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2014-WM-Plenary HallNearly 250 parliamentarians from 55 OSCE participating States and four Partner for Co-operation countries participated in the 2014 Winter Meeting, held at the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna on 13-14 February 2014. The two-day meeting concluded with a special debate on "The Current Situation in Ukraine," which featured the active participation of nearly 30 parliamentarians, including several Ukrainian Members of Parliament from the Communist Party, Batkivshchyna, Party of Regions and UDAR.

Parliamentarians spent much of the debate discussing the role that the international community, including the OSCE and its Parliamentary Assembly, should play in efforts to resolve the impasse in Ukraine. Delegations offered a variety of opinions, with some warning that outside interference threatens to undermine Ukraine's democratic structures and could serve to foment a "new Cold War" in the OSCE area.

Some delegates spoke against the prospect of countries imposing sanctions on Ukrainians in response to the conflict, while others urged that such measures should be kept on the table in their national parliaments. Others argued that a peaceful resolution in Ukraine would hinge on the country's compliance with OSCE commitments and urged the Parliamentary Assembly as a body to speak out publicly whenever those commitments are challenged.

On the margins of the Winter Meeting, OSCE PA President Ranko Krivokapic met on 13 February with members of Ukraine's Delegation to the PA, including lawmakers from the government and the opposition. OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver also participated in the meeting.

The President and the Ukrainian delegates shared views on the crisis in the country, with Krivokapic emphasizing the need for continued, constructive dialogue between political factions. He also underscored the potential of the Parliamentary Assembly to promote that dialogue, as a forum that brings together elected lawmakers from countries East and West of Vienna. President Krivokapic also reaffirmed the Assembly's offer to directly assist in mediation.

The opening plenary session of the Winter Meeting was addressed by President Krivokapic and Barbara Prammer, President of the National Council of Austria. In his remarks, Krivokapic emphasized the importance of active parliamentary engagement in the OSCE.

"The depth of your discussions over the next two days should provide an impetus for strong proposals and concrete actions at our Annual Session in Baku this summer, which will be organized on the theme 'Helsinki +40: Towards Human Security For All,'" Krivokapic said. "It is through your active participation that the voices of one billion are heard. That is why this Winter Meeting's agenda is so important."

The opening session also featured a special address by Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament of Afghanistan. 

"After 12 years of sacrifices and efforts made by the people of Afghanistan and our international partners," Ibrahimi said, "Afghanistan is today an active and dignified member of the international community." 

He praised the co-operation in particular with the OSCE. "We highly value Afghanistan's engagement in the framework of regional and international organizations and believe that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, given its experiences in various areas in the past few decades, can help Afghanistan take the decade of transformation forward. I hope that in the future we will witness strengthened co-operation between Afghanistan and the organization," he said.

In the First Committee, PA Members heard from Ambassador Dominic Schroeder, Chair of the OSCE Security Committee; Ambassador Adam Kobieracki, Director of the OSCE CPC; Lt. Col. Detlef Hempel, FSC Co-ordinator for the Code of Conduct; and Col. Presenjit Chaudhuri, from the Swiss Armed Forces.

The Second Committee was addressed by Ambassador Ol'ga Algayerova, Chair of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee, and Dr. Halil Yurdukul Yigitguden, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. Dr. Yigitguden will introduce the debate on co-operation in water management in the OSCE area.

Speakers for the Third Committee included OSCE Human Dimension Committee Chair Robert Kvile, ODIHR Director Janez Lenarcic and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic. Speakers from several OSCE countries also addressed the committee on rule-of-law concerns, including:

  • Andrei Sannikov, Civil Campaign for "European Belarus," former presidential candidate
  • Yevgeniy Zhovtis, International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Kazakhstan
  • Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, Legal counsel for Anar Mammadli, Azerbaijan
  • Nurettin Demir, Member of Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Speeches in PDF format are available to the right.

The OSCE PA has held an annual Winter Meeting at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna since 2002, to provide an opportunity for OSCE parliamentarians to be briefed by high-level OSCE officials, and to meet with their countries' ambassadors to the OSCE. The meeting also serves as an important opportunity for members to hear presentations by the three committee rapporteurs and to discuss their draft reports for the upcoming Annual Session.