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CM at Universal Peace Federation 150917Christine Muttonen addresses the Universal Peace Federation in Vienna, 15 Sept. 2017.VIENNA, 15 September 2017 – All tracks of diplomacy – official discussions, informal dialogue, and people-to-people contact – are needed to build the trust needed for long-term peace, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) said today at an event in Vienna. Parliamentarians are in a unique position to facilitate dialogue, she said, noting that OSCE PA meetings often provide opportunities for informal conversations, and that through their diplomatic efforts, parliamentarians can establish important lines of communication for confidence-building.

“Increased contact between civil society actors is a powerful way to reduce tensions and promote co-operation. As parliamentarians, we can help make these contacts happen, by building bridges where others only see walls,” said President Muttonen.

The Vienna conference, entitled “Perspectives for Sustainable Peace in Europe: The UN Vision, the Role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society,” was organized by the Universal Peace Federation and the newly established International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace. The event is commemorating next week’s United Nations International Day of Peace and is focused on exploring the role that parliamentarians can play in securing peace for Europe and its wider neighborhood.

President Muttonen spoke at a session focused on peace-building in Europe, Eurasia and the Western Balkans. She offered examples of innovative projects for cultural exchanges and confidence-building, including the work of OSCE field operations in the region that work to advance constructive inter-ethnic relations and support anti-discrimination, education, decentralization, and the use of minority languages.

She highlighted in particular efforts to establish multi-ethnic police forces and the unique cultural exchange programmes taking place in South East Europe to build trust between diverse ethnic communities.

“This is the often overlooked but vital work of conflict prevention and peace-building. It may not get the attention of a high-profile diplomatic breakthrough with a historic peace treaty signing in Paris or Vienna, but in the long run it may be more important in terms of building long-term peace,” President Muttonen said.

For the President’s full remarks, please click here.