Security Council meeting 5751

Date28 September 2007
S-PV-5751 2007-09-28 10:15 28 September 2007 [[28 September]] [[2007]] /

Briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

Briefing by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The President

In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

On behalf of the Council, I extend a warm welcome to Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé and invite him to take a seat at the Council table.

I should like to welcome the presence in the Chamber of Mr. Ján Kubis, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia; Mr. Karel de Gucht, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium; and Mr. Vittorio Craxi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy.

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.

At this meeting, the Security Council will hear a briefing by Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.

I welcome Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé and give him the floor.

Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé (Spain)

I would sincerely like to thank the members of the Security Council for the opportunity to address the Council in my capacity as Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in order to inform it about the work and priorities of our organization. This tradition allows us to share some ideas from the perspective of the OSCE as a regional organization, which was recognized as such under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations in 1993.

The OSCE provides support to the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. The three dimensions of the OSCE — the human, the political-military and the economic-environmental — have made it possible for us to work together in conflict prevention, crisis management and reconstruction. We have also worked together in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, in promoting respect for human rights and in democratization, the protection of minorities and environmental security.

The United Nations and the OSCE are linked by the determination to strengthen a rules-based international order, based on respect for human rights and on cooperation in matters pertaining to security among States and societies. The OSCE States made the commitment to respond to the United Nations appeal with the Declaration of Cooperation with the United Nations, adopted in March 2006. That declaration strengthens our cooperation and supports Security Council resolution 1631 (2005), reiterating the OSCE commitments as a regional organization.

The current chairmanship has reinforced the ultimate objective of the OSCE, which is to shape a Europe that is free and at peace with itself, aware of the interrelations of challenges that affect security and of the need to cooperate in a globalized and interdependent world. For Spain, the OSCE is something more than a set of institutions that provide assistance to member States. It is more than 19 field missions in 17 countries. And it is more than a permanent forum for dialogue in Vienna.

The OSCE is, above all, a project of strategic relevance, the shared resolve of 56 countries to work together for a safer and more prosperous future. This idea makes the OSCE unique, given its broad membership and experience as well as the equality among the participating States and the extent of its territory, from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

Spain is aware that some of the main objectives have not yet been reached and that new challenges have emerged, and that has inspired the work and the efforts of this chairmanship. Without a doubt, Europe has greatly progressed since the Helsinki Act of 1975. Walls have fallen, families have been reunited and wars and tragic conflicts have been extinguished. We feel that we have advanced in the direction of the New Great Europe, as reflected in the Charter of Paris.

When Spain sought the OSCE chairmanship, it was aware of those challenges. The year 2007 is a year of challenges for the OSCE, and it is necessary to reiterate the call to participating States to work together to overcome difficulties, to bring positions closer together and to provide space for a constructive consensus. In the past few months, we have seen several serious incidents in Georgia, such as those in Abkhazia and in the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia. These events concern us and highlight the need to generate trust and cooperation.

Throughout this year, the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, with the active support of the personal representative of the Spanish chairmanship, Mr. José Borrell, have made considerable efforts to facilitate peaceful solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Their intensive mediation efforts have not yet led to a breakthrough in the settlement process, though the parties remain committed to the negotiations with the aim of finding a compromise.

The OSCE is also working to facilitate a settlement of the Transdnistrian issue through participation in the 5+2 format of negotiations, together with the mediators — the Russian Federation and Ukraine — and the observers — the United States and the European Union. During the past year and a half, we have sought to convince the parties to negotiate, as we share the conviction that negotiations in this format are the most promising avenue for achieving a sustainable and lasting settlement that will enable Moldovia to face its future calmly.

We are approaching the time for a decision on the future status of Kosovo. Efforts to find a just and lasting formula that will contribute to stability have been backed by the OSCE and by the Spanish chairmanship, though it is true that we have maintained a neutral position over the years with regard to the status, as acknowledged by all the communities of Kosovo.

