Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: His Excellency Antonio Martins da Cruz
Portuguese Foreign Minister - Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE


(I. Opening Remarks)

I would like to express my satisfaction for being here today to meet such a distinguished Commission.

The Portuguese Chairmanship of the OSCE attaches particular importance to a close co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation. I consider that the Parliamentary Assembly is a very important institution of the OSCE, which plays an irreplaceable role in the promotion and consolidation of democratic values and institutions throughout the OSCE region.

The Parliamentary Assembly contributes also to bring the OSCE closer to our constituencies and citizens, thus enhancing the visibility of our Organisation.

(II. OSCE’s role in the fight against terrorism)

I commend the Parliamentary Assembly for its decision to dedicate this year’s Annual Session (Berlin next July) to the fight against terrorism. I look forward to joining you in Berlin to discuss OSCE’s strategy on anti-terrorism which is as you know a top priority for our Chairmanship.

Let me remind you the initiatives of our Chairmanship regarding the fight against terrorism:

we have appointed a Personal Representative, Mr. Jan Troejborg, who came to Washington in March. His role is to support the Chair and to work closely with the Secretariat and the whole OSCE in the implementation of the Bucharest Plan of Action and of the Bishkek Programme of Action. Four strategic areas have been identified: policing, border control, trafficking and money laundering. We welcome the setting-up in the Secretariat of the anti-terrorism unit which will certainly contribute to speeding up the development of concrete projects in those areas.

We are presently involved in the preparations for the 12th of June meeting in Lisbon among the Secretaries General and High Representatives of relevant international and regional organisations. We hope that the conclusions of this meeting will contribute to enhance collaboration and optimise synergies in the international strategy led by the United Nations. We count on the participation of Ambassador Francis Taylor in this meeting.

We are also working towards the elaboration of an OSCE Charter on the Prevention and Fight against Terrorism. It is a political document based on the OSCE´s norms and values and which will encompass the assessment of the implementation of the lines of action approved in Bucharest and Bishkek. We also believe that such Charter will allow the adoption of new measures for preventing and fighting terrorism, namely in the field of the financing of terrorism. We are willing to continue working in close co-operation with the US on this project.

(III. Legal capacity of the OSCE)

Another important aspect for which I would like to ask your collaboration is the need to solve the issue of the legal capacity of the OSCE. What is at stake is not the revision of the political nature of OSCE decisions nor the attempt to transform the OSCE into a career organisation. The objective is to come to terms with the serious problems jeopardising the efficient management and the functioning of the OSCE, in particular of its institutions and missions.

(IV. Strengthening of the co-operation with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly)

As I referred earlier, the Portuguese Chairmanship is committed to strengthening the co-operation with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

Transparency is a central aspect of our Organisation. I welcome therefore the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly has set up a Committee on Transparency and Accountability, chaired by Congressman Steny Hoyer.

We consider that the Parliamentary Assembly should be informed about the important decisions of the OSCE, namely on the adoption of the budget. Let me stress however the following: the enhancement of OSCE’s Parliamentary Dimension should not be an objective to be pursued by attempting to transform the Parliamentary Assembly into a bureaucratic and executive structure. This institution has been entrusted with an ambitious and fundamental role which it should seek to fully perform: I mean the contribution to the development of parliamentary culture in the OSCE area, namely in those regions where democracy is trying to take root.

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Adrian Severin, has put forward the proposal of a Memorandum of Understanding. I am willing to discuss such a Memorandum with all the parties involved with a view to adopting it as soon as possible. We support notably the proposal of setting up in Vienna a liaison office of the Parliamentary Assembly. We believe that such office will allow the Assembly to have a better access to the information needed for the normal development of its activities.

(V. Other issues: regional aspects)

In Belarus, we are currently facing the issue of the appointment of the Head of the Advisory and Monitoring Group (Ambassador Eberhard Heyken). The Chairmanship has, since the beginning of its tenure endeavoured all efforts to pursue a fruitful dialogue with the Belarusian Government and, to this effect, contacts have been maintained at various levels. We regret that such a co-operative spirit has not been reciprocated and that extreme positions have been preferred so far.

In Moldova we are confident of resuming dialogue between the parts and the mediators soon, as set by the latter in the road map approved last November in Prague and within the structure proposed by them in Bratislava last February. We have been urging Moldovan and Transnistrian to work together on the main issue at the table, the definition of Transnistria’s political status within a unified Moldova. The resolution of the customs question would be an important step on this direction. We continue to pay great attention to the ammunition disposal in the framework of the Istanbul commitments. In this context we have been calling on the Russian Federation to ensure their complete and timely fulfilment. We highly praise the USA for their support to the voluntary fund.

In South East Europe, the OSCE will continue to assist the various countries in their difficult reforms through its institutional and capacity building instruments and will continue to invest in confidence building measures aimed at pacifying tense and dangerous situations. Naturally, one can not refer to South East Europe without mentioning the heavy election calendar scheduled for 2002. Allow me a special reference to the October 5th elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where for the first time since Dayton the authorities are faced with the historic task of organising elections. The OSCE is fully committed to assisting the country in making a success story of these elections.

In the Caucasus, we pay particular attention to the situation in Chechnya, Georgia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Regarding Central Asia, our strategy aims at reinforcing the Economic and Environmental Dimension, which is a priority for the Chairmanship, as well as the Politico-Military Dimension, reaffirming simultaneously the importance of the Human Dimension commitments. Furthermore, the Chairmanship attaches particular importance to the implementation of several of the objectives established under the Bishkek Conference Action Plan. Among these, we would like to highlight the decisions concerning the training of police and border guard forces, where several projects are already under study.

(VI. Concluding remarks)

I would like to conclude by underlining my willingness to closely work with all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly in further promoting the role of the OSCE in the Euro-Atlantic security Architecture.