Osce Ministerial Council Opens With Call To Address Transnational Threats, Protracted Conflicts, Strengthen Engagement With Partners

Ensuring security in the OSCE region requires further efforts to tackle transnational threats, prevent and resolve conflicts, and engage meaningfully with partners in the Mediterranean and Asia, foreign ministers of the 56 OSCE participating States heard at the start of the 18th OSCE Ministerial Council in Vilnius today. In the meeting, Ministers discussed the need to reinforce the OSCE's efforts in all of these areas, with a view to realizing the common vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community.

Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, welcoming the ministers and high-level representatives to the two-day meeting, said: “It is important to continue your work towards resolving protracted conflicts, dealing with new threats and challenges, and consolidating the fundamental values of the OSCE.”  She also stressed that “it is vital that human rights and the fundamental principles of democracy be transferred into national policies and practice. This applies to all human rights and fundamental freedoms – ranging from free elections to the safety of journalists.”

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, recalling the vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community set forth by leaders at the OSCE Summit in Astana last year, urged states to respect their OSCE commitments.

“This year, the Lithuanian Chairmanship has encouraged our community to act with common purpose, building on the results of the Astana Summit. We have taken meaningful and concrete steps, without compromising core OSCE principles and commitments. Where we have followed this approach we have met success,” he said.

Ažubalis underscored progress already made in addressing transnational threats, called for increased engagement with Afghanistan, and urged the Ministers to support the OSCE’s Mediterranean Partner countries in their democratic transition, stressing that “their progress, security and stability are ours as well”.

Ažubalis highlighted recent progress made on restarting the official talks on the Transdniestrian conflict, urging the parties “to seize this opportunity” and called for increased efforts in resolving the other protracted conflicts in the OSCE region.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier highlighted the need to move towards achieving a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community: “That vision needs now to be better articulated and operationalized.”

“Our collective task over the next two days is to build on this effort, in order to provide further impetus to the work of the next Chairmanships,” he said, outlining a path forward for the Organization that included proposals to consolidate and strengthen efforts to address transnational threats and work with Partner countries, as well as intensified interaction between the OSCE and the academic community. He also stressed his support for the Chairmanship’s efforts to strengthen the OSCE's capability to address all phases of the conflict cycle and urged Ministers to take concrete decisions in this area.