The Riigikogu delegation participates in the work of all committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The main aim of the Assembly is to involve Member States more in the resolution of European political and security issues in order to enhance civilian control over military issues and to increase the responsibility and influence of members of parliament.
The Riigikogu delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly consists of the head and three principal members. It is also possible to elect substitute members.
The delegation prepares surveys and summaries of the meetings of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, informing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu of its work twice a year. The members of the delegation participate in the preparation of reports and election observations, submit draft resolutions on topical issues, etc. English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish are the working languages.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has its roots in the forum in the beginning of the 1970s called the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) which was established for dialogue and negotiations between East and West. Estonia acceded to the CSCE in 1991.
The Helsinki Final Act fixed the main principles of the communication between states. It summarises the interests of all participating states in a balanced way and the document presumes full compliance with all provisions. New meetings were decided to be held for the achievement of this aim. Until 1990, the CSCE functioned in the form of meetings and consultations, laying down obligations and norms, and providing periodical surveys of their impact. At the Budapest Summit in 1994, it was decided to rename the CSCE as the organisation called the OSCE.
The current priorities of the OSCE are the following:
- the establishment of civil societies based on common values
- the prevention and avoidance of military conflicts
- the ensurance of stability and lasting peace in crisis spots and areas engaged in military activities
- the prevention of a security vacuum and new division lines
- the development of a single security system
The headquarters and secretariat of the OSCE are in Vienna. The OSCE chairmanship rotates among all foreign ministers of the participating States. The work of the Secretariat is managed by the Secretary General, elected for three years, who also coordinates the OSCE missions. The High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE resides in Hague. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is in Warsaw and the informational publication OSCE Newsletter is issued in Prague.
Starting from 1993, an important part of the work of the OSCE is the sending of observers to member states, in order to observe the compliance of elections with law and the principles of democracy. Detailed reports are prepared on observation results.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly was established by a decision of the Paris summit of 1990. The main aim of the Assembly is to involve Member States more in the resolution of European political and security issues, to enhance civilian control over military issues and to increase the responsibility and influence of members of parliament. Estonia acceded to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in 1991.
323 elected members of parliament from 56 Assembly member states participate in the work of the organisation. In addition, the Assembly cooperates with 11 partner states all over the world.
One of the work formats of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is the Assembly’s summer session, which is organised by the parliaments of the member states. Committee sittings are also held at the same time. In addition to that, the Winter Meeting is held in Vienna in February, and the Autumn Meeting is held in October, together with the Mediterranean Conference. As necessary, economic conferences and parliamentary forums are organised in different regions.
On the basis of the three main sections of the Helsinki Final Act, the following General Committeeshave been formed within the framework of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
- the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security
- the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions
- the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment
The Estonian delegation participates in the work of all committees. The committees prepare reports and projects of final resolutions which are submitted to the Annual Session of the Assembly held once a year. The decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly are forwarded to the OSCE Ministerial Council, the Chairman of the OSCE and the parliaments of member states. Thereafter the member states present their positions on the implementation of the recommendations of the final document in their states.
The Secretariat of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is in Copenhagen. The permanent representation of the Assembly is in Vienna, at the location of the OSCE headquarters. The President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is elected at the summer session for one year and can be re-elected for an additional one-year term. At present, Ilkka Kanerva from Finland who was elected to this position in 2014 is the President of the Assembly, and Spencer Oliver from the US has been the Secretary General since 1992.
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