2011-FM-Dubrovnik-Efthymiou-PiculaDUBROVNIK, Croatia, 9 October 2011 – Members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today called for closer co-operation with Mediterranean countries to promote democratic transition and strengthen international engagement in the region.

Speaking at a Mediterranean Forum with representatives from Algeria, Israel, Jordon, Morocco, and Tunisia and more than 200 parliamentarians from across the 56-country OSCE region, Assembly President Petros Efthymiou said the upcoming observation of elections in Tunisia show the strong interest from parliamentarians to build partnerships in the Mediterranean toward common goals.

“On freedom of expression, that means embracing new, online technologies and turning away from a past of internet repression. On security, that means continuing bilateral dialogue,” President Efthymiou said. “OSCE security work in the southern Mediterranean should be based on international co-operation aimed at eliminating the social and economic causes of instability, reinforcing democratization, and restoring an inter-cultural dialogue.”

Participants also discussed the need for parliaments and governments to speak out on human rights issues, expressed support for the role of women in North African politics, and urged prompt progress toward a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.

The OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization and has extensive work helping young democracies in its 56-country region by promoting security through its broad, comprehensive and co-operative approach.

“We have learned from our own experience that democratic transitions are long-term processes, which can suffer from delays and setbacks,” said OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier. “Progress will require the joint effort of all sectors of society and the continuous support of the international community.”

The OSCE’s focus on the Mediterranean Region continues Monday with the OSCE Annual Mediterranean Conference in Budva. President Efthymiou will represent the Parliamentary Assembly Monday in Budva.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 320 parliamentarians from 55 countries spanning, Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international co-operation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues.