2012-AS-Robillon Opening PlenarySpeaker Robillon addresses the opening plenary of the 21st Annual Session.MONACO, 5 July 2012 (Francais) – More than 270 parliamentarians from more than 50 countries today opened the 21st Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary with an agenda packed with measures to address human rights and security challenges across Europe, Central Asia and North America.

"The Principality of Monaco is very proud to welcome the Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly whose debates will shape the future of populations from Vancouver to Vladivostok," Prime Minister Michel Roger of Monaco said. "We are honoured that the Parliamentarians of the Member States of the OSCE have chosen Monaco to host such an important Session."

Members will debate and vote on three major resolutions focusing on: ensuring the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, on austerity or stimulus as ways to deal with the global economy, and a resolution to modernize the Vienna Document that governs the transparency between militaries. The meeting will stream live at www.oscepa.org.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, before taking questions from Members spoke of the chairmanship priority work.

Gilmore said that the aim of the Irish Chairmanship has been "to elaborate a set of priorities that would ensure balance and coherence of approach across all three dimensions". He noted that Ireland attaches particular importance to the Human Dimension and, calling for progress in this dimension, Mr Gilmore stressed that "we must all play our part, Governments and parliamentarians alike, in ensuring that States uphold their commitments". Gilmore emphasised the "readiness of the Irish Chairmanship to work closely with the Parliamentary Assembly in order to further our common objectives".

"The Parliamentary Assembly has always helped the OSCE expand its parliamentary diplomacy," said Jean-François Robillon, Speaker of the National Council of Monaco. "By coming to Monaco we have again shown that regardless the size of a country, all participating States have a valued voice in the OSCE."

The five-day meeting will also include a Mediterranean Forum on Friday with participation from OSCE partners Algeria, Israel and Morocco as well as guests from Libya and the Palestinian National Council, invited by host officials.

"Reading about foreign affairs or watching a revolution from afar is not enough these days, we need to meet face to face and more often with our neighbors across the Mediterranean," said Vice-President of the OSCE PA Jean-Charles Gardetto (Monaco). "I'm proud that Monaco this week could be the bridge to start some of these relationships with new leaders from the Middle East and North Africa."

In his speech, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier highlighted the vision for the Organization set out at the Astana OSCE Summit: "The 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015 is an excellent opportunity to provide impetus to move the Organization forward. The OSCE will benefit from the continuity provided by the next three Chairs in order to consolidate progress on creating a Security Community."

The meeting culminates in passage of the Monaco Declaration that helps shape OSCE and national policy. Parliamentarians will also elect a new president and bureau officers on 9 July.