Impartiality does not mean being non-committal; quite the contrary. While the OSCE is not directly involved in status negotiations, we contribute to creating the necessary conditions on the ground for the implementation of the status settlement. We are ready to remain in Kosovo to monitor the protection of the rights of communities, particularly in regard to decentralization and the protection of cultural and religious sites.

The Central Asian States play a relevant and crucial role in enhancing security throughout the OSCE region. The fragility of Afghanistan, the terrorist threat, drug trafficking and organized crime, together with serious structural difficulties such as the management of water resources, all pose urgent challenges to our organization. We cannot ignore that the situation in Afghanistan impacts security in all of Central Asia. In that regard, the OSCE is preparing border management projects, particularly in Tajikistan. We hope to engage the Afghan side in these shared-security projects.

Kazakhstan has announced its candidature for the OSCE Chairmanship. This announcement has been welcomed by the organization for very good reasons. The Kazakh candidature is the first from a former Soviet Republic and the first from a Central Asian State. That represents a tremendous opportunity for Kazakhstan, for Central Asia and for the OSCE as a whole. Although there is no consensus at present regarding the date of the chairmanship of Kazakhstan, Spain is actively involved in the creation of a consensus of all OSCE States on this important decision.

The Spanish OSCE chairmanship notes with deep concern the stalemate regarding the future implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. This treaty has been a cornerstone of European security since 1990, and it seems essential to us to prevent regression in that regard. The chairmanship calls upon all States parties to renew their efforts and to display the necessary flexibility in order to find a solution to the blockade, in a spirit of trust, transparency and mutual cooperation. The Madrid Ministerial Council will provide an opportunity to move the process forward, with Spain contributing actively.

The Spanish chairmanship has acted in a balanced and concrete manner and it has given the greatest priority to counter-terrorism. This year we have organized four major conferences, on legal cooperation and in criminal matters to counter terrorism, on public-private partnerships in countering terrorism, on the security of travel documents and, two weeks ago, on victims of terrorism. In addition, a conference on the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes is scheduled.

The Spanish chairmanship has also championed serious thinking on economic and environmental security, with a particular focus on the threat of land degradation and water management. I am convinced that the OSCE can serve as a platform for dialogue and a network for cooperation on environmental security, as these areas make up a comprehensive concept of security.

In 2007, we have enhanced the human dimension of the OSCE, and there has been progress in the promotion of diverse and pluralistic societies — an issue intimately related to the commitment to deepen democracy in States and societies. Diversity of our societies is a fact, and without respect for diversity, dialogue is useless. As we enter the twenty-first century, this task is fundamental. In and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations initiative we have a good instrument for managing and updating diversity in the areas of youth, education, migration and the media.

The OSCE has made substantive contributions to the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination as itself the OSCE is an alliance of civilizations in action. The OSCE chairmanship Conference on the Challenges of Islamophobia, which will take place in Cordoba on 9 and 10 October, lies within the context of the development of the human dimension. It reflects our determination to promote tolerance and non-discrimination in order to harmonize coexistence in all of its dimensions.

The OSCE’s to-do list is not shrinking but rather expands with the advent of new challenges. Naturally, our agenda for the OSCE Ministerial Council to be held in Madrid is ambitious. Over the remaining months, the Spanish chairmanship will actively seek to forge consensus on vital decisions, such as environmental security, the strengthening of pluralistic societies, enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism and the fight against human trafficking.

Chairing the OSCE is quite a challenge, because it is a delicate political instrument. Given its nature and its evolution, it addresses the tensions that persist today in Europe and the threats to Europe’s security and progress. For that reason, the responsibility of chairing the OSCE is an exciting challenge in order to ensure the unity of 56 States around a shared vision: that of a free Europe that is at peace with itself, a vision that was born in Helsinki, consolidated in Paris and in Istanbul, and which we now strive to embody every day within the organization.

I believe that the OSCE’s strength lies also with its cooperation with the United Nations, given that we have established an order for cooperation in the area of security, based on democratic values and norms, as a way to overcome the divisions and inequalities that still persist today.

The President

I thank Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé for his briefing.

I now invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, His Excellency Mr. Ján Kubis, to take the floor.

