2009 AS Vilnius bigThe 18th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly was held on the premises of the Lithuanian Parliament in Vilnius from 29 June to 3 July. The resulting Vilnius Declaration, which represents the collective voice of the OSCE’s parliamentary dimension, outlines a set of policy recommendations to the governments of the OSCE participating States.

The Declaration, voted on by 213 parliamentarians from 50 OSCE countries, contains the 28 adopted resolutions. Among them are resolutions on strengthening the OSCE, election observation, food security in the OSCE area, the world financial crisis and the social consequences of that crisis, Iran, Afghanistan, human rights and civil liberties, arms control and disarmament in Europe, labour migration in Central Asia, energy security, climate change, water management, freedom of expression on the Internet, and a moratorium on the death penalty.

The resolution on Strengthening the OSCE calls for more transparency in the OSCE in order to enhance its legitimacy and relevance. The resolution on election observation emphasizes the importance of OSCE election observation and calls on participating States to fully implement the 1990 Copenhagen Commitments for democratic elections.

On food security, the Declaration emphasizes that this is a new and major challenge to security in the OSCE area and that it must become a top priority on the OSCE agenda.

On the world financial crisis, the Declaration calls for greater co-ordination among OSCE participating States in the development of a coherent response to the crisis.

The Declaration expresses grave concern about the continuing violence in Iran, condemns the arrests of Iranian employees working at the British Embassy in Tehran, and deplores the arrests and intimidation of foreign and domestic journalists working in Iran. On Afghanistan, the Declaration urges the OSCE to continue to promote Afghanistan’s increasing participation in the activities of the OSCE.

Further, the Declaration emphasizes the need for strengthening co-operation and balancing the interests of energy producers consumers and transit countries, stresses that climate change should not be given lower priority in a long-term perspective owing to the financial crisis than other challenges, and underlines the necessity of intensifying the dialogue on European and transatlantic security.

The Annual Session elected President Joao Soares (Portugal) to a second one-year term as head of the Assembly. It also re-elected Ben Cardin (United States) as Vice-President, and elected three new Vice-Presidents, Petros Efthymiou (Greece), Jean-Charles Gardetto (Monaco), and Isabel Pozuelo (Spain). Roberto Battelli (Slovenia) was elected new Treasurer.

The Assembly’s three Committees also voted on new officers for the coming year. The following were elected:

First Committee: Chair: Consiglio Di Nino (Canada); Vice-Chair: Canan Kalsin (Turkey); Rapporteur: Riccardo Migliori (Italy). Second Committee: Chair: Roland Blum (France); Vice-Chair: Ivor Callely (Ireland); Rapporteur: Serhiy Shevchuk (Ukraine).Third Committee: Chair: Walburga Habsburg Douglas (Sweden); Vice-Chair: Robert Aderholt (United States); Rapporteur: Matteo Mecacci (Italy).