OSCE Chair Lajčák: "Effective multilateralism can support conflict resolution and prevention, build a safer future for people"

OSCE Chair Lajčák: "Effective multilateralism can support conflict resolution and prevention, build a safer future for people"
# 05 December 2019 17:52 (UTC +04:00)

States must do more to work together through effective multilateralism to support the resolution and prevention – and mitigate the humanitarian impact - of conflict, and build a safer future for all people, said OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Slovakia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miroslav Lajčák in his opening address to the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council today in Bratislava, APA reports citing the press service of the OSCE.

Addressing foreign ministers, state secretaries and high-level officials from the OSCE’s 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, Chairperson Lajčák recalled crises and conflicts in the OSCE region, and how the Slovak Chairmanship’s primary focus was to find concrete ways to ease the suffering of people.

Referring to the crisis in and around Ukraine, he said the Chairmanship used the “full political and operational weight of the OSCE” to support measures on the ground that would alleviate years of suffering of local civilians, like the many thousands who had been forced to use a decrepit and dangerous bridge at Stanytsia Luhanska to cross the contact line.

“I have just returned from Stanytsia Luhanska. After my first trip there in January, someone told me that it would be a ‘miracle’ if the bridge could be repaired. But that is exactly what happened. Now, people can cross in safety, and with dignity,” he said. “And, I really want to thank President Zelensky and the government of Ukraine. I also want to thank the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, for helping to make this possible.”

Next week’s Normandy Format Summit offers an opportunity to continue the momentum that may lead to sustained progress on implementing the Minsk Agreements, he said.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office added that while the dialogue on the crisis in and around Ukraine, as well as through the other political and settlement processes continues, so does the suffering and volatility on the ground. He called for greater political will, both bilaterally and through the OSCE.

“I strongly believe that the OSCE’s efforts, from de-escalating tensions to opening channels for new dialogue, are invaluable. And, that this Organization will be the first to offer its support for concrete steps towards peace.”

Focusing on the Slovak 2019 OSCE Chairmanship’s priority of providing for a safer measure, Lajčák called on States to invest in the OSCE’s core toolbox and to constructively engage in endeavours such as the Structured Dialogue on current and future challenges and risks to security in the OSCE area, modernization of the Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, and reinvigorating the OSCE’s Human Dimension.

He also urged States to advance the OSCE’s 16 cyber/ICT confidence-building measures; to look more closely at energy and digitalization; to invite more young people to the table; to support longer-term prevention, like Security Sector Governance and Reform and enhancing co-operation to prevent violent extremism and terrorism; and to seriously accelerate the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

The OSCE was the ideal platform for progress in these areas because “the OSCE is multilateralism in action”, said Lajčák. As Chair, Slovakia worked to support complementary partnerships with other regional and international organizations to enhance the Organization’s effectiveness. Next week, the OSCE will finalize a joint statement with the UN Secretary General on the framework of co-operation between the two organizations, he said.

“The meaning behind multilateralism goes back centuries: It is the idea that we can gain more working together than alone; that co-operation and dialogue can prevent conflict and create opportunity; and that joint solutions are more likely to stick.”

“Multilateralism requires commitment and compromise. And in the case of the OSCE, it is built on consensus,” he reminded the Ministerial Council. “But consensus should not be seen as a way to force through our own priorities. It is not a weapon to be used, to hold processes hostage to unrelated issues.”

“Those of us who believe in this system – of co-operation, of dialogue, of joint solutions – need to show our support in the way we conduct our affairs. Daily.”

Following the Chairperson-in-Office, the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly George Tsereteli said: “Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, we must renew our obligations to provide real security to societies across the OSCE area and prevent new walls from being built. It is the hope of the Parliamentary Assembly and the citizens we represent that this Ministerial Council helps unleash the OSCE’s potential by removing obstacles to its full functioning and providing it with the necessary resources, backed by political will.”

In his report to the Ministerial Council, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said: “The only way to tackle the immense challenges facing the OSCE region is by working together, supporting each other, and holding each other to account. Scepticism toward international co-operation in times like ours is paradoxical. How can we find common solutions to shared problems if we are unwilling to engage with each other? Let’s take inspiration from our Cold War predecessors, who pushed for more dialogue and more co-operation as a way to reduce tensions and rebuild trust. In today’s polarized environment, the OSCE offers a rare platform for inclusive security dialogue where everyone in our region has an equal voice.”