ADDRESS by H.E. NIKOLA POPOSKI
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 2016 Autumn Meeting
Skopje, 29 September - 2 October 2016
Session 2: Developing Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in South East Europe: The Role of the OSCE

Mr. Chair,

Members of Parliaments,

Heads of OSCE Missions:

Let me first use this opportunity to welcome all of you in Macedonia. I hope that your deliberations so far met your expectations.

I was invited to speak on the Role of OSCE in Developing Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in South East Europe. In doing so, I will try to share some thoughts about our own experience. I am sure the Heads of the Field Missions will have specific contributions to my introductory remarks. Indeed, the OSCE through its various institutions and field presences was and still is quite active in the Region of South Eastern Europe.

As you may know since the very beginning of our independence, the OSCE has been present in the country to prevent a possible spillover of conflicts then raging in the former Yugoslavia. In the meantime, the context and the mandate changed. Strengthening our democratic institutions, together with the OSCE we kept on working on capacity building. As the OSCE was growing too, we continued the close cooperation with other OSCE institutions. With ODIHR, for instance, on a very important issue regarding electoral legislation and elections observation. Concurrently, we extensively collaborated with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities since the establishment of this Office.

Why am I underlying this?

First, we value the overall OSCE role including on the subject of today’s discussions.

Secondly, it is important to say that OSCE activities in the country are being implemented through joint programs and tailored to the needs of the Government’s key priorities. By doing this, we are boosting our reform processes, but at the same time, complement our very important European agenda. I believe this is the case with other countries from the SEE.

Thirdly, cooperation should not be felt as imposed but rather as a product of joint undertakings, which reflects the spirit of the OSCE itself - cooperative approach. I believe this concept is important, because otherwise the OSCE involvement may be misperceived.

Mr. Chair,

How do we define democracy and human rights observance? Indeed, it is a perpetual challenge to define and uphold them. Hence, I would say, in developing and promoting democracy and human rights, we should be very clear that this is a continuous process where challenges keep on reemerging. We must remain persistent on this path. Nevertheless, we must be also cautious that when implementing certain principles we should not underestimate specifics of a certain country situation. And, we should not be shy in recognizing that kind of approach and practice.

As stated above, it is without doubt that all the OSCE participating states, including our SEE region, should use the benefit of the agreed OSCE instruments, best practices and recommendations in developing democratic institutions and human rights as core values of our societies. We, see a lot of merits in this endeavor.

The promotion of these principles and values perhaps would be more effectively addressed through European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the whole region. European integration, which remains our principle foreign policy priority, is a successful tool and a prerequisite for sustainable economic development, stability and security of the countries from our region. Regional cooperation, on the other hand, remains one of the vehicles of European integration, and vice versa. We see regional cooperation and European integration as closely interrelated processes, which shall contribute to the overall prosperity off SEE.

Mr. Chair,

We appreciate the cooperation, whether it is going through the field mission or directly with certain OSCE institution. I am pleased, from our experience, to recall another important example of relying on OSCE expertise while drafting Media Laws in the country by the Office of the Representative of the Freedom of Media.

Also, we are achieving tangible results in the cooperation between the OSCE Mission and the Ministry of Interior in many areas, including, as OSCE nowadays terminology, democratic policing. Indeed, throughout the years a very close cooperation in promoting human rights principles in the day to day Police work was developed. The goal is to increase its professional profile.

Let me also indicate few other areas of cooperation such as on the issues of rule of law, anti-discrimination, which we very much appreciate, integration of all our communities in the society, combating hate speech/hate crime, etc.

Dear Parliamentarians,

Since I speak before you in the OSCE parliamentary setting, I would like to refer to one additional important issue of the OSCE commitments, i.e. the roles of the Parliaments and in that respect the Parliamentary Assembly of our Organization.

I would like to stress the role that the Parliaments should play in the adoption and implementation of relevant standards related to the three OSCE dimensions. The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE can offer solutions that could contribute to national processes and further democratization in the OSCE region.

Another vital activity is the participation of the OSCE Parliamentary delegations in monitoring the elections in the Participating States.

In this context, we worked closely with all relevant OSCE institutions in the past years. In all cycles of elections, the Election Observation Missions with presence of the OSCE PA delegations have been deployed. Their engagement served as a ground for further improvement of our electoral system. As we are approaching the upcoming elections in December, I am hopeful that some of you will be returning to Macedonia in that capacity.

Mr. Chair,

Through the years the OSCE has developed its capacities and emerged as a close partner in promoting democratic governance. In that regard we should be aware that the OSCE as regional organization shares the labor on certain issues with the partner organizations. That kind of approach should continue. Most of us are members of different organizations, and are developing similar projects. Therefore it is crucial not to allow overlapping of the activities, or having unnecessary competition.

At this point let me say that we are very pleased with the cooperation with OSCE mission in Macedonia and with the Head of Mission, Ambassador Nina Suomalainen and her able staff.

I thank you and wish you fruitful deliberations.