|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7117th Meeting (AM)
Enhancing Stability a Major Goal, Head of European Entity Says as He Spells
Out Regional Priorities in Briefing to Security Council
With tensions easing in Ukraine, Europe’s priorities would include enhancing security and stability, improving people’s lives and strengthening the capacity of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to act, the head of that entity told the Security Council today.
Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and President of the Swiss Confederation, said in a briefing to the Council that the situation in Ukraine was a sober reminder that security in Europe could not be taken for granted. The Organization had already dispatched a small needs-assessment mission to Ukraine, and its findings would be presented in a report, with a view to advancing national reconciliation, he said, highlighting his appointment of a personal envoy to Ukraine and OSCE’s proposed creation of an international contact group. “In our globalized world, we need all the more organizations for security,” he said. “What we need is the capacity to increase confidence and to act. We are a platform for dialogue and a common roof for our 57 States. The OSCE brings a multidimensional approach which should be exported to other regions.”
Many speakers supported OSCE’s efforts concerning Ukraine, as well as the European Union-mediated 21 February agreement aimed at stopping escalating violence in that country. The representative of the United Kingdom said he supported the appointment of a personal envoy by the Chairperson-in-Office. France’s representative said OSCE had a major role to play as it was in a unique position to overcome geopolitical concerns. “We don’t want to create a fracture line in the region,” he said.
However, the Russian Federation’s representative pointed out that his country had not signed the 21 February agreement, which had failed to stop rioters, as well as anti-Russian and neo-Nazi activities. OSCE’s efforts should complement rather than duplicate global efforts by the United Nations, he stressed.
Some speakers emphasized new and emerging challenges, including threats to cyber security, climate change, kidnapping for ransom and terrorism. Chad’s representative said that, in order to meet those and other mounting challenges, the United Nations should pay special attention to helping OSCE meet its priorities.
A number of speakers applauded OSCE’s support for elections from Afghanistan to northern Kosovo, as well as its various partnerships. Chile’s delegate said the growing number of OSCE member States and partners in the Mediterranean and Asia underlined the importance of the bridges the Organization had built and its holistic vision of security. That vision entailed not only issues of defence, but also questions of development, the environment and human well-being. It was a vision that should also guide the United Nations, as well as regional and subregional organizations, he added.
Also delivering statements were representatives of the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Jordan, Argentina, Rwanda, Nigeria, Australia, United States, China and Lithuania.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 12:15 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
DIDIER BURKHALTER, President of the Swiss Confederation and Chairperson-in-Office of OSCE, highlighted the Presidency’s priorities in light of the current situation in the region. Ukraine was a sober reminder that security in Europe could not be taken for granted and of the need to foster dialogue, re-establish trust and rebuild bridges, he emphasized. With Parliament’s appointment of an interim President, the country had entered a new phase in its transition. OSCE proposed to establish an international contact group that would include key international actors, he said, adding that he had decided to appoint Ambassador Tim Guldimann as his personal envoy on Ukraine. A small core OSCE team had already been sent on a needs-assessment mission, and its findings would be presented in a report to help advance national reconciliation.
Other priorities would include fostering security and stability, improving people’s lives and strengthening OSCE’s capacity to act, he continued. With security and stability concerns spanning the western Balkans, efforts would be made in the areas of cooperation, missing persons and migratory challenges. Noting that recent violent protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina demonstrated the prevailing risk of instability in Europe, he said OSCE’s mission was to work closely with the European Union military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) and the European Union Delegation to help improve the situation. Other efforts would include addressing the situations in northern Kosovo, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdniestria and the Republic of Moldova. Improving people’s lives, including by creating a security community for the benefit of all, would be another area of concern, he said. It would entail reinforcing cooperation between regional and global organizations in promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Preventing torture, tackling the question of climate change and security, combating transnational threats and fighting terrorism were among the challenges to be addressed, he continued. OSCE’S “ Helsinki+40” reform process would be the axis for strengthening the Organization’s capacity to act, with a view to adapting it to changing security needs and bolstering its mediation efforts. Given Switzerland’s expertise in the mediation field, the goal was to create a unit within OSCE that would specialize in mediation and facilitating dialogue. Furthermore, OSCE wished to give young people a voice in its efforts to enhance exchanges with civil society representatives. With that in mind, the Organization planned a Model OSCE, where youth ambassadors from participating States would jointly develop a youth initiative similar to the Model United Nations and the United Nations Action Plan on Youth, he said.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said collective action was vital in dealing with both traditional and emerging threats. Noting OSCE’s substantial contributions to the preservation of international peace and security, he welcomed plans to hold a conference next May to review the role of regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, in line with the Secretary-General’s repositioning of that subject. OSCE had played an important role in bringing people together through dialogue. The growing number of its member States and partners in the Mediterranean and Asia showed the importance of the bridges it had built, as well as its holistic vision of security, which included not only issues of defence, but also of development, the environment and human well-being. That holistic vision should also guide the United Nations, as well as regional and subregional organizations, he said. Stressing the importance of conflict prevention, early warning systems and creating cooperation links, he said security also entailed human rights, including the rights of minorities, dialogue among civilizations and the fight against terrorism.
