15 January 2004
The delegation of the Republic of Belarus would like to welcome the OSCE Chairman in Office, His Excellency Mr. Solomon Passy, to the meeting of the Permanent Council and thank him for the programme he has presented to us outlining the work to be done by the Bulgarian Chairmanship.
On the whole, we support the priority objectives set and believe that their achievement will help to consolidate stability and security in the OSCE area and strengthen the role of the Organization in the European security architecture.
At the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Maastricht, we adopted a number of important documents, the prompt and effective implementation of which must, in our opinion, be at the centre of the Chairmanshipís attention.
The key documents here are the OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty First Century and the OSCE Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension.
We support the Chairmanship in its desire to step up the practical efforts of the OSCE to combat terrorism, which remains the principal threat to our security and stability.
We also welcome the Bulgarian Chairmanshipís stated desire to further strengthen the balance between the three security dimensions. In that connection, further reinforcement of the economic and environmental dimension is of priority importance at this stage.
This year we are counting on the Chairmanshipís close co operation with the Forum for Security Co operation; the effectiveness of joint work with that body manifested itself clearly during the Netherlands Chairmanship.
We hope that the Bulgarian Chairmanship will help the OSCE respond to Belarusís request for assistance in the destruction of surplus small arms and light weapons and in their safer storage.
We also reiterate the interest on the part of the Republic of Belarus in the destruction of surplus conventional ammunition within the framework of the new OSCE Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition.
In the human dimension, quite a lot of attention is being paid in our Organization to the holding of democratic elections. However, as last year showed, we regularly encounter examples of overt and cynical use of ďdouble standardsĒ in this area.
It is our hope that the current Chairmanship, together with the OSCEís Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, will endeavour to develop proper procedures for evaluating elections in various countries. As we have already said on more than one occasion, a comparative analysis of the conformity with OSCE standards of election legislation in all participating States would be of great help here.
The problem of trafficking in human beings, which was one of the priorities of the Netherlands Chairmanship in 2003, remains a serious challenge to our common security. The growing problem of illegal migration in the OSCE area, which is closely connected with trafficking, is having a considerable impact on security and stability in Belarus.
We hope that trafficking in human beings and illegal migration will be among the priorities of our Organization this year and will be suitably reflected in the OSCEís new border security and management concept.
The important tasks ahead of our Organization and the new priorities make it necessary for us to further adapt and improve the work of various OSCE bodies and instruments, including field missions.
In that connection, we hope that under the Bulgarian Chairmanship the Working Group on Reform of the OSCE and the ďgroup of friendsĒ on OSCE field operations will continue to work actively this year. We trust that consideration will be given and a solution found to such key issues for the future of the OSCE as the Organizationís legal capacity, reform of the OSCE Secretariat, review of the Permanent Councilís agenda, adoption of new OSCE financial regulations and reform of field activities.
We also hope that negotiations will be concluded in the very near future on the review of the scale of contributions to the OSCE budget and that a fair decision of satisfaction to all concerned will be adopted.
In general, we hope that the work of the Bulgarian Chairmanship will enhance the authority of the OSCE and increase the participating Statesí confidence in it. To that end, we should, in our view, develop dialogue on all the aspects of European security, guided by the consensus nature of our Organization, and remember that the OSCE area extends not only to the east but also to the west of Vienna.
We should like to wish you, Mr. Minister, and your team in Vienna every success in performing these difficult tasks facing the Bulgarian Chairmanship this year.
We should also like to welcome Slovenia to the Troika and express our gratitude to the Netherlands for its work last year.