VILNIUS, LITHUANIA—Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) outlined today the key priorities of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA).
The 13-member U.S. delegation is among the largest to attend the Annual Session, which is being held this year in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Addressing parliamentarians on environmental issues, Chairman Cardin urged greater development of environmentally-friendly energy policies that encourage investment in alternative energy sources, such as solar and biomass.
“If we can get energy issues right, it will help us address climate change and what’s more, boost the international economy by creating jobs,” Chairman Cardin said.
“This international exchange is critical to addressing international challenges such as the global economic crisis, climate change and security concerns,” said Co-Chairman Hastings, a former President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
“Holding this session here in Lithuania is a testament to the remarkable progress this country has made and the leadership role Lithuania plays in the OSCE,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), whose mother is a native Lithuanian.
The delegation will vote on more than 20 resolutions, which will become the Vilnius Declaration and help set the agenda for the OSCE in the year ahead. The U.S. delegation is carrying resolutions ranging from human rights and healthcare to security concerns in Afghanistan and anti-Semitism.
Helsinki Commission Ranking Minority Member Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a resolution to promote freedom of expression and access to information on the Internet.
“Rather than be a tool for change, sadly, some authoritarian regimes have turned the Internet into one the most potent tools of repression,” said Congressman Smith.
“The OSCE can be an example for the type of international cooperation we need in Afghanistan and beyond as we work to root out the seeds of terrorism,” said Helsinki Commissioner Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), who is sponsoring an Afghanistan security resolution.
Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) is carrying several amendment at the Assembly aimed at preventing discrimination against Jews.
“It is unfortunate that anti-Semites play on the economic downturn to increasingly use hate-filled language blaming Jews and other minorities for the state of the economy. I call on my fellow parliamentarians and their governments to speak out forcefully against such exploitation of the global economic crisis as an excuse for anti-Semitism,” said Senator Voinovich.