I welcome the presence of Mr. Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation, and I congratulate his country on its accession to the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014. The United Nations and the OSCE share common objectives, one at the global level and the other at the regional level, namely, to strengthen the links and dialogue among States to better ensure their security.
In that regard, I welcome the proposed mediation in Ukraine put forward by the Swiss Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE. All efforts must be made to end the crisis peacefully while respecting the wishes of the Ukrainian people and the legitimate interests of all stakeholders. Following the violence that has caused such grief in Ukraine in recent days, we must support the transformations under way in that country. Institutions are being established. A new Government will soon have to organize elections as soon as possible. France and the European Union will continue their efforts to favour democratic reform and modernization in Ukraine, with full respect for its unity, integrity and independence.
The OSCE will have a major role to play. As it unites all of the States concerned by the crisis, it finds itself in a unique position to overcome the geopolitical concerns of the various parties. An artificial fault line must not again be created in Europe, as Ukraine would suffer from that by losing its role as a bridge at the heart of our continent. I will dwell on three points regarding cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE. From Central Asia and Georgia to Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE and the United Nations have shown their capacity to work hand-in-hand. That complementarity draws on the commitment of the OSCE on the ground. Through its missions, the OSCE is present in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans, often side-by-side with the United Nations. In the Caucasus, the OSCE is working to promote dialogue and rebuild trust — indeed, the Swiss chairmanship has made that one of its priorities. As co-chair of the Minsk Group with the United States and the Russian Federation, France has worked to help Armenia and Azerbaijan find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. The resumption of high-level talks between the two Presidents gives us hope for progress in the peace process.
On Georgia, France supports the Geneva talks and the role played by the OSCE together with the European Union and the United Nations, and reaffirms its support for the territorial integrity of the country. We welcome the readiness of the Swiss chairmanship of the OSCE to reopen discussions on the presence of the OSCE in Georgia on the condition that the parties show flexibility and creativity. In Central Asia, the OSCE contributes to regional stability. Its cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in combatting crosscutting threats is an example of successful cooperation with the United Nations. The OSCE will also have a role to play in observing the presidential elections in Afghanistan scheduled for the spring. In the Balkans, the OSCE’s collaboration with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo allowed the Kosovo electorate to participate in peaceful municipal elections in November 2013. The OSCE carried out that task with professionalism, thanks again to its substantial presence on the ground. It will once again be called upon in 2014 to facilitate the holding of a number of elections to be held in Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Secondly, the in-depth analysis undertaken within the OSCE contributes to broader progress on security. We welcome the willingness of the Swiss chairmanship to update the 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures. Likewise, we support the intention to encourage the implementation of the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, which is important for ensuring democratic oversight of security and the armed forces. Moreover, we welcome the Swiss intention to organize a number of workshops focused on transnational threats and aimed at promoting cooperation between police forces. Finally, we endorse the priority given to promoting the upholding of commitments undertaken by participating States on human rights over the past 40 years. In that regard, we attach particular importance to the freedom of expression and media freedom.
It is a fact that the OSCE covers a vast area, stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, that shares common values — an expanse marked by the belief that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions goes hand-in-hand with the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Those values are also at the heart of the work of the United Nations. France therefore supports the dialogue launched at the Dublin Ministerial Council on the political future of the OSCE in the context of the “Helsinki+40” process. Those reforms will allow the OSCE to continue to be a modern and effective partner for the United Nations.
France endorses the desire of the Chairperson-in-Office to strengthen the mediation capacities of the OSCE, which is a measure of its continuing commitment to work with the United Nations in seeking lasting solutions to conflicts. I conclude by once again wishing Switzerland — and its successor, Serbia, with whom it has defined the OSCE’s priorities — the greatest of success during its term in office and by assuring it of France’s support.
For more information on the role of regional organizations in peacekeeping and security.