Vasilika Hysi Deputy Speaker of the AssemblyMark Pritchard (right) meeting with Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly of Albania, on 14 August 2018 in TiranaPODGORICA, 16 August 2018 – Wrapping up his first visit to the region as the OSCE PA’s Special Representative on South East Europe today, Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom) underlined the Assembly’s continued commitment to engagement on democracy, the integrity of electoral processes, rule of law, stability and security, human rights, and media freedom. In Albania, he urged speedy completion of justice reform to ensure functioning judicial safeguards and called attention to the rise of nationalist forces in the region.

Pritchard, who also serves as Head of the UK Delegation to the OSCE PA, visited Albania on Monday and Tuesday, and was in Montenegro Wednesday and Thursday. Meeting with government representatives and leaders of opposition parties, Pritchard urged political forces in both countries to come to agreements regarding the most urgent steps in the electoral reform process. In Albania, he noted that this is especially important in order to address the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ priority recommendations before local elections next year.

“As my first activity as the Assembly’s Special Representative on South East Europe, this week’s visit to Albania and Montenegro and to both OSCE field presences has been useful in becoming fully acquainted with the key actors here,” Pritchard said. “While the visit has been mostly fact-finding in character, I have also used the opportunity to underline the valuable contributions made by both countries to international Euro-Atlantic activities and to reiterate previous concerns raised by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, including by my predecessor Roberto Battelli.”

He added: “I look forward to visiting other countries in South East Europe as soon as possible and continuing the Parliamentary Assembly’s commitment to full engagement with the region.”

He highlighted recent visits to the region by members of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism, who were in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5-8 June, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, who were in Serbia on 10-12 June.

In Albania, Pritchard met with Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Senida Mesi, members of the OSCE PA delegation, representatives from various political parties and from civil society. He also met with Robert Wilton, Acting Head of OSCE Presence in Albania, for a discussion on areas of common concern and how to best develop synergy between the PA and the field presence.

In Montenegro, meetings were held with Ambassador Maryse Daviet, Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro; Veljko Milonjić, General Director of the General Directorate for Economic and Cultural Diplomacy; and Emil Atanasovski, Regional Director of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, as well as other representatives of the international community in Montenegro. Programme Managers of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro briefed Pritchard on the Mission’s various areas of work.

In meetings with interlocutors in Podgorica, Pritchard congratulated Montenegro for progress along its European Union accession track and encouraged authorities to tackle previous recommendations by the ODIHR stemming from its 2016 and 2018 reports.

During his visit, Pritchard was accompanied by Amb. Andreas Nothelle, the OSCE PA’s Special Representative in Vienna.

For more information about the Special Representative on South East Europe’s work, please click here.