I welcome the presence of Mr. Leonid Kozhara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and congratulate his country on its assumption of the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for 2013. I also take this opportunity to welcome the decision taken on 10 December 2012 by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the European Union to recognize Ukraine’s European aspirations and to work towards achieving political association and economic integration based on respect for common values within the Eastern Partnership. I shall limit myself to making three observations.
First, on the relationship between the two organizations, the United Nations and the OSCE have a common goal — for the former at the global level and for the latter at the regional level — to strengthen links and dialogue among States so as to better ensure their security. We know that dialogue between organizations usually raises complex political issues. We see that at work, for example, in the dialogue that the Council has with the African Union, the League of Arab States and many other organizations. But that dialogue has become an essential element in the maintenance of international peace and security.
My second point concerns the future of the OSCE, which covers a vast area, from Vancouver to Vladivostok. With the recent accession of Mongolia, it includes 57 countries that share common values and a belief that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian areas goes hand in hand with the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. However, we note in Vienna a worrying tendency by some members of the organization to reconsider their commitments in that regard. We expect the Ukrainian chairmanship of the OSCE to guarantee and promote the commitments made in the three areas covered by the OSCE. In that regard, we attach particular importance to freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Similarly, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights must be able to continue to play its role in monitoring elections, and its autonomy must be preserved to that end.
France fully supports the dialogue initiated at the Dublin meeting of the Ministerial Council on the future of the OSCE within the “Helsinki+40” process and in the light of the fortieth anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015. The process should not limit itself to reaffirming, as was done at the Astana summit in 2010, the validity of the Helsinki obligations and of all of the significant achievements of the OSCE. Instead, we must find ways to fully implement the commitments made by the participating States and to reaffirm our commitment to that security arrangement based on common values.
My third point has to do with the commitment on the ground. The OSCE today has 15 field missions in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans, often alongside the United Nations. Its role remains, in our view, essential. Therefore, after having contributed, along with the United Nations and the European Union, to the cessation of inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE has implemented a community safety initiative to help ease tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. It actively contributes to stabilizing the borders of Afghanistan and Central Asia, in particular by training border guards in Central Asia, including Afghanistan. It also cooperates with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the fight against transnational threats, and it has just renewed a joint action plan for 2013-2014 with that Office. That is a good example of successful cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations.
In the Caucasus, we remain committed, as part of our co-chairing of the Minsk Group along with the United States and Russia, to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan find a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The co-chairs are continuing their mediation work while calling on the parties to respect the ceasefire and to refrain from actions and statements likely to fuel tensions. The co-chairs have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the start of civilian flights to Nagorno Karabakh and the continuing violence at the line of contact.
With regard to the OSCE office in Baku, we trust that the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office will arrive at a solution that will enable that field mission to maintain and fulfil its mandate. On the subject of Georgia, France lends its full support to the Geneva discussions and to the OSCE role in that process, alongside the European Union and the United Nations. Those discussions must be continued in order to build confidence among the parties and improve the situation of local populations. Of course, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as recognized by international law. In Transdniestria, we are encouraged by the increasing number of meetings in the “5+2” format held in 2012. We hope that that positive trend will continue in 2013 and that substantive progress will be possible.
In the Balkans, the facilitation of the OSCE allowed binational Serbian voters in Kosovo to participate peacefully in the Serb legislative and presidential elections of 6 May 2012. It was a difficult task, which the OSCE carried out with professionalism, thanks in particular to its substantial presence on the ground. The OSCE has once again been asked to help organize the partial municipal elections, under the agreement reached on 19 April in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina and confirmed by both parliaments.
Finally, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that will be on the Council’s agenda next week, the OSCE presence covers a substantial number of activities, such as governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as the management of stockpiles and surplus ammunition, a subject that the OSCE should at the forefront of.
I conclude by once again expressing to Ukraine all our best wishes for its chairmanship and by assuring it of France’s full support.
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