Standing CommitteePhotos from the 2018 Winter Meeting are available on the OSCE PA's Flickr page. For a video playlist, please click here.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly gathered for its 17th Winter Meeting on 22-23 February in the Hofburg Congress Center in Vienna. Some 240 parliamentarians from 53 countries participated in the Winter Meeting, which consisted of meetings of the Assembly’s Standing Committee and the General Committees, and included two joint sessions of the General Committees. 

In the first joint session, parliamentarians heard speeches by OSCE PA President George Tsereteli, Italy’s Undersecretary of State of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Vincenzo Amendola, and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger.

President Tsereteli focused his opening remarks on the potential for reviving the spirit of détente and dialogue that led to the founding of the OSCE in 1975. In his remarks, Undersecretary Amendola, representing the Italian Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE, said that the main challenge for the OSCE remains finding a solution to the crisis in and around Ukraine, and that Italy also confirms its commitment to find a solution to all protracted conflicts, in Transdniestria, Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

OSCE Secretary General Greminger said that the OSCE is needed more than ever to help countries rebuild trust and foster co-operation, and shared his views on making the OSCE “fit for purpose.”

In the closing joint session, members heard reports from the OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues, Dr. Hedy Fry (Canada); the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, Filippo Lombardi (Switzerland); and the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism, Makis Voridis (Greece).

Also reporting to the joint session were the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on the Rules of Procedure, Peter Bowness (United Kingdom), who discussed ideas for refining Assembly activities, and Abid Qayyum Raja, Vice-President of the Norwegian Parliament, who shared Norway’s experience in countering violent extremism.

The Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions held a debate on “Upholding democracy in an age of ‘fake news’” while the Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment held a debate on the theme, “Climate crisis: Developing long-term strategies to tackle climate change and its global consequences.”

The Committee on Political Affairs and Security debated “Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation: challenges and opportunities for the OSCE area,” which was introduced by Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation.

Committee rapporteurs also presented to the General Committees their preliminary ideas for reports and draft resolutions to be prepared for the Annual Session in Berlin.

On the margins of the Winter Meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism met to discuss ongoing and upcoming work.

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