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Statement in Response to the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania

Delivered by Ambassador Steffen Kongstad to the Permanent Council, Vienna, 21 November 2019

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Mr. Chair,

I join others in welcoming the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Bernd Borchardt, back to the Permanent Council, and thank him for his report.

The OSCE is an arrangement to further our common security, founded on the core values of democracy, the rule of law, indivisible security, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The full enjoyment of these rights for all, irrespective of gender, whether woman or man, majority or minority, is a prerequisite for effective conflict prevention and resolution. They are necessary for achieving security, stability and progress. In general, we appreciate the efforts of the OSCE Presence to supporting Albania’s progress to these ends. Still, we would appreciate more result-oriented reporting. The current activity-oriented reporting provides limited information about the impact of the work of the Presence.

In its work, the Presence has put particular emphasis on Albania’s reforms such as the comprehensive justice reform and the electoral reform. It is welcome that the Ad hoc parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform has focused on addressing ODIHR recommendations. In a challenging and polarized political environment, the Presence has offered support to strengthen the parliament’s legislative and oversight functions, as well as its administration. In doing so, it has also fostered cross-party cooperation. The Presence deserves credit for including the opposition in this work, and so supporting the constitutional order.

We continue to appreciate the efforts of the Presence in the field of media freedom. One
good example is the support to the RFoM that followed an Albanian request to advise
on a proposed “anti-defamation package”. This support has the aim of ensuring the
package’s alignment with European standards on media freedom and freedom of
expression. This shows how ÒSCE institutions and field operations work in concert to
support states in upholding OSCE commitments.

The Presence has worked to strengthen the co-operation and co-ordination between
Albania’s national human rights institutions. We trust that this will lead to increased
capability to monitor human rights in Albania, even further strengthened by the
development of a methodology for human rights monitoring with a special emphasis on
the protection of minorities. We look forward to hearing about the prospective targeted
activities to result from enhanced monitoring.

The report has a paragraph on efforts for gender equality. While this is important and
useful, it only tells part of the story. We would welcome further elaboration on the
integration of a gender perspective in all activities. The gender perspective is an
important tool for reaching our objectives. Understanding and recognising the specific
situations faced by women, is not only a question of equality, but a question of
effectively reaching the primary OSCE objectives, such as conflict prevention and
comprehensive security. A gender perspective is relevant for the implementation of all
OSCE commitments.

Thank you. 

Statement in Response to the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania.pdf