Mr. Kubis (Slovakia)

I would like to thank Mr. Moratinos for his statement and for a very interesting insight into the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) under the Spanish chairmanship. Indeed, what the OSCE needs at present is this kind of realistic attitude that we are finding in the day-to-day performance of the current chairmanship. The approach that Spain applies is based on the principle of the three Ps — priority, perseverance and patience — which has shown its effectiveness. I especially welcome the active discussion of the OSCE priority themes initiated by Spain well in advance of the Ministerial Council. I believe that the results, when reviewed at the end of the year, will show the Spanish chairmanship to have been very successful.

This year, for the first time, the OSCE is experiencing its work in the three-committee structure. Slovakia has the privilege of chairing the work of the first of these, the Security Committee. I can now confirm that our cooperation in this capacity with the Spanish chairmanship is very good and effective. Slovakia came up with a proposal to prepare an OSCE review of the organization’s basic norms and principles in the field of security sector and governance reform. As Security Council members know, this was also the topic for Slovakia’s presidency of the Council and gave an impetus to the work of the United Nations and will, I hope, soon lead to the submission by the Secretary-General of a report on security sector reform. I am particularly grateful to the Spanish chairmanship for understanding and strongly supporting that idea.

I would also like to commend the efforts of the Chairman-in-Office to achieve the peaceful settlement of protracted conflicts still present on OSCE territory. The appointment of a Personal Representative by the Spanish chairmanship was the right and proper reaction to the August incident in Georgia and is, in our opinion, worth following in other situations of that kind as well. The effort to strengthen dialogue and to eliminate aggressive rhetoric between hostile parties to all frozen conflicts is also noteworthy.

But it is not only protracted conflicts that command our attention. I fully agree that it is necessary to strengthen the role of the OSCE in Kosovo. That will be very important in the days, months and even years to come. OSCE expertise is irreplaceable and could bear valuable fruit in the area of cooperation with other multilateral sectors, including — soon, we hope — the European Union.

In addition to the new ideas and concepts mentioned by Chairman-in-Office Moratinos, I would like to highlight some of the more traditional areas and experiences from which we, working in the OSCE, benefit. First of all, I would like to highlight conflict prevention as such. I very much hope that the efforts of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could benefit from the experiences of the OSCE. I can say that, as a member of both the OSCE and the United Nations, we will work towards linking the two organizations as much as possible, including in this area, so that they can work better and, to the extent possible, jointly.

The second area is that of new threats and challenges, many of which were mentioned by the Chairman-in-Office. I would like to mention only one: the experience of the OSCE in the area of small arms and light weapons. Here, we in the OSCE set an example for the wider international community, and I am very glad that the example was taken up; many of the lessons learned from the OSCE experience are being implemented in other regions of the world.

The third area is that of human rights, respect for minorities, the building of democratic institutions and all that falls under this particular umbrella of the core business of the OSCE. Just to highlight one thing, I would like to mention the work of the OSCE that is being very strongly promoted by the current chairmanship in the area of combating intolerance and working to instil understanding among cultures and religions, because this is, indeed, a task for all of us, not only for today but for tomorrow as well.

Another area that I consider to be extremely important in the work of the OSCE is that of field missions. I have mentioned Kosovo, but there are many others. Again, in this respect, the OSCE is a very good partner for the United Nations family. Various offices of the United Nations and the broader United Nations family are present in parts of the world where the OSCE also operates.

Political and military affairs and confidence- and security-building measures are another area where the OSCE plays a trailblazing role and where we work very strongly. It too is something on which we can work together with the United Nations. I would like to echo the words of Chairman-in-Office Moratinos when he spoke about the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The Treaty is the cornerstore of European security, and we in Slovakia highly value it. I hope that we will find a solution to the current challenges to the CFE Treaty.

The OSCE provides a good forum for consultations and cooperation among equals, and it is a forum of inclusiveness. Therefore, I would again like to repeat here the words of the Chairman-in-Office, Foreign Minister Moratinos, in highlighting the importance of the candidature of Kazakhstan for the OSCE chairmanship. My country supports such a chairmanship not only because of our bilateral relations, but also because of the importance of having a representative of one of the Central Asian nations members of the OSCE chairing the organization.

