Ljubljana, 5 December 2005 - "We shall endeavour in agreement with the other Member States during our EU Presidency in the first half of 2006 to further strengthen the cooperation between the OSCE and the EU," explained Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in her speech at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Ljubljana.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is vital to stability and democracy. The year 2005, which marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act and the 15th anniversary of the Charter of Paris, is an appropriate occasion to review the role of the OSCE. Our rapidly changing times call for adaptations and adjustments," said Plassnik, "although we must also be aware that the OSCE is founded on a well established set of commitments."
"Stabilisation in the Balkans remains the shared priority of the OSCE and the EU. A number of important decisions will be made there next year, which will place demands on all organisations active in this region," said the Foreign Minister.
One central focus, continued Plassnik, would be the future of Kosovo, where the OSCE with its major field presence played an outstanding role - in the development of state institutions, the return of refugees and the reconciliation of ethnic groups.
"The promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination is also a joint concern of the EU and the OSCE. Greater cooperation between the OSCE and the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, which will become the EU Human Rights Agency, is therefore of great importance," said Plassnik.
"Particular attention needs to be paid today to the new challenges that are making the headlines - terrorism, organised crime, and trafficking in human beings," said the Foreign Minister. Thanks to its flexibility and versatility, the OSCE was in an ideal position to use the instruments at its disposal to combat these dangers, continued Plassnik.
The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: "With the assistance of the ODIHR a record number of expert meetings on democratic elections have been held this anniversary year - including one just ten days ago in Moscow."