JOON OH ( Republic of Korea) said he supported OSCE’s approach and unique role in addressing security issues, including such transnational challenges as terrorism, drug trafficking and threats to cybersecurity. The Republic of Korea had hosted a conference on cyberspace in Seoul last October, which had paid special attention to OSCE’s confidence-building measures aimed at reducing the risk of conflict, he said, adding that it would provide timely momentum to new cooperation. Welcoming the Helsinki+40 process relating to confidence-building measures in response to regional challenges, he expressed support for OSCE’s commitment to advancing reconciliation in the Western Balkans and to dealing with the crisis in Ukraine. As Chair of the Security Council 1540 Committee, the Republic of Korea supported the Organization’s continuing efforts to promote implementation of Council resolution 1540 (2004) on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, going on to commend OSCE’s contributions to the promotion of security in Central Asia through electoral assistance in Afghanistan, as well as through confidence-building and conflict-prevention measures.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said that the shocking, escalating violence in Ukraine last week must result in those responsible being held accountable for their actions. Dialogue must aim at finding a lasting solution, ensure constitutional reform and lead to free and fair democratic elections, with OSCE once again playing its role as a bridge between East and West. She welcomed the intention to deepen partnerships with OSCE and partners on the ground, including in Central Asia, the Republic of Moldova, northern Kosovo and other areas. Regarding foreign fighters in Syria, she said the Security Council’s recent resolution required them all to withdraw immediately, and asked Mr. Burkhalter what OSCE would do to support efforts in that regard.
MAHMOUD HMOUD ( Jordan) said that, without OSCE’s contributions, the world would be less stable. The Organization offered the best capacities for confronting international challenges, and its efforts for peace and security highlighted the need to bolster cooperation. OSCE’s efforts could also be seen in its support for democracy in Afghanistan and in its leading role in efforts to settle the conflict in Kosovo and bolster peace there. It was now necessary to address the repercussions of climate change, cybercrime and other new threats, he said, adding that cooperation efforts should be stepped up. A common strategic vision should also be drawn up to confront those and other emerging challenges, he said.
MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF ( Chad) said that, as the largest regional group, OSCE could play an important role in settling conflicts among its 57 member States. Unfortunately, it faced a number of difficult challenges, including in Georgia, the Balkans and Ukraine. Issues relating to human rights and growing cross-border crime exacerbated such challenges, he said, adding that OSCE deserved special United Nations attention to such the mounting challenges, with a view to helping it meet its priorities.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations and had facilitated a better, more focused approach by various international players. OSCE and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) had contributed to stability in the Balkans region. He went on to stress the importance of close cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations Regional Centre for Diplomacy and Conflict Prevention in Asia, and welcomed its close cooperation with Serbia, which would succeed Switzerland as Chairperson-in-Office. He welcomed OSCE’s role in preventing the proliferation of weapons in Europe, its plans to hold a conference on cross-border terrorism and its decision to send a team to support April’s presidential and provincial elections in Afghanistan.
OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) encouraged OSCE to share its experiences with the African Union, and expressed appreciation for its important role in settling crises and conflicts, particularly in addressing the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, and its assistance in the destruction of cold war-era surplus weapons left in Georgia and other nations. Rwanda also commended its active contribution during the recent municipal elections in Kosovo and its aid to the Roma population. Welcoming the Chairperson’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine, he called on all international actors to respect that country’s sovereignty.
USMAN SARKI ( Nigeria) said OSCE’s emphasis on human rights, women’s rights, civil society issues and democracy deserved encouragement. Since transnational crimes were not limited to territorial boundaries, combating them required regional cooperation. The vision of the OSCE Chairperson would ensure a promising future for the Organization, he said, adding that its agenda advanced the work of the Security Council and must be supported. OSCE must maintain its fundamentally inclusive character, he stressed.
PHILIPPA JANE KING ( Australia) said dialogue was essential in resolving conflict, including in areas such as Nagorno-Karabakh. Expressing hope that Ukraine would transition successfully through agreed steps, she commended OSCE’s efforts in northern Kosovo, Afghanistan and other countries, highlighting the Organization’s efforts in combating transnational threats. Citing Security Council resolution 2133 (2014) and its emphasis on the need to address the phenomenon of kidnapping for ransom by terrorists, she said Australia supported OSCE’s efforts in those areas. Strategies for countering violent extremism were essential in combating terrorism, she said, emphasizing that the international community must work together to implement travel bans and other efforts in that regard.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) stressed the importance of strengthening links and fostering dialogue between States. France and the European Union would continue their efforts to foster democratic reforms in Ukraine, where OSCE had a major role to play, being in a unique position to overcome geopolitical concerns. “We don’t want to create a fracture line in region,” he said. France supported the Geneva discussions on Georgia, as well as OSCE’s contributions to elections in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The OSCE covered a vast space, he said, emphasizing the importance of reform to ensure that it remained an effective partner of the United Nations.