Our work with other partners for cooperation is important, and Afghanistan is an area where our work together to help the stabilization and development processes in that country is very valuable.

On one last specific point, as regards OSCE added value, I would like to mention cooperation with other international organizations, including the United Nations family, and also with non-governmental organization (NGOs). I believe this is an area that is underdeveloped; we need to do more about it when speaking about the role of the United Nations.

I would like to conclude my statement by once again stressing our allegiance, both as a member of the OSCE and as a Member of the United Nations, to the work of the OSCE, and our support for the OSCE chairmanship of Spain. I wish Mr. Moratinos good luck in his endeavours.

The President

I now invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, His Excellency Mr. Karel de Gucht, to take the floor.

Mr. De Gucht (Belgium)

First of all, Mr. President, I would like to thank you very much for convening this briefing. I would like also to thank our colleague Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, in his capacity as Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for his briefing on the activities of the OSCE, which gave us a practical, comprehensive overview of his highly appreciated chairmanship. As a former Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and still a member of its Troika, I am very well placed to understand the challenge represented by the chairmanship. I should like to assure him of Belgium’s full support for his efforts to advance the OSCE’s agenda, which was decided at the most recent Ministerial Council, held in Brussels last December.

As a regional organization under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, the OSCE continues to be an important regional actor. Through its unique concept of security, which includes the political, military, economic, environmental and human dimensions, and through its presence on the ground, the OSCE is a stabilizing factor in the region.

I just want to say a brief word on Kosovo. For the OSCE, which is very much present on the ground, mandate problems are not an issue. There is certainly a way to further strengthen the ties between the United Nations and the OSCE while respecting their respective mandates. In that regard, I am thinking primarily of practical and operational cooperation on the ground and between the two secretariats.

The tense situation in Georgia, both in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia, is clearly a concrete example justifying such cooperation between the organizations. With specific regard to the 6 August incident in Georgia, I thank the Spanish chairmanship for the efforts made to try to clarify the origins of that incident. I call on all actors concerned to shoulder their full responsibility so that such incidents can be prevented in the future.

I thank the Chairman-in-Office for his briefing. I should like to wish him every success at the Madrid ministerial meeting. I assure him of Belgium’s full support as a member of the Troika.

The President

I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Vittorio Craxi, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy.

Mr. Craxi (Italy)

I am particularly honoured to have the opportunity to address the Security Council on this important occasion.

Permit me at the outset to congratulate Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé on his briefing and, in particular, on the effectiveness of his actions as Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and on the results achieved thus far by the organization under his leadership.

At the most recent OSCE Ministerial Council, which took place in Brussels in December 2006 and at which I had the honour to represent my country, we recalled Italy’s commitment to the OSCE and expressed the hope for greater confidence among all the States participating in the organization.

I wish to express my appreciation for the fact that the actions of the Spanish chairmanship — as well as those of the Belgian chairmanship that preceded it — have been consistently inspired by that objective. We have endorsed the priorities that Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé has set for the organization this year, and I take this opportunity to confirm to the Spanish chairmanship our support for a successful conclusion to his mandate.

Italy is convinced that the OSCE remains an effective instrument for seeking, on the basis of consensus, solutions to problems that continue to affect Europe. Indeed, regional disputes persist in Nagorny Karabakh, Georgia and Moldova. Nevertheless, we hope that under the leadership of Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé, all the States participating in the OSCE will take care to respect the principles underlying the Helsinki Final Act: restraint, responsibility and rejection of the use of force. Under all circumstances, dialogue and the search for agreed solutions must remain priorities. Recent events have demonstrated that these issues cannot be easily resolved and that, ultimately, the political will of the parties concerned remains an essential element.

