CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I join others in welcoming the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, Mr. George Tsereteli of Georgia, to the Permanent Council, congratulate him on his election as President and thank him for his report.
The work of the Parliamentary Assembly is two-fold, and the report touched on both of them. On one hand, the Parliamentary Assembly works internationally, through its yearly calendar of meetings, discussing topics of interest and importance. Direct contact between parliamentarians promotes the goals of our organization; particularly important are the efforts to strengthen democracy and human rights. Parliamentarians’ participation, in co-operation with ODIHR, in election monitoring is highly valued.
On the other hand, parliamentarians retain a significant national role. The president of the Parliamentary Assembly mentioned that role in the context of ensuring the effective functioning of the OSCE: he said that national parliamentarians must do more to convince our budget committees of the value of the organisation. We agree.
Mr. Chair, We find ourselves in a time where tensions in the OSCE region are on the rise, conflicts remain unsolved and where states turn inwards, away from international collaboration. Parliamentarians engaged in international work can, in their national roles and in dialogue with their constituencies and compatriot parliamentarians, contribute significantly to furthering understanding and support for the international political order.
As foreign policy and international commitment begin at home, the members of the Parliamentary Assembly have important work in their home countries. Raising the level of national debate on the benefits of international commitments and international order, and on the role played by the OSCE in keeping this order, is one key to maintaining the relevance of our organisation.