MICHAEL TATHAM ( United Kingdom) strongly supported OSCE’s priorities and welcomed its counter-terrorism efforts, as well as its work in the western Balkans. Deeply concerned about protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said they were a “wake-up call” and OSCE had a clear role in addressing the situation. The violence in Ukraine had left many dead and injured, and now a unity government must work to fulfil the people’s aspirations, leading to free and fair elections. OSCE had played a positive role in supporting the quest for a solution, including its appointment of Ambassador Guldimann as a special envoy, he said.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) hailed OSCE’s role in addressing the crisis in Ukraine, emphasizing that the country’s people must determine their own future. The United States supported a technical Government of National Unity, and would work with other States to support a strong, prosperous, united and democratic Ukraine. The memorandum of understanding on a joint project to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and OSCE’s work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to address transnational threats represented concrete examples of the good cooperation between the Organization and the world body, she said. Describing OSCE as a strong partner on counter-terrorism, she noted its efforts in that regard, most recently on transnational crime in Turkey. She also welcomed OSCE’s deepening collaboration with the Global Counter-terrorism Forum set up by the United States, and noted the encouraging progress in Kosovo, where it had been instrumental in promoting a historic agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. Emphasizing that the international community should not allow the status quo in Georgia and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to persist, she voiced support for OSCE’s special relationship with Afghanistan, saying they complemented the efforts of the United Nations.
SHEN BO ( China) said he supported OSCE’s role in combating transnational crime and encouraged it to make full use of its advantages to play a positive, constructive role in the maintenance of international peace and stability. China supported efforts to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, which must be carried out in strict compliance with the principle of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs. China also supported cooperation between OSCE and the Security Council in maintaining regional peace and stability. As for the situation in Ukraine, he expressed hoped that all parties would settle their difference peacefully and restore social order at an early date.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) emphasized his country’s support for OSCE’s role as a complement to global United Nations efforts. Acknowledging its three priorities, he also commended its efforts to combat transnational threats, as well as extremism, and to implement reforms. OSCE could make a significant contribution in ensuring international peace and security, but duplication of efforts should be avoided within that Organization, as well as the United Nations, he emphasized, adding that he was alarmed by OSCE monitoring practices that were similar to those of the United Nations. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he pointed out that the Russian representative had not signed the 21 February agreement, adding that he was seriously concerned that rioters were refusing to leave Kiev’s streets. Violence continued, and it was surprising that some politicians had said elections would take place in May, despite the need for reform first. Concerned also about talk of banning the Russian language and shuttering media outlets, he said extremists continued to vandalize memorials to Soviet troops, undermining the 21 February agreement and threatening peace and security. In addition, neo-Nazi demonstrations were taking place, he noted, calling upon all actors in the crisis to show maximum responsibility.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITE ( Lithuania), Council President, spoke in her national capacity, stressing that the dramatic events unfolding in Ukraine, including the most recent democratic changes, were an impressive reminder that it was not possible to ignore people’s quest for freedom and democracy. Hopefully, the historic process under way would lead to a quick, peaceful resolution of the political crisis. Lithuania was firmly committed to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, as well as its integration into the European Union, she said. It also supported the Secretary-General’s direct engagement with Ukrainian officials and the use of United Nations good offices. She welcomed OSCE’s focus on addressing transnational threats, including its pioneering efforts in regional cybersecurity and confidence-building measures.
Mr. BURKHALTER, addressing issues raised by some speakers, said OSCE would integrate the views put forth today into its efforts.
Addressing the question raised by Luxembourg’s representative about combating foreign fighters, he said that reducing the root causes of conflict in their home countries should be the first step.
Regarding the comment by Jordan’s representative on Mediterranean partnerships, he said OSCE wished to create links between those partnerships and its current priorities in areas including kidnapping for ransom. On control of conventional arms, he said OSCE would be realistic in engaging in the current dialogue and in making efforts to modernize the Vienna Document. “In our globalized world, we need all the more organizations for security,” he emphasized. “What we need is the capacity to increase confidence and to act. We are a platform for dialogue and are a common roof for our 57 States. The OSCE brings a multidimensional approach which should be exported to other regions.” There was much potential for mediation, he said, adding that he wished to focus seriously on building bridges between East and West.
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