Hearing :: Switzerland’s Leadership of the OSCE

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Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe:  
U.S. Helsinki Commission

Switzerland’s Leadership of the OSCE

Committee Members Present:
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD);
Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ)


Witnesses:
Didier Burkhalter, 
President of the Swiss Confederation, 
Foreign Minister and Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE

Heidi Grau,
Ambassador, 
Head of the OSCE Chairmanship Task Force of the Swiss Federal Department of 
Foreign Affairs

The Hearing Was Held From 10:08 a.m. To 11:43 a.m. in Room 562 Dirksen Senate 
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Chairman, 
CSCE, Presiding 



Date:  Tuesday, February 25, 2014


CARDIN:  Well, good morning.  Welcome to the hearing of the Helsinki 
Commission.  

It’s our great honor to have Didier Burkhalter with us today.  He has many 
titles.  He’s the president of the Swiss Confederation, foreign minister – that 
you got to explain to me, how you’re president and foreign minister, but that – 
but the most important position and the reason that you’re here today is that 
you’re chair in office of the OSCE.  And we thank you very much for continuing 
the tradition of the chair to come to Washington and appear before the Helsinki 
Commission.

As I think you are aware, the Helsinki Commission in and of itself is a unique 
organization.  It was created as the implementing arm by the Congress for our 
participation in the OSCE.  It’s unique because, as you know, we have 
separation of branches, but in the Helsinki Commission we have both the 
legislative and executive branch together.  We have three members of the 
executive branch that serve on the Helsinki Commission, in addition to members 
of the House and the Senate.  

The chairmanship rotates.  I am the chairman this year from the Senate, and 
Chris Smith, who is the chair in the House, will assume the chairmanship after 
the next elections.

It’s bipartisan.  As you may know, Chairman Smith is a member of the Republican 
Party, I’m a member of the Democratic Party, and we work together on these 
foreign policy issues.

I did see Spencer Oliver here, our secretary-general of OSCE Parliamentary 
Assembly.  We are active participants in the Parliamentary Assembly and will 
want to work with you as we organize how all of the arms of the OSCE can work 
together to accomplish our objectives.

I also saw Andy Baker in the audience, our special representative for 
anti-Semitism, and it’s nice to have Rabbi Baker with us also today.  

Is Ambassador Baer – was – there you are, sitting in the front row.  I was told 
that you were going to be here.  Ambassador Baer is also here, our ambassador 
to the OSCE.  It’s a pleasure to have you here also today.

The OSCE, as I was – had a chance to talk to our witness beforehand about the 
OSCE.  It’s now reaching its 40th birthday, and of course it’s time to 
calculate how the OSCE’s incredible importance will be elevated to the next 
level as we re-evaluate at 40 where OSCE needs to deal with priorities.  

Let me just talk a moment about the priorities of the Helsinki Commission.  
Throughout its history, it has promoted many priorities within OSCE.  We are 
probably best known for our priority on tolerance.  We – Congressman Smith and 
myself participated in the different conferences that were held in regards to 
anti-Semitism.  We’re now celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Berlin 
conference, in which I participated.  As a result of the work of our 
Commission, and leadership around Europe, we established three special 
representatives, and Mr. Chair, I’m glad that you are continuing the tradition 
of having three representatives deal with the tolerance agenda.

We – the Commission hosted the OSCE ODIHR of people of Africa descent 
conference here in Washington, D.C.  We found that to be a logical extension of 
our priority for dealing with the human rights/tolerance agenda.

And of course this Commission has taken a definite interest in the concerns of 
the Roma population in Europe, and we would welcome your thoughts as to how we 
can constructively work to continue to deal with the concerns of the Roma 
population.

This Commission has taken on the issue of human trafficking.  I want to 
acknowledge the incredible work of Chairman Smith in – not only here in the 
United States but globally in dealing with trafficking.  As a result, you know, 
we have our TIP reports here in the United States, which I think has been very 
valuable in helping us advance the end of modern-day slavery.

This Commission has put a very high priority on good governance, particularly 
in countries in transition.  Now there’s no more dynamic example of that than 
the current circumstances in Ukraine.  We had a chance to talk about that a few 
moments ago, but our first priority, of course, is to re-establish order in 
Ukraine.  It is – we need to have a functioning government, and we need to 
protect the human rights of all of its citizens.  It is where I think OSCE 
needs to use all of its tools to help bring about the proper resolution of the 
current crisis in the Ukraine.

There are too many countries that are backsliding on their commitments to good 
governance.  That is why this Commission has put a high priority on 
transparency, good governance, dealing with corruption issues in countries, 
many of whom have valuable resources, and we have been very much committed to 
transparency in dealing with good governance and fighting all forms of 
corruption.

This Commission has taken a direct – and I want to compliment you – and I know 
as part of the Economic and Environmental Forum you will be including good 
governance, which I think is critically important.  And the Helsinki framework 
recognizes that without human rights, you can’t have security, and without 
human rights and security, you can’t have economic and environmental 
commitment.  So it’s all interwoven into the fabric of the OSCE.

