The Week in Review: October 16th to 20th
2017 EEDIM Focuses on the Environment
The annual Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting (EEDIM) convened Monday and Tuesday in Vienna. This year, the meeting focused exclusively on the environment. Civil society and international organizations joined diplomats in reviewing the OSCE’s work on areas such as disaster risk reduction and good governance in the environmental realm.
At the meeting, we encouraged OSCE States to take stock of their progress on the water management commitments we made in Madrid in 2007, and to ensure critical energy infrastructure is protected in line with the OSCE agreements we made in 2013 in Kyiv.
We also stressed the importance of including civil society and the private sector in the OSCE’s economic and environmental work, and recommended that the upcoming draft Ministerial Decision on greening the economy include a strong emphasis on good governance and citizen participation.
Security Sector Support in the Migration Crisis
The Forum for Security Cooperation and the Permanent Council met for a joint session on Wednesday to discuss security sector support to national authorities in the migration crisis. In our statement, we underscored how an appropriate role of military and other security forces is indispensable – not only for border security, but also for the safety and well-being of migrants themselves.
Permanent Council: The OSCE PA, the Eurasian Economic Commission
Christine Muttonen, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA), and Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, were guest speakers at the Permanent Council on Thursday. We echoed Muttonen’s calls for stronger cooperation between the PA and OSCE institutions, and voiced our appreciation for the PA’s unequivocal support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Responding to Sargsyan, we expressed our backing for OSCE efforts to increase economic connectivity among participating States, while noting that certain States’ disregard for OSCE commitments preclude any discussion of the Astana 2010 vision of a single, integrated economic zone.
Permanent Council: the Three Committees
The chairpersons of the OSCE’s three committees also reported on their work at this week’s Permanent Council. Among other things, we congratulated Ambassador Steffen Kongstad of Norway for tightening the focus on gender as chairperson of the Security Committee, thanked Ambassador Kayrat Sarybay of Kazakhstan for his role in ensuring that economic and environmental issues remain priorities at the OSCE, and highlighted the significance of United Kingdom Ambassador Sian MacLeod’s spotlight on the grassroots impact of the OSCE’s human rights work, given the considerable backsliding we see in certain participating States.
Permanent Council: Russia’s Ongoing Violations in Ukraine, the Conflict in Georgia, Elections in Kyrgyzstan
On Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine, we again called for the release of all Ukrainian citizens illegally held or sentenced in Russia for exercising their fundamental freedoms. We noted the case of Pavlo Hryb, a Ukrainian teenager detained in Krasnodar, Russia, on charges of terrorism. Hryb was apparently lured to Belarus by Russian security services, who only acknowledged his detention and transfer 13 days after he went missing. Human rights groups have expressed concern that Hryb has been denied access to essential medication for a health condition.
We also expressed our regret that Russia continues to block expansion of the geographic scope of the OSCE observer mission to the Russian-Ukrainian border. We once again must accept an inadequate, limited-scope mission covering just two border checkpoints, which together account for only a few hundred meters of the 2,300 kilometer Ukrainian-Russian border.
Discussing the 41st Round of the Geneva International Discussions on the Conflict in Georgia, which took place on October 10 – 11, we expressed our continued objection to the closure of two crossing points along the Abkhaz Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), and the continued placement of physical barriers and demarcation signs along both the Abkhaz and South Ossetia ABLs. These actions violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and damage the livelihoods of local residents. Russia, as a party to the conflict, should abide by the 2008 ceasefire agreement and respect international law and its international commitments.
We also commended the Kyrgyz Republic for its commitment to ensuring a democratic transition, following the October 15 presidential election. The peaceful conduct and high voter turnout clearly reaffirmed the Kyrgyz people’s commitment to pursuing the democratic path.