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U.S. Delegation Debates Mounting Global Crises with Transatlantic Legislators

CSCE Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-2) led the U.S. delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 21st Autumn Meeting in Yerevan Armenia from November 18-19, accompanied by fellow Commissioner Rep. Victoria Spartz (IN-5). The Autumn Meeting – the third of the OSCE PA’s three annual statutory meetings – brought together nearly 200 legislators from approximately 50 countries to debate the most pressing regional and institutional challenges facing the OSCE.

The Autumn Meeting in Yerevan took place in the wake of Azerbaijan’s recent takeover of the Armenian-majority enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and the displacement of its population, leading to an influx of 120,000 refugees into Armenia. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President of the National Assembly Alen Simonyan addressed this crisis in the Autumn Meeting’s opening session and presented their vision for a negotiated peaceful resolution.

Prime Minister Pashinyan’s address kicked off two days of debate in Yerevan dominated by discussions of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis in addition to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine; Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and subsequent Israeli military operations in Gaza; and the OSCE’s failure to reach a consensus agreement on key leadership positions for 2024 (an agreement was reached the following week at the Ministerial Council in Skopje).

Chairman Wilson and Rep. Spartz participated in each of the Autumn Meeting’s three parliamentary sessions, structured as open debates for legislators to raise their priorities on key security, economic, and human rights issues.

In Session I, focused on regional security challenges, Chairman Wilson condemned Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, noting it as “the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust” and highlighting the breadth of nationalities affected by Hamas’ murders, rapes, and kidnappings. Rep. Spartz enjoined the OSCE to respond to global security crises through “on the ground, actionable projects” and by identifying ways to impose consequences on states violating their commitments.

Chairman Wilson addressed Session II, dedicated to the fight against corruption, to call on countries to enact similar legislation to the United States to enable “the transfer of legally recovered Russian oligarch assets to Ukraine for reconstruction.” He stressed the need to use such measures to “make our systems less susceptible to foreign corruption” and to “deter further aggression by war criminal Putin, the regime in Tehran, and the Chinese Communist party.” Separately, Rep. Spartz noted that the most effective way to counter corruption is by strengthening democratic institutions and ensuring the integrity of justice systems and due process. She further urged OSCE countries to address sanctions evasion that is “driven by a lot of perverse incentives and corruption.”

Speaking on Session III’s theme of “protecting minorities and people affected by conflicts,” Chairman Wilson highlighted the plight of Ukraine’s children. “Almost two-thirds of the country’s children have been displaced, thousands have been injured, and hundreds have been killed,” he said, noting that “this is a war crime and, I believe, amounts to genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention.” Chairman Wilson further decried Hamas’ practice of using “innocent civilians as human shields, and co-locating military commands at hospitals and schools.” Rep. Spartz, meanwhile, lamented the failure of international organizations to prevent the proliferation of humanitarian crises around the world and called for allied nations to be “more united to stand up against [aggressive countries] and really stand up with action.”

The U.S. delegation also participated in several bilateral and multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Autumn Meeting. Chairman Wilson attended a meeting of the OSCE PA’s Parliamentary Support Team for Ukraine (PSTU), a newly established ad hoc committee on which he serves as Co-Chair. The PSTU meeting focused on presentations by its recently appointed rapporteurs for security, economic, and human rights issues, geared toward fleshing out the committee’s core lines of effort for the year ahead. Chairman Wilson further met with Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia Ruben Rubinyan to review recent developments in Nagorno-Karabakh and discuss the prospects for peace with Azerbaijan and normalization with Turkey.

The OSCE PA will next convene for its Winter Meeting in Vienna, Austria from February 22-23, 2024.

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