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Governo Italiano

Speech of the Hon. Minister presenting the program of Italy’s Presidency of the OSCE in 2018 -Vienna, 20 July 2017



Speech of the Hon. Minister presenting the program of Italy’s Presidency of the OSCE in 2018 -Vienna, 20 July 2017

(The authentic text is only the speech that was actually delivered) 

Mr President (Ambassador Clemens Koja), Distinguished Permanent Representatives, I wish to thank you for having invited me to present the priorities of Italy’s Presidency in 2018.

Please allow me to congratulate the Austrian Presidency for the excellent work it is doing this year as leader of the OSCE in particularly complex circumstances.

I am also very pleased to address my greetings to the recently appointed leaders of the OSCE institutions. My best wishes to them for a successful mandate.

Thanks to the Austrian Presidency and to the commitment of each and everyone of you, we reached a consensus on the designations, constructively and with a willingness to concur. This is the right spirit, because consensus is not a weakness but a strength.

It is with this very same spirit that Italy prepares to take on the Presidency of the OSCE in 2018. We firmly believe in the mission of this Organization for peace, security and stability. An Organization which embraces the crises and destinies of us all. 

This is an office that we take on with a deep sense of responsibility. We intend to accomplish this mission – from Vancouver to Vladivostok – in the constant quest for dialogue and cooperation.

At the same time, as usual, we expect all Member Countries to join us in shouldering the responsibilities at hand. The Presidency, alone, cannot solve the problems. Shared challenges require common solutions, sense of responsibility and solidarity “multiplied 57 times”.

It means applying to each situation the most authentic “spirit of Helsinki”, pursuing it in its entirety, in accordance with the with the approach conceived by its founders with extraordinary far-sightedness, based on the idea that security comprises several dimensions: the political-military, the economic-environmental and the human dimension.

Rediscovering the “spirit of Helsinki” is not a return to the past, but it means retrieving the spirit that ensured dialogue even in the hardest years of the nuclear threat, and rebuilding on those foundations a “21st  century Helsinki” that may overcome the unyielding oppositions that all too often set us against each other, running counter to everyone’s interests.

Let’s begin with the Ukraine crisis. On the one hand the Ukraine crisis has challenged the very principles on which the OSCE is based; on the other hand, however, it has clarified – once and for all – how badly the world needs the OSCE to solve that crisis.

In this sense, the institution of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (March 2014) is a unique example of the multilateral collective effort to work out a peaceful solution to the conflict. As far as Italy is concerned, we will continue to uphold and defend this mission so that it may fully and safely fulfill its mandate.

 At the same time, it will be crucial for us to support the efforts of the Normandy Format and of the Trilateral Contact Group for a peaceful solution to the crisis. We ask for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Ukraine is not our only challenge, There are many, too many, long-standing conflicts that deserve our undivided attention. This is breeding ground for strife with regard to which we shall strengthen the action of the OSCE within the existing formats, such as: the 2008 international Geneva talks on the conflict in Georgia; the negotiation process for the settlement of the conflict in Transnistria in the 5 + 2 format; the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict  by supporting the work of the Minsk Group and the efforts of its three Co-Presidents.

In addition, during our Presidency we intend to promote greater attention by OSCE to the challenges from the South, in the Mediterranean Basin. The reason is simple: for some the Mediterranean may seem to be a small sea, almost a lake, but in its Southern Basin lie some of the most severe threats to the peace and security of Europe and of the world: terrorism and the migration crisis.

I am also convinced that the dimension of security in the Mediterranean is complementary, if not alternative, to the Euro-Asian dimension of the OSCE. As early as this year, while holding the Presidency of the Mediterranean Contact Group, we committed to encourage a dialogue with all Partners on the threats and opportunities of the Mediterranean.

The crisis of the migration flows, in particular, will be a top priority of Italy’s Presidency. We intend to face it not only from the standpoint of security but also in terms of contrasting intolerance and discrimination and placing emphasis on the importance of encouraging pluralism, inclusion and intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, which are the foundations of peace and security.

