"Serbia ready to be honest broker," FM tells OSCE

OSCE Chairperson and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Thursday urged all sides in the Ukrainian conflict to fully adhere to the Minsk agreements.

Source: Tanjug
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Addressing the opening of 14th Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, he noted that it was "an opportunity to deescalate the conflict and put an end to civilian casualties" and that Serbia was "ready to assume the role of an honest broker in the process."

"I strongly urge all sides to refrain from any action that might endanger the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, which came into effect on February 15 2015. Another opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the conflict should not be missed. For the effective support of the OSCE, it is crucial that all sides closely co-operate with the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), respect and ensure their safety, security, unhindered access and freedom of movement of the SMM monitors on the ground," Dacic said.

"The implementation of the agreed package of measures by all parties is essential. The Special Monitoring Mission has the ability to assist in carrying out the provisions of these two instruments in full, and it has proven to be an invaluable and unique asset. The Trilateral Contact Group will contribute significantly to the implementation of the package of measures related to the Minsk arrangements and furthering the peace process," he explained.

"Creating conditions for dialogue and compromise must be a joint responsibility of all participating States as well as all OSCE Institutions and structures," Dacic said.

"To this end, I would like to commend the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for its role in monitoring elections in Ukraine last year; also for creating an Inter-parliamentary Liaison Group on Ukraine that brings together parliamentarians from Ukraine, Russia and other participating States to promote dialogue and contribute to the deescalation of the conflict," he also said.

"The Parliamentary Assembly has once again demonstrated its importance as a forum for exchanging ideas and initiating joint action. I stand ready to explore together with all of you how we can best cooperate to help restore peace and stability in Ukraine," Dacic noted.

"Consistent with the OSCE's fundamental principles, the Serbian Chairmanship will also prioritise the resolution through agreed formats of protracted conflicts in the OSCE region," Dacic said.

"The responsibility to advance the settlement processes related to the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area lies mainly with the parties. However, we need to ensure collective support for their peaceful settlement by investing additional efforts to generate the necessary political will," the OSCE chairperson-in-office said.

"The main priority of our Chairmanship will be to support all efforts leading towards a peace process," Dacic said, adding that Serbia is ready to play the role of an honest broker in the process.

"In particular, this would offer the chance to transfer lessons learned from our own experiences to the wider OSCE region, including recognition of the important role the OSCE has played in supporting post-conflict transition processes and reforms throughout the Western Balkans," Dacic noted.

Condemning the terrorist attacks in France and Copenhagen, Dacic said that the recent tragic events are yet another proof that the "international community must remain vigilant in the face of existing and emerging terrorist threats."

"We need to be unequivocal in our condemnation of all forms of terrorism, while at the same time ensuring that our societies remain united against attempts to create divisions on the basis of religion, culture, ethnicity, nationality or race," Dacic said.

"Serbia will devote particular attention to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters as well as violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism, especially radicalization of youth," Dacic said.

"The Chairmanship will organize an expert-level, OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference on the topic of foreign terrorist fighters in Vienna in July," Dacic announced.

Serbia will also focus on "cyber-security; addressing the links between organized crime, trafficking in human beings and irregular migration, which will be the main topic of the Annual Police Experts Meeting in May in Belgrade; and security sector governance and reform, on which the Chairmanship plans to organise an event in April in Belgrade," Dacic said.

Serbia will continue to support "national institutions for the protection of human rights, with an emphasis on the rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, including safety of journalists, freedom of assembly and association, protection of rights of persons belonging to national minorities and promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination," Dacic said.

"In light of recent tragic events, the Chairmanship plans to organize an event on the safety of journalists this year," he said.

Dacic said that he expects to see progress in strengthening OSCE as part of the "Helsinki + 40" process and expressed hope that that the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project "will make useful recommendations."

Christine Muttonen, who heads the Austrian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva also spoke at the opening of the Winter Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly.

They noted that they support Serbia's OSCE chairmanship and its set priorities and urged all sides in the Ukrainian crisis to implement the Minsk agreement, stressing that it was "a chance for peace."

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