Italy is convinced that the OSCE can also continue to play an important role for the future of Kosovo, its communities and the stability of the region. In that connection, we support the actions of the chairmanship-in-office. We also support the other priorities of the Spanish chairmanship’s programme: combating terrorism, the major challenge of our time, which can be overcome only in close cooperation among States and with respect for democratic principles; protecting the environment, with particular attention given to soil degradation and contamination and the sustainable management of water resources; and, in the human area, promoting diversity and participation in pluralistic societies and combating intolerance, discrimination, corruption and human trafficking. Those are factors that have become indisputable in the OSCE’s indivisible and comprehensive approach to security. Thus, we agree with the choice of those priorities, and we believe that all the credit goes to the Spanish chairmanship, which has the duty to show that the organization can meet the challenges of our time and that it has worked effectively to achieve a better balance among those three areas. As was stated earlier, the OSCE is an alliance of civilizations in action.

The road leading to the Madrid ministerial conference has already been embarked upon. However, major issues remain unresolved. Here, I should like to mention the conventional arms control regime in Europe, regional conflict settlement, the future chairmanships of the organization, its legal status and the adoption of scales of assessment for the budget. Nonetheless, the Spanish chairmanship will be able to guide us so that the Madrid meeting is characterized by a renewed awareness on the part of all participating States of the importance of political dialogue within the OSCE framework in a changing environment of security and peace.

The President

I shall now give the floor to Council members.

Sir John Sawers (United Kingdom)

I thank Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé for the very full and welcome briefing he has given us on the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year. I would like to commend him, and Mr. De Gucht before him, for their leadership of the organization, which is very much appreciated.

British support for the OSCE is long-standing and well known, and it will continue and be reinforced. We think that the work that it does, and the work of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, are of real value and make important contributions to both security and democracy in Europe. We also commend the emphasis that Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé has given to the OSCE’s work on building understanding among religions; the Alliance of Civilizations, which Spain has led; and the work on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Those are important dimensions of the organization’s work.

We welcome the emphasis of Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé, and of Minister Kubis as well, on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The regime of arms control established by the CFE is of real importance to European security as a whole and to each nation in Europe. We would like to see the early entry into force of the adapted CFE treaty.

I would like to echo the comments that Mr. Kubis and Minister De Gucht made about Georgia and the concern about recent developments there. The Chairman’s account of the OSCE’s work on “frozen” conflicts in general is very welcome, and his action in pursuing the 6 August missile incident was particularly welcome. We think that there is a continuing role for both the United Nations and the OSCE in this area to calm tensions, establish the facts and promote conflict resolution and prevention wherever possible. In his report, after investigating the 6 August incident, I think Mr. Zuzul recommended that there should be some rapid reaction mechanisms following up his investigation, so that the OSCE can react more rapidly than perhaps it did in this instance. I would be interested in any comments you may have as to the implementation of those proposals.

Lastly, several speakers have mentioned the OSCE’s involvement in Kosovo, which we welcome, including the mission’s work in preparing for parliamentary and municipal elections on 17 November. Those elections will be important; they come at a sensitive time in Kosovo’s own development and, as the Council knows, the Contact Group met yesterday at the ministerial level, together with the EU and NATO Secretaries-General and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and today there will be a further discussion between the parties facilitated by the European Union, the United States and Russian representatives that have been appointed. We urge both sides to redouble their efforts to move forward and to achieve a sustainable solution.

Once again, may I express my thanks to Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé for his briefing and our strong continued support for his leadership and for the OSCE as a whole.

Mr. Churkin (Russia)

We are pleased to welcome to today’s Security Council meeting Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain. It is a particular pleasure because at this time Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero, President of Spain, is visiting Russia. We welcome the balanced and constructive role of Spain in the post of Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and support the desire of our Spanish colleagues to enhance the meaningfulness of the OSCE and to strengthen its role in European policy.

Russia has introduced, for the consideration of the members of the OSCE several documents aimed at helping to achieve those goals. Above all, we emphasize the need for the speedy adoption of a charter, without which it is impossible to translate the work of the organization into a unified code of distinct, collectively agreed rules and to turn the OSCE into a fully fledged international organization.

