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2014-OSCE-PC-KanervaOSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva (center) addresses the Permanent Council as Chairman Thomas Greminger of Switzerland (left) and OSCE PA Special Representative Andreas Nothelle (right) look on.COPENHAGEN, 13 November 2014 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) criticized "unacceptable restrictions" on what OSCE observers on the Ukrainian-Russian border are able to report and called for broad Organizational reform in an address today before the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.

"In order to achieve consensus on deploying the [OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk on the Ukrainian-Russian border], unacceptable restrictions were condoned in its mandate," Kanerva said before the Council, which approved the Mission in July.

"Let's be honest: The Mission is restricted to report only on what it sees pass through the official crossings along the tiniest strip of border. If we are not permitted to do it right, the question is, is it worth doing at all?" he added.

The Parliamentary Assembly President underscored that a "proper border-monitoring mission is of the utmost importance and urgency," emphasizing that all OSCE monitors deployed to Ukraine must be "able to provide us with objective information about what is happening on the ground."

In further remarks on Ukraine, Kanerva deplored the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation and the continued de facto control of parts of Ukrainian territory by illegal armed groups. He noted that this year's presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which were observed by nearly 200 OSCE parliamentarians, "represent a significant milestone in the country's democratic path." He pledged that the Parliamentary Assembly would continue its efforts to "form a parliamentary platform to enable constructive discussion" between Russian, Ukrainian, and other OSCE parliamentarians.

In his address, Kanerva also reiterated calls by parliamentarians at the OSCE PA's 2014 Annual Session in Baku for wide-ranging Organizational reform.

He underscored the Assembly's strong support for robust OSCE field missions and decried the "unacceptable" downgrading or elimination of some of them.

Kanerva also repeated the Assembly's calls for increased transparency and accountability in the OSCE's finances and the need to enable the Assembly to approve the budget and annual accounts and hire auditors.

He further urged the members of the Permanent Council to follow the Parliamentary Assembly's ongoing Helsinki +40 series of seminars, which are designed to inspire reform ahead of the 40th anniversary of the OSCE's founding document, the Helsinki Final Act.

For more on the project, including information about next week's seminar in Washington, visit: www.oscepa.org/parliamentary-diplomacy/helsinki40

Kanerva's address to the Permanent Council, composed of representatives of the OSCE's 57 participating States, is his first as President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. He previously addressed the Council while serving as Finland's Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in 2008. He is the first person to appear before the Council in these two capacities.

The Parliamentary Assembly President also held several bilateral meetings on 13 November.