Current Issues and Documents of the OSCE
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Belarus
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic expresses its deepest concern over the yesterday’s arrest of Aliaksandr Bialiatski, President of Human Rights Center Viasna and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights.
This action is particularly worrying given the context of recent steps taken by the Belarusian government to restrict the freedom of assembly and continuous harassment of civic activists.
The Czech Republic therefore calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Bialiatski and urges Belarusian authorities to stop all kinds of repression against him, his organization and human rights activists in general.
The Czech Republic appreciates the unwavering efforts of Mr. Bialiatski and Human Rights Center Viasna for promotion of human rights in Belarus. Earlier this year the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, sent a personal letter of support to Mr. Bialiatski. Aliaksiandr Bialiatski received the Homo Homini prize awarded by the Czech NGO People in Need in 2005 and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. (05.08.2011)
Press Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on the invocation of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism towards Belarus
The Czech Republic has been expressing its concern over the developments in Belarus since the presidential elections in December 2010, especially over the repressions against participants of the post-election protests and over the criminalization of some of the presidential candidates. In this regard The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic announces that on 6 April 2011 the Czech Republic in cooperation with other 13 participating States of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) asked for the invocation of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism towards Belarus.
The OSCE Moscow Mechanism enables, through sending a short-term expert mission, to monitor and assess the fulfillment of the human rights commitments in an OSCE participating State if there is a suspicion of their serious violations. This mechanism has been approved by all OSCE participating States, including Belarus, as a means to promote human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law through dialogue and cooperation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic believes that the Belarusian authorities will create conditions for the expert mission’s work. This initiative is part of the continuous interest of the Czech Republic in improvement of human rights and development of the civil society in Belarus. (7.4.2011)
Statement by Ambassador Veronika Kuchyňová Šmigolová, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic at the OSCE as a response to the intervention of the Russian Federation
Permanent Council on February 3, 2011
In concurrence with the joint EU position just presented by Hungarian ambassador the Czech Republic is going to provide more detailed reply as for its national case.
The Czech Republic thanks the Russian Federation for its statement on the Freedom of the Media in some EU countries where the Czech Republic was also mentioned. We welcome the Russian interest in freedom of the media and its interest to use OSCE and its Permanent Council as a forum for dialog on this topic. The piece of legislation of the Czech Republic which was mentioned in the Russian statement is in force since April 1st, 2009 and has been already discussed in OSCE that year - both at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting and with the former RoFM Miklos Haraszti.
The Czech Republic is fully aware of the importance of freedom of speech and expression, mainly given its own historical experience. And the Czech Republic is perfectly aware of its commitments as for the freedom of the media. However, the Czech Republic is of the opinion that the discussed national legislation does not constitute a breach of these commitments. The intention of this amendment when adopted was 1) to protect the victims of crimes from media hype and 2) not to influence the criminal proceedings by leaking confidential criminal evidence. Yet, the discussed legislation in no way impedes making taped information or other confidential data public once they have been presented as an evidence during the public proceedings before the court.
The Czech constitutional order safeguards both the right for privacy of individuals and at the same time the freedom of expression and right to information. The Czech Parliament approved the mentioned legislation as there were cases where the right for privacy was severely harmed by publishing false, grossly distorted, out-of-context
taken, forged or false materials. The idea of authors of this amendment was therefore to find a better balance between the right for privacy on one and the freedom of expression and right to information on the other side.
The application of the above mentioned legislation is nevertheless limited by a Constitutional Court's judicial precedent declaring that in cases which are of public interest, (i.e. mainly in cases where politically active persons are involved) the right for privacy is diminished in favour of the right to information. Yet, every case must be
considered and evaluated individually. For your information I would like to add that the Ministry of Justice has prepared and the lower chamber of the parliament already approved another amendment of this legislation which, among others, would transform the above mentioned Constitutional Court's precedential decision directly into the law.
The Czech Republic looks forward to more discussion on freedom of the media and expression within OSCE and welcomes the fact that the Lithuanian CiO has made this issue one of his priorities.
OSCE Summit, Astana, December 1 - 2, 2010
Statement of H. E. Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg, First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I would like to express my appreciation to the Kazakh hosts for their hospitality and work devoted to preparing this Summit.
