OSCE PA President Kanerva: Russia’s Presence Would Not Have Affected the Results

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Ilkka Kanerva (left), the president of the OSCE PA, and Spencer Oliver, the secretary general of OSCE, at the press conference of OSCE PA annual meeting at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland on July 9 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which began Sunday 5, was concluded today at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki without Russia’s presence, and according to the OSCE PA president Ilkka Kanerva and the OSCE secretary general Spencer Oliver, it wouldn’t have affected the results of the decisions even if Russia would have attended the meeting.

“I think our discussions were good and thorough. Even if Russia would have attended, the decisions of the meeting wouldn’t have changed because they were made by the vast majority. But we must also hear Russia’s opinions to subjects even if we wouldn’t accept them,” Kanerva said at the press conference after the last meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Some of the subjects that were discussed by the 300 parliamentarians from 57 OSCE states included, among others, the crisis in and around Ukraine, the plight of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean region, arms control, global warming, water management, terrorism, anti-LGBT legislation, and threats to civil society groups.

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OSCE PA president Ilkka Kanerva signing the last paper of the OSCE meeting. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The assembly also approved several resolutions to accompany the Declaration, including a condemnation of Russia’s violations of core OSCE principles in Ukraine; a call for comprehensive legislative reform to address the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters; an appeal for enhanced co-operation on economic and environmental issues in the Arctic; an affirmation of the need to safeguard the rights and human dignity of migrants and refugees; and more.

Kanerva said he believes that the refusal to accept the Russian Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin to the meeting didn’t dramatically hurt the relations between Finland and Russia.

“I have often been in contact with Moscow to ensure that this doesn’t have any repercussions on the other hand to OSCE and on the other hand to the relations between Finland and Russia.”

Spencer Oliver said he understands that the Finnish government made its decision of denying access from Naryshkin based on the legislation of the EU. However, he thought the decision was “wrong” and that “the sanctions were misinterpreted”.

According to Spencer, the OSCE parliamentary assembly meeting should have been exempt from travel restrictions just like the cities which host headquarters of international organisations, because the parliamentary assemblies are annually arranged in different countries.

Naryshkin had previously visited cities in the EU which hosted international headquarters, such as Paris, Geneva and Vienna.

“Because of this it’s understandable that he had a free access to these cities but our Helsinki – goddammit – is even today a city that doesn’t host any significant and big international headquarters,” Kanerva said.

“If there was such a thing, the matter would be resolved easily, but because it doesn’t exist, one must be put on the agenda.”

When and where?

That Kanerva couldnt’ answer yet.

The parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE was held in Helsinki on July 5-9. The OSCE parliamentary assembly commemorated the 40th anniversary of a pioneering agreement that was signed in Helsinki, which helped improve relations between eastern and western Europe.