Opening Remarks to the 670th Meeting of the Forum for Security Co-operation

United States Mission to the OSCE
January 18, 2012

Madam Chairperson, Ambassador Imanalieva;

His Excellency, First Deputy Minister of Defense Suerkulov;

Ladies and Gentlemen;


The United States welcomes Kyrgyzstan’s Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Cooperation this winter session. We look forward to full, open and productive discussions on how we can best continue to modernize the OSCE’s arms control and CSBM mechanisms and address the issues that continue to undermine security in the OSCE area of application.

2012 will be a year of transitions. For the United States, we will continue to explore and consult with our partners on how we can give real impetus to the modernization of the Vienna Document so that it remains a vital contribution to building confidence and security in Europe. While we warmly welcome the accomplishments achieved in 2011 under the consecutive Chairmanships of Iceland, Italy and Kazakhstan, including the issuance of the first update to the Vienna Document in 12 years, there is much more significant and substantial work that we want to achieve over the next 11 months. More generally, we would hope that 2012 can be a year when all members of the OSCE work to increase cooperation and military transparency.

The United States confirms its position, as noted in the December 7 interpretive statement delivered at the Ministerial Council meeting in Vilnius, expressing our concern that “at a time when arms control and CSBMs in Europe are under strain as never before, that we are unable to look up from our national agendas to engage on work that would benefit us all.”

Madam Chairperson,

The United States understands the difficulties related to advancing new concepts, ideas and proposals through intra-government bureaucracies. We are sympathetic to the challenges facing our partners that too frequently result in delay or the inability to join consensus. However, after a decade of some rather dramatic changes to the European and global security landscape, it seems we need to change our assumptions about the value of CSBMs and arms control. If we want our European security relationships to remain relevant and not deteriorate into mutual suspicion, we must stop looking at security as what we could possibly lose, but rather start looking at what we will gain by adapting ourselves and our instruments to the modern world.

The U.S. will continue to press for a lowering of thresholds for notification of military activities. We are pleased to be a co-sponsor of a meaningful proposal on lowering notification thresholds that is supported by a majority of OSCE states. We will support efforts to enhance and rationalize information exchanges, inspections, evaluations, and observations to improve both resource efficiencies and military transparency, and enhance our risk reduction mechanisms, including those in support of Ministerial Decision 3/11 on the Conflict Cycle. Consistent with these priorities, we want to ensure that the Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting accurately reviews the implementation of all Vienna Document measures that were in effect throughout 2011. Furthermore, we want to review the practicalities related to hosting the Heads of Verification Centers meeting during the December information exchange, and reconsider the nature and timing of these meetings. Perhaps they would be more useful taking place on the margins of the AIAM.

We also look forward to contributing to the first annual discussion on the implementation of the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspect of Security. We look forward to more in-depth elaboration of the OSCE Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, including the experts’ session. And we look forward to a robust and constructive discussion on strengthening the OSCE’s nonproliferation agenda, especially regarding UNSCR 1540 and the Principles Governing Non-Proliferation.

Last, but in no way least, we look forward to engaging participating States on a thorough examination of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions on the issue of women, peace, and security in the political-military dimension.

Madam Chairperson,

Thank you again for Kyrgyzstan’s vision for this winter session of the FSC. We again want to thank your predecessors from 2011, for their efforts shepherding us to make 2012 a memorable year for the FSC. We have done great work, but the more difficult challenges are still before us. Let us tackle these challenges together with a positive and constructive spirit that will improve European security for all of us. We wish Kyrgyzstan every success for its Chairmanship.

I ask that these remarks be attached to the Journal of the Day.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.