This crisis will be the subject of the OSCE Mediterranean Conference to be held in Palermo on 24-25 October, where I look forward to welcoming you and your Ministers.

The crisis of the political and military dimension is another issue on which we will be focusing our attention. The weapons control system, the security measures and confidence building measures are systematically violated or applied selectively, or they do not reflect technological developments.

 Then there is the tendency to believing that in a context of conflict, transparency is not an objective per se, forgetting that confidence building and weapons control measures are not instruments to be used when the “weather is good”, but on the contrary they are aimed at ensuring stability and the predictability required to overcome the “storms”.

Hence, the Italian Presidency intends to promote all those initiatives aimed at applying existing measures, stimulating reflections on how they are to be adapted to the new security conditions.

 “Structured dialogue” on current and future challenges to European security is also an instrument that the Italian Presidency will continue to support in its endeavours to identify the deeper causes of the tensions; to re-establish confidence but also to update the instruments available to us, keeping in pace with technological developments.

This is an Organization that has always demonstrated it can produce concrete results when all the States cooperate constructively and with a spirit of sharing responsibilities.

Let us take the example of cyber security: OSCE has adopted new measures and mechanisms to cope with this new challenge; but now the time has come to implement the commitments made by establishing concrete forms of cooperation in the face of an increasingly destabilizing threat.

The Italian Presidency intends to take action to expand cooperation on cyber security. In particular we deem it is important to promote forms of cooperation between the public, private sectors and the scientific-academic world, identifying and making the most of the emerging vanguard achievements in Member States through initiatives specifically targeted on young people.

In this area, young people are a priority. Recently, at the G-7 Taormina Summit, we encouraged our partners to launch a strong appeal to Internet providers to put internet terror off line. That obscure space of the Internet that attracts and radicalizes so many, too many, young people. Therefore, I endorse the emphasis put by Austria on the role of young people in the fight against the “narrative of terror” and on rejecting the equation between immigration and terrorism. 

Among the other transnational threats – that will be high on the list of priorities of the Italian Presidency – there is the fight against illicit trade: from drugs trafficking to the trafficking of cultural property. Defeating the cancer of drug trafficking is good for stability and peace. We want to put Italy’s experience at the service of the OSCE by promoting greater regional cooperation among the border agencies and support the training of the men and women working for the enforcement agencies.

Moving on to the economic and environmental dimension, I am convinced that this is the most fertile ground for a very constructive interaction where common, less conflicting, interests can contribute to spreading a positive atmosphere in the most complex scenarios.

At the human level, the Italian Presidency intends to support the link between the protection of human rights and the pursuit of peace, security and prosperity; where fundamental human rights are protected by the legal order in daily life, the rule of law emerges and ensures security; if this protection is not assured, the consequence is the escalation of conflicts and the perpetration of social and political instability.


The hallmark of our Presidency will be dialogue, inclusion and enhancement of the role of independent institutions of the OSCE, civil society, think tanks and universities. We want the meetings with the third dimension to become a platform for the sharing of experience on the challenges to security in full respect for the principles of the rule of law.

And finally, the Italian Presidency intends to enhance the expertise of the OSCE on transversal issues across the three dimensions. One specific example is combating the trafficking of human beings, that implies fighting the networks of traffickers, protecting the victims and strengthening cooperation with the Mediterranean and Asian partnership Countries.

As you know, last year, thanks to Italy, the OSCE started a training project in the fight against the trafficking of human beings along the migration routes, in association with the Centre of Excellence of the Carabinieri in Vicenza.

The Italian Presidency will be very ambitious but realistic. No Presidency, no matter how willing and capable, can face all these challenges without relying on the unity of intents that since 1975 has ensured the success of the OSCE. A Presidency can help and can facilitate but it cannot replace the political willingness of the Participating States.

But I would like to conclude by expressing a certainty: during our year of Presidency, in continuity with the excellent work done by Austria, we will spare no energy, day after day, to rekindle the most authentic “Helsinki spirit”. We will do all that is in our power with honesty and transparency, to facilitate solutions to the many challenges we are confronted with and that our generation is called upon to solve for the common good.

Thank you very much!

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