KYIV, 5 December 2013 -The 20th OSCE Ministerial Council has opened in Kyiv today with a call for greater efforts towards creating a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community with no dividing lines, respect for the rule of law and basic freedoms, and unity of purpose.
Welcoming participants from 57 participating States, 11 Partners for Cooperation and international organizations on behalf of President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stressed the unique inclusive nature of the meeting and of the Organization as a whole. Azarov praised its contribution to building security from Vancouver to Vladivostok and laying the foundation for transformation not only in Europe but worldwide. He expressed confidence that the newly launched process of strategically streamlining the Organization's work would further increase its effectiveness.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kozhara, outlined the work of the 2013 Ukrainian Chairmanship. He stressed the "firm determination to promote a common vision, common goals and common actions, to bridge divergences and to strengthen trust and confidence, so that we all move further towards a shared vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community".
He said progress had been achieved in the "Helsinki+40" process designed to map out the Organization's future activities, in efforts to combat transnational threats and human trafficking, in updating OSCE principles governing non-proliferation, and in promoting dialogue in the economic-environmental and human dimension. The chairmanship had also been active in forging links with Partners for Co-operation in Asia and the Mediterranean and on achieving "sustainable and long-term political solutions" to protracted conflicts, he said.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ranko Krivokapic reflected the current situation in Ukraine: "Peaceful protests are an important tool of public expression…the right to assemble publicly and peacefully must remain completely protected".
"I am sure that the OSCE can be a driving force, capable of ensuring freedom and democracy, as well as a source of guidance on how best to use them," he added, stressing the vital role of elected parliamentarians in the process.
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier confirmed the OSCE commitment to "encouraging governments in all participating States, Ukraine being one of them, to uphold their OSCE commitments, including protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and respect for the rule of law".
He welcomed the agreement reached in Kyiv on furthering the Helsinki +40 process. "Although reform is not the primary goal of the Helsinki+40 process, it is clear that we need to modernize and streamline our working procedures and structures to better meet the challenges of our time. This should in no way weaken existing commitments; instead, it should strengthen their implementation and complement them with new tools," Zannier stressed.
The OSCE Ministerial Council will continue until 6 December; a number of decisions and declarations are to be adopted.