10 May 2004
In Briefing to Security Council, OSCE Chairman Says Organization Is Special Partner of United Nations
NEW YORK, 7 May (UN Headquarters) -- With its specific expertise and unique activities that it implemented from Vancouver to Vladivostok, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was a special partner of the United Nations, the organizations Chairman-in-Office, Solomon Passy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, told the Security Council this morning.
Briefing the Council, Mr. Passy said that, as the largest security organization in Europe, the OSCE had helped to end civil war in Tajikistan; had constrained conflict in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova and Georgia; and had defused inter-ethnic conflict in a number of States. With the United Nations, it continued to play a major role in building civil society in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. With its unique and comprehensive approach to security, stressing human rights and economic development, as well as political-military issues, the OSCE remained the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the region.
Turning to counter-terrorism, he said the organization was looking at practical issues such as travel document security, the threat of man-portable shoulder-fired missiles to civilian aviation and improving ways of stopping the financing of terrorism. The OSCE was working closely with the Security Councils Counter-Terrorism Committee. Regarding border management and security, he said that as Europe transformed, the borders were becoming more open, but that openness was being exploited by traffickers of drugs, people and weapons. The challenge was to facilitate legitimate cross-border travel and commerce, protecting human rights and promoting human contacts, while ensuring a level of security that was commensurate with the threats.
As demonstrated in Western and Central Europe, most recently by enlargement of the European Union, regional cooperation could be a catalyst for confidence-building, good neighbourly relations and prosperity, he said. That was a message that he was bringing to his colleagues in South-Eastern Europe, and was also the point he had raised in visits to the Caucasus and Central Asia. In that respect, he believed that Central Asias security and Afghanistans future were closely interlinked. The OSCE had plenty of experience to share on issues relevant to the future of a stable Afghanistan. The United Nations and the OSCE should work more closely with States of the region to promote regional security, stability and cooperation.
After Mr. Passys briefing, Council members, noting the importance of the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE and with regional organizations in general, asked questions on a variety of issues. Among other things, those concerned options for enhanced cooperation in conflict prevention and early warning, the role of the media in Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro) during the violent events there in March, border-management strategies, and the role of the OSCE in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in resolution of the frozen conflicts such as those in the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
Responding to questions, Mr. Passy stressed the importance of learning from experience and offered OSCE experience and cooperation to the United Nations. Just ask, he said. As, with its experience, the OSCE could be helpful in Iraq, he suggested that the Council include an OSCE role in a future resolution on that issue. The Council should also seek involvement from regional organizations such as the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
In his national capacity, he asked Council members for help in resolving the issue of six Bulgarian doctors who had been detained in Libya for some six years, five of whom had recently been sentenced to death.
Questions were posed by the representatives of United States, Germany, Russian Federation, Romania, France and Pakistan.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by Solomon Passy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, in his capacity as Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Briefing by Chairman-in-Office of OSCE
SOLOMON PASSY, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that with its specific expertise and unique activities, the OSCE was a special partner of the United Nations. The OSCE had much to be proud of in its relatively short history. In particular, it had acted as a catalyst for ending the cold war by keeping focus on human rights, encouraging greater openness and transparency, stressing arms control and uniting Europe.
As the largest security organization in Europe, he continued, the OSCE had helped to end civil war in Tajikistan; had constrained conflict in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia; and had defused inter-ethnic conflict in a number of States. With the United Nations, it continued to play a major role in building civil society in post-conflict Bosnia and Kosovo. With its unique, comprehensive approach to security, stressing human rights and economic development, as well as political-military issues, the OSCE remained the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the region. Its 18 field missions represented an invaluable on-the-ground presence, which could help the international community deal more effectively with new threats to security.
Turning to counter-terrorism, he said that the OSCE was looking at practical issues like travel document security, the threat of man-portable shoulder-fired missiles to civilian aviation and improving ways of stopping the financing of terrorism. Work was being done to destroy ammunition stockpiles to eliminate the possibility of those landing in the wrong hands. The OSCE was working closely with the Counter-Terrorism Committee and in March; it had hosted, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, the third special meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee with international, regional and subregional organizations.
Not limiting itself to statements of intent, the OSCE did practical work, which should make it harder for terrorists to threaten civilian aircraft with portable missiles or to cross international frontiers. While trying to ensure that anti-terrorism legislation did not compromise human rights, the organization was coordinating assistance on the ratification and implementation of 12 United Nations conventions and protocols on counter-terrorism issues. Work was also being done to control the spread of small arms and light weapons.
