WM 2016 plenaryMore than 250 parliamentarians from across the OSCE’s 57 participating States and Partners for Co-operation, including several speakers of parliament, participated in the Parliamentary Assembly's 15th Winter Meeting at the Hofburg Congress Centre in Vienna on 25-26 February 2016.

The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and efforts to strengthen the collective response was the central theme of parliamentary debate and keynote presentations. The leadership of the Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions presented a special report on the topic. The meeting featured a special debate on this theme, including interventions by dozens of parliamentarians, as well as a keynote address by Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

The opening session included welcoming remarks on behalf of the Austrian Parliament by Vice-President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria), as well as addresses by President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) and the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship, Gernot Erler (MP, Germany).

The OSCE PA’s three general committees also met in Vienna to hear addresses by high-level OSCE officials and from committee rapporteurs, who offered presentations on their ideas for reports and draft resolutions to be developed for the OSCE PA’s 25th Annual Session in Georgia this summer. Debate in the committees focused on combatting terrorism, the economic effects of the migration crisis, the crisis in and around Ukraine, and protecting the human rights of refugees and migrants.

Senior OSCE officials participating in the two-day meeting included Secretary General Lamberto Zannier; ODIHR Director Michael Link; Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic; High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors; Co-ordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities Halil Yurdakul Yigitguden; Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats Alexey Lyzhenkov, and Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Madina Jarbussynova. OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry also addressed the Assembly.

The Standing Committee met on 25 February to hear reports from OSCE PA Special Representatives, the leaders of recent election observation missions and ad hoc committees, President Kanerva, Treasurer Doris Barnett, Chair of the Sub-Committee on the Rules of Procedure Peter Bowness, and Secretary General Roberto Montella.