AM 2003 Rome bigMore than 160 parliamentarians from 49 participating States took part in the 2003 OSCE PA Fall Meetings, which were held in Rome from 9-11 October 2003. The Meetings included a two-day Conference on Religious Freedom, which consisted of a series of presentations and discussions focusing on the law and politics of religious freedom, religious tolerance in pluralistic societies and religious freedom and democracy.

2003-FM-Italy-Papal-audienceThe Conference, organized following the invitation of the Italian Parliament, was addressed by prominent officials, including Bruce George, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly; Pier Ferdinando Casini, Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies; Antonio d'Ali, Deputy Minister of Interior; and Marcello Pacini, Head of the Italian Delegation to the OSCE PA. The Conference was also addressed by expert speakers, including Abdelfattah Amor, Special UN Rapporteur for Religious Freedom; Professor Catherine Cookson, Head of the Centre for the Study of Religious Freedom at the University of Virginia; as well as Professors Silvio Ferrari and Brigitte Basdevant-Gaudemet, Members of the European Consortium for Church and State.

The Conference on Religious Freedom concluded with a Papal Audience in the Vatican. Following the Conference, Members participated in a Parliamentary Forum on the Mediterranean (11 October), which focused on Strengthening Security in the Mediterranean and developing the OSCE Mediterranean Dimension. Speakers included Cesare Salvi, Deputy President of the Italian Senate; Franco Frattini, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs; Jan Kubis, OSCE Secretary General; and Christian Jouret, Diplomatic Adviser of the EU Representative for the Middle East.

The Parliamentary Forum followed up on the outcomes of the OSCE PA 2002 Fall Conference in Madrid on ensuring peace, democracy and prosperity in the Mediterranean. In conjunction with the Fall Meetings in Rome, the Assembly's Standing Committee of Heads of Parliamentary Delegations discussed, on 10 October, the general activities of the Assembly and followed up on the Assembly's Rotterdam Declaration on the role of the OSCE in the new architecture of Europe. The Standing Committee was also briefed by OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubis on the proposed OSCE Budget for 2004, after which the Members of the Standing Committee discussed the draft and put questions to the Secretary General. After the debate it was agreed that the OSCE PA would present its comments and recommendations to the OSCE budget for 2004.