PA leadership briefs European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on OSCE work

COPENHAGEN, 27 May 2021 – OSCE Parliamentary President Peter Lord Bowness (United Kingdom) and Secretary General Roberto Montella spoke Wednesday at the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and took questions from Members of the European Parliament. The meeting was chaired by David McAllister from Germany and featured participation by a number of former OSCE parliamentarians, including Isabel Santos from Portugal, Nacho Sanchez Amor from Spain, and Tonino Picula from Croatia.

In his opening remarks, President Bowness welcomed the institutional co-operation and understanding that has been facilitated by the engagement of former leaders of the OSCE PA who sit on the AFET, and provided an overview of the Assembly’s work for those less familiar with the PA. He highlighted in particular fact-finding visits, election observation and conflict mediation as areas of common interest between the EP and OSCE PA.

EU pr emb imgPresident Bowness addressing the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, 26 May 2021“Parliamentary dialogue is a crucial tool to facilitate reconciliation and conflict resolution,” Bowness said. “Our position enables us to act as a bridge and be flexible enough to participate in a wide range of initiatives.” He highlighted the value of OSCE-EU co-operation, noting that through the OSCE’s early warning capacities and the EU’s geopolitical strength, it is possible to raise the attention of governments, the media, and the public to the threat of conflict.

In response to questions from the MEPs on issues such as transatlantic relations, challenges facing Eastern Europe, confidence-building, election observation, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Bowness stressed the importance of building inter-parliamentary co-operation, in particular between EU and OSCE, but said that what is ultimately needed is stronger engagement from governments. He noted that on election observation, follow-up is needed to ensure adherence to democratic commitments and implementation of recommendations.

Bowness highlighted the OSCE PA’s Call for Action initiative, which is exploring ways in which the Parliamentary Assembly can help governments to implement necessary changes. Parliamentarians can raise issues, he said, but ministers and heads of state must address them. He expressed his view that considering all the challenges facing the OSCE area, an OSCE summit could be beneficial at this time, noting that there hasn’t been one since 2010. Heads of state, he said, should address the question of the OSCE, how it functions, and the problems that it is trying to address.

When it comes to Nagorno-Karabakh, he said, it is necessary for governments to come together and promote a political solution. Only when major governments put their political will behind it will a lasting peace be achieved, he said.

Secretary General Montella noted that the OSCE PA is working to strengthen the OSCE in order to better deliver to its end users. He also appealed to the European Parliament to refrain from creating a new election observation institution to carry out this activity but advocated a policy aiming at strengthening the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and building co-operation within its established methodology combining the expertise and political leadership of long and short term observers.

Montella also emphasized that during the COVID-19 pandemic, OSCE parliamentarians have been indispensable in continuing the OSCE's election observation activities. The PA has also worked to build dialogue between parties to conflicts during this period, Montella said.


To watch the video of President Bowness' remarks, please click here.

To watch the video of Secretary General Montella's remarks, 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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