Looking to Kyiv

As delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary Brent Hartley
to the Reinforced Permanent Council, Vienna
November 19, 2013

The United States commends the leadership of the Ukrainian Chairmanship in setting a constructive agenda for our work over the past year.  We would like to thank Ambassador Prokopchuk and his team for their commendable efforts to find common ground, to advance solutions, and to create the conditions for a successful and substantive Ministerial in Kyiv.

The United States is firmly committed to the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security and its multi-dimensional approach, which makes the OSCE an essential element of the region’s security architecture.

As Secretary Kerry has made clear on numerous occasions US engagement with the nations around this table is the cornerstone of US security engagement globally.

Above all, we continue to support the principle enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, and reaffirmed at the 2010 Astana Summit, that lasting security among states depends upon respect for human rights within states.  With that in mind, the United States seeks the adoption at the Ministerial of a balanced set of decisions and declarations reflecting all of the OSCE’s three dimensions.

Human dignity and democracy, justice and tolerance, prosperity and peace — all values at the core of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security — are under growing threat in the OSCE space.  As participating States, we have committed ourselves to act, individually and collectively, to ensure that ours is a region in which the use of force is unthinkable, the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms is fully respected online and off line, and economic and environmental cooperation is the norm.

Turning to the Human Dimension, we welcome the Chairmanship’s Ministerial framework.  Full implementation of our OSCE commitments in this realm is essential to creating a “common security community” in the OSCE region.  We strongly support the Chairmanship’s efforts to strengthen commitments on protection of journalists.  The ability of journalists to do their work without fear of violent attack, intimidation, or harassment is essential to hold governments and leaders accountable in a democratic society.

We welcome the Chairmanship’s initiative on freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, the full implementation of which faces challenges both East and West of Vienna.

We also support the Chairmanship’s focus on Roma and Sinti issues, especially on the 10th anniversary of the Action Plan.  As we recently heard from civil society at the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) in November, Roma communities continue to confront violence, discrimination, and face severe challenges with integration.  A forward-looking Ministerial Decision is timely and would be a visible step in the right direction.

And rounding out the third dimension, we note the Chairmanship’s effort to strengthen our commitments with regard to the fundamental freedom of movement, which permits everyone to leave any country, including one’s own, and to return to one’s country, and which permits everyone lawfully within the territory of a state to move freely within that territory.

In the Economic and Environmental Dimension, the United States fully supports the decisions on Improving the Environmental Footprint of Energy-Related Activities and on the Protection of Non-Nuclear Critical Energy Infrastructure from Natural and Man-Made Disasters.  Last year’s Good Governance Declaration must be the underlying foundation of our work in the Second Dimension.  Better environmental protection policies and practices emerge when countries demand transparency and work to eliminate corruption.  This year’s Second Dimension Decisions should encourage participating States to pursue the principles promoted by such groups and instruments as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

We should use the Kyiv Ministerial to reinvigorate the Security Dimension.  One of the best ways is to focus on updating the Vienna Document to reflect modern military realities in Europe. As part of the Helsinki+40 process, we should reinvigorate our efforts to modernize the Vienna Document.

Turning to the cross-dimensional texts under consideration, we strongly support the Ukrainian Chairmanship’s proposed Addendum to the 2003 Action Plan for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings.  The OSCE is a vital platform in the fight against trafficking in human beings.  The Addendum should redouble participating States’ commitment to combat this horrific crime.

We wholeheartedly support the Ukrainian Chairmanship’s Declaration on Afghanistan.  As we are all aware, 2014 marks a pivotal year in Afghanistan’s transition.  The OSCE is well positioned among regional international organizations to assist Afghanistan to successfully navigate the challenges ahead and consolidate the democratic and security gains of the past decade.  This Declaration should emphasize the OSCE’s cross-dimensional expertise, extend its support for the work of Afghanistan’s dynamic civil society, and highlight how we can build on our existing activities.

The United States thanks all participating States for the cooperative spirit shown in reaching agreement at the Informal Working Group level on a set of eleven cyber-security confidence building measures (CBMs).  We look forward to seeing these cyber-security CBMs adopted by the Permanent Council as soon as possible and to amplifying their adoption with a declaration at the Ministerial Council in Kyiv.  These practical tools, when implemented, will result in a new level of transparency, predictability, and security among participating States.

The United States commends the work of the Ukrainian Chairmanship in launching the Helsinki +40 process.  We do not see a need for a declaration on Helsinki+40 in Kyiv, but if others would value such a step, we are prepared to work intensively on a text that fully reflects our Dublin agreement to use Helsinki +40 to achieve practical results in all three dimensions that will strengthen implementation of commitments.

In Kyiv and throughout the Helsinki +40 process, we cannot shy away from addressing the more challenging issues in our region, among them theprotracted conflicts.  The OSCE must continue to address the conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh.  These conflicts stand counter to many of the basic Helsinki principles that we seek to uphold, including respect for sovereignty, refraining from the threat or use of force, and territorial integrity of states.  The difficulty of resolving the conflicts cannot deter us from addressing them.  The international community must make clear that the status quo is unacceptable.  We have an opportunity to do that in Kyiv.  To that end, the United States commends Ukraine for its leadership over the 5+2 process during the last year.  Ukraine has shown a firm commitment to finding a peaceful resolution to the protracted conflict in Moldova, and we look forward to its continued engagement.

We remain committed to sustaining the work of the Minsk Group and to finding a way forward to resolve the conflict in Georgia that respects its sovereignty and internationally recognized borders.

In Astana, our leaders affirmed that civil society plays an important role in monitoring the implementation by participating States of their commitments.  In Kyiv on December 3 and 4, NGOs from across the OSCE region will hold an independent, parallel event to review developments in the region and make recommendations to the Ministerial Council.  We expect to hear from them on Helsinki+40 and on how effectively participating States are implementing their obligations to respect fundamental freedoms.  We welcome the contribution of civil society to our work and we encourage delegations from all participating States to engage with civil society representatives in Kyiv and throughout the year.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we thank you again for your diligent efforts and we look forward to working with you and other participating States to ensure a Ministerial Council Meeting in Kyiv that strengthens our common security and core OSCE values.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.