OSCE Asian Conference on Common Challenges and Opportunities call for heightened co-operation among regional organizations

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Speakers at the 2017 OSCE Asian Conference, Berlin, 19 June 2017/Photo: Federal Foreign Office of Germany

Berlin, 19 June 2017 – Making full use of the OSCE Asian Partnership as a forum for addressing common challenges is essential to ensure comprehensive security in the OSCE region and its neighbourhood, emphasized participants at the opening of the OSCE Asian Conference in Berlin today.

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Speakers at the opening session, emphasized that the present security challenges require a common response, that work to recreate confidence must be a priority in the current geopolitical context and that the OSCE can serve as a model for regional engagement.

Participants agreed that the OSCE Asian Partnership remains an important platform for dialogue and joint activities, and that co-operation between regional organizations should be fostered.

This year’s OSCE Asian Conference focuses on confidence building in times of geopolitical change, connectivity and economic co-operation and on the potential role of the OSCE and Asian Partners in making regional contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.  A side-event was dedicated to engaging with Afghanistan and its neighbours and the OSCE’s contribution to regional confidence building by empowering women in environmental security.

In his opening remarks, Gernot Erler, the German Federal Foreign Office’s Special Representative for the OSCE, stressed that the world has become smaller: “Terrorist attacks, be they in Manchester or Malawi, in London or Kabul, show that security threats are of concern to all of us. We need to make best use of platforms for dialogue in order to deal with these challenges.”

“Promoting and strengthening regional institutions can no doubt be a recipe for peace and prosperity. Be it the EU, ASEAN or the OSCE, be it the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit and potentially also the Indian Ocean Rim Association – they all have in common that they provide a forum for dialogue, develop tools and – no less important – build networks for dealing with conflicts.  What makes the OSCE unique in this regard is its holistic approach to comprehensive, co-operative and indivisible security,” said Erler.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier reaffirmed the conviction that international and regional organizations should strive to share the burden of their efforts to address security challenges by pooling resources and creating new synergies.  “In a multipolar, increasingly complex and interconnected security environment, seeking co-operative and inclusive solutions to our common security challenges is without alternative. To better meet these challenges, regional security organizations such as the OSCE must look beyond their own area of responsibility and forge partnerships with other regional organizations and countries that have a stake in our security. In this regard, we are very fortunate that we have built such a close relationship with our Partners for Co-operation,” Zannier said.

Ambassador Desiree Schweitzer, representing the Austrian Chairmanship, reminded participants that as OSCE Chair, Austria is striving to foster open, constructive and respectful dialogue as a basis to find common solutions to the challenges facing participating States.  “We firmly believe that contributing to the diffusion of existing regional conflicts in the OSCE will make not only Europe, but also Asia and the world a more stable and safer place. It will also help us achieve another goal: to rebuild trust and confidence between the participating states. We also believe that we must continue to strengthen the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security: the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy is the basis on which to build sustainable stability and security”, said Schweitzer.

* The OSCE maintains privileged relations with five Asian Partners for Co-operation: Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, The Republic of Korea and Thailand.