Capitalizing on OSCE’s strengths and reviving spirit of Helsinki needed to build peace and dialogue, participants say at PA-Finnish Parliament event

240922 finland pia kaumaVilhelm Junnila and Pia Kauma, Helsinki, 23 September 2022HELSINKI, 24 September 2022 – The spirit of unity that launched the OSCE in 1975 in Helsinki, Finland, is just as relevant in 2022 as it was then, participants said at an event hosted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliament of Finland. The OSCE must continue to serve as a unique tool in building bridges across our region, it was stressed, with building peace in Ukraine highlighted as the organization’s top priority.

In an opening address, Pia Kauma, OSCE PA Vice-President and Member of the Finnish OSCE PA Delegation, introduced the topics of discussion, with a focus on the role of the OSCE in addressing security challenges. She described the goal of the seminar as producing practical views and recommendations for the development of the activities of the OSCE and especially the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, noting the growing urgency to think collaboratively about the direction that the European security structure is taking ahead of the OSCE’s 50th anniversary in 2025.

OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt delivered opening remarks, recalling that 47 years ago, the founding document of the OSCE was signed in Helsinki. “Today,” she said, “the spectrum of instabilities seems unmatched since the fall of communism.” She stressed in particular the need for strengthened multilateralism in this difficult time.

“With Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine entering its seventh month, we are witnessing the most brazen attempt to reshape the European security architecture by force,” Cederfelt said. Beyond that, recent fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as armed clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, reinforce the need for a strong OSCE. To respond effectively to these challenges, “we must firmly defend the Helsinki Decalogue as the cornerstone of European security,” President Cederfelt said. “At the same time, we must encourage an open and vigorous dialogue between adversaries and competitors.”

Other speakers at the event, which took place Friday, included Matti Vanhanen, Speaker of the Parliament of Finland; Erik Lundberg of the Foreign Ministry of Finland; Vilhelm Junnila, Head of the Finnish OSCE PA Delegation; Roberto Montella, Secretary General of the OSCE PA; and Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, a former OSCE Secretary General and current OSCE PA High-Level Expert.

Several other members of the OSCE PA Bureau also participated in the event, including Vice-President and Special Representative on Fighting Corruption Irene Charalambides (Cyprus); Vice-President, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism and Special Representative for Parliamentary Dialogue on Ukraine Reinhold Lopatka (Austria); Vice-President and Special Representative on South Caucasus Pere Joan Pons (Spain); Vice-President and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom); Vice-President and Special Representative on Sustainable Development Goals Askar Shakirov (Kazakhstan).

Officers of the OSCE PA General Committees also joined the event, including Costel Neculai Dunava (Romania), Azay Guliyev (Azerbaijan), and Farah Karimi (The Netherlands), as well as Special Representative on Eastern Europe, Daniela De Ridder (Germany); Special Representative on Civil Society Engagement Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Special Representative on Arctic Issues Bryndis Haraldsdóttir (Iceland), and Special Representative on Digital Agenda Radu Mihai-Mihail (Romania).

Panel discussions featured remarks by academics and OSCE officials. Tuula Yrjölä, Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre and Deputy Head of the OSCE, spoke about the OSCE’s toolbox of early warning mechanisms, and Sergey Utkin, Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark, discussed Russia and its foreign policy. Bradley Reynolds, a Doctoral researcher at University of Helsinki, spoke about the evolution and prospects of the OSCE and the Spirit of Helsinki.

Other panelists included Walter Kemp, Director of Global Strategy against Transnational Organized Crime on the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime; and Ambassador R. Tacan Ildem, Chairman of EDAM, Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies.

Participants discussed how to preserve and further capitalize on the OSCE’s strengths, as well as the main impediments for the organization to meet its full potential in the changed international environment. Offering ideas on what can be done to reform the elements hindering the organization to play an effective role in the current context, participants stressed the need to revitalize the OSCE, with a particular focus on the role of parliamentarians.

Improving inter-institutional dialogue and co-operation within the OSCE was highlighted as vital, as well as improving working methods of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE decision-making processes and co-operation with other international organizations.

Friday’s event was held as part of the OSCE PA’s Call for Action – Helsinki +50 initiative. For background on this initiative, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

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

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