OSCE parliamentarians meet in Vancouver for Annual Session, establish new parliamentary working group on Ukraine

300623 plenary photo 2Voting in plenary session, 30 June 2023VANCOUVER, 30 June 2023 – Hundreds of parliamentarians have gathered in Vancouver, Canada, for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 30th Annual Session. The five-day meeting opened today with calls for strengthening the role of the OSCE in meeting current challenges, including by ending the war in Ukraine with full respect for the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In her opening speech, OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) stressed that the Parliamentary Assembly should help lead the way out of the precarious situation facing the world, and towards this end she announced that earlier in the day the heads of national OSCE PA delegations had established a new committee to more effectively co-ordinate support for Ukraine. The objective of the new ad hoc committee, which was unanimously adopted upon proposal of the Ukrainian Delegation to the Assembly, will be to ensure that the war remains at the forefront of the PA’s activities and that Ukraine’s needs are fully considered by the Assembly.

“While Russia’s actions continue to threaten the OSCE’s existence, what is happening in Ukraine justifies the unique role of the OSCE,” President Cederfelt said. “It clearly demonstrates that without comprehensive security, there is no true security.”

President Cederfelt also highlighted the need to remain vigilant elsewhere in the OSCE region, including in the Western Balkans where growing tensions call for immediate attention, and in the South Caucasus, where the road to durable peace and reconciliation “remains long and difficult.”

300623 hedy fryHedy Fry addresses the Assembly, 30 June 2023Also addressing the opening session today were Raymonde Gagné, Speaker of the Canadian Senate; Chris d’Entremont, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons; and Hedy Fry, who serves as Head of the OSCE PA's Canadian Delegation and Special Representative on Gender Issues.

“Today, we meet at a critical time,” said Speaker Gagné. “Having persevered through incredibly difficult circumstances during a global pandemic, the countries of the OSCE PA are now – once again – facing challenges to the founding principles that brought us together almost 50 years ago. Russia's unprovoked and unjustified military invasion of Ukraine, which began over a year ago, is one of these major global challenges.”

The Annual Session offers parliamentarians “a unique opportunity to have an open and fruitful exchange of views on issues that matter to Europe, and indeed, to the world,” Speaker Gagné added.

“Today, we find ourselves in a room filled with political representatives who will have the opportunity to express varying points of view and differing ideologies through constructive debate, and to come together to adopt draft resolutions,” said Deputy Speaker d’Entremont. “I am confident that the different points of view we express at our forthcoming meetings will be respectfully considered. The aim must be to achieve comprehensive security in all OSCE Parliamentary Assembly member states and throughout the world.”

He added that defending Ukraine means defending democracy throughout the world, and implored OSCE parliamentarians to stand united and continue to provide Ukraine with the support that it needs.

300623 plenary photo 1Voting in plenary session, 30 June 2023Dr. Fry welcomed the Assembly to Vancouver, her hometown, and expressed pride in the diversity of the city and of Canada in general. She noted that what binds Canadians together are common values of democracy and peace, stressing that these values are what compel OSCE parliamentarians to continue advocating for Ukraine.

In a video message to the Assembly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed participants and stressed the importance of delivering the message to the Russian Federation that might does not make right. He emphasized that OSCE parliamentarians have an important role to play in this regard.

Following the opening speeches, the Assembly considered a resolution on the OSCE and the OSCE PA’s credibility in the face of Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine.

Highlighting the war of aggression as a signal that the Russian Federation is not interested in genuine dialogue, the resolution states that Russian parliamentarians’ support for the war “effectively disqualifies the present Russian parliament as a responsible partner for dialogue and makes sanctions against these parliamentarians a legitimate and appropriate policy against them as accomplices.”

The resolution will be included in the Vancouver Declaration to be voted on at the closing day of the Annual Session on 4 July.

With several days of intense debate and committee work ahead, the Annual Session also includes numerous bilateral meetings and side events, as well as reports by Special Representatives and Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees.

The Annual Session is streaming on the OSCE PA’s YouTube and Facebook channels, and photos of the meeting can be found on Flickr. Please visit the Annual Session’s web page for more information.



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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