Policing was high on the OSCEs agenda in connection with the threat from crime, he said. The OSCE was building up expertise in community policing, particularly in multi-ethnic societies. In particular, it had trained police in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo and was providing police assistance in Kyrgyzstan. Programmes were being formulated to assist Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. We should not wait until crises deteriorate to the point where peacekeeping is required, he said in that connection. We should do more to strengthen policing within States, where necessary, with the support of the international community.
Regarding border management and security, he said that as Europe transformed, the borders were becoming more open, but that openness was being exploited by traffickers of drugs, people and weapons. Other issues, such as pollution, development and water management, also defied borders and, therefore, required regional cooperation. The challenge was to facilitate legitimate cross-border travel and commerce, protecting human rights and promoting human contacts, while ensuring a level of security that was commensurate with the threats. Those factors were being considered in the elaboration of an OSCE border management and security strategy. The forthcoming conference, to be held with the United Nations in Vienna in September, would also address those issues. Shortly, he would also be appointing the first Special Representative on trafficking in human beings.
On economic and environmental threats to security and stability, he said that Maastricht Ministerial Council last December had adopted a new OSCE strategy document, which provided recommendations and commitments on the issue. The organization was working closely with international agencies. The human dimension remained at the heart of the OSCEs activities. Recent OSCE election monitoring operations in Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had demonstrated the importance of expert, objective international observers. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media was a unique watchdog, who monitored media freedom in the organizations area. With freedom came responsibility, and among other issues, the OSCE was addressing the problem of hate speech on the Internet.
Tolerance, non-discrimination and integration remained key themes for the OSCE. A high-profile conference had been recently held on anti-Semitism in Berlin. An action plan was also being implemented on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti people. In cooperation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the organization was paying attention to education and its important role in building tolerance and intercultural understanding.
The OSCE and the United Nations worked well together in the field, he said. In Kosovo, for example, the OSCE was an integral part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) structure. Immediately after the flare-up of violence on 22 March, together with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General, he had visited Pristina, thus demonstrating the determination to take most effective measures in restoring order and normal life in the province. The Bulgarian Chairmanship had made it clear to the parties that the implementation of the Standards before Status policy of the international community in regard to Kosovo should be strictly followed. Recent violence in Kosovo had once again shown that the international community -- most notably the United Nations, NATO, European Union and OSCE -- must act in concert for the progress there to be maintained and become truly sustainable.
On 13-14 April, a regional meeting of the heads of OSCE missions in the countries of the Western Balkans had been held in Sofia, Bulgaria. The meeting had been devoted to the means of streamlining the functioning of the OSCE field presences in 2004.
On Georgia, he said that the developments there had brought into sharper focus the United Nations-OSCE relations. The OSCE supported the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgias (UNOMIG) efforts to bring about a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia and stood ready to support the opening of the Ghali branch of the United Nations Human Rights Office in Sukhumi. In South Ossetia, the OSCE was working closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on rehabilitation and repatriation projects within the framework of a European Union grant to the OSCE. Given the latest developments in Ajara, he congratulated President Saakashvili, the people of Georgia and the Government on achieving a peaceful settlement of the situation. He was also pleased to note the constructive role played by the Russian Federation in settling the crisis and stressed the importance of restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia by peaceful means.
After his visit to Georgia, he had also visited Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said, where the OSCE had been working with the parties to seek resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The OSCE could not perform miracles. It was up to the parties themselves to find the courage and realize that they shared an interest in long-term peace and stability. However, the OSCE was committed to facilitating a substantial dialogue aimed at bringing mutually beneficial results.
As demonstrated in Western and Central Europe, most recently by European Union enlargement, regional cooperation could be a catalyst for confidence-building, good neighbourly relations and prosperity, he stressed. That was a message that he was bringing to his colleagues in South-Eastern Europe and the point he had raised in visits to the Caucasus and Central Asia. In that respect, the believed that Central Asias security and Afghanistans future were closely interlinked. In April, he had gone to Kabul for meetings with President Karzai and Foreign Minister Abdullah. The OSCE had plenty of experience to share on issues relevant to the future of a stable Afghanistan. The United Nations and the OSCE should work more closely with States of the region to promote regional security, stability and cooperation.
