Protracted conflicts, arms control, trafficking in human beings top agenda as Ukraine takes over OSCE Chair

Ukraine will seek to make progress on resolving protracted conflicts, strengthening conventional arms control, combating human trafficking, reducing the environmental impact of energy-related activities, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as OSCE Chair in 2013 the new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, said today.

Minister Kozhara highlighted his country’s role and experience as a co-mediator and guarantor in the Transdniestrian settlement process and welcomed the momentum achieved in these talks over the past year. He stressed the need to continue to make progress in this and other protracted conflicts in the region.

“We must re-energize negotiations within the existing formats and prevent any escalation in tensions. The resolution of protracted conflicts must remain the highest priority for the OSCE and all participating States,” he said.

Ukraine would also be working to make progress in arms control and confidence-building measures, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office stated, as a way of strengthening security and  military stability.

Energy security in terms of the environmental impact of energy-related activities is another of Ukraine’s priorities for the year. “One of the specific issues that merits a distinct place in our political dialogue within the OSCE is energy security, in particular its environmental aspects”, said the Minister.

Emphasizing that protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and implementation of existing OSCE commitments in this area remain an important integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security, Leonid Kozhara said that Ukraine’s Chairmanship would promote fight against human trafficking, support media freedom and encourage meaningful steps in a number of human dimension issues.

Minister Kozhara noted that the OSCE could greatly benefit from a constructive contribution of civil society and academia in the achievement of OSCE goals and objectives in all three dimensions.

He praised the achievements of the outgoing Irish Chairmanship and pledged to take forward the ‘Helsinki +40’ process agreed at the Dublin Ministerial meeting last December to develop the Organization’s strategic path in the run up to the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015.

“Ukraine sees its Chairmanship mission as further promoting the conditions that would lead to change in our mindsets – from confrontational thinking to a co-operative approach,” the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office said.

The Minister will present Ukraine’s priorities to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 17 January.

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