This Commission is a very active participant in the Parliamentary Assembly.  I 
mentioned that a little bit earlier.  I have had the honor of being the vice 
president in the Parliamentary Assembly.  Currently Robert Aderholt on our 
Commission is a member – is the vice president on the Parliamentary Assembly, 
and of course Alcee Hastings, the former chair of this Commission, was the 
president of the Parliamentary Assembly.  So we look forward to your ideas as 
to how we can leverage parliamentarians in the work of the OSCE.

You clearly have a very busy agenda.  From the current crisis in Ukraine to the 
western Balkans to the Mediterranean Partnership issue, which is an area that 
we have paid a lot of attention to in this Commission, dealing with our 
partners and advancing the core values of the OSCE, our role in Afghanistan, 
Central Asia, the list goes on and on.

So we look forward to your testimony – (audio break) – if I might, I let me 
yield to Chairman Smith for any opening comments that he would like to make.

SMITH:  Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this very important meeting of the 
Commission and to welcome President Burkhalter to this important Commission on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe.  This is a very bipartisan – of course it’s 
bicameral.  And for years – and I’ve been on it now for 32 of my 34 years as a 
member of Congress – it has been an oasis of action, of commitment to ensuring 
that human rights are robustly defended.

And I look out at Spencer Oliver – and I remember traveling – and I know you do 
as well, Ben – during some of the worst days of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, 
when we were working on behalf of Soviet Jewish refuseniks and so many others 
who are were incarcerated because of their faith or their identity as – simply 
as Jews. And he has done yeoman’s work and outstanding work for years at the 
Parliamentary Assembly.  He is a walking institutional memory.  So it is so 
encouraging and it’s always a delight to see him here.  So thank you, Spencer, 
for your work.

Mr. President, just let me say a couple of opening comments.  Obviously Ukraine 
is at the top of the OSCE’s agenda today, and there is – there the task is 
absolutely enormous.  The situation remains very fragile, as we all know, and 
the Crimea could become a significant hot spot.  

I was in the Republic of Georgia a week after the Russians rolled into Abkhazia 
and South Ossetia regions.  I was in Tbilisi.  The tanks kept making feinting 
moves, where they would come in as if they were going into Tbilisi.  Our 
embassy was evacuated.  And there was a sense that they weren’t going to stop 
at the borders.  And obviously to this day we all have recognized that that was 
a profoundly unjust invasion.  And as it has been unfortunately not rolled back 
– but all of us are concerned that a similar pretext might be used, given the 
right set of circumstances, for the Russians to make a move on the Crimea.

I’m very concerned that the United States and Europe need to work closely with 
the Russians and supporting the Ukrainians and implementing the six-point 
agreement. And I want to especially thank the European Union for its leadership 
on that.  The three foreign ministers, including Foreign Minister Sikorski, the 
German and French, I think, did a wonderful job in what could have been – 
obviously many people died, but it could have been far worse had they not 
intervened at that precise moment where the tipping point had been reached and 
large numbers of casualties over and above the wounded and the dead might have 
occurred.

Ukraine obviously is a sovereign country, but at the same time Russia clearly 
means to play a role in the coming months.  We have to obviously factor that 
into all things related to Ukraine.  And we need to continue working to protect 
Ukraine’s sovereignty, its borders, and to ensure that matriculates (sic) into 
a more robust democracy.  And we will have to engage meaningful and, I believe, 
respectfully with the Russians as well.

Our government has not done all that well in recent years.  I hope that the 
OSCE will continue its work.  It seems to me that the OSCE is a place where all 
parties could meet to support the six-point agreement.  The OSCE, as a 
consensus organization founded to ensure respect for borders, through a concept 
of security that embraces human rights and the rule of law, will play, I think, 
a very significant role.  And of course with you, Mr. President, at the helm, 
we have every reason to have hope and expectation that it will play that role 
and do it well.

Reconciliation should be at the top of the agenda.  Yes, there needs to be 
justice.  Those who have committed atrocities need to be held to account.  But 
there needs to be also a reconciliation agenda.  If reconciliation becomes the 
order of the day, as it did in South Africa after its decades of apartheid and 
the killings and the tortures went on in their prisons, as they – happened in 
El Salvador with the FMLN and with the government that was in place, surely we 
need to be promoting a reconciliation agenda as well for the Ukraine.  

I do believe this is a serious test for our organization.  So again, I welcome 
your appointment, Mr. President, of a personal envoy on Ukraine, and look 
forward to discussing the role you envision for the envoy and the organization, 
including the observing of the May elections.  And frankly, I hope that I and 
others will be able to become part of an election monitoring team for the May 
25th elections.  

It will be important as well to vigorously implement the addendum to the OSCE 
action plan on combating trafficking in human beings, which was adopted at the 
Kiev ministerial in December.  The addendum, as you know, raises some issues 
that I had raised in supplementary items that were passed by the OSCE 
Parliamentary Assembly.  These included calling on corporations to ensure that 
their supply chains do not include trafficked labor, focusing on 
anti-trafficking efforts on vulnerable groups like the Roma, increasing 
cooperation among law enforcement in different countries to prevent sex 
tourism, involving the trafficking of minors and calling for anti-trafficking 
training for the transportation of hospitality industries.  