We are convinced that the OSCE must play a stronger role in the consideration of military and political problems and questions of countering new challenges and threats, including the prospect of arms control and putting forward confidence- and security-building measures in Europe. We are in favour of constructive dialogue within the OSCE, which would foster a balanced strengthening of security throughout Europe.

Russia hopes that at the forthcoming meeting in Madrid, on 29 and 30 November, of the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the States members of the OSCE, that concrete steps will be taken to intensify the reforms of the organization. In Russia, we know how much Spain, and Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé personally, are doing to ensure the success of the Madrid meeting. Russia will continue to cooperate most closely in order to help them achieve those results.

The Russian delegation consistently supports comprehensive development and the improvement of cooperation between the United Nations and the Security Council, on the one hand, and the regional and subregional mechanisms, on the other. They should harmoniously complement each other, relying on the solid foundation of the United Nations Charter, and in particular Chapter VIII, with due account being paid to the comparative advantages of each.

It is of course essential to have a clear division of work, with full respect for the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. This would make it possible to expand the collective crisis-countering capabilities of the international community.

We note with satisfaction that, as a regional mechanism, the OSCE has established close and fruitful relations with the United Nations in a range of key areas, chiefly linked to security and the settlement of regional conflicts. We note the contribution of the OSCE in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) of the Security Council on Kosovo (Serbia). The OSCE mission to the area as part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) plays an important role, especially in the encouragement of respect for human rights, the preparation and holding of regional elections and the monitoring of local mass media.

During the Council’s mission to Kosovo this year, Council members witnessed some significant gaps that remained in the implementation of key provisions of resolution 1244 (1999) relating to international standards. In that situation, the OSCE still has much to do, including ensuring that human rights and the rights of national minorities are duly observed in Kosovo. We expect that work to be done in cooperation with the United Nations and all interested parties.

I wish to touch upon another important issue. During the statement of Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé, we had to do some linguistic research. As we established, in the original Spanish text where Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé mentioned the situation in Georgia, the report noted that in recent years some serious incidents have been witnessed in the areas of the Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia-South Ossetia conflicts. The English text distributed at this meeting noted that the OSCE had “aided” Georgia during certain serious incidents. I think members would agree that that is not exactly the same thing. But we would like the translation of the statement of Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé in all the official languages to reflect that correctly.

Secondly, regarding assistance to Georgia, we believe that the OSCE, acting in a balanced manner could help Georgia avoid provocative policies aimed at increasing tension. We have already given our evaluation of the incident on 6 August. As a result of another provocation in the Georgia-Ossetia conflict area, on 29 August 2007, the Georgian side detained two Russian soldiers. They were in a North Ossetia battalion of mixed forces. A precedent was created in that force was used against peacekeepers and they were detained, which is unheard of. We again call on the current Chairman-in-Office to take urgent measures so that those who have been detained can be released as soon as possible. That demands a swift reaction.

The President

It is certain that France will not be the one to reproach the representative of the Russian Federation for defending respect for languages within the Organization.

Mr. Wolff (United States)

Like others, let me also add our warm welcome to the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé and for his comprehensive overview of the OSCE activities under Spanish leadership this year.

Looking around the table I notice seven Council members are also members of the OSCE. It is no coincidence that there are numerous areas that Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé outlined in which the interests and work of the Council are also the interests and work of the OSCE. That overlap is much appreciated.

I think it would also be useful for Council members, particularly those who are not OSCE members, if Minister Moratinos Cuyaubé would elaborate on two particular areas of interest to the Council. One of them is Afghanistan, which is an OSCE partner State. Afghanistan has expressed interest in deepening cooperation with the OSCE to assist in strengthening its security and democratic development. In a recent statement to the OSCE Permanent Council, the Afghan delegation noted particular interest in working with the OSCE on border control and management and police training and on combating the trafficking of illicit drugs and supporting future elections.

OSCE has very strong credentials and expertise in those areas, and I would be interested in learning if the Minister has a moment to describe for us the potential he sees for the increased cooperation and activity of the organization in Afghanistan.

