ATHENS, 2 December 2009 - Foreign ministers from the 56 OSCE participating States charted the way ahead for the OSCE-anchored debate on the future of European security known as the Corfu Process in a decision and a Ministerial Declaration adopted today at the Ministerial Council in Athens.
"The vision of a free, democratic and more integrated OSCE area, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, free of dividing lines and zones with different levels of security remains a common goal, which we are determined to reach," said the Ministerial Declaration on the OSCE Corfu Process, adopted by the required consensus.
The ministers said they remained seriously concerned that the principles of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and subsequent OSCE commitments are not fully respected and implemented.
"Our highest priority remains to re-establish our trust and confidence, as well as to recapture the sense of common purpose that brought together our predecessors in Helsinki almost 35 years ago," the statement said.
In the declaration, the ministers said they were concerned "that the use of force has not ceased to be considered as an option in settling disputes; that the danger of conflicts between states has not been eliminated, and armed conflicts have occurred even in the last decades".
The declaration also welcomed Kazakhstan's 2010 OSCE Chairmanship and noted with interest the country's proposal to hold an OSCE summit in 2010.
The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou, said the OSCE's work was not complete, and that participating States could do more to promote human rights and to foster tolerance.
"Dividing lines also remain in our minds. Distrust, prejudices and misperceptions can only but divide. We have to eliminate them. And the best way to do so is to engage in an open, frank and bona fide dialogue. We have to understand each other; to understand the perspectives, concerns and specificities, but also understand how much we have in common," he said.
Papandreou said all were aware that addressing security problems in the OSCE area would be a long-term endeavour.
"But we already felt the mitigating effect of the Corfu Process during our meetings both yesterday and today. I detected an unprecedented degree of goodwill and a spirit of consensus-building in our deliberations here in Athens," he said.
A Ministerial Decision on the Corfu Process provided a roadmap for the way ahead, saying the dialogue should focus on seven areas: OSCE norms, principles and commitments; conflict resolution; arms control and confidence- and security-building regimes; transnational and multidimensional threats and challenges; common economic and environmental challenges; human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as democracy an the rule of law, and enhancing the OSCE's effectiveness and interaction with other organizations and institutions.
At the Athens meeting, the ministers also adopted a statement urging the Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries to sustain the positive dynamic of negotiations of the negotiations and aiming to finalize the Basic Principles on the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"We are convinced there is today a real opportunity to build a future of peace, stability and prosperity for the entire region," the statement said.
The ministers also adopted decisions, including on strengthening dialogue and co-operation on energy security, on women's participation in political and public life, on assigning the 2012 OSCE Chairmanship to Ireland and making Australia the Organization's 12th Partner for Co-operation country.
Lithuania will hold the OSCE Chairmanship in 2011.
The decisions and declarations will be available on http://www.osce.org/conferences/mc_2009.html