More than 200 parliamentarians met from 24-25 February 2005 in the OSCE premises in Vienna for the fourth Annual OSCE PA Winter Meeting. The Winter Meeting consisted of two Joint Sessions as well as separate meetings of the three General Committees. On the first day, parliamentarians heard welcoming remarks by OSCE PA President Alcee L. Hastings, followed by addresses by the President of the Republic of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, who took questions from the floor.

The Chairman-in-Office highlighted the importance of the election-monitoring work of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and encouraged parliamentarians to contribute actively to the current debate on reform of the OSCE. "The OSCE is facing a difficult moment, or an opportunity, depending on how you look at it. Significant changes in Europe, with EU and NATO enlargement and new challenges to security, have changed the way that we look at security in Europe, and, as a result, the role of the OSCE. You have the reputation of being an incubator for fresh ideas. At a time when reform is so high on the OSCE agenda, I urge you to live up to that reputation," he told the gathered parliamentarians.

The Winter Meeting also served as an opportunity for parliamentarians to hear presentations by the three General Committee Rapporteurs - Pieter De Crem, Leonid Ivanchenko and Anne-Marie Lizin - and to discuss ideas regarding their draft reports for the July 2005 Session in Washington, DC. The Second Joint Session of the Winter Meeting, on 25 February, started with a Report by Tone Tingsgård, the OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues, followed by a debate. OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubis also addressed the Meeting, followed by a question and answer session.