One year in: OSCE parliamentarians debate Russia’s continued full-scale war on Ukraine, Bureau issues joint statement

240223 closing PR photo 1Margareta Cederfelt chairs the joint session of the general committees, 24 February 2023VIENNA, 24 February 2023 – Opening the general debate at the closing session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 22nd Winter Meeting at the Hofburg in Vienna, President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) recalled that one year ago today, OSCE parliamentarians were gathered in the same room as Russian missiles rained down upon Ukrainian cities and military columns poured across the border.

Today, she said, OSCE parliamentarians are still gripped by the shock of the aggression and continue to strive for the restoration of peace. “With each passing hour we hope to come closer to the day when the people of Ukraine will enjoy their full independence and sovereignty within their internationally recognized borders,” Cederfelt said. “But each passing hour also brings countless victims – from the soldiers defending their homeland, to those sitting in their home as a Russian bomb erases their life. Their sacrifice calls on us to redouble our efforts to guarantee the right of all Ukrainians to live in peace and dignity.”

President Cederfelt announced the adoption of a document by the OSCE PA Bureau, with the Assembly’s overwhelming support, entitled “Action on the One-Year Anniversary of Russia’s War Against Ukraine and the International Legal Order.”

Introduced by OSCE PA Vice-President Roger Wicker (United States), the document states: “On this solemn anniversary of this tragic and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine, we, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, pledge to use our voices, votes, and influence as members of our national parliaments to urge our governments and international institutions” to uphold “Ukraine’s fully justified defense against Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable aggression and Ukraine’s efforts to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity to its internationally recognized 1991 borders.”

The joint session included reports by OSCE PA officials who hold mandates related to the war in Ukraine. Special Representative on Eastern Europe Daniela De Ridder (Germany) emphasized the need to ensure that one country cannot simply take territory from another. She highlighted the need for dialogue at the OSCE PA in order to uphold the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, which she noted provides protections for human rights as well as territorial integrity. De Ridder further urged PA Members to support international investigations into war crimes and increase aid to Ukraine.

OSCE PA Special Representative on Parliamentary Dialogue on Ukraine Reinhold Lopatka (Austria) spoke about the efforts he has made in developing contacts with interlocutors to resolve the war. He pledged to continue using even the smallest of opportunities to contribute to a peaceful solution with full respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

The Chair of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, Vice-President Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom), made it clear that the Ukrainian refugee crisis is entirely the fault of the Russian Federation’s invasion and can be reversed immediately by a decision by Moscow to end its war against Ukraine. He urged more resolute support for Ukraine.

240223 closing PR 1John Whittingdale and Steve Cohen in Vienna, 24 February 2023OSCE PA Special Rapporteur on War Crimes in Ukraine John Whittingdale (United Kingdom) reported on his activities including meetings he has held at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and with judges in Ukraine. He noted that Ukraine’s government has recorded tens of thousands of war crimes committed on its territory and hundreds of children killed. Civilians have been targeted, Whittingdale said, and hundreds of attacks have been committed on journalists. He called for unprecedented legal measures against Russia to uphold international law and defend the international rules-based order.

OSCE PA Special Representative on Political Prisoners Steve Cohen (United States) argued that the war has been made possible by a growing trend of autocracy in Russia, which is exemplified by the proliferation of political prisoners, noting the cases of Vladimir Kara-Murza and Alexei Navalny and recalling that there are also many political prisoners in Belarus. The worst thing that can happen to a political prisoner, he said, is for people to forget about them, so he implored all OSCE parliamentarians to remember and keep fighting for them.

In the debate, OSCE parliamentarians expressed overwhelming solidarity with Ukraine and strongly denounced the Russian Federation’s war. Members noted the vote at the UN General Assembly on Thursday in which in which 141 countries voted for Russia to withdraw its forces. Many parliamentarians urged increased financial and military support to Ukraine, but also stressed the importance of improving the tracking of weapons to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

240223 Sviatlana TsikhanouskayaSviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, 24 February 2023Following this morning’s joint session of the three committees, the OSCE PA’s Standing Committee, consisting of the heads of national delegations and Bureau members, met to hear reports and discuss internal matters, including Vice-President Pere Joan Pons (Spain)'s report on last November's election observation mission to the United States. President Cederfelt, Treasurer Peter Juel-Jensen (Denmark), OSCE PA Special Representatives, and Chairs of the ad hoc committees on migration and countering terrorism, and Secretary General Roberto Montella also reported to the Standing Committee.

As a special guest of the President, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addressed the Standing Committee, highlighting the movement for democracy in Belarus and seeking support from the OSCE PA to keep Belarus high on the Assembly’s agenda, speak out on human rights and press for the release of political prisoners.

On Thursday, the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism, chaired by Reinhold Lopatka, met to discuss ongoing work of the committee, with a particular focus on the topic of terrorism financing. The Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, chaired by Mark Pritchard, met for discussions about the Ukrainian refugee crisis, largely focusing on the challenges facing vulnerable persons.



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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