CHAIR OF EUROPEAN BODY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON STRENGTHENED QUEST TO BUILD PEACE AMID CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZED, INTERDEPENDENT WORLD

28 September 2007
SC/9132

CHAIR OF EUROPEAN BODY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON STRENGTHENED QUEST TO BUILD PEACE AMID CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZED, INTERDEPENDENT WORLD

28 September 2007
Security Council
SC/9132
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5751st Meeting (AM)

CHAIR OF EUROPEAN BODY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON STRENGTHENED QUEST

TO BUILD PEACE AMID CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZED, INTERDEPENDENT WORLD

Spanish Foreign Minister Cites Organization’s Efforts in Europe, Central Asia

The Spanish chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had strengthened its final objective of constructing a Europe free and at peace with itself, conscious that challenges affecting security were interrelated and necessitated cooperation in a globalized and interdependent world, Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé said in a briefing to the Security Council this morning.

Mr. Moratinos, OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Foreign Minister of Spain, said that, thanks to its concept of multidimensional and cooperative security and the varied instruments it had developed, the organization was well placed to assist in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Its human, political-military and economic-environmental dimensions allowed it to work in conflict prevention, crisis management and reconstruction.

In the past few years, he said, OSCE had helped in several serious incidents occurring in Abkhazia and in the conflict zone between Georgia and South Ossetia.  As a result of the missile incident in Georgia on 6 August, the Spanish chairmanship had proposed specific preventive measures to avoid a recurrence of similar incidents.  OSCE was also engaged in ongoing efforts to mediate the Nagorny Karabakh conflict and the Transdniestria issue in the Republic of Moldova.

Noting that the time for a decision on the future status of Kosovo was approaching, he said OSCE backed attempts to find a just and lasting formula that would contribute to the region’s stability.  Although not directly involved in status negotiations, the organization had contributed to the process of creating the necessary conditions on the ground for the implementation of the status settlement.  OSCE was ready to stay in Kosovo to monitor the protection of rights, particularly in regard to decentralization and protection of cultural and religious sites.

The Central Asian States played a crucial role in strengthening security in the entire OSCE region, he said.  The fragility of Afghanistan impacted on security in all Central Asia and the organization had prepared border management projects, particularly in Tajikistan.  Kazakhstan had announced that it was a candidate for the OSCE chairmanship, the first from a former Soviet Republic and the first from a Central Asian State.

Expressing deep concern over the ongoing stalemate regarding the future implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, he called upon all States parties to show the necessary flexibility in seeking a resolution of that question.  The Spanish chairmanship had placed top priority on counter-terrorism and had also championed economic and environmental security, with a particular focus on the threat of land degradation and water management.  OSCE had also strengthened its human dimension by advancing the promotion of diverse and pluralistic societies.  It had made a substantive contribution towards the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination, since, in itself, the organization was an alliance of civilizations in action.

Following the briefing, several delegates took the floor to commend OSCE’s work, with speakers calling for enhanced cooperation between the organization and the United Nations, given the increasing recognition of the important role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security.  They also praised OSCE’s efforts in building democratic institutions and promoting respect for human rights, as well as its work in the areas of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Speakers also underlined the importance of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and called upon all States parties to renew their efforts towards its entry into force.  They also welcomed OSCE’s reaction to the 6 August missile incident in Georgia.  The representative of the Russian Federation said the organization had acted in a balanced way and could help prevent further tension.  Delegates also addressed the Afghanistan and Kosovo questions.

Also speaking today were the Foreign Ministers of Slovakia, Belgium and Italy, as well as the representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:15 a.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The last such briefing took place on 16 January 2006 (see Press Release SC/8608).

Briefing by OSCE Chairman

MIGUEL ÁNGEL MORATINOS CUYAUBÉ, Chairman-in-Office of OSCE and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said OSCE had been recognized as a regional organization under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter since 1993, and lent its support to the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.  Thanks to its concept of multidimensional and cooperative security and the varied instruments it had developed, OSCE was well placed to assist in the implementation of relevant Council resolutions.  Its human, political-military and economic-environmental dimensions allowed it to work in conflict prevention, crisis management and reconstruction. 

The March 2006 Declaration on Cooperation with the United Nations reiterated the commitment by OSCE to act as a regional organization and strengthen cooperation within the framework of Council resolution 1631 (2005), he said.  OSCE provided assistance to States and had more than 19 field missions in 17 countries.  The organization stood for the common will of 56 countries to work together for a safer and more prosperous future.

