Media Contact: Neil Simon
WASHINGTON—The U.S. must play a more active role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to advance U.S interests and bolster the world’s largest regional security organization, leaders of the U.S. Helsinki Commission urged three assistant secretaries of state and defense at a Commission hearing today.
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) convened the hearing “Advancing U.S. Interests in the OSCE Region" ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers to take place in Greece in December.
“We are surrounded by events that demand strong U.S. leadership within the OSCE, not only to advance U.S. interests but to uphold the international principles reflected in international commitments,” Chairman Cardin said. “From simmering tensions in the Caucasus and frozen conflicts, to concerns in the Balkans and the impasse with Moscow over weapons treaties, there are no shortage of reminders of the need for the U.S. to play a more assertive role in the OSCE.”
“Whether we are looking at issues of territorial integrity or sovereignty, freedom of expression or environmental cooperation, our responsibility is to prevent the erosion of core OSCE principles; to support the efforts of human rights defenders and others working to realize peaceful change; and to draw attention to violations when and where they occur. In this regard, I cannot exaggerate the importance of the U.S. leading by example,” Co-Chairman Hastings said.
The hearing examined ways the U.S. could advance foreign policy priorities with testimony from Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; and Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.