Reviving multilateralism, resolving protracted conflicts and tackling COVID-19 co-operatively called for at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Winter Meeting

Peter Bowness WM 250221Peter Bowness addresses the Winter Meeting, 25 February 2021COPENHAGEN, 25 February 2021 – Some 270 parliamentarians are gathering in an online format for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 20th Winter Meeting – the first-ever virtual statutory meeting of the Assembly – to discuss issues such as protracted conflicts, the crisis in and around Ukraine, building economic and environmental security, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on security and democracy.

At the opening joint session today, OSCE PA members heard keynote addresses by President of the Austrian National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, OSCE PA President Peter Lord Bowness, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Foreign Minister of Sweden Ann Linde, and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, followed by a question and answer session. President Sobotka stressed strong commitment to multilateralism and inter-parliamentary diplomacy, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the importance of security of parliaments in these challenging times, and underlined the importance of working together in order to ensure greater success.

President Bowness noted that the OSCE must defend principle-based dialogue as the core of comprehensive security. “We will speak out when core OSCE principles are defiantly trampled,” Bowness pledged. “We will continue to help all OSCE participating States strengthen their democratic institutions and live up to the commitments taken by their leaders in Helsinki and in Paris all those years ago.”

Ann Linde WM 240221Ann Linde addresses the Winter Meeting, 25 February 2021Foreign Minister Linde outlined the priorities of the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship and highlighted the role of parliamentarians in the OSCE’s work. “The parliamentary dimension of the OSCE is an important link between the people in the participating States and the work of the OSCE in Vienna and in the field,” Linde said. “Through your participation in election observation missions, you strengthen the connection between our organization and the more than one billion citizens across our 57 countries and contribute to the role of the OSCE when it comes to democracy and the rule of law.”

The PA is an essential part of the OSCE family, said Secretary General Schmid, noting that parliamentarians consistently provide fresh ideas for the Organization’s work.

“The OSCE can better tackle the challenges we face, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, if we work together,” Schmid said. “The PA’s recent Call for Action on higher-level engagement and support for the OSCE is an important and timely initiative. Let us reflect together on what we have achieved over the last nearly 50 years and what the OSCE should look like in the years to come. We should be ambitious and work toward concrete outcomes that will strengthen security for everyone.”

WM opening session room 250221 croppedHofburg in ViennaIn the general debate, moderated by OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella, members stressed the need to avoid creating new dividing lines in the OSCE area and raised issues including media freedom, migration, protracted conflicts, and deteriorating human rights standards. OSCE parliamentarians also stressed the need to recommit to the spirit of multilateralism, especially in light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. The resumption of armed confrontation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict last autumn was highlighted as a tragic example of what happens when protracted conflicts go unresolved.

Opening the meeting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Security, Chair Richard Hudson (United States) recalled the series of parliamentary web dialogues held in 2020 that explored the security implications of COVID. He highlighted challenges facing the OSCE, including political events in Belarus, Russia and Georgia, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“These discussions have underlined the depth of the challenges to the political and security environment in the OSCE area that is the remit of this committee,” Hudson said. “But they have also confirmed the validity of the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, and the unique role of parliaments and parliamentary diplomacy, to addressing these challenges.”

Rapporteur Laurynas Kasciunas (Lithuania) presented his ideas for the report and resolution that he is preparing for the OSCE PA’s Annual Session this July, focusing on conflicts and security threats in the OSCE area, including the situation in Georgia, the unfinished Transdniestrian settlement process and the crisis in and around Ukraine. “We, as members of the OSCE PA, must go on calling for the restoration of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders,” Kasciunas said.

The committee also heard presentations by Ambassador Neil Bush, Chair of the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the OSCE; Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, Acting Assistant US Secretary of State, US Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation; Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities; and Ambassador Yasar Halit Cevik, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

The OSCE PA’s Standing Committee, consisting of the heads of national delegations and members of the Bureau, met Wednesday to hear reports and discuss ongoing Assembly work. The Winter Meeting continues Friday with sessions of the general committees on economic and environmental affairs and human rights.

Videos of the meeting are available on YouTube and photos are available on Flickr. More information is available at the Winter Meeting web page.



Нэт Пэрри

Начальник отдела коммуникаций и прессы

Офис: +45 33 37 80 55
Мобильный: +45 60 10 81 77
Электронная почта: [email protected]

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video