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2013-OSCE-MC-KrivokapicKYIV, 5 December 2013 – The OSCE can be a driving force for freedom and democracy, but must achieve consensus to fulfil that vital role, said OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ranko Krivokapic at the opening of the 2013 OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Kyiv today.

The President noted that if countries of the East and West managed to achieve historic progress in 1975, with the Iron Curtain in place, then surely OSCE participating states can capitalize on the momentum of history as the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act approaches.

"As we look forward to celebrating a milestone in our shared history, we must show the world that we can and will reach consensus on the biggest challenges set before us," he said, addressing foreign ministers and other senior officials from the OSCE's 57 participating states.

Today's multipolar world is more complex and less predictable than the world was 40 years ago, Krivokapic said, and therefore, the OSCE must be equally dynamic to take on today's challenges. "The OSCE can afford to be static in only one respect: its values," Krivokapic said. "Those values must remain indisputable, now more than ever, in our rapidly changing world."

President Krivokapic emphasized the critical role that OSCE Parliamentarians play in translating those values into action. Strengthening the role of the PA in the organization is key to ensuring its future success, he said.

The president also reported on his 4 December meeting with the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Rybak, in which he discussed the current political situation in Ukraine and the country's path toward democracy.

"Peaceful protests are an important tool of public expression," Krivokapic said. "Protests, initially, helped lay the foundation for democracy in Ukraine – and the right to assemble publicly and peacefully must remain completely protected."

Dialogue between political factions through democratically elected institutions and adherence to the rule of law are essential in the process of democracy-building, he said.

President Krivokapic held bilateral meetings with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council meeting. He is scheduled to hold several additional bilateral meetings on 5 and 6 December.