- George A. Papandreou - https://papandreou.gr/en/ -

Speech at OSCE Summit

“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Kazakhstan, our host, President Nazarbayev, for your warm welcome to this first OSCE summit in Central Asia.

This summit, the first in eleven years, presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to renew our commitment to regional security by revamping this unique organisation. And it is a challenge because we must let go of outdated notions of security that should belong to another era.

We all know we have new security challenges: organised crime, drug and people trafficking, transnational terrorism, climate refugees, access to clean water and affordable energy, human rights abuses, social inequality, cyber crime – these are all new facets of the twenty-first century security policy that we must take into account.

These differ from previous periods, as they happen to be common problems. They should and can unite us in common action, yet we still are a long way away concerning the effectiveness of this common action.

This is why organisations such as the OSCE are of such importance. There is a growing recognition that no nation-state is any longer capable of alone addressing these wide-ranging issues. Regional to global good governance has become essential for our security, for our stability, our common security.

Yet paradoxically at the same time we are witnessing a resurgence of nationalism. Gripped by insecurity on so many fronts, people look for scapegoats rather than looking for joint solutions to common problems.

So I would also welcome your suggestion, Mr. President, on fighting prejudice and promoting inter-faith dialogue.

This retreat into nationalism is partly a consequence of the imbalances in our global system, but also a globalised economy increasingly defined by self-interested actors in the markets, instead of solidarity and cooperation, a global financial market that has great capacity to generate mind-boggling profits, but even though we see these profits we also see increased inequality within and amongst our nations.

Financial crisis, where profits are privatised yet costs are socialised could certainly contribute to political and social instability. Inequality is, I believe, part of the reason we see financial instability today throughout the world.

So again here, Mr. President, Mr. Nazarbayev, I would very much agree with your suggestion to putting this issue of financial stability on our OSCE agenda.

The OSCE has been instrumental in building security in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but today the world is a very different place. We need less unilateralism, more effective multilateralism, less polarisation, more robust partnerships, less nationalism, more internationalism. This is why the concept of a new security community for the OSCE is so important.

Last year during the Greek OSCE chairmanship, we launched the Corfu Process. This was inspired, certainly triggered by President Medvedev’s initiative for a new European security treaty.

Our initiative aimed to build confidence and trust among all partners. Our goal was to restore the sense of common purpose that is necessary to deal effectively with these transnational threats.

In this context, I would again like to welcome the new spirit of close cooperation between NATO and Russia.

Through our consultations so far in the OSCE, although they have not concluded that we need a legally binding treaty, over the past two years we have come a long way in terms of identifying problems, understanding each other better, ironing out our differences, seeking mutually acceptable solutions. Ultimately, I hope this process will pave the way for a new security community.

This year we are commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, but regional tensions continue to simmer in various parts of the continent, undermining the security of Europe as a whole.

In these economically tough times, arms control and confidence-building measures are more important than ever. By reducing our military spending, we can transfer resources to vital social welfare and infrastructure projects, education, and a transition to green economy.

This is extremely important for my country, so Greece is actively engaged in efforts to resolve the stalemate over the CFE regime. I am encouraged by the progress achieved so far. Progress in modernising the confidence- and security-building measures is promising, so I very much hope the Vienna document will be adopted in 2011.

In the OSCE we have developed various tools to address conflicts and crises. In practice, however, our tools have proven too cumbersome to react swiftly to crises. Political will is often lacking when it is needed most.

So enhancing our capacity to react more promptly is critical, if the OSCE wants to remain a credible international mediator.

The real test is conflict resolution. The resolution of all conflicts might not be a precondition for establishing a security community, but it should be a natural outcome of the process.

A commitment to a security community is a commitment to the premise that the threat or use of force is no longer an option. In any case, what is more and more apparent is that military power alone is not capable of dealing with the multifaceted security challenges we face today.

In the end, it is building institutions, societies, economies that protect common values and provide security, human rights, freedoms and prosperity for all. Yes, democracy is much more than elections. It is building good governance, institutions and prosperity.

Threats like climate change will be the subject of another round of negotiations in Cancun. Even if the global community fails to reach a binding agreement, we should intensify our cooperation in this region, working together to develop greener, cleaner energy policies for long-term environmental security.

As global consensus may be difficult, regional initiatives are even more important. and I would like to mention two initiatives Greece has recently been actively involved in, the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative, which we took in cooperation with our neighbour Turkey and with another 18 countries in the region, and only a few days ago a similar initiative with 12 countries in the Black Sea region.

Working together to manage migration more effectively is also key to regional security. This is a major concern for Greece: Since our geographical position is at the crossroads between East and West, we are seen as an easy gateway to the European Union. This makes us susceptible to illegal migration. Last year 90% of illegal migrants entering the EU came through Greece.

We, as many countries, must recognise that we have to balance two different and often contradictory goals: on the one hand, guarantee human dignity for migrants, illegal or not, and refugees, and on the other hand maintain cohesion in our societies, which cannot always integrate the vast numbers of arrivals at our borders.

So we have proposed the creation of a migration network to deepen our dialogue and cooperation on the migration issue.

The OSCE is not alone in its efforts to address these challenges. In order to maximise our engagement and avoid overlapping initiatives, we should seek to optimise our cooperation with other international and regional organisations.

The Mediterranean and the Middle East, as our Norwegian colleague mentioned, is important. And I would add our tradition in civil society cooperation should be extended to these areas and other areas such as in Asia. And I can tell you from my personal experience the importance of cooperation with NGOs and civil society in the Balkans.

But if we really want this organisation to play a global role, we must provide the OSCE with a legal personality, by adopting the 2007 Draft Convention, without reservations or footnotes.

The future of our organisation is in the hands of all 56 nations represented here today. This summit is a unique opportunity to redefine the political remit of the OSCE, to create a security community which ensures full respect of international law, human rights, fundamental freedoms, in all of our nations, on an equal footing and with no double standards.

Human dignity is a fundamental element of human security. In the OSCE we have developed a comprehensive set of commitments to human rights. Let us constantly improve our track record and make our societies more inclusive, more open, and our democracies more robust.

Let us continually deepen our understanding of what democracy means in this new technological era of mass media and the Internet, which provides the opportunity for more direct participation, but also could become inaccessible, if for example we abandon Net neutrality or we allow the threat of the violation or privacy of personal information.

As we develop ever greater financial and technological capabilities, we will be challenged to deepen and adjust our democracies, so that the powers we have empower our citizens and do not become concentrated tools of abuse in the hands of the few.

Our democracies must continuously guarantee that our new powers humanise our global society, whether it is the Internet or whether it is nuclear power.

Finally, I would like to say that it is a great honour for my country that the presidency of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has been entrusted this year to my colleague, Petro Efthymiou. I am sure that he will work in the same spirit of engagement that we brought to the Greek chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009.

Once again, I would like to express my appreciation to the Kazakh chairmanship for our impeccable cooperation in the framework of the OSCE Troika, assure the incoming Lithuanian chairmanship of our support to its endeavours, and congratulate Ukraine for accepting the OSCE chairmanship in 2013.

Thank you.”