MINSK, 6 July 2017 – More than 260 parliamentarians from 55 OSCE countries and several Partners for Co-operation began debates today on political and security affairs, economic and environmental issues, and human rights and humanitarian concerns at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 26th Annual Session in Minsk.
Beginning the day in plenary session to debate two migration-related resolutions put forward by Swiss parliamentarian Filippo Lombardi and French parliamentarian Alain Neri, OSCE PA members continued their work in the general committees debating and amending the resolutions tabled by committee rapporteurs.
The migration resolutions call for the OSCE and governments of the OSCE area to enhance co-operation and the sharing of best practices with the aim of developing a coherent approach to migration governance based on principles of responsibility sharing. The debate featured the participation of parliamentarians from across the OSCE, including members from Canada, the United States, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Portugal.
Following the adoption of several amendments, the resolutions were agreed to and will be included in the Minsk Declaration on 9 July.
In the Committee on Political Affairs and Security, Rapporteur Margareta Cederfelt (MP, Sweden) introduced her report and draft resolution, which she noted features six key issues: cybersecurity, terrorism, Turkey, women in peacebuilding, Russian aggression against Ukraine, and protracted conflicts.
Regarding Ukraine, she stressed the need to withdraw heavy weapons and foreign fighters from the contact line, as well as ensure unlimited access for OSCE monitors, and the restoration of Ukrainian control over its eastern border. On terrorism, she regretted that over the past year, the OSCE area has experienced several terrible attacks, noting the value of utilizing the full OSCE toolbox in addressing this threat.
“Innocent people are being targeted,” she said. “We parliamentarians need to act to stop the terrorists and we can do so by using the OSCE toolbox. We can do much more to support peace, security and stability.”
Chaired by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, the committee also heard a report from Amb. Ertugral Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, who joined the session by video link.
The OSCE PA’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment was chaired by Nilza Sena (MP, Portugal). Presenting her report and draft resolution, Rapporteur Marietta Tidei (MP, Italy) highlighted the necessity of sharing responsibility equitably in addressing migration, climate change and other challenges in the economic and environmental dimension. She noted that more than 63 million people are displaced around the world, stressing that war, poverty and climate change are all contributing to this mass dislocation.
Tidei argued that there is a need to take action to make the global economy more responsive to global challenges. “We cannot slam the breaks on globalization, but we can steer it,” she said.
In the debate, members raised issues including scarcity of water, renewable energy, transparency in the extractive industries, and shared responsibility on climate change.
Spanish parliamentarian Ignacio Sanchez Amor chaired the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, which heard a presentation from Rapporteur Kyriakos Kyriakou-Hadjiyianni (Cyprus). The Rapporteur stressed that all OSCE countries have agreed to commitments in the human dimension and to ensure that these are upheld, the OSCE should strengthen its enforcement mechanisms.
Noting that a “gap of legitimacy between peoples and their institutions adds to a popular sense of dislocation and disorientation,” his report emphasized the centrality of the human dimension to regional security. The human rights and fundamental freedoms articulated in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, he recalled, are essential for the development of friendly international relations and co-operation.
A dozen parliamentarians took the floor to discuss Hadjiyianni’s report, with broad support expressed for his work. The committee addressed six amendments introduced by members and will continue its work on Friday.
The committee meetings today follow a number of opening speeches Wednesday, including by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Andreichenko, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen, and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.
On the margins of today’s committee and plenary meetings, side events were held on human rights in Belarus, migration, and human trafficking.
The 26th Annual Session is being held in the Belarusian capital under the theme “Enhancing mutual trust and co-operation for peace and prosperity in the OSCE region” and will conclude on 9 July with the adoption of the Minsk Declaration.
For schedules, resolutions, live streaming during the event, news updates, press releases and other information, please visit www.oscepa.org. Photos are available for public use on the PA’s Flickr page at www.flickr.com/oscepa and the Belarusian Parliament's Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofrepresentatives/. The hashtags #OSCEPAMinsk2017, #ПАОБСЕМинск2017 and #ПААБСЕМінск2017 are being used on Twitter.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 323 parliamentarians from 57 countries spanning Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international co-operation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues.