and Good Governance in the OSCE Region,” and the role of parliamentarians in fostering co-operation to address ongoing and emerging crises in the OSCE area.

In her speech to the opening session on 30 September, OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen stressed the need for confidence-building in order to “engage with each other and search for common ground.”

“We must widen our perspective and see the world not only from our national point of view but also through the eyes of our neighbors, partners and even opponents,” she said. “This is how we build confidence and ultimately replace the threat of conflict with long-term stability. This is the only way to effectively address issues such as radicalization, terrorism, the challenge of migration and refugees, or even climate change.”

Other speakers during the three-day meeting included:

  • Trajko Veljanoski, President of Parliament
  • Renata Deskoska, Vice-President and Head of OSCE PA Delegation
  • Lamberto Zannier, OSCE Secretary General
  • Halil Yurdakul Yigitguden, OSCE Economic and Environmental Coordinator
  • Antonijo Miloshoski, Vice-President of the Parliament and Chair of the Foreign Policy Committee
  • Oliver Spasovski, Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Filippo Lombardi, Chair of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration
  • Vladimir Gligorov, Professor at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies

The Mediterranean Forum was opened by OSCE PA Special Representative on Mediterranean Affairs Michel Voisin (MP, France) on 30 September. Addressing the promotion of security and co-operation in the Mediterranean, the meeting included presentations by Ambassador Clemens Koja, the Chairman of the OSCE Contact Group with the Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation, by Antonijo Miloshoski, the vice-president and chair of the host parliament’s foreign policy committee, and by Malin Larsson-Grave from the European Asylum Support Office. Parliamentarians from more than a dozen countries offered comments and addressed questions on the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis, conflicts in the Mediterranean region, and the threat of violent extremism.

In opening Session One of the Parliamentary Conference on 30 September, OSCE PA Vice-President Azay Guliyev noted that promoting economic growth should be seen as part of the overall response to challenges such as migration, noting the importance of good governance in this regard.

“None of us here can truly claim that we have met all of the highest standards of governance,” he said. “Whether big or small, whether developed or still developing, all of our countries have room for improvement and can learn something from the best practices of other countries.”

Session Two of the Parliamentary Conference on 1 October, chaired by OSCE PA Vice-President and Special Representative on South East Europe Roberto Battelli (MP, Slovenia) featured a roundtable event with heads of OSCE field operations in South East Europe, who discussed issues related to the theme “Developing Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in South East Europe: The Role of the OSCE.”

The final session of the Autumn Meeting was held under the theme of “Improving Human Rights-Based Governance of International Migration,” with participation of dozens of parliamentarians engaging in a wide-ranging debate and exchanging ideas on political responses to the migrant and refugee crisis.

“We should stop thinking of the migration crisis as a burden that must be shared, and instead embrace joint responsibility,” said Swiss parliamentarian Filippo Lombardi, the Chair of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration. “We have a responsibility to promote the security and the respect of human rights of people in their home countries, and all along the migration path of those who have been forced to leave. As hosts, we must also prevent radicalization of any kind by offering every community the possibility to live freely and peacefully.”

Links to videos, photos and speeches from the 2016 Autumn Meeting are available on the right. Additional information about the OSCE PA’s 2016 Autumn Meeting is available at the host parliament's website.