Comments and Questions by Council Members
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the strong cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations was very important. He welcomed, in particular, the OSCE conference on anti-Semitism and the intention to nominate a representative for trafficking in persons. He asked for more information on the outcome of the meeting on border-management strategy and on future activities
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), noting significant areas of possible cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE in areas of conflict management and post-conflict rehabilitation, asked what the options were for enhanced cooperation in conflict prevention and early warning. In the specific context of peacekeeping, he said cooperation with regional organizations made it easier for the United Nations to become active in many places, as regional organizations often had in-depth knowledge of the problems. He supported close cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said he highly valued the close cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, in particular in situations such as in Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Noting that in Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro) many local media had taken a very negative stance during the March violence, among other things by propagating anti-Serbian views which had encouraged ethnic cleansing, he asked what the OSCE intended to do in the Kosovo province to prevent repetition of those media actions.
MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) said as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 2001, he had had the opportunity to explore improvement of the relationship between the OSCE and the United Nations. Now was a good opportunity to put the synergy to work in the western Balkans and South-East Europe. He asked Mr. Passy to elaborate on the OSCE strategy to deal with the frozen conflicts such as in the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said he had listened most attentively to the report on the activities of the OSCE. At the time when the Council and the United Nations were increasingly called upon to resolve regional conflicts, cooperation with regional organizations became ever more important. He joined his colleagues who had asked Mr. Passy what could be done to reinforce the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that a number of issues that the OSCE was addressing were also important to the United Nations. In that context, he wanted to know what cooperative actions could be implemented to reinforce regional security and cooperation in the area close to Afghanistan. He also wanted to know how the OSCE intended to pursue the implementation of relevant resolutions on Nagorno Karabakh.
Answering Council members questions, Mr. PASSY said experience in the Balkans could teach a lot about anti-trafficking measures and border controls. The most important thing for the OSCE was to learn from past experiences and apply it in new areas. Proper allocations of financial resources might help. In past years, the OSCEs main focus had been on the Balkans. Now there was a situation where more attention could be paid to the Central Asia and Caucasus regions.
Regarding conflict prevention and early warning, he said the importance in Central Asia and the Caucasus was to stimulate the countries to talk to each other, as dialogue in the regions had broken down. The countries in that region had to address problems of democratization, fighting terrorism and internal tensions, and often did not have the capacity to do so simultaneously. They should, therefore, be encouraged to share best practices with each other.
The roles of the OSCE and the United Nations in Afghanistan and Iraq were some of the best examples of cooperation between the two organizations, he went on to say. The OSCE had expertise in monitoring elections, police training and other areas and was ready to respond to a request of the United Nations to serve. He, therefore, suggested that a future resolution on Iraq would mention a role for the OSCE. A future resolution should also invite the participation of other regional organizations such as the Islamic Conference, the Arab League or the Gulf States and not limit the involvement of the international community to NATO and the OSCE.
He said what had happened in Kosovo was of immediate concern to the OSCE and his own country, Bulgaria. During the March violence there, together with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (Netherlands), he had immediately visited the place and had strongly condemned all acts of violence. In Kosovo, the OSCE was working under UNMIK. He, therefore, did not want to restrict activities to the important matter of the media, but also address all forms of violence and incitement to violence. He had told leaders that no one would be allowed to benefit from violence in the region. As for the Republic of Moldova, he said the OSCE would spare no efforts to encourage the parties to work together. He asked Council members to encourage the parties to act appropriately.
During his visit to the contested region of Nagorno Karabakh, he had encouraged parties to talk more to each other, and told them that time was not an ally, but rather the enemy of all parties. The longer a solution was postponed, the more painful that solution would be. He noted that after his visit, the President of Azerbaijan had released 129 prisoners.
He said the OSCE was a more difficult organization than the Council, which had only five members with veto rights. The OSCE had 55 countries with veto rights. The OSCE, therefore, needed more encouragement from the Council. Just ask us, he said. Agreement within the Council would facilitate agreement in the OSCE.
Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Passy told Council members that six Bulgarian doctors had been detained in Libya for some six years. Yesterday, five had been sentenced to death. Bulgaria had co-sponsored the resolution to lift sanctions on Libya, and still believed that had been the right action. He asked Council members to help Libya get rid of that painful issue.
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