I join others in warmly welcoming H.E. Foreign Minister Ann Linde, and thank her for briefing the Council as chairperson-in-office for the OSCE. The OSCE supports the work of the United Nations by promoting and maintaining peace and security at the regional level. We value that the OSCE serves as a forum for co-operation with regional and sub-regional organizations, and other initiatives in the region.
Norway will continue to support the Swedish chair’s emphasis on the OSCE’s comprehensive security concept. We also share the focus on conflict resolution- especially relating to ongoing conflicts and crises.
Let me highlight three situations we believe need particular attention:
Firstly, Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine undermines European security. Norway welcomes the engagement of the OSCE in addressing this conflict. We commend the chairperson-in-office for her trip to both Kyiv, and the contact line in Donbas in January. Let me also thank the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for the tremendous job it is doing under very difficult circumstances. This mission also continues to provide us with timely and impartial information on the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Second, on Nagorno-Karabakh. The statement signed by Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan last year on the conflict ended the fighting. A lasting solution will be best reached through involvement of the international community. The OSCE is well placed to play such a role, building on the long experience of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office.
Finally, on Georgia. Norway is deeply concerned about the situation in the occupied regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and believes the OSCE can play a greater role in assisting efforts towards peace and reconciliation in these regions of Georgia.
Two days ago, we, the United Nations Member States, called for the UN to lead by example in ensuring the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in UN-led peace processes. As the world’s largest regional security organization, this is equally important for the OSCE. The inclusion and empowerment of women is a prerequisite to achieving comprehensive security throughout the OSCE area.
I therefore commend the chairperson-in-office for placing gender equality high on the OSCE’s agenda. You can count on Norway’s full support in your efforts to make WPS a priority in the OSCE’s engagement on peace and security, including building on the work done by this Council. Let me also express strong support for your initiative to include Civil Society to contribute their unique competence wherever possible and relevant.
Looking ahead, continued focus by the OSCE on the Balkans is necessary for the stability, as well as the consolidation of democracy in the region. We appreciate the important role of the OSCE Missions in assisting the participating states in achieving greater security, and economic and democratic development. ‘The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’, the ‘High Commissioner on National Minorities’, and the’ Representative on Freedom of the Media’, also give valuable support and advice to the states based on their expertise. All of these efforts contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous region, and thus also to our own work towards international peace and security here in this Council.
Let me end by reiterating the shared visions and agendas of the UN and the OSCE. Our common duty is to continue to strengthen security at the regional level to end violent conflict, and ensure that human rights, democracy, rule of law and gender equality can be enjoyed by all. We welcome the opportunity here today to reinforce these ties.