He said the current chairmanship had strengthened the final objective of OSCE -- to construct a Europe that was free and in peace with itself, conscious of the fact that challenges affecting security were interrelated and necessitated cooperation in a globalized and interdependent world.  In the past few years, the organization had aided in several serious incidents occurring in Abkhazia and in the conflict zone between Georgia and South Ossetia.  As a result of the missile incident in Georgia on 6 August, the Spanish chairmanship had proposed specific preventive measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Throughout the year, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group had continued their efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, he continued.  Although intensive mediation efforts had not resulted in a breakthrough, the parties remained committed to continuing their negotiations.  OSCE continued to facilitate a settlement of the Transdniestria issue in the Republic of Moldova through participation in the “5+2 format” of negotiations.  It had tried to convince the parties to negotiate a sustainable and lasting settlement that would give the Republic of Moldova excellent support to develop and prosper at the heart of the European family.  In all those conflicts, Spain had underlined the need to prepare the ground for peace.

Noting that the time for a decision on the future status of Kosovo was approaching, he said OSCE backed attempts to find a just and lasting formula that would contribute to the region’s stability.  Although not directly involved in status negotiations, the organization had contributed to the process of creating the necessary conditions on the ground for the implementation of the status settlement.  OSCE was ready to stay in Kosovo to monitor protection of rights, particularly in regard to decentralization and protection of cultural and religious sites.  It was to be hoped that a solution to the future status settlement of Kosovo would be sanctioned by a new Security Council resolution.

The Central Asian States played a crucial role in strengthening security in the entire OSCE region, he said.  The fragility of Afghanistan, the terrorist threat, drug trafficking and the management of water resources posed challenges to the organization.  The situation in Afghanistan impacted on security in all of Central Asia, and OSCE had prepared border-management projects, particularly in Tajikistan.  Kazakhstan had announced that it was a candidate for the OSCE chairmanship, the first from a former Soviet Republic and the first from a Central Asian State.

He noted with deep concern the ongoing stalemate regarding the future implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, and called upon all States parties to renew their efforts to display the necessary flexibility towards a resolution of that question.  The Spanish chairmanship had placed counter-terrorism as a top priority and had organized four major conferences in that regard.  OSCE continued to collaborate in helping States to implement international agreements and conventions.  Spain had also championed economic and environmental security, with a particular focus on the threat of land degradation and water management.

In 2007, the human dimension of OSCE had also been strengthened and it had advanced the promotion of diverse and pluralistic societies, he said.  Diversity was a fact for all societies today and, without respect for diversity, dialogue was useless.  The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations initiative was a good instrument for managing and updating diversity in the areas of youth, education, migration and the media.  OSCE had made a substantive contribution towards the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination, since, in itself, OSCE was an alliance of civilizations in action.

The list of remaining tasks was not shrinking, as it expanded upon the arrival of new challenges, he said.  It was, therefore, natural that the agenda for the OSCE Ministerial Council, set for Madrid in November, was ambitious.  The Spanish chairmanship would be actively seeking to force consensus on vital decisions, including environmental security, the strengthening of pluralistic societies, the deepening of cooperation on counter-terrorism and the fight against human trafficking.

Statements

JÁN KUBIŠ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, praised the realistic attitude of the current OSCE chairmanship and agreed with the necessity of strengthening OSCE’s role in Kosovo.  The United Nations would benefit from its experience in conflict prevention in many areas.

Regarding new threats and challenges, he pointed to OSCE’s experience in small arms and light weapons, respect for minorities and the building of democratic institutions.  The organization had also played a groundbreaking role in bridging cultures and consultations among equals, among many others.  Its experience was extremely valuable, particularly in Afghanistan.

KAREL DE GUCHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said that, as a former Chairman, he found OSCE to be a stabilizing factor in its entire region of operation.  In Kosovo, for example, the question of a mandate was not an issue at all.  However, there was still room for more cooperation with the United Nations.  The situation in Georgia was another in which OSCE had a role.  Belgium affirmed its full support as a member of the troika.

VITTORIO CRAXI, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, expressed support for OSCE and for the priorities set by the Spanish Chair, noting that the organization had been able to develop productive cooperation with the United Nations.  OSCE was an effective tool for seeking, on the basis of consensus, solutions to problems that continued to affect Europe.  Italy hoped member States would continue to respect the organization’s underlying principles of renouncing violence and the use of dialogue.  Recent events had shown that differences could not be resolved easily and that political will was indispensable.