I would note parenthetically, New Jersey just served as the host for the Super 
Bowl.  Well, I have to tell you, New York and New Jersey engaged in a very 
cooperative but very aggressive plan of prevention, and as a direct result, 
whether it be social media, training – not hospital – hotel workers to spot 
trafficking and to call police hotlines, many what would have been trafficking 
situations were mitigated.  About – let me get the number right now – 45 pimps 
and associates were arrested.  Seventy victims totally were identified and 
rescued, 25 of whom were children, minors who otherwise would have been 
sexually exploited.  

And actually, the police – state police and all other local police – really got 
into the social media side, whether it be Backpage and some of the other areas 
where they’re selling women right online.  And they intercepted it and 
obviously warned everyone, we’re watching and we’re going to arrest – I was 
with our New Jersey attorney general just a week and a half ago for an after 
action report.  We worked with them throughout the whole deal.  And, frankly, 
they did an incredible job.  

And they did all kinds of training.  They worked for months.  And now they’re 
going to sustain that effort because the Super Bowl is gone.  Trafficking 
continues and I think they’ll do much more.  Lessons could be learned for all 
of us for that, because when we apply resources to make it a priority, little 
children and young women do not get raped and exploited by the traffickers and 
by the Johns who exploit them.  

Another issue of deep concern for the Commission obviously is anti-Semitism, 
and it has been for many years.  I would note parenthetically, my first trip to 
the Soviet Union was in ’82 with the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.  We 
met with Sharansky’s mother in Moscow.  We met with refuseniks in Leningrad.  
And I’ll never forget how dire their situations were, and it just – we’ve been 
working on it as a Commission ever since to make combating anti-Semitism the 
highest priority.  

And Rabbi Andy Baker, thank you for continuing his extraordinary service and 
methodically talking to governments, putting on paper as well as in 
recommendations what the true status of any country’s record is on 
anti-Semitism, to try to make a difference on that.  Obviously it’s Berlin plus 
10.  We need to look at it.  It doesn’t mean we need a whole lot of new ideas.  
We need to implement and implement and implement that which has already – with 
maybe some new ideas that might come forward.  

Let me also just say that – without objection I would like my full statement to 
be made a part of the record, Mr. Chairman.  The last thing I’d like to mention 
is on the freedom of issue – freedom of religion issue.  Last June I chaired a 
hearing on the Syrians and the fact that so many Syrian Christians are being 
targeted simply because they’re Christians.  And the rise of – and we had 
people come and testify that said, it is a genocide.  Christians are not being 
killed as collateral damage or because they happen to be in the wrong place at 
the wrong time, but many of the rebels especially infiltrated by al-Qaida, as 
we all know, and al-Nusra, has been targeting Christians because they’re 
Christians and killing them because they’re Christians.  

And I would hope that there would be an increased emphasis on this growing 
intolerance of – the hearing we just had was about how persecution against 
Christians are the worst in the whole world, particularly in Asia, in Russia – 
not Russia – China, North Korea and in other parts of Asia, and certainly in 
the Middle East and many of our partner countries there, and even in some of 
the mainstream and mature democracies of the European Union.

Just today – I was in Jos, Nigeria last September; spent several days in 
Nigeria pushing against Boko Haram, which we all know is a horrific offshoot of 
al-Qaida.  And they to terrible things just like the other offshoots have done, 
including al-Shabab in Somalia.  This morning a number of people in university 
– men, 40 is the estimation – were slaughtered, throats were slit.  

Well, I met with a man while I was in Jos – because they have firebombed so 
many churches there.  And of course Nigeria is not an OSCE country or even a 
partner country but is part of a global trend of gross intolerance on the part 
of radical Islamists.  And this man, who came – I met him.  He was a survivor 
of a church bombing and – not a bombing but an attack on a church.  They came 
to his house, put an AK-47 to his – to his jaw and said:  You will renounce 
Jesus Christ or else – and become a Muslim or we shoot you.  And he said:  I’m 
ready to meet my Maker.  I will not renounce my Lord.  And they shot him, right 
to his jaw.  Obviously he’s had some serious reconstructive surgery.  He 
survived.  

And I invited him and he came and testified.  And he said, you Americans 
underestimate the vehemence and the hatred and the prejudice and the bias that 
this people bear Christians, and unfortunately much of the diaspora, 
particularly out in the Middle East, that carries some of those extremist views 
has made its way into many of the OSCE countries.  So I would respectfully ask 
that there be a really robust look at that during your chair in office.

Thank you for coming and thank you for your leadership.  And, Mr. Chairman, 
thank you.

CARDIN:  All members’ opening statements will be made part of the record 
without objection, including the president’s statement will be made part of our 
record. 

Mr. President, again, it’s a pleasure to have you here.  We acknowledge the 
members of the embassy.  Your ambassador is here.  He’s a good friend and does 
a great job for you here in our country.  You may proceed as you wish.

