2015 PC Vienna KanervaOSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva addresses the Permanent Council, Vienna, 19 Nov. 2015. (courtesy of OSCE/Micky Kroll)COPENHAGEN, 19 November 2015 – Resolution of the conflict in and around Ukraine and what the OSCE can do to better mitigate the migrant crisis and counter terrorism were the topics in focus as OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) addressed the Organization’s Permanent Council in Vienna today.

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Speaking before ambassadors from 57 OSCE participating States, the President acknowledged that central provisions of the Minsk Agreements will not be fulfilled by the end of 2015, as they should have been.

“Postponing [them] is not necessarily a deal-breaker. What matters most is getting there as soon as possible, without further delay,” he said.

“It is imperative that Ukraine regains control of the state border, but in the meantime there should be a stronger role for the OSCE to mitigate the negative effects of the situation at hand. I call on all OSCE participating States to work towards ensuring full access for the SMM monitors towards the border and to strengthen the embryo of a border mission that exists today.”

President Kanerva also reaffirmed that elections in the east of Ukraine will not be legitimate unless they are held under Ukrainian legislation, in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, and observed by the OSCE.

Referring to his visit to Donetsk on 12 November, the President reiterated his call on the illegal separatists to allow all aid into the areas that they currently hold, particularly with the approach of winter.

President Kanerva also highlighted the Assembly’s 2015 Helsinki Declaration, containing recommendations and pronouncements for the OSCE and its participating States, and the document’s clear stance in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and against the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. He further noted the Assembly’s continuing efforts to foster dialogue between Ukrainian and Russian parliamentarians.

On the continuing crisis concerning migrants and refugees, the President urged the OSCE to take greater action in response.

“From border management to the treatment of minorities to means of promoting human rights and tolerance, the OSCE has many tools at its disposal that can be used in this crisis,” he said.

He further noted that the Assembly’s Helsinki Declaration calls upon the OSCE’s participating States to improve mechanisms for co-ordination of immigration policies. The migrant crisis will be a focus of discussions within the Assembly in the months ahead.

The Organization can and must do more to counter the scourge of terrorism as well, the President stressed.

“Our Helsinki Declaration highlights the need for countries to improve their legislation concerning foreign terrorists and do more to cut off the financing of terrorism, among other steps. The OSCE is perfectly positioned to help countries better co-ordinate their anti-terrorism efforts and help implement best practices. Our collective security is very much at stake,” he said.

President Kanerva also highlighted landmark anniversaries in 2015, including the 70 years since the signing of the UN Charter and 20 years since the Dayton Agreement. He encouraged the OSCE to consider how it supports, and can do better in supporting, the best of both documents.

He also noted that this year is the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Paris, which called for the establishment of the Parliamentary Assembly as an OSCE Institution and affirmed the place of democratic values and human rights at the centre of the OSCE’s work.

“Democracy and human rights are never a finished project and must always be vigilantly defended,” he said.

President Kanerva encouraged ambassadors to study the Assembly’s Helsinki +40 Project Final Report, which marks this year’s central OSCE anniversary – the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act – with concrete recommendations for reforming the Organization.

Among those recommendations, he underscored “the need for more, not fewer, OSCE field presences, with multi-year budgets and mandates.”

“As an example, I and many of my colleagues urge the reopening of OSCE missions in both Azerbaijan and Georgia,” he said.

President Kanerva is scheduled to address the foreign ministers of OSCE participating States at the 2015 Ministerial Council in Belgrade on 3 December.