(Washington) - Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht will discuss the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in his capacity as Chairman-in-Office of the 56-nation organization. The hearing, titled “Belgium’s Chairmanship of the OSCE,” will be held on Wednesday, June 28, 2006, at 11:00 a.m. in Room 2359 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Belgian Government assumed Chairmanship of the OSCE in January 2006. The first half of this year has seen a number of developments within, and adjacent to, the OSCE region that will form the focus of the hearing. Among the issues expected to be addressed are developments in Central Asia and neighboring Afghanistan, the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the political situation in the Caucasus, and human rights trends in the Russian Federation.
Commissioners are also expected to focus on OSCE democracy-promotion work, with a special emphasis on election monitoring, programs to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, and initiatives aimed at promoting greater international cooperation to curtail human trafficking and child pornography.
Minister De Gucht has had an extensive political career in Belgium, including service in the Belgian Federal Parliament, the Flemish Parliament and the European Parliament. He has served as Foreign Minister since 2004. As Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Minister De Gucht has devoted considerable personal attention to ongoing conflicts in the OSCE region, including those in Transdniestria and Nagorno-Karabakh and has traveled widely within the OSCE in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Southern Europe and the Balkans as well as Afghanistan, an OSCE partner country.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.