BURKHALTER:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Co-Chairman, ladies and 
gentlemen.  Let me start by answering to your question you asked at the 
beginning of your introduction, how it was possible that I was president of the 
confederation and at the same time minister of foreign affairs?  Frankly 
speaking, Mr. Chairman, it happened during the last two months that I asked 
myself the same question.  (Laughter.)  

Actually, and paradoxically, this is a result of the willingness of our nation 
to chair the board.  We are seven members in the government.  There is a 
rotation for the presidency each year.  Every year there is a new president.  
In the government seven members but all main parties are integrated.  The idea 
is to share or to integrate the main parties to the responsibilities.  And the 
fact that we don’t have any presidents that last more than one year, it is a 
way to feel integrated for all parties, all great tendencies in the politics in 
Switzerland to feel integrated.  And this is also an expression of a consensus. 
 And I will speak to the consensus and the framework of the OSCE, which is 
something that works and some – to some extent like the Swiss Confederation.

Thank you once more for the invitation to speak before your Commission.  It’s 
my very first time in Washington in my whole life, and a very nice city, I must 
say.  And I feel it as a privilege to discuss with you and also with Vice 
President Joe Biden later on this day.  It’s a great honor.  It’s also an honor 
and a pleasure for me to address the issue of security and of Europe and 
security in particular.  Over the past 100 years, United States has played a 
vital role in defending the values of liberty and security in Europe, and I 
wish to start by acknowledging this role.  And let me maybe, Mr. Chairman, give 
you a personal story.

I have three sons, and my wife and I, we wanted to give them a taste of liberty 
– not liberty for fun but liberty for people, liberty for the societies where 
we live.  And we wanted to do that very early, and they were teenagers.  And we 
decided to move to Normandy to Omaha Beach, and to symmetry – the American 
symmetry of Omaha Beach, to – (inaudible) – the sea and the beach of Omaha.  
And I’m convinced that my sons won’t forget during their whole life what they 
saw, the courage they felt, the courage and the sense of liberty of the young 
Americans that were fighting and they were falling for another continent, for 
Europe.  And I just would like to start to say thank you. 

Coming again to the time being, the tragic developments in Ukraine in recent 
weeks have been sobering reminders that security in Europe cannot be taken for 
granted.  These developments have also revealed the need to force a dialogue to 
rebuild trust, to reaffirm shared norms, and to consolidate bridges across the 
Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian region.  It is my firm conviction that the OSCE has 
a major role to play in this regard to build – we’re each building bridges, 
building bridges between East and West for the benefit of everyone.  

