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 its participating 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 of Delegation and two members. It is also possible to elect alternate 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. The working languages of the OSCE are English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has its roots in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), held in Helsinki in 1975. The Final Act of the conference was signed by 33 European countries and the USA and Canada. The organisation was established as a forum 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 reform the CSCE into an organisation called the OSCE.
The current priorities of the OSCE are the following:
- establishment of civil societies based on common values
- prevention and avoidance of military conflicts
- ensuring of stability and lasting peace in crisis spots and areas engaged in military activities
- prevention of a security vacuum and new dividing lines
- development of a single security system
The highest body of the OSCE is the OSCE Summit of heads of state and government, which provides the political orientation of the organisation at the highest level. The Ministerial Council is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and meets regularly every year in December in the country holding the Chairmanship. The Permanent Council, composed of permanent representatives at ambassadorial level, serves as the regular body for political consultations and decision-making and convenes weekly in Vienna. The Chairperson of the Permanent Council rotates on an annual basis.
The OSCE Chairpersonship rotates among all foreign ministers of the participating States. The work of the Secretariat is managed by the Secretary General (SG), who is elected for five years and who also coordinates the OSCE missions. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) resides in The Hague. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is located in Warsaw, the Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) resides in Vienna and the OSCE Newsletter is published 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 members of parliament from 57 member countries of the Assembly participate in the work of the organisation. The Assembly also cooperates with 11 partner states all over the world.
The work formats of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly are the Summer Session in July (committee sittings are also held at the same time), the Winter Meeting held in February in Vienna and the Autumn Meeting in October (together with the Mediterranean Forum). 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 Committees have been formed within the framework of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
- Political and Security Committee (the First General Committee)
- General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment (the Second General Committee)
- General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions (the Third General Committee)
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 participating states. Then the participating states will present their positions on the implementation of the recommendations of the final document in their countries.
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.
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