UNITED NATIONS, 15 February 2011 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, outlined the goals of the country’s 2011 OSCE Chairmanship and highlighted common challenges faced by the OSCE and UN in an address to the UN Security Council today.

Ažubalis stressed that the December 2010 Astana OSCE Summit was a key milestone in the dialogue on Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security. OSCE heads of state and government reaffirmed their commitment to the core principles that underpin the OSCE, and set a clear course for the region’s future.

“They re-committed themselves to the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community, rooted in agreed principles, shared commitments and common goals,” said Ažubalis.

Ažubalis said that Lithuania, as the 2011 OSCE Chairmanship, will build on the results of the Astana Summit and the work of previous Chairmanships, especially in advancing the settlement of unresolved conflicts and promoting media freedom, energy security and regional co-operation. In all of these areas, the OSCE will co-operate closely with the UN and its agencies.

Underlining that among the Chairmanship‘s highest priorities will be seeking progress in the resolution of unresolved conflicts, he said: "We will fully respect the norms and principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter, as well as the Helsinki Final Act.“

“We will continue to pursue active OSCE participation in the political process aimed at settling the Transdniestria conflict on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova.”

He added that growing tensions on the ground over Nagorno-Karabakh are worrisome. “The OSCE role in pursuing a settlement of this prolonged conflict through greater engagement by the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group will be maintained. I will invite the conflict parties to implement confidence-building measures, including immediate withdrawal of snipers from the Line of Contact, and strengthening OSCE monitoring activities.”

Ažubalis stressed that the Chairmanship will work to reduce tensions and build trust among affected communities in the South Caucasus: “We will urge all participants to take full advantage of the Geneva framework to develop measures to improve security and alleviate humanitarian needs.“

He underlined the importance of co-operation between the UN and OSCE in maintaining regional peace and security.

“For the OSCE and the UN it remains of crucial importance to keep up the close co-ordination and regular exchanges on potential new crisis situations, in order to provide a common and coherent response as was done in handling the crisis in Kyrgyzstan last year.”

Energy security and regional co-operation were also a major focus of the Astana Summit, and Ažubalis underscored that they would remain a top priority of the Lithuanian Chairmanship.

Based on Lithuania’s own experience of regional co-operation and the key role the OSCE played in managing the challenges of transition in Central and Eastern Europe, the OSCE also stands ready to share its experience with its Asian and Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation, including Tunisia and Egypt, he added.

“The participating States of the OSCE cannot and should not seek to guide the course of events in these countries – their citizens must write their own destinies. But to the extent our partners believe it would be useful, the OSCE stands ready to share its own experience in helping participating States to manage difficult democratic transition processes, to build strong democratic institutions and promote vibrant civil societies, and to prepare and conduct free and fair democratic elections,” he said.

Tomorrow Ažubalis travels to Washington D.C. to meet with US administration officials and members of the US Congress. He will speak at the US Helsinki Commission and meet with Senator Benjamin Cardin, Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission. He will conclude his visit on Thursday, 17 February, with a discussion at the Atlantic Council.