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Speeches, 7/3/2008

Statement by Minister Stubb at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Annual Session

Statement by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Dr. Alexander Stubb at the 17th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan, 2 July 2008.

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Mr President,
Mr Secretary General,
Distinguished Members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly,

I wish to express my appreciation to the Government of Kazakhstan, and in particular to His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, His Excellency Kassim-Jomart Tokaev, Chairman of the Senate and His Excellency Aslan Musin, Chairman of the Mazhilis, for inviting the 17th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to be held in Astana.

The presence of the OSCE parliamentarians here today confirms the important role of Kazakhstan in the OSCE. It underscores also the commitment of this country, its Government and its society, to the principles and values that animate the work of our Organization.

One of these values is a deep commitment to participatory democracy. Nowhere is this commitment more evident than in the OSCE parliamentary dimension. The experience and insight the parliamentarians offer to the work of the Organisation is vital.

Mr President,
Distinguished Parliamentarians,

Like every organisation, the OSCE needs a clear purpose and precise goals. I would like to share with you my "mission statement" for the OSCE, along with some reflections on the current state of affairs.

My mission statement for the OSCE is threefold. The OSCE is needed
- to solve conflicts
- to support transition processes
- to bolster co-operative security across the Euro-Atlantic region.

* * *

The unresolved conflicts in the OSCE area have become serious obstacles to human security, democratisation and economic development in their neighbourhoods. The international community, the OSCE especially, must invest more in seeking their settlement. I believe that the OSCE should be in the business of resolving conflicts and not only managing them.

We are making some progress in Transnistria, Moldova. The parties have re-engaged in working towards concrete confidence-building measures. I am pleased with the results of the recent meeting in Helsinki of the mediators and observers. In the near future, I hope that we will be able to convince the parties to join the negotiations. This is the only way towards the solution.

In South Caucasus, we have not registered similar progress. Instead, tensions have been rising in all of the conflict zones. I am deeply concerned about the situation and have appealed for calm and restraint. The Finnish Chairmanship has worked tirelessly to build bridges of communication and trust between the parties, and we will continue to do so. The OSCE should be used as a platform for dialogue and crisis management also in difficult times.

I am convinced that one of the best ways to defuse tensions is to open a long-term perspective for the settlement of these conflicts. This is why the Finnish Chairmanship has expressed its readiness to explore the possibility of new negotiating mechanisms for the South Ossetian conflict in Georgia. Any new negotiating format needs to build on and add value to the existing mechanism and be acceptable to all parties.

Rest assured that I, and my Special Envoy, will remain sharply focussed on these issues.

Mr President,
Distinguished Parliamentarians,

The OSCE is also in the business of supporting transition in its participating States. The commitment that all OSCE participating States have taken to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms includes the pledge to build political systems on democratic principles. These commitments form the bedrock of the OSCE’s work. OSCE Institutions and Field Operations are the main channels through which the Organisation lends its support to participating States and works with them in these directions.

Fostering reform requires a partnership between the participating State in question and the OSCE. Nowhere is this partnership more needed than here in the Central Asian countries. All of my interlocutors in this region have expressed deep knowledge of and a keen interest in the OSCE during our talks.

The formidable challenges faced by the Central Asian participating States cut across all the OSCE dimensions. The progress attained has been impressive in many areas. But, as all of my interlocutors noted, much work remains ahead. The OSCE stands ready as ever to support States and societies across the board, from enhancing participatory democracy to ensuring better border security.

Building stability, prosperity and democracy in this region is vitally important for the whole OSCE area. The contribution of the Central Asian participating States towards building a democratic and stable Afghanistan is of crucial importance. I will continue to push for an intensified OSCE engagement with Afghanistan on the basis Madrid Ministerial Council decision and hope we can start significant OSCE projects in a near future.

Mr President,
Distinguished Parliamentarians,

The OSCE is a standard bearer of co-operative security from Vancouver to Vladivostok: we do things together in order to increase everybody's security, and, in this, we act with the participating States, civil society actors and other international organisations. Our approach must remain inclusive and our concept of security dynamic.

Change is written in the OSCE's genetic code, and it is a main feature of our co-operative approach. International realities in Europe have changed dramatically since 1975 -- since when the political undertaking of 35 countries has been transformed into the international organisation of 56 participating States. We have not reached the “end of the history”, but I have no doubt that together we can meet the challenges ahead.

Recently, Russian President Medvedev put forward the idea of a new security treaty for Euro-Atlantic area. Any ideas that open new avenues for co-operative security are worth exploring. I look forward to a dialogue on European security between all parties concerned.

In the face of change, the core strengths of the OSCE are of lasting value. The emphasis on co-operative security and its normative foundations of democracy, human rights and the rule of law will maintain their relevance also into the future.

Mr President,
Distinguished Parliamentarians,

The Quintet co-operation between the five successive OSCE Chairmanships of Spain, Finland, Greece, Kazakhstan and Lithuania, is a key tool to promote much-needed continuity in OSCE action. I had the pleasure of hosting the first informal meeting of the Quintet ministers in Helsinki on 1 and 2 June with the participation of President Lennmarker. I was pleased that my colleague, Foreign Minister Tazhin of Kazakhstan, brought his active contribution to the meeting.

The OSCE's Parliamentary dimension has an important role in the Organisation's overall mission. From my own experience, I know that parliamentarians can be an invaluable source of stimulus for governmental action. I hope you join me in strengthening the OSCE's ability to deliver.

I would like to thank the Parliamentary Assembly - and President Lennmarker - for its good co-operation with the Finnish Chairmanship. On my part, I pledge to continue this co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly and its new President.



This document

Updated 7/3/2008

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