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MrChairman, my dear Audronius,
Mr Secretary General,
I would like to thank our Lithuanian hosts very much indeed for inviting us here to Vilnius. The OSCE is the world’s biggest regional security-policy organization, stretching from Vladivostok to Vancouver. We work to uphold our shared values – like freedom, the rule of law and human rights. We aim for prosperity as a cornerstone for stability and long-term security through respect for fundamental freedoms.
That said, there are still conflicts which have not been resolved. The OSCE must continue to remain actively engaged here. Germany supports the Minsk Group’s mediation endeavours in the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. At the same time, we are concerned at the continuing incidents and the lack of progress towards finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
With regard to Georgia, the Geneva talks remain indispensable as the only platform for dialogue among all parties to the conflict. Germany continues to work towards re-establishing an OSCE presence throughout Georgia.
It is very gratifying that the 5+2 negotiations to resolve the Transdniestria conflict have resumed. The German Government, too, is engaged here. May I just remind you of the Meseberg initiative and the OSCE conference in Bad Reichenhall at the beginning of September.
The OSCE faces very different challenges now than when it was set up. The risks to security are more multifaceted today. In response to this, the OSCE Summit in Astana last year decided to push forward the creation of an inclusive Security Community. We want to fulfil this mandate here in Vilnius with substantive decisions.
I would like to invite you to join in an initiative launched by our colleagues Alain Juppé, Sergei Lavrov, Radoslaw Sikorski and myself. We have charged four academic institutions in our countries to draw up ideas for a vision of a Euro-Asian and Euro-Atlantic Security Community, which we will present to the Ministerial Council in Dublin in 2012. I ask you to take part in this. The OSCE must be in a position to manage conflicts more effectively. It is vital to improve response times to crises and to strengthen our abilities to intervene.
The Vilnius decisions are intended to make the OSCE more effective in combating transnational threats.
But we must not stop at that. The German Government regards conventional arms control as an indispensable element of a European security architecture. Together we have to get the stalling process of conventional arms control in Europe going again.
There are still deficits or even setbacks in some OSCE participating states when it comes to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. But the decisions taken at this Ministerial Council underline the fact that we will not stand for any watering-down of the OSCE acquis.
We have noted with concern the reports by the OSCE election observers on the recent parliamentary elections in Russia. These reports show that the Russian Federation still has some way to go before it completely meets all OSCE standards. We expect these indications to be followed up in a transparent and resolute manner. We encourage the Russian Federation to take this path now, particularly with an eye to the next elections due in Russia. Germany maintains a dialogue based on trust with the Russian Government, not least on issues relating to democratic development.
It is important that the OSCE assume responsibility in the case of key conflicts. The International Afghanistan Conference took place in Bonn yesterday. Let me thank you all for your constructive participation which made the conference a success. The international community and Afghanistan have agreed on a new partnership from today and for the time after 2014. Here in the OSCE we should now work on a second concrete project package for Afghanistan.
We are equally resolved to send a clear signal to the people in North Africa who took to the streets for freedom and democracy: the OSCE’s offer of help still stands. Germany stands ready to play its part.
May I take this opportunity to thank the Lithuanian chair for its important work and to wish Ireland all the best as it takes over the chair in 2012.