Lithuanian Chair of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Sets Out 2011 Priorities as He Briefs Security Council

15 February 2011
SC/10175

Lithuanian Chair of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Sets Out 2011 Priorities as He Briefs Security Council

15 February 2011
Security Council
SC/10175
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6481st Meeting* (AM)

Lithuanian Chair of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

 

Sets Out 2011 Priorities as He Briefs Security Council

 

Members Hail Regional Body’s Actions in Afghanistan,

Kyrgyzstan ; Commend Efforts to Address Protracted Central Asian Conflicts

Setting out the priorities for the 2011 term in the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Lithuanian Foreign Minister stressed today the values that the regional body held in common with the United Nations and called for greater cooperation to expand peace, advance human rights, generate sustainable development and build a safer world.

“ Lithuania’s Chairmanship of the OSCE will try to work towards the realization of those goals,” Audronius Ažubalis said in a briefing to the Security Council, noting that the organization was the world’s largest regional entity under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, with its 56 participating States spanning the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions.

Among its priorities for 2011, he said, the OSCE would seek tangible progress in addressing protracted conflicts, including the Transdniestrian conflict in the Republic of Moldova and the one over Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus.  He also described the OSCE’s response to the 2010 violence in Kyrgyzstan and its active engagement in the Geneva International Discussion on Georgia and the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, aimed at reducing tensions and building trust among affected communities.  Emphasizing the importance of fully fledged participation by the United Nations for the success of that process, he said there was a “vital need” to find a long-term arrangement for the Organization’s representation.

Recent crises had demonstrated an urgent need to strengthen capabilities across the entire conflict cycle, through the OSCE’s field presences, the work of its Vienna-based Secretariat and its three specialized institutions, he said.  Early warning was critical because some of the OSCE’s area of operation remained vulnerable, including parts of the Caucasus, South-Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Early warning must be followed by early action, as demonstrated by the organization’s quick response to events in Albania, he added.

Media freedom and education on tolerance were also high on the list of OSCE priorities, he said, expressing regret that media and election standards had not been met during last December’s presidential elections in Belarus, and that the country’s Government had decided to terminate the work of the OSCE office in Minsk.  He pledged to intensify the OSCE’s work in support of United Nations-led international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, with the primary focus on countering transnational threats stemming from Afghan territory.

Describing Kosovo as a long-standing example of OSCE cooperation with the United Nations in the field, he pledged continuing efforts by the OSCE mission, known as OMIK, to ensure the security and well-being of all communities there, noting that it shared the world body’s concerns about trafficking in human organs and supported the call for an independent investigation.  The OSCE also supported the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and stood ready to contribute, he added.

He committed himself firmly to cooperation with the United Nations in promoting a universal legal framework on terrorism, and pledged to step up the OSCE’s response to organized crime by examining ways to strengthen the capacity of participating States.  He also pledged to increase the sharing of expertise with other regional organizations.  Noting that the OSCE had played a key role in managing the challenges of transition in Eastern Europe after the cold war, he suggested that it could provide inspiration to others in the present times of dramatic change in Tunisia and Egypt.

Following the briefing, all 15 Council members took the floor to welcome the OSCE’s agenda for 2011, as well as the strengthened cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations, including with the Security Council on issues of peace and security.  Some speakers emphasized the Council’s primary responsibility in that area and the importance of conducting cooperation in the context of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

Speaking today were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Russian Federation, Nigeria, Lebanon, Colombia, Portugal, India, South Africa, China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Gabon and Brazil.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:35 a.m.

Background

The Security Council this morning met to hear a briefing by the Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Briefing

AUDRONIUS AŽUBALIS, Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, noted that the body was the world’s largest regional entity under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, with 56 participating States spanning the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions.  It valued highly the close cooperation it enjoyed with the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security, he said, recalling that at the 2010 OSCE Summit, the world body’s Secretary-General had noted the common values that the two organization’s shared and called for closer cooperation to expand peace, advance human rights, generate sustainable development and build a safer world.

Pledging to work towards the realization of those goals, he said that among the OSCE’s priorities would be the quest for tangible progress in addressing protracted conflicts.  He expressed cautious optimism that official negotiations on the Transdniestrian conflict would be able to resume, and that there would be stronger engagement by the co-Chairs of the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.  The Chair-in-Office also remained committed to the OSCE’s active engagement in the framework of the Geneva International Discussion to reduce tensions and build trust among affected communities.  Since fully fledged participation by the United Nations was important for the success of that process, there was a vital need to find a long-term arrangement for the Organization’s representation, he emphasized.

