AM 2009 Athens bigUnder the theme of Energy Security and Environment, almost 200 members from 50 countries of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly met in Athens for the Fall Meetings 9 to 12 October.

"Long-term sustainability, energy security, and environmental solutions must be viewed hand-in-hand," said President Joao Soares in his conclusions of the Meetings. "Our responses cannot be successful if only enacted on a national level; they must be broad in their scope and approach."

2009-FM-Athens-Soares-Opening-SessionMr. Soares said that "the one resounding message that we can all take home is that strong political action is necessary. Taking action in the midst of an economic crisis is difficult, also politically. But we have no choice."

"We must also aim for long-term sustainability. The future is diversification of energy sources through increased efforts to develop reliable renewable energy sources. The increasing demand for energy must drive the political will for alternative sources such as bio-fuel, solar, wind and nuclear power. We hope there will be agreement on solid and far-reaching commitments by our governments later this year at the climate conference in Copenhagen," President Soares concluded.

Speakers at the Fall Meetings included the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Dimitrios Sioufas; Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis; Head of the Greek Delegation to the OSCE PA, Panayotis Skandalakis; OSCE PA Vice-Presidents Petros Efthymiou and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev; and OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut. They also included several experts from Greece and Volodymyr Saprykin, Director of Energy Programmes, Razumkov Centre for Economic and Political Studies in Ukraine, Goran Svilanovic, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities; and Sergey Komlev, Director of Contract Structuring and Pricing at Gazprom Export, Russian Federation.

In three focused sessions, the Parliamentarians addressed Regional Co-operation in Energy Security; Climate and Environmental Policy - the Road to Copenhagen; and Optimal Utilization of Natural Resources for Human Security. They were chaired, respectively, by OSCE PA Vice Presidents, Petros Efthymiou, Pia Christmas-Moeller, and Wolfgang Grossruck.

The Meetings included a Mediterranean Forum, chaired by OSCE PA Vice President Jerry Grafstein. The Assembly's Special Representative on Mediterranean Affairs, Congressman Alcee Hastings reported to the Forum. The Assembly's Standing Committee also met and was briefed on the 2010 OSCE budget by Secretary General de Brichambaut.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly organizes Fall Meetings annually. Non-OSCE countries from Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel participated in the Athens conference.

Next year, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will gather for its Winter Meeting in February in Vienna, its Annual Session in July in Oslo, and its Fall Meetings in October in Palermo, Italy.