2017 Muttone Volodin St. PeteChristine Muttonen (left) meets with Vyacheslav Volodin in St. Petersburg, 27 March 2017.ST. PETERSBURG, 27 March 2017 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) today held a series of bilateral meetings in St. Petersburg ahead of the Parliamentary Conference on Combating International Terrorism, co-organized by the OSCE PA and Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which she is addressing on Tuesday.

In meetings with Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Oktay Asadov, Speaker of the Milli Mejlis of the Azerbaijan Republic; Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Upper House of Belarus; and Chynybai Tursunbekov, Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, Muttonen addressed a wide array of subjects. Discussions focused on developing an effective international response to countering terrorism, as well as building confidence and trust among OSCE participating States which is the core theme of this year’s Annual Session of the OSCE PA.

In her meeting with Speaker Volodin, Muttonen noted the importance of inter-parliamentary convergence over transnational threats such as terrorism. Volodin and Muttonen discussed ways of sustaining such co-operation through transparent mechanisms that would benefit the OSCE region as a whole.

Volodin and Muttonen also discussed the crisis in and around Ukraine and the impact that this crisis is having not only on Ukrainian and Russian bilateral relations but also within the OSCE and between East and West more broadly. Muttonen further expressed concerns over the detention of reportedly large numbers of demonstrators across the Russian Federation over the weekend and emphasized the importance of upholding the right to peacefully demonstrate and respect for the rule of law.

She expressed appreciation to the hosts of upcoming OSCE PA meetings, including Belarusian Speaker Myasnikovich and Kyrgyz Speaker Tursunbekov, who are hosting the Assembly’s 2017 Annual Session and 2018 Autumn Meeting, respectively.

In her meeting with the Belarusian Speaker, Muttonen raised concerns over the arrests of demonstrators, as well as raids targeting civil society organizations, in Belarus in recent days. Urging restraint by the authorities and the release of those detained, Muttonen expressed her full support for the statement on the topic issued earlier today by OSCE PA human rights committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain) and Belarus working group Chair Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden).

Myasnikovich assured Muttonen that authorities are following the rule of law in responding to the demonstrations and due process is being respected for arrested protesters.

Asadov and Muttonen discussed the recent deterioration of the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict area, including ceasefire violations and civilian casualties. The role of the OSCE Minsk Group, tasked with finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, was also discussed with Asadov proposing to invite the Minsk Group to address the PA on its observations. Asadov underscored that more needs to be done by the international community particularly in supporting the populations of refugees and internally displaced persons.

On Tuesday, President Muttonen will speak at the opening session of the Parliamentary Conference on Combating International Terrorism, and has a bilateral meeting scheduled with the Chairperson of the Council of Russia, Valentina Matvienko. Today, she spoke at an inaugural meeting dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the IPA CIS, stressing the co-operation developed over the years between the OSCE PA and the IPA CIS.