It is an honour to address you as Deputy Prime Minister of the new coalition government in the UK.
I’d like to thank our hosts, President Nazarbayev and Chairman-in-Office Saudabayev, and the OSCE Secretary-General and Secretariat.
They deserve enormous credit for bringing us together like this, for the first time in over a decade. For the first time this century.
35 years ago our predecessors came together, driven by their common needs, and created a space in which conflict became less likely.
The question now for us is: can we make it unthinkable?
I believe we can. But it will require a renewed commitment to each other, to the principles that govern our partnership: liberty, security, peace, and the rights and freedoms on which this organisation was founded.
In the 21st century, authority can never be sustained by military power: it depends on moral leadership.
The new UK government takes that extremely seriously.
In our early months we have set in motion action to increase democratic accountability in our own political system.
We are enhancing the privacy and personal freedom of our citizens; including through a review of measures to counter terrorism.
And, on the global stage, we have given clear commitments to international development, to multilateralism, and to the rule of international law.
As we take these steps, we look to our friends here to make similar progress.
Allowing us, together, to write the next chapter for the OSCE.
A new era of openness and cooperation, built on our shared values, spanning from Vancouver to Vladivostock.
But to do that, we must be candid and active where major hurdles remain.
Not least on arms control and confidence building - the bedrock of the OSCE. We need a serious effort to restore Europe’s arms control treaty regime, and all participating States must honour in full their obligations under the Vienna Document.
And where conflict still persists, we must seek resolution in good faith and with conviction.
On Moldova, our aim is to resume formal discussions on Moldova/Transnistria as soon as the new Moldovan Government has formed, and new energy must be injected into the 5+2 process.
On Nagorno-Karabakh, we welcome the statement signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan and by the Minsk Group co-Chairs. Progress towards a settlement of this conflict would be truly historic and we urge all parties to grasp this opportunity to find a durable peace.
And, on Georgia, the UK, like the vast majority of states represented here, unequivocally recognises Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally-recognised borders.
Russia must meet its ceasefire commitments and withdraw its troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Re-establishing an OSCE Mission in Georgia is a matter of urgency, and we urge all parties to engage constructively at the Geneva talks.
President Saakashvili’s announced willingness to make a non-use of force declaration is welcome. Let us hope this encourages all parties to commit to a resolution by peaceful means.
I would also like to congratulate the Chairmanship for their emphasis on OSCE engagement in Afghanistan.
The ODIHR must continue its good work in supporting democracy there.
And the UK is grateful for the contribution many states here make, whether it’s through troops, trade, aid, logistical support, or, crucially, to Afghanistan’s Northern Supply Route.
It is vital that these rail and air corridors are maintained and enhanced.
And it is right that we focus our efforts on Afghanistan’s Northern border - the front-line against the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people. A critical frontier in the fight to keep our own people safe. The UK encourages the OSCE to continue securing that border.
And I can confirm today that we will be providing extra funds to the OSCE Border Staff College in Dushanbe, equipping Afghan officials to take on more of the responsibility themselves.
I would also like, briefly, to mention another conflict of great concern - between North and South Korea.
The recent attack by North on South was indefensible. Such unprovoked aggression demands global opprobrium, and the OSCE was right to make a statement in recognition of that.
So let me take this opportunity to reiterate the UK’s strong condemnation of the attack, and our support for South Korea.
On these and other conflicts, what is essential is that we are steadfast in our defence of human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.
These commitments have always been at the core of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security.
They are not a reflection of Western values; not Eastern values either. They are the fundamental rights of all people, everywhere.
Yet, still, there are participating states who are not meeting their commitments.
The suppression of dissident voices. The mistreatment of minorities. Flawed elections. These continue. And where they do, they are an affront to the promises each of us has made.
So the UK is clear: it is the duty of every state here to treat its people, all people, with dignity and respect.
Blocking election monitoring, silencing the free media, wrecking the growth of civil society -these actions cannot be hidden; they cannot be ignored; and they drive us apart at a time when we are better off together.
We urge all participating states to embrace the rights and values that underpin the OSCE.
We believe that is how we will deliver a renaissance for this unique and important group, helping us bring peace and prosperity to our citizens and the wider world.
It will take political will. But, a generation ago, the leaders of OSCE states succeeded in forging one of the most inspiring political partnerships of their time.
We should aim for nothing less.
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