Media freedom was also high on the list of priorities, he said, adding that Lithuania would host a conference on the safety of journalists in Vilnius this coming June, hopefully with United Nations representation.  He expressed regret that media and election standards had not been met during last December’s presidential elections in Belarus, and over the decision by that country’s Government to terminate the work of the OSCE office in Minsk.  Consultations continued however, he said, adding that programmes to develop education on tolerance, as well as to combat hate crimes and all forms of discrimination, would be further promoted during the Lithuanian term in office.

He said recent crises had also demonstrated the urgent need to strengthen the OSCE’s capabilities across the entire conflict cycle, through its field presences, the work of its Vienna-based Secretariat and its three specialized institutions.  Early warning was critical since some of the organization’s areas of operation remained vulnerable, including parts of the Caucasus, South-Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Early warning must be followed by early action, as demonstrated by the quick response to events in Albania, he said, describing also the OSCE’s response to the 2010 violence in Kyrgyzstan.

Kosovo was a long-standing example of OSCE cooperation with the United Nations, he said, noting that the OSCE mission there (OMIK) continued to implement its mandate under resolution 1244 (1999) and as an integral pillar of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  Pledging to ensure that OMIK continued to work at ensuring the security and well-being of all communities in Kosovo, he said the organization shared concerns about trafficking in human organs and supported the call for an independent investigation.  He affirmed that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue offered concrete opportunities to move forward on issues of mutual concern and to improve the lives of ordinary people, and pledged the OSCE’s readiness to contribute to the process in areas where it had the relevant expertise.

Recognizing the leading role of the United Nations in the fight against terrorism, he pledged firm commitment to cooperation with the Organization’s agencies and other bodies in promoting a universal legal framework on the subject.  The OSCE also intended to step up its response to organized crime by examining ways in which to strengthen the capacity of participating States, he said, adding that United Nations participation in an anticipated conference during the Lithuanian term in office would be welcome.

Turning to regional cooperation, he pledged to intensify the OSCE’s work in supporting United Nations-led international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, which was an OSCE cooperation partner.  The primary goal in the country would be to counter transnational threats stemming from its territory through concrete projects, in close cooperation with the Afghan authorities, Central Asian States participating in the OSCE and other partners.  The organization stood ready to increase the sharing of its experience and expertise with other regions, he said, recalling that, 20 years ago, it had played a key role in managing the challenges of transition in Eastern Europe, and suggesting that the OSCE toolbox, as well as its principle and institutions, could provide inspiration to others in the present times of dramatic change in Tunisia and Egypt.

ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security matters made it a valuable partner for the United Nations in addressing security challenges.  It was also the world body’s indispensable partner in institution-building and promoting the rule of law, especially in its work with UNMIK.  She noted in particular the OSCE’s efforts in support of the international community in Afghanistan, where it helped with border security, the fight against drug trafficking and the promotion of development, and encouraged it to continue its efforts to bolster the participation of women at all levels.  She went on to express appreciation of the OSCE’s efforts, alongside the United Nations, in dealing with the parties to the Geneva talks — the Russian Federation, Georgia and the de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  The OSCE must urge the participants to meet regularly and to put forward confidence-building measures, she emphasized.  The United States also welcomed the OSCE’s efforts to counter transnational threats, including by stressing the need to implement relevant Security Council resolutions.

PHILIP JOHN PARHAM ( United Kingdom) pointed out that, while the Chairman-in-Office had outlined upcoming efforts to address protracted conflicts in Europe, its recent High-Level Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, had failed to agree on language in respect of that matter, particularly regarding Georgia, which had prevented the OSCE from setting an even more active agenda on that issue.  The organization was working with the United Nations as a co-Chair of the Geneva talks and the United Kingdom also appreciated its efforts in Kyrgyzstan in 2010.  However, there remained challenges that must be addressed, including in areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms, he said.  Indeed, too many journalists in OSCE States worked under threat of violence or even death.  The OSCE must do more to address that issue, including by exploring the use of new media and communications technologies.

