OSCE parliamentarians endorse UN SG’s global ceasefire call, discuss European response to COVID-19 pandemic and plan PA activities

gigi bureau meetingGeorge Tsereteli addresses the online meeting of the Assembly's leadership, 8 April 2020.COPENHAGEN, 9 April 2020 – The leadership of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday agreed to endorse a call by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a worldwide ceasefire, emphasizing that a number of conflicts continue to rage in the OSCE area even as countries struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres issued the call for a global ceasefire on 23 March and since then, at least 70 UN Member States have endorsed it along with regional organizations and civil society groups. Some warring parties have also heeded the call to lay down weapons, including Saudi Arabia’s armed forces in Yemen and the ELN rebel group in Colombia.

“As the world grapples with containing the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing we need is armed conflict to complicate these efforts,” said OSCE PA President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia). “The OSCE area is impacted by a number of conflicts, including in the South Caucasus and in eastern Ukraine. I urge all parties to heed the UN call for a ceasefire so that we can all focus on the common struggle today against COVID-19.”

amendolaVincenzo Amendola addresses the OSCE PA's leadership, 8 April 2020Bureau members raised concerns over recent attempts by members of armed factions in eastern Ukraine to block monitors from the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to travel towards non-government-controlled areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, citing COVID-19. They also stressed that the coronavirus crisis should not be exploited to curtail human rights, and emphasized that the recent “elections” held in internationally unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia were illegitimate and could aggravate the public health threat.

The PA’s elected leaders, who met by video conference for informal discussions on the Assembly’s activities during the coronavirus crisis, were also briefed by Vincenzo Amendola, Italy’s Minister of European Affairs.

Minister Amendola provided an update on the situation in his country and the European institutions’ reaction to the crisis. He said that multilateralism is needed now more than ever, emphasizing the need to reshape multilateral tools and decision-making procedures to adapt to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, which he stressed is not “business as usual.” In terms of Italy’s response to the crisis, he noted that the first pillar is health care and the second pillar is economic recovery, highlighting the need for Europe to stand together to make a full recovery.

hedy fry bureau meetingHedy Fry addresses the Bureau members, 8 April 2020Head of the Canadian Delegation Hedy Fry briefed the Bureau members on the recent decision to cancel the 2020 Annual Session in Vancouver. Noting the difficulty of making this call, she pointed out that with the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic and Canada’s travel restrictions, organizing an international meeting was not realistic at this time. Canada would, however, be interested in hosting another Annual Session in the years ahead, she said.

President Tsereteli highlighted the economic hardship that the crisis may have on parliaments, and how this could impact the work of the Assembly. Nevertheless, he expressed confidence in the work of parliamentarians, who are continuing to meet the challenges of this period.

The Bureau leaders also made an appeal to governments, the scientific community and pharmaceutical industries to join efforts, pool resources, and establish co-operative arrangements to accelerate clinical research for the rapid and safe development of treatments and a vaccine to fight COVID-19 for the benefit of all.

Secretary General Roberto Montella stressed that the PA is working closely with other organizations in order to promote cohesion and the strengthening of international multilateral organizations. Addressing the Bureau, he said that the challenges of the 20th century – whether those related to public health, movement of people, climate change or terrorism – are global and require global responses and policies.

sg meetingRoberto Montella meets online with PACE Secretary General Wojciech Sawicki and NATO PA Secretary General Ruxandra Popa, 8 April 2020SG Montella also reported on a meeting he held earlier in the day with the Secretaries General of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for discussions on common challenges facing the three organizations. The talks focused, Montella said, on the practicalities of holding virtual meetings for parliamentarians, including the feasibility of simultaneous interpretation in online forums.

Discussion during the informal Bureau meeting also touched on various opportunities for continuing OSCE PA work by using tools such as webinars. The OSCE PA’s general committees could meet in an online forum, it was suggested, to explore the impact of the pandemic on the OSCE’s three dimensions of security. Members also discussed ways to ensure that the work of ad hoc committees and special representatives can continue during this period.

Wednesday’s meeting was the second time the elected leadership of the Assembly has met in an online forum during the coronavirus pandemic, with an earlier meeting featuring a briefing by the President of Lombardy Region of Italy, Attilio Fontana, who discussed the situation in his region, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus.

The Bureau consists of the Assembly’s President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, Officers of the three General Committees and President Emeritus. It will meet again in an online format on 27 April for its formal annual meeting, which ordinarily takes place in Copenhagen every spring.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video