The Swiss chairmanship wishes also to acknowledge the important role the 
Helsinki Commission plays within the OSCE.  We also appreciate the close 
cooperation with the U.S. Department of State on a wide range of OSCE issues.  
United States is a crucial participant in the OSCE, the biggest contributor to 
its budget, which is a modest one.  I will come back to that.  And in many ways 
the U.S. is indispensable to move the OSCE forward.
Switzerland has agreed to take the helm of the OSCE.  Why?  I should say first, 
strategic reasons.  First of all, because promotion of stability in Europe and 
beyond is a priority of our foreign policy.  We have a new strategy for 2012 to 
2015, but we aim to 2022.  By the way, it will be the year where we will apply 
for a first-time seat in the Security Council.  But we have the idea to have 
really this security issue as a main priority for 10 years. 
We also believe that we have something to offer:  the neutral country.  I know 
that neutrality is not really very well-understood in the States, but we think 
there is a place and an importance for a neutral country with a tradition of 
good offices and mediation.
The third reason, that the United States and a number of other countries asked 
us to take on this role.  Actually we were not candidate at the beginning, and 
then it was a problem with Serbia, and in line with this problematic of Serbia 
being candidate for 2014, there was this idea to have a package or a situation 
with two consecutive chairmanships working together.  And I therefore very much 
count on your valuable support.  You supported us for taking up this 
chairmanship-in-office; you should support us as we have met our 
responsibilities.  Above all, I’d like you to have supporting – to support our 
priorities.
Therefore, let me make some general remarks about the OSCE and the priorities 
of the Swiss chairmanship.  First point, I’d like to underline that the OSCE is 
very important to us, simply.  The fact that Switzerland is the first country 
to chair the OSCE for the second time indicates that we attach great importance 
to this organization.  We value the OSCE as a forum for dialogue, a platform, a 
platform to generate and assist implementation of common norms and a 
field-based organization.
We also acknowledge that the OSCE performs its many important tasks with – I 
already mentioned that – a surprisingly low budget.  Its annual budget is not 
much higher than the transfer fees paid for one top-class soccer player, 145 
million euro.  I mean, if I calculate well, that’s something like $470 million. 
 It’s not very high for an organization with 57 member states.  11 partner 
states, four institutions, specialized, 16 field missions from Bosnia to 
Kyrgyzstan; $170 million, it is 15 times less than the yearly expenditure of my 
country for the international cooperation.
That said, the OSCE is currently not in a position to tap its full potential.  
The fact that its membership spans three continents is a key asset, which is 
also a major challenge for decision-making.  This is why, as 
chairperson-in-office, I encourage all participating states to approach the 
OSCE in a spirit of cooperation and compromise.  
You cannot progress, Mr. Chairman, if you just want to affirm and maximize your 
national position.  You need the spirit of consensus.  And it is something like 
Swissness.  In Switzerland we are used to look for this consensus, as I said at 
the beginning.  If we want the OSCE to move forward, we need to be both 
principled and pragmatic – principled in the sense that we should all stand up 
for our shared values and our commitments in the OSCE, and pragmatic because no 
participating state will be able to see its objectives in the OSCE realized if 
it ignores the priorities and needs of others.
Let’s remind us, in the mid-‘70s the CSCE, at that time, was a success.  Why?  
Because participants made compromises and tradeoffs across the three baskets – 
political-military, environmental, economic and human.  And today I strongly 
believe that if all participating states engage with a balanced approach among 
the OSCE’s three dimensions, we will find much common ground. 
The OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security is a key asset of the 
organization and corresponds to today’s security needs.  Making full use of 
this holistic approach, of this integrated security approach, will make it 
possible to increase the level of security not just of states but also of 
citizens, and that’s what precisely we Swiss want.  As you are well aware as 
senators and members of Congress, your citizens are no longer primarily 
concerned about traditional military threats.  The OSCE’s security approach is 
very much consistent with a broader security perception.
This is all the more important because the future relevance of the OSCE will 
much depend on its ability to produce tangible results for the individuals and 
communities of its participating states.  Good politics, after all, is a 
service of the people.  And like Abraham Lincoln said, I could add, by the 
people, for the people.  This is why the leitmotif of the Swiss chairmanship is 
to create a security community for the benefit of everyone.  
Calling for pragmatism does not mean that we should shy away from criticism in 
the OSCE.  Recalling the OSCE’s principles is more vital today than ever, 
especially when adherence to these principles is uncertain.  I therefore 
encourage participating states to engage with each other in constructive ways 
to pave the way for shared solution rather than alienation.  With its 
consensus-oriented political system and linguistic diversity, Switzerland is a 
kind of mini-OSCE.  Based on our own experience, we seek to revitalize the 
OSCE’s culture of dialogue by calling on all participants to take a step 
towards one another.  We encourage all states to make gesture of good will, to 
rebuild trust and allow for progress within the OSCE.
Since assuming the chairmanship of the OSCE at the beginning of 2014, my agenda 
has been dominated by something which was not on the program.  It was dominated 
by the political crisis and recent escalation of violence in Ukraine.  During 
the past weeks, I have repeatedly called on all sides to refrain from violence, 
to resolve the crisis through dialogue and political means and respect human 
rights.  In a series of meetings, I have discussed options for OSCE assistance 
with the then-Ukrainian government as well as with members of the opposition.  
The agreement reached on February 21st, you mentioned beforehand, marked an 
important step towards ending the violence and paved the way for a political 
solution of the crisis.  I congratulate everyone involved who made these 
breakthroughs possible – like you said, the Polish chairman and French foreign 
minister and the special envoy of the Russian Federation.
With the appointment of an interim president by the parliament, Ukraine has now 
entered a new phase.  It is now a new phase, a transition.  Formidable 
challenges lie ahead.  We should unite in our effort to support Ukraine in 
these difficult times.  A stable, democratic and a united Ukraine is in the 
interest of all.  
Against this background, I proposed yesterday during my briefing at the U.N. 
Security Council to establish an international contact group on Ukraine.  
Ukraine should, of course, play a prominent role in the group, and all 
international key actors should be included.  We are currently consulting with 
the idea with all actors concerned.
The main task of the proposed contact group would be to support Ukraine in its 
transition period.  The contact group would serve as a platform for 
coordination and sharing information on international assistance (and project 
activities ?) in Ukraine.  The OSCE, through its impartiality and inclusivity, 
has the necessary attribute to host and moderate this group.  Ukraine and all 
international actors involved in this crisis are, in fact, participating states 
of the OSCE.
I also announced yesterday my decision to appoint Ambassador Tim Guldimann as 
my personal envoy to Ukraine.  He will coordinate all ongoing and planned 
activities of the OSCE in Ukraine on behalf of the chairmanship.  He will 
rapidly take consultation with all sides and will cooperate closely with 
international partners.
A small OSCE core team has been sent also to Ukraine to conduct a needs 
assessment mission.  There is an urgent need to rebuild trust among all parties 
involved.  As I underlined yesterday at the U.N., I encourage the new leaders 
of Ukraine to invite ODIHR to send a human rights assessment mission to the 
country to establish the facts and circumstances of the incidents that took 
place in Ukraine.  The human rights assessment mission would recommend measures 
to deal with serious violation of human rights allegedly committed during this 
crisis.  Its findings would be presented in a report and would help advance 
national reconciliation in Ukraine.  
Presidential elections will be a crucial moment in this current transitional 
period.  We expect the Ukrainian authorities to issue an early invitation for 
an ODIHR election observation mission in view of the rapidly changing 
developments.  We are also ready to review and further specify the activities 
of the OSCE’s project coordinator’s office, which is in Kiev.  
We are currently witnessing a phase of de-escalation in Ukraine.  It is 
essential to support a fair and an inclusive process of transition which does 
not marginalize any part of Ukraine or any community.  Ukraine deserves full 
international attention and support.  I’m convinced that the OSCE has the 
necessary tools to assist Ukraine in this difficult phase.
Let’s move to Afghanistan, Mr. Chairman.  Afghanistan is one of the OSCE’s six 
Asian partners.  It is another hot spot where the OSCE can play a valuable 
role.  While the international community develops a strategic vision for 
Afghanistan after 2014, the OSCE remains a good platform for practical, 
forward-looking regional cooperation and dialogue among all stakeholders.  We 
continue to work closely with other international actors to ensure stability in 
Afghanistan and the wider region, at least to contribute to.
OSCE activities worth mentioning in this context are police training, borders 
and customs training and counternarcotics.  Our Central Asian field offices, 
the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and the Border Management Staff 
College in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, are building local capacities and expert 
networks linking Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.  We are currently 
also working towards establishing an OSCE research center on Afghan-Central 
Asian issues.  In addition, ODIHR will send an election support team to 
Afghanistan to assist with preparation of the Afghan elections this year, and 
it will be, by the way, the fifth time that ODIHR will work there.
And let me now submit an idea for Asia-Pacific, for this region, Asia-Pacific.  
With Switzerland chairing the Asian Partner for Cooperation next year, we are 
eager to discuss ideas of applying elements of the OSCE’s cooperative security 
model to East Asia.  Against the background of unresolved territorial disputes, 
rapidly rising defense budget and growing risks of political polarization, East 
Asia could well benefit from the OSCE’s experience in creating confidence and 
common norms through dialogue and transparency.  That should be interesting for 
member of the U.S. Congress.  The zone Asia-Pacific is an economic motor and 
integrated region for economic reason.  But nothing or almost nothing happened 
at the level of subregional security platform.  And I submitted this idea this 
year to the heads of state of South Korea and Japan, and we will see if it is 
possible to invent or to see something growing next year.
Ladies and gentlemen, now I would like to go over the chairmanship in office 
2014 and to outline the priorities of the Swiss chairmanship.  You can see in 
our tableau, which is a summary, in one page, one-page summary, it’s something 
very rare in the politics, and we try to do that because that give a clear 
picture of what we want in a nutshell.

