GT with FM Lavrov MFAOSCE PA President George Tsereteli and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Milan, 6 December 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)MILAN, 7 December 2018 – The escalation of tensions in the Kerch Strait, election observation methodology, counter-terrorism, strengthening the OSCE, confidence-building measures, civil society and democracy were among the topics of discussion over two days of bilateral meetings between the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President and high-level diplomats on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council taking place this week in Milan.

PA President George Tsereteli addressed the opening of the Ministerial Council and met with the foreign ministers of Turkey, the Russian Federation, Albania, and Moldova and the Head of Delegation from Morocco. He also held a number of informal conversations on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council with ministers and ambassadors, including representatives from Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Sweden and France.

The OSCE PA will always insist on the full implementation of international agreements such as the Helsinki Final Act and the Minsk Agreements, President Tsereteli said to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In a discussion that focused largely on the crisis over the Kerch Strait, Tsereteli reiterated the statement issued by the PA, which stressed that disputes must be settled by peaceful means so as not to endanger international peace and security, as stated in the Helsinki Final Act.

He urged the Russian Federation to release the detained Ukrainian service members, emphasizing that this would be a powerful gesture of goodwill. He also pressed for humanitarian relief and the opening of checkpoints in occupied territories of Georgia.

GT with Turkish FMOSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella, President George Tsereteli and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Milan, 6 Dec. 2018.A meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu focused on Turkey’s relations with the OSCE, including issues such as civil society participation in OSCE meetings and election observation methodology. Tsereteli recalled the OSCE PA’s excellent working relationship with the Turkish government and the recently appointed Turkish delegation to the PA.

The President noted the ongoing efforts to overcome critical issues through constructive dialogue. He highlighted the OSCE’s tools that could contribute to increasing confidence, in particular the invitation of international monitors to some of the politically sensitive court trials, including that of Selahattin Demirtaş, a Turkish member of parliament who has been detained since November 2016.

In a meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Tsereteli congratulated Albania on its successful candidacy to assume the OSCE Chairmanship in 2020, offered the Assembly’s support for Tirana’s priorities, including its focus on the Mediterranean, and reiterated the Assembly’s readiness to assist with the implementation of internal reforms.

Meeting with Moldovan Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi, Tsereteli stressed that the progress in the Transdniestrian settlement process is setting a positive example for the rest of the OSCE area, proving that local ownership and political will can produce results. He also underlined the importance of the upcoming parliamentary elections for democratic consolidation in Moldova, in particular in light of the annulment of the Chisinau local elections in June.

President Tsereteli also spoke with Mounia Boucetta, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco, about the OSCE PA’s upcoming Autumn Meeting set to take place in Marrakech in October 2019 and welcomed the Moroccan government’s support for this initiative. He stressed importance of enhancing co-operation with the Mediterranean Partners on challenging issues.

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