Friday, October 23, 2009

OSCE's mechanisms to prevent conflicts must be used more effectively, says Lithuanian Foreign Minister

The 2008 conflict in Georgia was a signal to OSCE participating States that they need to make better use of the tools the Organization has developed to prevent conflicts, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vyagaudas Usackas told the OSCE Permanent Council today.

The war in Georgia underlined the grave danger that protracted conflicts pose to the security in the OSCE area by demonstrating how quickly a situation can spiral out of control, he said, adding that it also demonstrated that the Organization's early warning, conflict prevention and crisis management mechanisms needed to be improved.

"But this is not enough: all of us should be ready to use these mechanisms more often, more effectively and as soon as possible," he said. "The ultimate goal of the OSCE is to build political will and use all the preventive mechanisms, so as not to have to deal with post-conflict rehabilitation afterwards. The tragedy in Georgia cannot be repeated."

Usackas, whose country holds the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, also said there was a "significant potential" for the OSCE to co-operate with sub-regional institutions.

"We can encourage further bilateral or regional initiatives aimed at developing relations of good neighbourhood and inter-regional co-operation," he said.

Lithuania, which will hold the OSCE Chairmanship in 2011, succeeding Kazakhstan in 2010, is interested in promoting such co-operation, Usackas said. Greece holds the OSCE 2009 Chairmanship.

Usackas said the OSCE's shared values and commitments still remained meaningful, almost 35 years after the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.

"All participating States have pledged to defend them and to respect them in our interaction with each other and while organizing and developing our own societies. In this, we are accountable to our citizens as we are accountable to each other. Our performance - whether in consolidating the rule of law and democratic institutions internally or in our behaviour externally - is the subject of legitimate peer review by fellow OSCE states," he said.

"The OSCE is a project that requires our constant engagement and political will. Given the scope of the challenges that we face today, we cannot afford to be complacent."

The Permanent Council is one of the 56-country OSCE's main decision-making bodies. It meets weekly in Vienna to discuss developments in the OSCE area and to make appropriate decisions.

Press Release: OSCE, Vienna 22 October 2009

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