First, the big picture.  Precisely, the Swiss chairmanship has set three (over 
?) objectives.  We seek to contribute to fostering security and stability, to 
improving people’s life and to strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to act.  In a 
nutshell, our mission is to enhance security, freedom and responsibility.  
These three values – also Swiss and American values, in the Constitution – 
these three values are important, and the objectives, main objectives, they 
stem from these values.  For each of our values and objective, we have defined 
a number of priority areas.  You have also received a fact sheet on these 
priorities, and I would like to highlight a few point here.  

With regard to our first objective of fostering security and stability, the 
Western Balkans figure prominently on our agenda.  My special representative 
for the Western Balkans – it is Ambassador Stoudmann, a former head of ODIHR – 
has been tasked with facilitating regional cooperation and reconciliation.

I plan to visit this region in the coming months.  The OSCE should play a 
supporting role in the implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement.  
Indeed, the OSCE has recently facilitated local elections in northern Kosovo 
and will continue to monitor this year’s electoral processes in southeastern 
Europe.

Let me add that we have arranged with Serbia, the next chairmanship in office, 
that Ambassador Stoudmann will be reappointed next year, will be so a Swiss 
ambassador and special representative for the Western Balkans during the 
Serbian presidency in 2015.

I’m also planning to travel to the South Caucasus.  My special representative 
for this region, Ambassador Gnadinger, who will also be reappointed next year 
by the Serbian presidency, is co-chairing the Geneva international discussions 
on the conflict in Georgia.  His discussions are a unique, albeit fragile, 
platform to tackle the security and humanitarian aspects of the conflict.  It 
is our hope that they will one day evolve into a forum that lays the grounds 
for a real settlement of the conflict.

Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the most dangerous conflict in Europe.  One of my 
first meeting as chairman in office was with the three co-chairs of the Minsk 
Group.  I wish to emphasize that (this bond ?), both in Karabakh and in 
Georgia, United States involvement at the highest political level would be 
helpful for our efforts.  I’m convinced that the stalemate in these protracted 
conflicts can only be overcome with greater engagement and attention by 
international key players such as the United States.  We very much appreciate 
the work of Ambassador Warlick, U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and of 
Deputy Assistant Secretary Eric Rubin, the U.S. representative in the Geneva 
discussion.