We all have gathered here not only to commemorate the outstanding work of our predecessors accomplished thirty‐five years ago in Helsinki and twenty years ago in Paris. The main objective of this meeting, first in eleven years, is to give a consolidated sense of direction for the future of OSCE. We wish to see the OSCE play again an important role in Euroatlantic security as it did in three decades of the last century.
Lack of political will has prevented the Organization from fully exploiting its potential in the past years. Instead of working towards principled compromises we sometimes end up with compromised principles. It is fair to admit that within the OSCE we have not made progress where it is most desirable - in preventing new conflicts and resolving protracted ones. Solutions to conflicts in Georgia, Moldova/Transnestria and Nagorno Karbakh have been deadlocked for too long and cannot be simply papered over. They have to be outlined as a priority area
of work if the OSCE is to regain relevance and credibility. In case of Georgia full compliance with Ceasefire Agreements remains to be a basic precondition of progress. In this context the Action Plan should contain steps leading to restoration of a meaningful OSCE presence on the ground.
OSCE acquis in human dimension has become a landmark activity for the OSCE benefitting democratization and transformation processes all over Europe in the last twenty years. It, however, also needs to be strengthened. The simplest way is to respect and comply with agreed commitments and principles. In this sense the final document has to reaffirm that commitments undertaken vis‐a‐vis human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law can be a direct and legitimate matter of concern to all participating States. Yet, we should not only reaffirm but implement, too.
Mr. President (Chairman), Ladies and Gentlemen,
Looking ahead, we are confident that the current political environment - encouraged by the successful NATO Lisbon Summit and improved relations with Russia - could contribute, at least in some aspects, to resolving our differences. At the same time, we need to improve institutional capabilities of the Organization across the crisis‐management cycle, boost Confidence and Security Building Measures by modernization of the Vienna Document ´99, reaffirm the autonomy of OSCE institutions, support ODIHR in its important mandate and last, but not least, rationalize our political dialogue. Together with our EU partners we have made proposals to achieve substantive outcomes at this Summit. Action Plan should define the practical way to continue to restore trust and confidence among OSCE participating States. This is the only guarantee to ensure an old‐time relevance for the OSCE. We still have some time to finalize the Summit document. This Summit was labelled by some as
a launching Summit. In order to make this slogan be true, we have to deliver Action Plan with the Action and with the Plan. The Organization needs and deserves it.
In conclusion, I would like to wish every success to the incoming Lithuanian, Irish and Ukrainian Chairmanships. (1.12.2010)
(Source: www.summit2010.org. Photo: OSCE/Vladimir Trofimchuk)
INTERPRETATIVE STATEMENT UNDER PARAGRAPH IV.1(A)6 OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE
By the delegation of the Czech Republic:
We support the statement made by the European Union Presidency.
Heads of State and government and our ministers gathered here not only to commemorate the outstanding work of our predecessors accomplished thirty-five years ago in Helsinki and twenty years ago in Paris, the commemoration itself is not enough. We regret that during the long process of the preparation of the final outcome
document of this Summit, that started with the Corfu process almost two years ago, we failed to make more progress, namely to adopt the Declaration document with the Action Plan. Together with our European Union partners we have made proposals to achieve substantive outcome at this Summit. The Action Plan should have defined the practical way to continue to restore trust and confidence among OSCE participating States. This opportunity was lost. So was the relevance of the OSCE.
We are convinced that to address the protracted conflicts is of utmost importance. Namely, it is necessary to restore the full territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, formally resume the 5 plus 2 talks on Moldova and make a progress on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Where do we have better occasion to attempt to find a way forward than at the meeting of our heads of State and government. The conflicts have to be outlined as a priority area of work if the OSCE is to regain relevance and credibility.
In conclusion, my delegation would like to thank the Kazakh Chairmanship for their hospitality that we have been enjoying here in Astana.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson. (3.12.2010)
Documents of the OSCE
An indicative list of main OSCE documents follows:
- Handbook - The OSCE Handbook is a comprehensive source of information on all aspects of the OSCE, up to July 2000.
- Annual Report - The OSCE Annual Report is a set of detailed reference documents outlining the Organization's yearly activities, starting from 1993.
- Newsletter - The monthly OSCE Newsletter contains news and articles of interest to observers of OSCE activities and describes the work of its major institutions.
