The Week in Review: February 12th to February 16th
At the Forum for Security Cooperation: Security Sector Governance and Reform
On Wednesday, February 14, the Slovak Chair of the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) convened a joint meeting with the Permanent Council to discuss Security Sector Governance and Reform (SSG/R).
A security sector that is transparent, rights respecting, accountable to government authority, and responsive to the needs of the public is a requirement to successfully respond to some of the most pressing challenges across the OSCE region. In our statement, we recognized Slovakia’s commitment to advancing SSG/R, as well as the important work of several preceding chairs, and made several suggestions for how the OSCE can move forward on this important area of work.
Security Sector Governance and Reform also featured on Monday, February 10th, at a meeting of the Security Committee.
At the Permanent Council: OSCE Mission in Kosovo
On Thursday, February 15, we welcomed Ambassador Jan Braathu, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, to the Permanent Council, where he delivered a regular report. As Kosovo celebrate its 10th anniversary as an independent nation, we expressed our intention to continue our close partnership with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo to help Kosovo develop as a peaceful, stable, democratic, and multi-ethnic country at peace with its neighbors.
At the Permanent Council: Head of the Observer Mission at Gukovo and Donetsk Checkpoints
We also welcomed Ambassador Gyorgy Varga, Head of the OSCE Observer Mission at two checkpoints on the Russia-Ukraine border, to the Permanent Council, where he reported on his Mission’s activities.
Like the overwhelming majority of participating States present here, the United States finds it deeply regrettable that the Russian Federation continues to block expanding the geographic scope of the Observer Mission, despite the clear, strong, and continued urging to do so. Over four hundred kilometers of the Russia-Ukraine border is inaccessible to Ukrainian authorities because of the unilateral control the Russian Federation has exercised since fighting with Ukraine started four years ago.
We once again called on Russia to fulfill its commitment under the Minsk Protocol to allow permanent monitoring of the border and to ensure the Observer Mission can fulfill its mandate to monitor along the entire Russia-Ukraine border, including portions solely under the control of Russia-led forces.
At the Permanent Council: Russia’s Ongoing Violations in Ukraine
Marking three years since the signing of the Minsk Package of Measures, we spoke out about Russia’s ongoing violations in Urkaine, where Russia-led forces continue to contravene the most fundamental element of the agreement — namely an immediate and full ceasefire along the line of contact — while Russia continues to stoke the conflict.
At the Permanent Council: On the 2018 Unified Budget
OSCE participating States reached consensus on the 2018 Unified Budget. Following adoption of the budget decision, we voiced our disappointment that the budget does not sufficiently meet the resource needs of the OSCE’s independent institutions, that a small number of OSCE States blocked the upgrade of the Senior Gender Adviser, and that for yet another year, the Border Management Staff College, one of Central Asia’s only forums for regional border security and cooperation with neighboring Afghanistan, was excluded from the unified budget.
Virtual Consultations on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms with Civil Society
On Friday, in advance of the February 27 meeting of the Human Dimension Committee, we held a session of ‘virtual consultations’ with civil society representatives to hear their views on the upcoming meeting’s theme: “the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.