He said OSCE could continue to play an important role in the future of Kosovo and expressed support for the Chair’s actions in that regard, as well as his priorities of counter-terrorism, environmental protection, promoting diversity and combating intolerance, corruption and human trafficking.  Credit went to the Spanish Chair for having shown that the organization was able to take up those challenges.  However, major questions remained unresolved, including the impasse regarding the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, the resolution of regional conflicts and the future chairmanships of the organization.

JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) expressed his country’s long-standing support for OSCE, particularly its work in building democratic institutions and promoting respect for human rights, which contributed to security and democracy in Europe.  The United Kingdom welcomed the work done by the Chair in the areas of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as the emphasis it had placed on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.

Sharing the concern of other speakers regarding Georgia, he requested further comments regarding a recommendation, in an OSCE report on the situation in Georgia after the 6 August incident, to establish a rapid reaction mechanism within the organization.  Meanwhile, the United Kingdom welcomed the OSCE involvement in Kosovo, especially regarding activities for the upcoming elections.  As the Contact Group was currently meeting, both sides were urged to redouble their efforts to reach a durable solution.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) welcomed the balanced approach of Spain as Chairman of OSCE, and noted that his country had proposed the speedy adoption of a charter to make it a fully fledged international organization.  The Russian Federation supported constructive dialogue that would strengthen European-wide security, and hoped that, at upcoming meetings, reform efforts would be intensified.  It would continue to cooperate in helping those reforms produce results.

He said there was a clear division of labour between OSCE and the Security Council, and welcomed their mutual cooperation in security and the prevention of regional conflicts.  The organization played a particularly important role in Kosovo, especially in the area of human rights and minorities.  In Georgia, OSCE had acted in a balanced way and could help prevent further tension, with particular regard to the incident of 6 August.  The Russian Federation called on OSCE to help obtain the release of detainees.

ALEJANDRO WOLFF ( United States) said that Afghanistan had expressed interest in deepening its relations with OSCE on border management, police training, elections and other areas in which the organization had very strong experience.  The United States requested the Chairman’s comments on greater cooperation in those areas.  In relation to violent incidents in Georgia, what activities had OSCE considered to bolster security and promote confidence-building?

Council President JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France), speaking in his national capacity, said the priorities set by the Spanish chairmanship would allow OSCE to meet the challenges it was facing.  The organization had contributed to stability and security in Europe and brought member States together on common values.  It was important to strengthen trust among member States and to maintain a balance between the organization’s three dimensions.  Impartiality was of particular importance, making it possible for OSCE to play its role in Kosovo, for instance.

He said France stood ready to support specific projects for the revitalization of OSCE, particularly in the political-military dimension.  There was no doubt that its effectiveness could only be enhanced by its cooperation with the United Nations.

Concluding Remarks by OSCE Chairman

Responding to speakers’ comments and questions, Mr. MORATINOS said today’s debate underlined the importance of strengthening and maintaining the dialogue between the United Nations and OSCE.  Regional organizations had the responsibility of supplementing the efforts undertaken by the United Nations in its role of preserving peace worldwide.

He said that, as the Spanish Chairmanship-in-Office came to a close, there were two main concerns, one of them being Kosovo.  Whatever its future status might be, the presence of OSCE in the field would remain focused on protecting the rights of communities, as well as cultural and religious sites.  The other issue of concern was the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.

As for remarks regarding Georgia, he said he had no intention of opening a debate on the August incident, but wished to indicate what actions had been taken by the Spanish Chair.  Upon first reports of the incident, the Chair-in-Office had entered into contact with all parties, so as to enable the dialogue to achieve common understanding and good neighbourliness.  A personal envoy appointed to establish a climate of trust had reported to the OSCE Council in Vienna.  That forward-looking approach had created a climate of mutual trust.  A number of proposals included the establishment of an early warning mechanism, as well as actions to be taken by military observers in order to prevent future incidents.

The Chair was also undertaking actions regarding the situation in South Ossetia, and border control measures were one of the options being explored, he said.  As for Afghanistan, he agreed with the United States representative that Central Asia had become a crucial area, with new challenges.  Central Asian States, as members of OSCE, must shoulder their share of responsibility.  During his visit to the region, he had tried to understand their lack of involvement in efforts to help resolve the challenges facing Afghanistan.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.