The appointment of four senior OSCE officials and the adoption of new commitments by States to strengthen the fight against organized crime and corruption as well as preventing torture made this one of the “most productive” Ministerial Councils in many years, said OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Edi Rama, at the close of the 27th OSCE Ministerial Council.
He welcomed the participating States’ adoption, by consensus, of decisions on the appointment of the following senior-level officials to the OSCE’s top positions:
- Helga Schmid (Germany) as OSCE Secretary General;
- Matteo Mecacci (Italy) as the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights;
- Teresa Ribeiro (Portugal) as OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media;
- Kairat Abdrakhmanov (Kazakhstan) as the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Looking back on the 2020 Albanian Chairmanship, Rama said that “at the start of the year, I set out three objectives: to implement our commitments together; to make a difference on the ground; and to build stability through dialogue. We aimed high, challenging ourselves to make an impression and an impact. But this year was not what any of us expected.”
He spoke about overcoming the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of the OSCE’s most senior management and the new hostilities in the OSCE region. “We learnt on the job. But we have done the job. Against all the odds, we have delivered. This Ministerial Council has been a success.”
Reflecting on the Council’s outcomes, Rama noted the statement issued yesterday by the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries — Russia, France and the United States — who met on the margins of the Ministerial Council. Their statement calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue fully implementing their obligations under the 9 November arrangement.
“Now is the time to take advantage of the ceasefire to negotiate a lasting and sustainable peace, under the auspices of the Co-Chairs,” Rama said.
He further highlighted several commitments agreed by participating States over the last two days, where they agreed to strengthen efforts in preventing and combating corruption through digitalization and increased transparency, enhancing co-operation to counteract transnational organized crime, and in preventing and eradicating the use of torture. The participating States also agreed on enhancing their co-operation with the OSCE’s Asian Partners and underlined the need to continue a results-oriented Transdniestrian Settlement Process in the “5+2” Format.
There was also agreement on North Macedonia chairing the OSCE in 2023.
With these commitments, “we have therefore delivered much-needed progress in all three dimensions of the OSCE’s security. That has been no small undertaking,” said Rama.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office thanked all the participating States, supporting staff and teams, and the OSCE Executive Structures and field missions for the success of the Ministerial Council and the work throughout the year. “We are a diverse Organization, and we may have our fair share of disagreements. But when we come together, we can have a huge impact.”
He expressed his gratitude that the “OSCE has always stood alongside us” over the last two decades as Albania “emerged from an isolated dictatorship, to the proud democracy we are now.”
“No matter what your history, no matter if you are from North America, Europe or Eurasia, no matter how large or small, the OSCE is a platform through which we can all be heard.”
Looking to the future, Rama encouraged participating States to engage in “constructive, open-minded discussion” to prepare the OSCE for the challenging times ahead. He extended Albania’s support to Sweden as incoming Chair on 1 January 2021. “We will stand by your side as part of the Troika, to help you in every way we can.”
Incoming OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde said: “A heartfelt thank you to Prime Minister Rama for the professional organization of this Ministerial Council meeting, and for having guided the OSCE through a challenging year. One of the most important results from this meeting is that we could come together to appoint new heads of the autonomous institutions and Secretary General. This was significant given the important role of the OSCE institutions to support all of us to live up to our commitments. I look forward to presenting the Swedish Chairpersonship programme in January. Through our priorities and activities, we hope to make a contribution to strengthened democracy and security in our region.”