Statement by Secretary of State at the 23rd meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council

Statement by Mr. Peter Stenlund, Secretary of State, at the 23rd meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council, Hamburg, 8 December 2016

Mr. Chairperson
Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me thank you, Minister Steinmeier, for hosting us here in Hamburg. I am very grateful to you and your most able team for chairing the OSCE during a yet another turbulent year.

Mr. Chairperson,

Finland has given her full support to German OSCE Chairmanship's push for renewing dialogue, rebuilding trust and restoring security. The OSCE has always stood for dialogue, confidence-building and search for security in Europe, particularly during times of great tension. The dialogue should not hide the fact that key OSCE commitments have been broken. Neither does it ignore the shortcomings in implementing our shared principles and commitments. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and actions in and around Ukraine are unacceptable. These actions have worsened European security and overshadow our work in the OSCE.

Confronted with the increasingly unstable security situation in Europe, we see an urgent need to work for strategic stability, restraint, predictability and verifiable transparency and to reduce military risks. Relaunch of conventional arms control is an important element towards a genuine and effective cooperative security allowing for peace and stability on our continent. We commend German and other initiatives to this end. We also welcome OSCE's role as a trailblazer in advancing cyber security.

Mr. Chairperson,

Lasting stability cannot be achieved unless human rights are respected. The OSCE's Human Dimension is at the core of our Organization. The common agreed commitments, principles and international human rights law have a direct and significant impact on the security of the participating States and our citizens.

Finland has proudly chaired the Human Dimension Committee this year at the request by Germany. We have shared similar human rights priorities ranging from fundamental freedoms to gender equality. The issue of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has received special attention this year. As many civil society representatives have stressed, it is time to update our OSCE commitments, which were agreed upon 25 years ago. We hope to reach concrete results during this Ministerial Council meeting.

The President of the Republic of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, addressed the Human Dimension Committee this spring. President Niinistö underlined that enhancing gender equality and the role of women in peace processes is not a women's issue, but that of our common security. We have supported the elevation of the position of the Senior Gender Adviser at the OSCE Secretariat. We believe that the OSCE as the largest regional security organisation should be a forerunner in enhancing gender equality and UN Resolution 1325.

Mr. Chairperson,

As an organization, the OSCE has important operational capacities in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution. The OSCE autonomous institutions and field operations play an essential role in this. Therefore we should further strengthen them. Cooperation on mediation related issues with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is also welcomed.

It is most disappointing that the conflict in and around Ukraine is still on-going. The ceasefire that was agreed upon in September has not held. This conflict remains a clear violation of the Helsinki principles. Bringing sustainable peace to Ukraine is of utmost importance. We encourage the parties of the Normandy Group and the OSCE Trilateral Contact Group to continue their efforts to negotiate the way forward in implementing the Minsk Agreements. More progress is needed. In addition to reaching a long term solution to the conflict, ending human suffering should be at the forefront of our efforts.

Finland continues to be committed to supporting OSCE's work in Ukraine including seconding capable personnel to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

Mr Chairperson,

Some years ago in Astana we reaffirmed our common vision of indivisible security and cooperation in a spirit of trust, as enshrined in CSCE and OSCE documents ever since the Helsinki Final Act. We place utmost importance on strengthening the OSCE’s principles and commitments jointly agreed by all participating States. This is security that we have built for several decades. In this regard, we have strongly supported the efforts by you, Mr. Chairperson, and hope to see concrete results here in Hamburg in all areas of work.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.