Sofia, 6 December 2004 - In her speech at the 12th OSCE Ministerial Council, which was opened today in Sofia, Foreign Minister Plassnik emphasised the important role played by the OSCE in safeguarding fundamental democratic values and human rights. According to the Foreign Minister, this applies especially in times of political transition. In the ballot in Ukraine, for example, the OSCE "clearly proved its ability to render an unerring judgement on the polling procedure despite difficult local circumstances and pointed out essential irregularities", said Plassnik.
In this context, the Foreign Minister thanked the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and its Director Christian Strohal of Austria for the valuable work performed in connection with the OSCE Election Observation Missions, especially those to Ukraine.
The open conflicts in the OSCE region, such as those in Moldova-Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and the trouble spot in Georgia, must remain a central concern for the OSCE, according to the Foreign Minister.
Furthermore, "the fight against new threats such as terror, organised crime and its especially repellent form, human trafficking, must remain a main task of the OSCE", said Plassnik. With its multidimensional approach, the OSCE would be extremely well suited to this. The Foreign Minister also made reference in this context to the Forum for Security Cooperation, which has been chaired by Austria for the last three months and has succeeded, according to the Foreign Minister, in achieving "new and important progress in adopting the relevant resolutions for the control of small arms and light weapons".
Plassnik stressed that the OSCE’s focus on Central Asia must not induce it to neglect the Western Balkans, a region of Europe where political stability, security and prosperity have not yet been achieved. "Here, the OSCE performs an important task of stabilisation for the security of Europe as a whole", emphasised the Foreign Minister.