Response to Report by OSCE Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Affairs

As delivered by Political Counselor Christopher Robinson
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
March 8, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States thanks Mr. Svilanovic for his report and the 2012 Action Plan.  The Action Plan provides us with an opportunity to take stock of the OSCE’s activities in the Economic and Environmental Dimension and to think strategically about what this organization will do over the next year.

Mr. Svilanovic, your report also provides us with a launching point from the Vilnius Ministerial Council.  The three decisions taken in Vilnius in the Second Dimension on Transport Security, the Promotion of Women in the Economic Sphere, and the Strengthening of the Economic and Environmental Dimension form a concrete base upon which to build this year’s activities.  As many participating States have pointed out, there are numerous opportunities for cooperation as we confront economic and environmental challenges within the OSCE space, and this report gives us a path towards achieving our shared goals.

We support your Office’s plan for tackling this year’s Second Dimension theme of “Promoting Security and Stability through Good Governance” in the OSCE area.  We believe that good governance is critical to stability in the OSCE region. We welcome the good governance work program, its focus on anticorruption emphasizing the incorporation of civil society, and its interest in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  With regard to the UN Convention against Corruption, the United States was the first country to undergo a review. We urge those participating States who have not yet signed on to do so.

The United States will send high-level representation to the second Economic and Environmental Forum in Dublin in April on “Promoting Good Governance and Combating Corruption.”  We encourage all participating States to engage in the process and to plan now for a robust and well-attended Economic and Environmental Implementation Meeting in October.  We also commend you and your team for the successful first Economic and Environmental Forum held here in Vienna February 6-7th on the subject of “Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.”  The Forum brought together leaders from the financial world, NGOs and governmental institutions across the OSCE space for an honest conversation on the obstacles to combating money laundering and terrorism financing both internally and across borders.  We look forward to the full report of the event.

We agree with your emphasis on contributing to security and stability in the OSCE region by enhancing international cooperation.  The United States believes energy security, good governance, including combating corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing, and environmental and resource management issues have significant trans-boundary implications.

The Office’s work with the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) is a prime example of productive cooperation with international organizations, and we are pleased to see a renewed focus on environmental protection and sustainable development in the work plan.  It is clear that issues of water resource management, territorial degradation, and depletion of natural resources have serious implications for the OSCE region, and we fully support your office in its endeavor to tackle these difficult issues.

We are strongly in favor of the Office’s plan to support follow-up activities to last year’s Chairmanship Conference on Integrating Global Energy Markets, held in Turkmenistan in November 2011.  Although consensus was not reached on an energy security decision in Vilnius, the OSCE still has a role to play in the debate.  In fact, disparate views on the issues surrounding energy security signal a need to continue dialogue on the matter in order to find common ground among participating States.

The United States is particularly interested in your Office’s plan for implementing the Ministerial Council Decision on Promoting Equal Opportunity for Women in the Economic Sphere.  We fully support the proposed projects aiming to strengthen the business management and product development skills of Afghan, Azerbaijani and Tajik women entrepreneurs.  We encourage the Office of the Coordinator to work with the OSCE’s Senior Advisor in the Gender Section, Miroslava Beham, and the CiO’s Special Representative on Gender Issues, June Zeitlin, as well as ODIHR, in coordinating and implementing these events in order to increase the efficacy and efficiency of our efforts.

Mr. Svilanovic, thank you and your staff again for your report and for your contributions to the OSCE’s activities. The United States reiterates its support for the work of the Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities, and we look forward to another productive year of collaboration.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.