The second issue I would like to pursue is one that has been raised by a number of other delegations, and that is the situation in Georgia and the immediate region. In the light of the 6 August rocket incident on Georgian territory, and other security incidents that have heightened tensions in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, what concrete steps has the OSCE taken in Georgia that contribute to bolstering security on the ground, to deterring future such incidents and to the promotion of greater confidence between the sides? Similarly, beyond capacity-building, has the OSCE considered reviving a border monitoring mission for Georgia?

Are there any other steps that the Minister might want to share with us that OSCE may be planning to take in Georgia to bolster security and promote confidence-building measures?

The President

I shall now make a statement in my capacity as representative of France.

I would like to welcome, on behalf of France, the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Mr. Miguel Moratinos, and to thank him for his statement. We believe that the priorities he set out would indeed allow the organization to meet the challenges facing its member States, and we fully share them.

France is deeply committed to the OSCE, which is the only organization bringing together all European and North American States, with a broad mandate. It has contributed to enhancing international security and stability, including by providing for the construction of an underpinning of common values. It is often perceived as a model regional organization. That is why we feel it is crucial to preserve the conditions that make for effective action. I would like to list a number of those conditions.

The first is trust among members, which we must be committed to maintaining and strengthening, despite the differing approaches that are inevitable on a given issue.

Secondly, it is particularly important to maintain a balance among all the dimensions of the OSCE: the human dimension, of course, as well as the economic and security dimensions. It is in its comprehensive concept of security and cooperation that the value of the OSCE lies.

The third condition is that of impartiality. The OSCE is known for its experience in dealing with conflicts in its geographic area. This makes it a crucial actor in resolving the conflict in the Caucasus. As Mr. Moratinos stressed, the OSCE is also playing a very positive role in Kosovo, which deserves support. It is due to its universally recognized impartiality that it is able to play the positive role that it does.

A further essential element concerns the OSCE’s capacity to adapt to a changing world. Today’s challenges are no longer those of the cold war, and the OSCE too must be able to evolve. As noted, the reform adopted in 2006, following the Brussels Ministerial Council, has made it possible to improve the OSCE’s functioning by enhancing its transparency of and the ability of member States to evaluate the organization’s work. France is prepared to work on specific projects to revitalize OSCE activities in all spheres, in particular the political-military component.

For France, support for democratization and the promotion of human rights remain the OSCE’s essential activities. Not only are they among the founding missions of the organization, but they contribute, first and foremost, to ensuring security within the European space. Here, we hail the key role played by the OSCE office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in monitoring elections in the OSCE area. We encourage all member States to host such missions during major electoral periods, as they have been doing.

Finally, the OSCE must also work in close coordination with other international and regional organizations. In this regard, we welcome the convening of this Security Council meeting, which demonstrates the vitality of the cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE, to which we attach great importance.

There is no doubt that the effectiveness of the international community’s action on the European continent can be enhanced only by ever-closer cooperation between the two organizations, in particular in the areas of conflict prevention, crisis resolution, the promotion of human rights and democracy and the fight against terrorism. Those are key elements of international peace and security, which the Security Council is charged to maintain.

I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council. I give the floor to Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos to respond to comments and questions raised.

Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé (Spain)

I wish first of all to thank the Ministers present here — Mr. Kubis and Mr. de Gucht — as well as the Italian Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Craxi, and other Council members, for their statements.

I believe that today’s debate underscored the importance of strengthening and maintaining the tradition of dialogue and cooperation between the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations and its Security Council. I believe that regional organizations like the OSCE have the responsibility to support the efforts of the United Nations and its leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security. To that end, this informal exchange of views in the Security Council complements all our efforts to guarantee peace and stability in a broad international context.

I would like to respond to a number of the questions that were put to me, but before doing so, allow me to reaffirm that the current Spanish chairmanship of the OSCE — at the end of its chairmanship but before the upcoming Madrid Ministerial Council — two main concerns relating to security and cooperation. One of them is Kosovo. I have taken note of the statements made by a number of delegations calling for the proper deployment and action of the OSCE field mission in Kosovo. We are aware of the responsibilities that the organization will hold in seeking to address the situation, whatever the future status of Kosovo may be, with the presence of more than 1,000 OSCE personnel in the field. We know that our work to achieve reconciliation and to protect religious and cultural sites is of fundamental importance. We are therefore aware of and will shoulder our responsibility to ensure a good outcome and a satisfactory situation in Kosovo.

