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2015 AM Podium   16 Sep 2015The heads of OSCE field operations in Central Asia stand alongside OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva, Vice-President Christine Muttonen and Head of the Mongolian OSCE PA Delegation Batchimeg Migeddorg, Ulaanbaatar, 16 September 2015

ULAANBAATAR, 16 September 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 2015 Autumn Meeting today hosted the heads of OSCE field operations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for a special roundtable event on security and co-operation in Central Asia.

The unique gathering of all five ambassadors offered region-wide as well as country-specific insight on security challenges, with a focus on terrorism, foreign terrorist fighters and human trafficking. 

The nature of relations between each Central Asian OSCE office and their respective host government, as well as the potential benefits of increased regional co-operation, were among other themes addressed in the ambassadors’ presentations and the parliamentary debate that followed.

Ambassador Natalia Zarudna, Head of OSCE Programme Office in Astana, said:

“The OSCE, with an established field presence in all five countries of the region, continues to offer a unique platform not only for further fruitful co-operation between the missions and our host countries, but between the field missions themselves, as we work jointly to strengthen security for the region.”

Ambassador Markus Mueller, Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan, underscored that countries’ national efforts to counter security challenges must also prioritize a regional perspective and should focus on thorough implementation. 

“Regional security co-operation in fighting, terrorism, radicalization, and trafficking of drugs and human beings can only work if it is based on solid national strategies and action plans which contain regional co-operation as a key priority. Such co-operation can only be effective if it is planned and implemented like a project with clearly set objectives, a relevant sequence of activities and good monitoring tools. For this the OSCE can play an important role in providing a platform of competence and best international practice,” Ambassador Mueller said.

Ambassador Ivo Petrov, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, described his office’s recent work on projects in Turkmenistan:

“As threats of terrorism and human trafficking and threats to security continue to be high in the OSCE region, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat undertakes various activities to support the efforts of the Government of Turkmenistan to counter these threats. In recent years, the Centre has organized training activities for law enforcement, security and legal officers to address topics such as airport security, border security, counter-terrorism, hostage negotiations tactics and identifying potentially vulnerable people as part of human trafficking prevention measures,” he said.

Ambassador Sergey Kapinos, Head of OSCE Centre in Bishkek, highlighted the severity of the threats of both human trafficking and foreign terrorist fighters in Kyrgyzstan:

“The problem of trafficking in human beings, nearly unknown in Central Asia during the Soviet period, is today one of the most serious, yet underestimated, security challenges affecting the whole region,” the Ambassador said.

“Government agencies report that the number of Kyrgyz citizens directly or indirectly involved in combat operations in Syria is up to 500. Still, the real situation may be even worse,” he noted.

The same issues, among a range of others, are also at the center of the work of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, Ambassador Gyorgy Szabo:

“Like organic products, projects have life cycles. The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, in a newly independent state with centuries-old traditions, has been doing and does its best in transforming the OSCE ideas, initiatives and commitments into reality since its existence. From legislative support, to the fight against terrorism and human trafficking, to renewable energy, we have carried out projects helping numerous state agencies and civil society organizations to become more efficient and effective in carrying out democratic reforms,” he said.

The session also featured addresses by Batchimeg Migeddorj, the Head of the Mongolian Delegation to the OSCE PA, and Shanghai Co-operation Organisation expert Bakhram Auanassov.

Following the Central Asia roundtable, parliamentarians considered economic and environmental issues within the OSCE area and, in particular, efforts to address those issues through co-operation with international organizations. 

Oyun Sanjaasuren of Mongolia’s Delegation to the OSCE PA and Kevin Gallagher of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization offered remarks.

The OSCE PA’s Autumn Meeting continues on 17 September with a meeting of the Standing Committee and presentations and debate on democracy and human rights issues. 

The Meeting, hosted by the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia, is the final major gathering of the Parliamentary Assembly this year.

Speeches, video, photos and more from the Autumn Meeting are available on: http://www.oscepa.org/meetings/autumn-meetings/2015-mongolia