COPENHAGEN, 8 April 2019 – Meeting today in the Danish capital, the elected Bureau of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly heard remarks from Albanian President Ilir Meta related to Albania's upcoming Chairmanship of the OSCE, as well as OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, and Head of the OSCE PA’s Danish Delegation Peter Juel Jensen. Bureau members discussed current international issues and offered feedback on the reports and draft resolutions being prepared for the 28th Annual Session this summer in Luxembourg.
The Bureau also unanimously endorsed the renewal of the mandate of Roberto Montella for a second five-year term as OSCE PA Secretary General. The Bureau’s proposal will be voted on by the Standing Committee in Luxembourg on 4 July 2019.
In his opening remarks, OSCE PA President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) noted the importance of overcoming the political differences that have stood in the way of principled discussions and removing obstacles that continue to delay the OSCE budget from being adopted in a timely fashion.
“We all must work hand-in-hand to push our countries and governments to achieve some tangible progress in a number of challenging areas,” he said. “These include putting an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, protecting human rights in conflict zones, protecting journalists, enabling the contributions of civil society, and promoting the participation of more women, youth, and underrepresented peoples in public life.”
He noted that the work of the OSCE hangs in the balance of budget decisions in Vienna and stressed the importance of resolving political impasses in order to enable OSCE institutions to carry out their mandates.
President Meta discussed preparations underway in Albania for its assumption of the 2020 OSCE Chairmanship and thanked President Tsereteli and Secretary General Montella for their support of Albania’s work in this field.
It is important that the OSCE remains a forum for dialogue and security, President Meta stressed, highlighting the role of the PA in this regard. “I highly appreciate the increasing role of the Parliamentary Assembly, particularly in election monitoring, which helps to promote democracy, security and confidence within and between participating States,” he said. Meta also welcomed the work of OSCE PA ad hoc committees on migration and countering terrorism.
OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger discussed ways to make the best use of the unique set of OSCE structures and institutions, including the PA, to tackle current challenges. “The most acute,” he said, “is the crisis in and around Ukraine, as well as broader tensions and the breakdown of trust between Russia and the West. What concerns me is that we face again the risk of military incidents or accidents.”
The Secretary General noted that the OSCE is at its best when it provides a platform for dialogue, a tool box for solutions, and a place for managing relations peacefully. But to be effective it is necessary to rebuild trust and ensure the Organization is equipped with needed resources, he said.
In an open discussion with President Meta and Secretary General Greminger, OSCE PA Bureau members raised issues including the challenges related to resolving protracted conflicts and addressing the crisis in and around Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity and places responsibility where it belongs. Members also expressed significant concern about the state of discussions related to financing the OSCE, with delays and differences threatening to halt the important work done by the Organization.
Secretary General Montella noted that the presence of Meta and Greminger at the Bureau meeting underlines the growing relevance of the Parliamentary Assembly and urged the continuation of constructive dialogue within the OSCE. He assured President Meta of the PA’s support to Albania as it assumes the Chairmanship of the OSCE.
Rapporteurs of the OSCE PA’s three general committees presented their ideas and intentions for the reports and draft resolutions they are preparing for the Luxembourg Annual Session. Irish parliamentarian Alan Farrell, the rapporteur of the Committee on Political Affairs and Security, highlighted the importance of multilateral responses to emerging security challenges to advance security, the challenge of protracted conflicts in the OSCE area, and how parliamentarians can promote sustainable development and security.
In her report, Albanian parliamentarian Elona Hoxha Gjebrea, rapporteur of the economic and environmental committee, stressed the unique role of national parliaments in developing legislative proposals with the aim of advancing sustainable development and security. In particular, she said, parliaments have an essential role in addressing climate change, energy security and sustainable energy; preventing and combating corruption, money laundering, and financing of terrorism; and developing effective approaches to migration and environmental governance.
The protection of human rights in conflict areas is one of the OSCE PA’s overarching goals, said Kyriakos Hadjiyianni, a parliamentarian from Cyprus and rapporteur of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. In his report to the Bureau, he stressed that the PA must renew its call for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in every OSCE country, noting that where respect of human rights is guaranteed, peace can also be safeguarded.
His report touched on several key themes, including human rights as a dimension of foreign policy, the use of states of emergency as temporary suspension of some democratic commitments, children in areas of military conflict, and violence against women.
Bureau members offered comments on the rapporteurs’ draft reports, highlighting a number of areas for strengthening and clarifying language, feedback which the rapporteurs will now take into consideration in finalizing the documents for consideration at the Luxembourg Annual Session.
Other items on the agenda of the Bureau meeting included reports from the Treasurer, Special Representatives and Ad Hoc Committees.
Photos of the OSCE PA Bureau meeting are available for public use on Flickr.