Conventional arms control, Mr. Chairman, and confidence and security building 
measures play a key role in joint efforts to strengthen military stability, 
transparency and predictability in this OSCE area.  Yet while the need for 
conventional arms control remains undisputed, the treaty on conventional arms 
forces in Europe has reached an impasse.  Conventional arms control in Europe 
can likely only be relaunched on the basis of a new conceptual approach.  This 
will require many countries to modify long-held positions.  We should also seek 
ways to ensure that unresolved territorial conflict do not block progress on 
(ban ?) regional arms control.  All this will require initiative and leadership 
by the United States.  The Swiss chairmanship regard the OSCE as a useful 
marketplace for ideas on conventional arms control.  We are ready to facilitate 
conceptual discussion in this respect. 

These were, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Co-Chairman, some comments about the first column 
on our tableau.  Let’s move now to the second.

As for our second objective of improving people’s lives, implementation of all 
existing commitments in the human dimension is a key priority for us.  As 
co-chairman just said before, implementation, implementation, implementation.  
We have defied and prepared our activities in this area on the basis of our two 
years’ experience as chair of the human dimension committee.  We aim to 
strengthen the implementation of commitments in full cooperation with the 
participating states, with the OSCE structures and with the civil society.  So 
our focus is not in new – in having new commitments, our focus is clearly about 
respecting the current commitment, giving assistance to member states for 
monitoring and improving the situation.

Switzerland will host a chairmanship event on human rights defenders in Berne, 
our capital, in June.  On this occasion, the director of ODIHR, Ambassador 
Lenarcic, will present guidelines prepared by ODIHR on the protection of human 
rights defenders.  I should add I visited ODIHR in Warsaw at the end of January 
and that recruiting a successor for Mr. Lenarcic will be another major task in 
2014.  We now have had the application time till the 6th of February.  We have 
four candidates.  A good situation is possible.  We have candidate from 
Germany, from Latvia, from Czech Republic and from Iceland.

The Swiss chairmanship will also put the issue of torture back on the agenda of 
the OSCE.  We are planning an event on torture prevention in Vienna at the 
beginning of April.  Cooperation between national mechanisms, NGOs, (on-boots 
?) persons, international organization, the U.N. and the OSCE will be at the 
center of the discussions at this event.  Preventing of torture will be clearly 
a priority for respecting the commitment precisely.

Another theme, the fight against human trafficking, hundreds of thousands of 
people, mainly women and children, are being forcefully trafficked in their own 
countries and across national borders.  These victims are often sexually 
exploited or forced into slavery.  This is a terrible crime.  And I wish to 
commend Co-Chair Smith for the three comprehensive bills you authored in the 
United States to combat trafficking (to help ?) victims.

A week ago, the Swiss OSCE chairmanship together with the Austrian chairmanship 
of the Council of Europe organized a conference against trafficking human 
beings.  The goal was to discuss how legally binding standards, monitoring 
mechanisms and political strategies can mutually reinforce each other and lead 
to effective action to counter trafficking in human beings.  It was a success 
with a lot of participant and a strong testament that human trafficking remains 
on the top of the agenda.

As for the priority of more reliable management of natural disasters, this is 
very much in the interest of the security and safety of our citizens.  
Disasters can hit anywhere at any time.  And United States knows from its own 
experience that the scale, frequency and severity of disasters triggered by 
natural hazard will continue to grow at an accelerating pace.  Senator Cardin, 
Congressman Smith, you witnessed with your own eyes the destructive force of 
Tropical Cyclone Sandy in October 2012.  You visited the impacted areas on 
Maryland’s Eastern Shore and New Jersey, where over 30 of your compatriots lost 
their lives and where 357 housing units were damaged, causing economic losses 
of well over $30 billion.

Switzerland considers that disaster risk reduction should be firmly embedded in 
the sustainable development goals.  Our aim must be to move from a disaster 
response to a disaster prevention and climate change mitigation.  There is a 
lot on our plate for that.  We’ll address this issue at the meetings of the 
second OSCE economic and environmental forum.  In so doing, we seek to 
contribute to societies becoming resilient to climate change and disaster risk.

There is also a strong link between the human the political-military dimensions 
of the OSCE in combatting transnational threats.  For instance, this year we 
are tackling issues such as human rights in countering terrorism, kidnapping 
for ransom that we have to fight against at an international level, and the 
return of foreign fighters, which could become a major issue after the Syrian 
conflict.

A major opportunity to do so will be the annual OSCE conference on 
counterterrorism, which will take place in Interlaken in my country.  We are 
counting on the presence of American (experience ?) at the Interlaken 
conference and on your continued support in tackling these issues.  And I would 
be interested to have your point of view about these topics of 
counterterrorism, kidnapping for ransom, return of foreign fight in the 
discussion after on – later on.

In the area of cyberthreats, the Swiss chairmanship will focus on the 
implementation of the initial set of OSCE confidence-building measures agreed 
last year.  And at that place I would like to acknowledge the successful work 
of the U.S. chair of Ambassador Baer.  Thank you very much for having worked 
very efficiently, U.S. chair of the informal working group.  The Swiss 
chairmanship is grateful that the United States accepted to continue to chair 
this working group and will support its efforts to develop additional 
confidence-building measure.  Let me also add that we will hold an OSCE-wide 
conference on drugs in October in Vienna.