PETER WITTIG (Germany), saying he shared the Chairmanship’s priorities and looked forward to working together, noted that making progress on protracted conflicts was particularly important, but required the players on the ground to exert political will in a consensual and peaceful manner, and with respect for the human rights of all communities.  Encouraging the parties in the Republic of Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia to support the OSCE’s role in those areas, he urged a swift agreement on the funding of a United Nations representative to the Geneva talks.  He also expressed concern over the closing of the OSCE office in Minsk, as well as appreciation for efforts to reopen it.  Cooperation against terrorism and organized crime, as well as in post-conflict rehabilitation were important areas of cooperation with the United Nations, he said.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said he favoured greater cooperation with the OSCE in the context of Chapter VIII of the Charter and respect for the Security Council’s primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.  Affirming the need for a legally binding treaty on European security, he concurred on the need for a permanent United Nations representative to work with the OSCE on the important question of the Caucasus.  He welcomed the OSCE’s continuing role in Kosovo and shared his concerns about the possible trade in human organs, proposing that the organization become active in generating an investigation.  He also welcomed efforts to combat the trade in illicit drugs work within the OSCE framework, as well as its cooperation with many other regional organizations.  Emphasizing that cooperation should focus primarily on areas of concern to the OSCE, he expressed hope that the working philosophy of the new Chairmanship-in-Office would help improve the organization’s “crisis approach” of recent years and help it adapt to current realities.

U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) welcomed the OSCE’s efforts to ease tensions and end the strife in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, as well as its deployment of good offices missions to ease tensions in Albania, saying her delegation also supported its request for a fully fledged United Nations presence at the Geneva talks on the situation in Georgia.  The OSCE’s efforts to promote education, tolerance and inter-ethnic harmony would yield great progress in the entire region, she said.  Going forward, the challenges it would face in the Caucasus region would provide it with an opportunity to promote broad changes there, and Nigeria expected it also to continue its efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  To enhance its standing and make even greater progress, the OSCE must make every effort to return to its position as the most inclusive forum for consultation and action, she said.

NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon), pointing out that Chapter VIII of the Charter was devoted to cooperation with regional organizations, said that was solid proof of the similarities between the work of the United Nations and that of such regional players.  Lebanon supported the OSCE’s efforts to resolve conflicts through peaceful means and post-conflict peacebuilding, he said, calling on the organization to increase attention to the need to promote human rights and the rule of law.  It should also strengthen its efforts to tackle transnational crime and the trade in illegal small arms, among other threats.  He urged the organization to increase its cooperation and consultation with other international, regional and subregional bodies, including the United Nations and the League of Arab States.

NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) welcomed the common vision that the OSCE shared with his country — which understood security as a requirement for enjoying necessary human well-being — and, therefore, also welcomed the organization’s regional approach to stability.  The interactions of regional organizations promoted a better understanding of particular situations, as well as the integration of all approaches within a specific region.  Expressing appreciation for OSCE’s efforts in Kosovo and in Afghanistan, and in fighting terrorism, including its promotion of a universal framework, he highlighted the importance of promoting more fluid communication between the United Nations and regional organizations, including the Organization of American States (OAS).

JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) welcomed the follow-up on the Astana Declaration, which reaffirmed all critical dimensions of the OSCE’s work and contained concrete measures to strengthen them.  Portugal attached particular importance to its close cooperation with other international organizations, particularly in respect of regional efforts on preventive diplomacy in Central Asia.  Among other areas benefiting from such cooperation were those of control over conventional arms in Europe, dealing with protracted conflicts and tackling organized crime, he said, expressing confidence in Lithuania’s leadership and pledging his support for the Chairmanship-in-Office, as well as for closer cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said regional organizations should keep the Security Council informed of its efforts to help address peace and security issues, in cooperation with the United Nations.  He welcomed the OSCE’s activities in various fields, from promoting human rights and the rule of law to tackling environmental questions.  The OSCE had helped to manage and resolve some of the most challenging conflicts and situations in the post-cold war era, he recalled, adding that in recent years, it had extended its work into Asia, partnering with similar organizations, including the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).  India welcomed the many efforts that the OSCE had undertaken to promote peace and security in Afghanistan.

DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was necessary to bolster multilateralism and promote international peace and security.  He emphasized, however, that, while all threats and challenges were unique, and while the assistance of regional groupings was increasingly important, that did not absolve the Security Council from its Charter-mandated responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  South Africa hoped the OSCE would continue to broaden its cooperation with regional organizations in order further to involve those outside its area of operation, including the African Union.

