OSCE PA Winter Meeting begins with call to action

2014-WM-Krivokapic-PrammerAustrian Parliament President Barbara Prammer (left) listens as PA President Ranko Krivokapic delivers his introductory speech on 13 Feb. 2014.Opening plenary features special address by Speaker of Afghan Parliament's Lower House

VIENNA, 13 February 2014 – The 13th Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly began today in Vienna, with keynote speakers urging some 270 parliamentarians from 58 countries to action.

The opening plenary session brought together parliamentarians from the OSCE PA's three General Committees and featured addresses by the President of the National Council of Austria, Barbara Prammer; PA President Ranko Krivokapic; PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver; and a special address by the Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament of Afghanistan, Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi.

In her remarks, Prammer underscored the value of OSCE parliamentarians in supporting OSCE initiatives on conventional arms control, further implementation of the Roma and Sinti Action Plan and the prevention of trafficking in humans.

She welcomed the recent repeal of controversial laws regarding freedom of assembly and speech in Ukraine and described the crisis in the country as a test of adherence to OSCE commitments.

President Krivokapic called on parliamentarians to "also lend our distinct voice as elected representatives" to the 2014 Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE.

"Increased co-operation between parliamentarians and OSCE delegates is vital to overcoming the challenges that lay ahead," Krivokapic said.

The PA President also emphasized that the Winter Meeting should "provide an impetus for strong proposals and concrete actions at our Annual Session in Baku this summer, which will be organized on the theme 'Helsinki +40: Towards Human Security For All.'"

In his address, PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver described the Assembly as providing "a vital, direct connection between the people and their governments" and anticipated lively dialogue and debate on issues ranging from water management to the situation in Ukraine during the Winter Meeting.

Oliver also commended the renewed spirit of co-operation between the OSCE PA and ODIHR and looked forward to another year of constructive work in observing elections.

"As the democratic foundation of the OSCE and in providing a direct connection between the people and their governments, I know we will continue to execute our vital role this year as we pursue comprehensive security across the region," Oliver said.

An address by Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, the speaker of Afghanistan's Lower House of Parliament, highlighted the opening plenary.

Ibrahimi described his country, which is an OSCE partner for co-operation, as "an active and dignified member of international community today, after 12 years of sacrifices."

"The Afghan Parliament, as a young parliament – while making every effort to sustain democratic gains, including in the area of human rights, and to further consolidate democratic values in the country – hopes to have the opportunity to benefit from the experience of the parliaments of the OSCE member states and partner countries in areas such as legislation, as well as the expansion of democratic institutions. We believe that to this end, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly can play a significant role," Ibrahimi said.

The OSCE PA has held an annual Winter Meeting at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna since 2002, providing an opportunity for OSCE parliamentarians to be briefed by high-level OSCE officials. The Winter Meeting is comprised of meetings of the Standing Committee of Heads of Delegations, each general committee, and joint sessions of the three committees.

The schedule for 14 February features a special debate to be held in two parts, under the themes, "The Rise of Extremism, Radicalism and Xenophobia: Challenges for the OSCE Region," and "The Current Situation in Ukraine."

For streaming video during the meeting, please see www.youtube.com/oscepa



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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