2017 Annual Security Review Conference Closing Session
As prepared for delivery by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Kate M. Byrnes
to the Annual Security Review Conference, Vienna
June 29, 2017
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to start by thanking the Austrian Chairmanship for all the effort it put into organizing the 2017 Annual Security Review Conference.
This conference opened with NATO Deputy Secretary General Gottemoeller expressing optimism that the Euro-Atlantic community – working together in the spirit of goodwill and mutual trust – could truly make progress toward greater security through dialogue. She stressed that we should not return to a time when Europe was divided into spheres of influence, and of the need to maintain and strengthen the rules-based international order of which the OSCE is a fundamental part. We agree. The vast majority of participating States are striving to uphold our common principles and commitments. A handful of states are failing to do so or even actively undermining these principles and the rules based order. These differences were often highlighted during the course of the ASRC, in particular during the discussion of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. While we all know that the Russian Federation started and continues to fuel this conflict, Russia once again denied to all of us that it bears any responsibility and attempted to blame everyone but itself for the current crisis.
Despite such differences, we had useful discussions on some of the key issues facing the OSCE region. We welcome the strong support that was universally expressed for in-depth discussions within the Structured Dialogue, proceeding without preconditions, preconceived outcomes, or artificial deadlines. There was nearly universal support expressed for using fully the arms control tools at our disposal, in particular the CFE Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty, and the Vienna Document, and for reinvigorating the effort to update the Vienna Document.
The session devoted to the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area was of particular importance, as these conflicts continue to harm human lives. We heard from many states that the status quo is not acceptable, and that they support the established negotiating formats. In addition, there was strong support for strengthening the Organization’s crisis response capacity. Today, we also heard strong support for enhancing the OSCE’s capacity to assist participating States in countering transnational threats, particularly from terrorism and violent extremism.
In closing, let me say that the United States appreciates the opportunity provided by the ASRC, which helps us to have a shared understanding of the threats and challenges facing the OSCE region, while also highlighting where our perspectives differ. In addressing these threats and challenges, we must all be guided by the same principles, particularly those laid out in the Helsinki Final Act. We must all play by the same rules and accept accountability for our actions. We must also remain committed to upholding our common principles and commitments, as well as to supporting this Organization, including by ensuring principled and effective leadership for each of its parts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.