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Austria : Participating States can and should make better use of OSCE tools to address common security challenges, say participants at OSCE Annual Security Review Conference.

The OSCE has the framework, the platform and the tools needed to address todays complex security challenges. What is needed to make effective use of those tools are political will, seeking new opportunities for dialogue and new ways of communicating and negotiating, all keynote speakers agreed at todays opening session of the Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC).

High-level representatives of the OSCE participating States, Partners for Co-operation and partnering organizations convened in Vienna today for the start of three days of wide-ranging discussions on current security threats and challenges in their region and the OSCEs role in addressing them. Established by a Ministerial Council Decision in Porto in 2002 (MC(10).DEC/3), theASRC is hosted by Slovakias 2019 OSCE Chairmanship under the motto For People, Dialogue and Stability.

During this years ASRC, participants will discuss ensuring security and stability in the OSCE region in light of developments regarding Ukraine; the OSCE Structured Dialogue; effective multilateral approaches to early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation; building security and confidence in conflict and crisis situations in the OSCE area; conventional arms control and security-building measures; and current and future trends regarding transnational threats in the OSCE region and beyond.

In his opening address, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Miroslav Laj?k stressed that the OSCE and its participating States have a full toolbox of mechanisms, fora and processes at their disposal to find solutions to current and future security challenges and conflicts: We do not, necessarily, need to create new structures or mechanisms. Instead, what we need is the political will to better use the tools we have. Progress does not come, simply, from creating new initiatives. In fact, that is often the easy part. The harder thing to do is to implement, and to effectively work within existing frameworks and commitments. To find opportunities for dialogue. To try new ways of communicating and negotiating. And to take on different perspectives and viewpoints.

Laj?k pointed to the necessity for diplomats to be mindful of the realities on the ground, in particular the human consequences of various conflicts: In the face of real, human suffering, a lack of dialogue is unjustifiable. The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office acknowledged the uncertainty caused by the continuously evolving terrorist and extremist threats, the rapidly changing ways and means of warfare - from hybrid threats to cyber-attacks and the complex danger that environmental threats pose to our societies. Laj?k expressed however the conviction that we are more equipped than ever to deal with these threats: We have better data, research and technology. We have stronger field presences and communication tools. We have broadened our understanding of security - realizing, for example, that the participation of women is not just an option, but a necessity. And, that the voices of young people help us to better understand the path ahead of us. We are also doing more to reach out and partner with other regional and multilateral organizations. So, we have built on the Helsinki Final Act - layer upon layer. And, we have ended up with an Organization that is more comprehensive now than it has ever been.

Laj?k concluded by reminding participants that some of the most fundamental elements of the OSCE, its principles and commitments, might hold the key to combating current and future threats: Our openness to dialogue. Our belief that, even in a non-likeminded group, there is a way to find consensus. I cannot think of a better opportunity than the ASRC to recommit to our founding core values, for a safer future for all, said the Chairperson-in-Office.

In his keynote address, Co-Chair of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre and Former President of Austria Heinz Fischer focused on the importance of multilateralism at a time when the weaknesses of democracy and the fear of decline have gained momentum and European Parliament elections have clearly displayed the rise of nationalist movements and its threat to international co-operation and rule of law.

In times like these, multilateralism is more important than ever, stressed Fischer. We must seek dialogue with people from conflict-affected areas. We must hear the viewpoints of the people who are not satisfied with our democracy, and who elect, for instance, far right parties. We must work on a pluralistic and liberal democracy. Communication and co-operation are the key for building a secure and peaceful world for all.

Former European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Rt Hon. Baroness Catherine Ashton underlined the need for true political leadership in searching for new ways and new opportunities to find solutions to the complex security challenges of our time, as well as to the importance of including women in this process. What is needed is true leadership from both men and women, she said.

Engaging women is essential, not least because their lives are often most affected by conflict or chaos. But they are part of the solution; its impossible to get to a solution that is lasting without them. And they should be participants in the resolution of conflict or in conflict prevention - not as an opportunity given to them, but as a right that they should take, said Ashton.

Agreeing with Chairperson-in-Office Laj?k that the OSCE has the toolkit it needs to be able to help support communities and people through times of crisis, Ashton also highlighted the need for a collaborative approach in solving the most pressing global challenges. Most of all, we need collaboration. There is no issue that any nation faces that can be resolved alone.

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Publication:Mena Report
Article Type:Conference news
Date:Jun 26, 2019
Words:931
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