The second issue of great concern, which will also have a significant impact on security and cooperation in Europe, concerns the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. In this regard, we shall do our utmost to ensure that at the Madrid Ministerial Council we will at least be able to make some political progress on the Treaty and advance towards building mutual confidence in the area of European disarmament.

Those are the two specific comments I would like to make concerning the immediate tasks and concerns that the Spanish chairmanship faces. As I indicated in my introductory statement, we shall ensure that the full organization, with its three facets — political and military; economic and environmental; and human — maintains the pace of its development.

I shall now turn to some of the specific concerns and questions raised by Council members who took the floor. I had no intention of opening a debate or of being more specific on the situation in Georgia and the incidents that occurred last August. But as a number of statements were made, I shall indicate what the Spanish OSCE chairmanship’s commitments and actions have been in this regard.

At the first news of the incidents, the chairmanship assumed a leadership role, and contacted all the parties. This made it possible for the existing dialogue between Georgia and Russia to address what should be our common objective: common understanding, cooperation and good-neighbourliness between two important countries: Georgia and the Russian Federation.

I appointed a Personal Representative of the chairmanship, the former Foreign Minister of Croatia, Mr. Zuzul, with the specific intention of establishing a climate of trust and dialogue.

The Personal Representative, Mr. Zuzul, briefed the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on his mission. He gave an account that looked to the future, not the past, aimed at creating a climate of mutual trust and dialogue in order to move forward and thus ensure security and cooperation for the entire OSCE membership. A number of measures were suggested and were outlined in the Permanent Council, including rapid warning measures to prevent similar incidents from arising in the future and measures to improve the work of the military observers. All of that was done with a view to ensuring that such incidents would not recur in the future.

In that regard, I believe that the most positive thing is that there is good dialogue between the Russian Federation and Georgia. The OSCE encourages and promotes that good dialogue, and we want that cooperative dialogue to continue. The chairmanship will continue to work through its Personal Representative, if the parties deem it appropriate. We remain at the disposal of all the parties and all OSCE member States.

There are many options. There is, of course, interest in defusing any type of incident. The representatives of France and the Russian Federation may be certain that the Spanish chairmanship is already in contact with Georgia in order to clarify the situation relating to those members of the peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia. We are in contact with Georgia in order to get that information. I also wish to convey to the representative of the United States that better border control measures are one of the key matters, which of course must be the subject of general consensus in OSCE. But it is one of the ideas that we are exploring with all member States.

Turning to Afghanistan, the representative of the United States referred to one fundamental issue, which I touched upon in my statement: Central Asia. There is a new situation in Central Asia, where historically there have been greater strategic challenges to confront in order to ensure stability in the region. As full members of OSCE, they must also shoulder their share of the responsibility in guaranteeing security.

One of the first things I gained from my visit to Central Asia was a firsthand understanding of the importance, and also the absence up until now, of greater engagement and assistance in jointly resolving the major challenges facing Afghanistan. I believe that during the Ministerial Council meeting in Madrid, the Spanish chairmanship will be prepared to bring Afghanistan into the OSCE fold and, most important, to help enable Central Asian countries to participate and become more deeply involved in resolving security issues and issues regarding economic cooperation and infrastructure.

There is thus a great deal of work to be done in the area of cooperation between OSCE and Afghanistan, and we will work to that end. I believe that all of us can benefit from greater stability and cooperation, if we are able to clearly define the objectives and the priorities. That should be accomplished in a spirit of familial dialogue, cooperation and friendship between all States members of the OSCE, a spirit that has been ours since we took up the OSCE chairmanship.

The President

I thank Mr. Moratinos Cuyaubé for the clarifications he has provided.

There are no further speakers on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The meeting rose at 11.15 a.m.
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