Vilnius Ministerial Council concludes with decisions to strengthen responses to conflicts and transnational threats, engagement with Afghanistan and other Partner countries

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, highlighted the progress achieved at the Vilnius Ministerial Council and urged the 56 OSCE participating States to build on the decisions taken and address the challenges raised at the meeting, which concluded today.

“Over the past days Vilnius has been home to a vital debate on the security challenges that we face in our 56 States and in neighbouring regions,” he said. “I am not only referring to the decisions we as foreign ministers have taken, but also to the civil society activists who have travelled from as near as neighbouring Belarus and as far as North Africa, to meet with government officials and each other, to provide their views and recommendations for taking the work of the OSCE forward.”

“Together we have made progress at the Ministerial Council in providing direction for the OSCE’s future endeavours. The discussions here have also shown how much work there remains to make the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community a reality.”

The OSCE Foreign Ministers took decisions on enhancing OSCE capabilities in early warning, early action, dialogue facilitation and mediation support, and post-conflict rehabilitation. Decisions were also taken on addressing transnational threats, promoting equal opportunity for women in the economic sphere, strengthening the transport dialogue, the role of the OSCE in facilitating UN Security Council Resolution 1540, dealing with small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition, and on issues relevant to the Forum for Security Co-operation. A declaration on combating all forms of human trafficking was agreed.

Ažubalis also welcomed decisions to enhance engagement with OSCE Partners for Co-operation. “We have taken a decision to strengthen our engagement with our Partner country Afghanistan. This is particularly critical as we near the drawdown of international forces from the country,” he said.

“We have also decided to further enhance our interaction with the Partner for Co-operation countries. This decision will underpin the OSCE’s efforts to support our Partners in responding to developments in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Ažubalis emphasized the need to build on momentum to address protracted conflicts in the region: “I am particularly proud that the Transdniestrian settlement process is back on track, with the resumption of official talks. I am hopeful that we will be able to achieve further  progress here, as well as in the South Caucasus, through the Geneva Discussions and the Minsk Group. I firmly believe that the recent progress in the Transdniestrian settlement process, after some six years, gives us reason to hope and to redouble our efforts.”

“Now we look to Ireland to build on the progress we have achieved here in Vilnius and to lead our work next year, including in the human dimension of the OSCE’s work. I can assure my fellow Minister and future  hairperson that he will have Lithuania’s full support,” said Ažubalis, adding that he hoped the OSCE would welcome Mongolia as the 57th participating State soon.