George Tsereteli addresses the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan 6 Dec. 2018OSCE PA President George Tsereteli addresses the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan 6 Dec. 2018MILAN, 6 December 2018 – With East-West relations at historic lows, a strong OSCE is needed to serve as a forum for real confidence-building, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) said today at the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan.

Addressing the opening session, the PA President stressed that it is up to governments to strengthen the OSCE, to pursue meaningful dialogue, and to demonstrate good faith in implementing commitments.

“What the OSCE needs from all of us is political support and the necessary resources to carry out its mandate,” Tsereteli said. “We in the Parliamentary Assembly are always happy to discuss the challenges of our region, to develop common approaches that deliver results, and to explore ways to strengthen this unique organization.”

He welcomed the call by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev for an OSCE summit in 2020 and recalled the words of the recently deceased U.S. President George Bush, who stated in 1989: “We can realize a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation.”

“George Bush and other leaders who forged this organization understood that with Europe entering uncertain waters, the OSCE was ideally suited to help countries navigate,” Tsereteli said. “The vision that they had was to make the OSCE part of everyday politics. They wanted an active, influential organization, and saw the value of a robust parliamentary dimension to this organization.”

Tsereteli regretted that instead of focusing on resetting relations in Milan, much of the focus is instead on the escalation of tensions in the Kerch Strait between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

“It is deeply worrying to hear news about shootings and blockades, instead of receiving information about successful efforts to end this grave European crisis,” he said.

The President also cited economic and environmental challenges, including climate change, and declining human rights standards as threats to comprehensive security. He noted that countries are abandoning international agreements that have served as cornerstones of stability and embarking on new arms races, highlighting that the OSCE’s “first priority is always the pursuit of peace, security and stability.”

He urged adjustments to the consensus rule and a strong OSCE presence in the field in order to increase the organization’s effectiveness.

Also speaking at the opening session today were OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Enzo Moavero Milanesi and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger.

George Tsereteli addresses the Bureau in Milan 5 Dec. 2018George Tsereteli chairs the Bureau meeting in Milan 5 Dec. 2018On Wednesday, the OSCE PA’s Bureau met for discussions on OSCE-related work. Bureau members heard from President Tsereteli, Treasurer Doris Barnett (MP, Germany), Secretary General Roberto Montella, and Deputy Foreign Minister Guglielmo Picchi, representing the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, who expressed appreciation for the added value of the OSCE’s parliamentary dimension.

Discussion in the Bureau meeting focused on the escalation of tensions between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait. Bureau members expressed concern over the situation and emphasized the need for restraint.

Tsereteli will be holding a series of bilateral meetings on the margins of the Ministerial Council, including with the delegations of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

For President Tsereteli’s full remarks, please click here.

Photos from the OSCE PA’s participation at the Ministerial Council are available on Flickr.