LI BAODONG ( China) said his country attached great importance to the cooperation between the Security Council and regional and subregional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, in the context of the United Nations Charter, and taking advantage of each organization’s special capabilities.  He commended the OSCE’s work on preventive diplomacy, counter-terrorism and other areas, and encouraged the organization to continue to strengthen its role in promoting regional stability.

MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that building comprehensive and lasting security was a shared strategic interest and also one of the main goals of the OSCE.  With its 56 participating States, the organization represented a wide and credible forum, where each State maintained active relations on the basis of its own interests.  Further, those participants could engage on an equal footing in dialogue regarding European security and cooperation, he said, adding that his delegation would continue to promote the same priorities within the OSCE’s work, focusing mainly on countering terrorism, arms control, protecting human rights and minorities, human trafficking, corruption and all other forms of criminal activity.

He went on to share reflections from the OSCE High-level Summit held in Astana last December, saying it had only confirmed his country’s awareness of the urgent problems that many States faced, including transnational threats such as terrorism and trafficking.  The Summit had also recognized the OSCE as an adequate forum for analysing and finding solutions to such issues, he said, adding that the event had opened new paths towards long-term cooperation among Member States in addition to setting high expectations for important new decisions to facilitate it.  In addition, the adoption of the Astana Declaration had reconfirmed the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security on the basis of trust and transparency, he said, expressing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s strong support for that approach and for joint initiatives by Member States aimed at building greater trust in Europe.

EMMANUEL BONNE ( France) said the Astana Summit had reaffirmed the objectives shared by the two organizations and had opened the way for new areas of cooperation.  They could and should enhance joint efforts in many areas, including freedom of media and expression, human rights, combating terrorism and transnational crime.  The two bodies should also enhance exchanges in order to ensure better coordination of their joint efforts, including in Afghanistan and with UNMIK, he said, noting that the OSCE had been able to respond to crises in the Central Asia region, in coordination with the United Nations.

At the same time, the two organizations faced some areas of difficulty and concern, particularly the situation in Georgia and throughout the Caucasus, he said, urging the parties in the Geneva talks to refrain from actions that might destabilize the fragile equilibrium in the region.  The situation in Belarus was also a source of concern, especially the up-tick in attacks on press freedom following recent elections there.  The decision to close the OSCE Office in Minsk was, therefore, of particular concern, he said, calling for respect for human rights, and, more specifically, civil and political rights in Belarus.  France wished to see the OSCE develop ties with other organizations, including the European Union, which would benefit all countries.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET ( Gabon) emphasized the need for progress on protracted conflicts and welcomed the OSCE’s efforts to re-launch talks in the Republic of Moldova in that context.  Strengthening regional organizations should remain central to United Nations efforts, he said, adding that stronger early-warning systems for conflict in various areas could benefit from the OSCE’s experiences.  Gabon welcomed the increased cooperation between the OSCE and other regional organizations, he said, expressing his support for the organization in a number of other areas, in particular the road map set out by the Lithuanian Chair.

Council President MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), speaking in her national capacity, said regional and subregional organizations could contribute to the further strengthening of the multilateral system, including in the area of maintaining international peace and security.  Collaboration between the United Nations and the OSCE was a concrete example of a partnership that had helped promote peace and security in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as in combating terrorism.  In Afghanistan, the OSCE had been actively involved in efforts to foster political dialogue, boost national capacities and support democratic processes, she noted, adding that her delegation was pleased with the close coordination between the organization and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Turning to Kyrgyzstan, she recalled that the OSCE had played a constructive role in dealing with the situation in that country, in close coordination with the United Nations and the European Union, and in the context of a challenging political environment.  Brazil recognized the work done to normalize the situation, ensure stability and security, help the victims of violence and assist in the process of national reconciliation.  As for the 2011 Chairmanship, she said her delegation was pleased to learn that, in addition to a renewed commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights, Lithuania would seek new ways to promote energy security, media freedom and education on tolerance.

Mr. AŽUBALIS ( Lithuania) thanked the Council for the unanimous support expressed for the Lithuanian Chair-in-Office, saying it would help implementation of the OSCE’s 2011 programme if it were converted into strong political will and concrete action.

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*     The 6480th Meeting was closed.

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