- Permanent Council, Forum for Security Co-operation Decision
- Existing Commitments for Democratic elections in OSCE participating States, a Progress Report
- OSCE Human Dimension Commitments: A Reference Guide - A Reference Guide is a thematic and chronological compilation of OSCE human dimension commitments.
- Annual and semi-annual reports - Provide reports on the activities of the ODIHR, election reports, reports from meetings and conferences.
- Recommendations - Letters and statements containing the High Commissioner's recommendations.
- Bibliography - An extensive compilation of publications on and by the High Commissioner on National Minorities.
- Books, commitments, declarations, Factsheet, Newsletter, Reports, Special country reports
- Factsheet, Declarations, Reports
Forum for Security Co-operation
- OSCE Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition
- OSCE principles on the control of brokering in small arms and light weapons (FSC.DEC/8/04)
- Standard elements of end-user certificates and verification procedures for SALW exports (FSC.DEC/5/04)
- OSCE principles for export controls of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) (FSC.DEC/3/04)
OSCE Related Documents
- Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Most documents and commitments dealing with military aspects of security concern apply to the whole OSCE area and all OSCE States. However, some documents of key importance for military security in Europe were adopted - and are valid for - only some of the OSCE participating States. This is the case of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), and the Open Skies Treaty.
In an effort to enhance military stability and security in Europe the CSCE follow-up meeting in Vienna (1986-1989) endorsed a mandate for negotiations on the level of conventional armed forces in Europe. The negotiations were carried out within the framework of the CSCE among 23 participating States - those belonging to NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). They resulted in the legally binding agreement known as the CFE Treaty, signed in Paris on 19 November 1990.
- Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (19 November 1990) - The treaty outlined provisions aimed at establishing a military balance between the two alliances, at a lower level of armaments.
- Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strenght of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (5 June 1992) - The Concluding Act was signed in Helsinki, parallel to the Summit meeting.
- Final Document of the First Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength (15-31 May 1996) - The Final Document was agreed in Vienna.
- Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (19 November 1999) - Since, The States Parties to this Treaty took a critical step forward. This effort is reflected in two documents adopted in Istanbul on the 19 November 1999, and in attached statements made by certain States Parties concerning their political commitments referred to therein.
- The Final Act of the Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (19 November 1999).
- Formal Conclusions of the Second Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength (1 June 2001) - The second conference yielded yet another set of conclusions.
- Treaty on Open Skies (24 March 1992)
Meetings of Heads of State or Government of OSCE participating States set priorities and provide orientation at the highest political level. The first Summit took place in Helsinki and ended on 1 August 1975, when the Helsinki Final Act was signed. Subsequent Summit Meetings have been held in the following cities and produced these documents:
- Helsinki (1 August 1975) - Final Act
- Paris (19-21 November 1990) - Charter of Paris for a New Europe
- Helsinki (9-10 July 1992) - The Challenges of Change
- Budapest (5-6 December 1994) - Towards a Genuine Partnership in a New Era
- Lisbon (2-3 December 1996) - Lisbon Document
- Istanbul (18-19 November 1999) - Charter for European Security; Istanbul Summit Declaration; Istanbul Document
- Astana (1-2 December 2010) - Astana Commemorative Declaration.
Ministerial Council Meetings
The Ministerial Council (formerly the Council of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE)), whose members are the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE participating States, meets once a year towards the end of every term of chairmanship (but not usually in years when there is a Summit) to consider issues relevant to the OSCE and take appropriate decisions.
The first meeting of CSCE Ministers of Foreign Affairs took place in Helsinki between 3 and 7 July 1973. At that meeting, the Final Recommendations were approved and further set out the guidelines for the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, which met as a Summit two years later to adopt the Helsinki Final Act.
Eight CSCE/OSCE Ministerial Council and two additional meetings met in the European capitals. Last 11th OSCE Ministerial Council meeting was convened in the Netherlands in Maastricht:
Maastricht (11th Ministerial Council; 1-2 December 2003)
- Journal of the 2nd day of the Ministerial Council Meeting
- OSCE Strategic Document for the Economic and Enviromental Dimension
- Statement on South-Eastern Europe as a region for co-operation
- OSCE Strategy to address threats to security and stability in the twenty-first century
- Chairperson's perception statement and statement by the delegations
- Decisions of the Ministerial Council