090218 Tsereteli and WickerOSCE PA President George Tsereteli and OSCE PA Vice-President Roger Wicker, Washington DC, 8 February 2018WASHINGTON, 9 February 2018 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli (Georgia) and Secretary General Roberto Montella are wrapping up a visit to Washington, where they met this week with Members of Congress and officials from the U.S. National Security Council and State Department. In discussions, Tsereteli and Montella have noted the essential role of the OSCE as a forum for dialogue and stressed the importance of continued U.S. engagement in the Organization.

“The United States has been an indispensable player in the OSCE since the days of détente of the 1970s, and continued commitment from the U.S. is essential for keeping it the effective organization that it is today,” said President Tsereteli. “Our meetings in Washington have reinforced the strong working relationship that the PA has enjoyed with our American partners, and I welcome their active participation.”

A meeting with OSCE PA Vice-President Sen. Roger Wicker on Thursday focused on topics such as human rights, election integrity and the crisis in and around Ukraine. President Tsereteli reported on his recent visit to Ukraine on 18-19 January, in which he reiterated the steadfast support of the Parliamentary Assembly for Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and renewed calls to reach a sustained ceasefire.

Ukraine was also in focus during a meeting Tsereteli held with Chris Anderson, Special Advisor to Ambassador Kurt Volker, Office of the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations; Elisabeth Millard, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs; and Catherine Croft, OSCE Director at the National Security Council.

090217 Hastings and TsereteliOSCE PA President George Tsereteli meets with former OSCE PA President Rep. Alcee Hastings, Washington, DC, 6 February 2018Tsereteli and Montella met Tuesday with former OSCE PA President Rep. Alcee Hastings for discussions that focused on the importance of robust U.S. participation in the Parliamentary Assembly. A meeting with OSCE PA Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues Chris Smith explored areas of greater engagement to address the scourge of trafficking in human beings in the OSCE area. OSCE PA Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism and Intolerance Sen. Ben Cardin hosted Tsereteli and Montella for a meeting that touched on various issues on the international agenda, including growing East-West tensions.

Other topics of discussion included OSCE PA activities on issues such as migration, countering terrorism, election observation, and protracted conflicts.

Meetings were held with Members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties, including OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism Vice-Chair Rep. Richard Hudson; U.S. Helsinki Commissioners Rep. Randy Hultgren and Sen. John Boozman; former OSCE PA Vice-President Robert Aderholt; and Congressman Ted Poe. Tsereteli and Montella also met with representatives from the National Security Council, U.S. Helsinki Commission and the State Department, as well as the presidents of the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

The PA officials participated in a forum on geopolitics in South East Europe on Tuesday. The event featured remarks from prime ministers and members of parliament, who addressed challenges facing the region of South East Europe, as well as members of the U.S. Congress. President Tsereteli noted that the region is facing a number of serious security challenges, including terrorism, radicalization, organized crime and corruption.

“The difficulties faced in South East Europe are symptomatic of broader challenges throughout the OSCE area,” Secretary General Montella said. “Seeing the positive impacts of OSCE engagement in this region for more than two decades demonstrates the importance of multilateralism and the continuing need to support international organizations.”

The PA delegation also had an exchange with the U.S.’s new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, and Salvatore Martinez, the OSCE Chairmanship’s Special Representative on combating all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance. Both Brownback and Martinez were invited to the OSCE PA’s Annual Session in Berlin.

While in Washington, Tsereteli and Montella also attended a National Prayer Breakfast, which was addressed by President Donald Trump, as well as other side events.

The Washington visit followed a visit to UN headquarters in New York last week.

Photos from the U.S. visit are available on Flickr.