TOKYO, 17 June 2014 – Creating a safer, more interconnected and fairer world in the face of emerging challenges in the larger OSCE area is a theme of the OSCE-Japan conference that concluded in Tokyo today.
The two-day conference hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan brings together representatives of 57 OSCE participating States and Asian Partners for Co-Operation – Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Afghanistan and Australia. Annual conferences with the Asian Partners have been held since 2000. Japan was the first to host such an international meeting back in 2000; this year marks the fourth time Japan has hosted the conference.
Fumio Kishida, Foreign Minister of Japan, said during the conference: “In order to fully ensure the rule of law as well as to promote confidence-building and dispute-resolution through peaceful means, Asia and Europe need to mutually share their wisdom and lessons learnt and make proactive contributions together to these goals.” He added: “Japan will further contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world hand in hand with the OSCE.”
The conference participants discussed co-operation between the Organization and actors in the Asia-Pacific region and possibilities to apply OSCE experiences and lessons learned in such areas as confidence- and security-building, counterterrorism, security and the use of information and communication technologies, sustainable water management, energy supply and transportation. Special attention was paid to encouraging women to play a main role in creating a fairer world through promoting their participation and rights.
Ambassador Thomas Greminger of Switzerland, Chair of the OSCE Permanent Council said: “Our objective is to enhance interaction with the Partner states on a more concrete and project-oriented approach.” He added that the consecutive Swiss and Serbian OSCE Chairmanships in 2014-2015 intend to deepen and operationalize dialogue and cooperation with the Asian Partners, with a particular focus on possible security implications of the ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Foreign Minister of Japan, said: “The Conference offers quite a timely opportunity where the representatives of both Europe and Asia get together and mutually exchange their wisdom and lessons learnt through the OSCE as the most appropriate window of doing so.” He said that Japan’s comprehensive approach to security that puts into practice the concept of Proactive Contribution to Peace has a strong affinity with the OSCE approach in terms of a wide range of security areas and an extended range of actors involved.
Representatives of OSCE Partner states regularly meet in the so-called Contact Groups. This year, the Contact Group with the Asian Partners for Co-operation is led by Ukraine. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, said: "It is the concept of comprehensive and indivisible security, which underpinned the OSCE dialogue and activities over the last nearly four decades, inclusiveness of the Organization as well as gained extensive experience and expertise that provide the OSCE with unique advantages in facilitating and enhancing engagement and co-operation between the OSCE participating States and its Partners. Ukraine considers such cooperation to be increasingly important, when global security challenges require common solutions."
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier stressed that this year’s conference “comes at a critical time” for the Organization. “In 2014, the OSCE is not dealing with “business as usual”; the stakes are high. We have witnessed that fundamental principles of our Organization and the wider international order have been put into question. Yet, the OSCE, on the strength of its concept of inclusive and comprehensive security, has been able to take up the immediate challenge of responding to developments on the ground and now finds itself at the forefront of international attempts to address the crisis.”
He explained that the OSCE has provided a permanent forum for dialogue engaging all players on addressing crisis in Ukraine, helped establish facts on the ground through its Special Monitoring Mission, has been supporting a Ukraine-owned and –led national dialogue process and observed the presidential election in May.
Zannier praised the active political, financial and human resources support given by Japan to the OSCE’s activities in Ukraine and in other parts of the OSCE region, and said the country has been “a driving force of the OSCE’s dialogue with the Asian Partners” since 1992 when it became the first OSCE Partner for Co-operation. In addition to providing strong political impetus to the Asian Partnership, the country has been among top contributors to the Organization’s extra-budgetary projects. From 2009 to 2014 its contribution has totaled some 4.3mln euro directed to projects in Central Asia, Mongolia, Afghanistan and South-Eastern Europe.