And now, regarding our third objective of strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to 
act, the Helsinki +40 process is of particular importance.  Adapting the OSCE 
to the security needs of the 21st century is both challenging and vital.  This 
process is in itself an important confidence-building measure if it helps 
address divergent security perspective in a result-oriented manner.  But it 
should be more than that, as Helsinki +40 is about defining the ways and means 
of the OSCE, and hence its future relevance.  There are no road map.  There are 
also aid coordinators in place to structure these discussions in Vienna.  
Again, participating state will need to show a degree of flexibility for this 
process to translate into meaningful results.

I also believe that we need ministerial level debates to get the solid idea of 
where the OSCE should be heading.  Numerous issues are being addressed in the 
context of Helsinki +40.  Let me mention here one issue where the Swiss 
chairmanship would particularly appreciate your support, U.S. support.  I’m 
referring to the need to improve the effectiveness of OSCE field operations.  
These field operation have proven very valuable in assisting host countries in 
implementing their commitments.  But they have increasingly come under pressure 
in a number of countries, the fact that we cannot maintain field operation with 
far-reaching mandates against a will of host countries.  This is why it is 
important to achieve a balance of OSCE activities that takes into account the 
interest of the host state.  Support for the United States for this discussion 
will have to carry them forward.  For instance, we can move here or there from 
a specifically third basket mission to a more balanced mission with element of 
the second basket.

As for the other means of rendering the OSCE more effective, I would argue that 
the model of consecutive chairmanship, as carried out by Switzerland and 
Serbia, has already proven its merit.  Berne and Belgrade have developed joint 
work and implementation plans.  We have also agreed that our special 
representative would be reappointed by the end of this year.  As I said, 
consecutive chairmanship can provide the OSCE with more continuity and – 
(inaudible) – considering for the future, and support of the U.S. would be 
welcome.

Linked to the Helsinki +40 debates is the Swiss priority of strengthening the 
OSCE’s role in mediation.  The peaceful settlement of disputes that was 
included in the Helsinki final act remains one of the core tasks of the OSCE 
today.  This is why we are contributing to the mediation support capacity that 
is currently being built in the OSCE secretariat.  The aim is to capture 
knowledge about mediation processes and make sure that OSCE mediators are 
supported with training – (inaudible) – expertise.  In this regard, I wish to 
acknowledge the important assistance provided by the United States Institute of 
Peace and the Conflict Management program at the Johns Hopkins School of 
Advanced International Studies.

The Swiss Chairmanship attaches great importance to our final priority of 
enhancing involvement of civil society and in particular of young people.  
Young people is also the main priority of the presidency of Switzerland this 
year.  We firmly believe that offering a platform for a dialogue with civil 
society contributes to assisting OSCE institution in participating states in 
implementing commitments.
It also provide an opportunity for our governments to listen and to respond to 
the needs of our citizen once more, by the people, for the people. Four 
original workshop are being organized in four different regions of the OSCE in 
the coming months.  The first workshop is recently taking place these days in 
Belgrade.  The two topics identified by civil society at the most pressing 
issue were torture prevention and hate crime and hate speech, the latter with a 
particular focus on Roma and Sinti.
It was an inspiring start to our workshop series, and the next destinations for 
this workshop being Austria, Tajikistan and Georgia  The recommendations 
resulting from this process should feed into the final (city ?) society 
conference that will be held in parallel to the Minister Council in Basel in 
December 2014, this year.
Finally, there is something very important in our chairmanship – our use for 
Security and Cooperation in Europe Project, which brings together 57 young 
people from all 57 OSCE participating states.  The project is particularly dear 
to me as our shared responsibility as politicians is to shape a more 
prosperous, equitable and sustainable future for the generation to come.
In the course of this year, our youth ambassadors will simulate a whole OSCE 
negotiation cycle, last month assimilating for the first time a permanent 
council meeting in Vienna.  I also invited three of these youth ambassadors to 
already address the real permanent council that met in the Hofburg Palace in 
Vienna.  There were applause for them, and it’s the very beginning of their 
work.
In July, a ministerial council meeting will be simulated in Belgrade.  The 
purpose of these meetings is to negotiate a youth action plan with 
recommendation for the OSCE and its participating states.  The youth 
ambassadors will present their action plan at the ministerial council in Basel; 
it will be supportive, which I hope will serve as an inspiration for the OSCE 
to work out its own action plan for youth next year.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude my statement by a great thanks 
to you, thanks to the United States for your continued commitment to the OSCE, 
of an institution complementary to NATO.  The OSCE constitutes America’s second 
foothold in Europe.  It is a bridge between the Euro-Atlantic and the Eurasian 
region.  The stronger the bridge, the stronger our common security.  Thank you 
very much for your support.
CARDIN:  Well, Mr. President, thank you for your very comprehensive outline of 
your priorities for chair and office. As you were explaining the dual role you 
hold as president and minister, I first thought that was just a budget-saving 
matter for your country but now – (laughter) – with your explanation, I fully 
appreciate that.
And you for a one-page summary.  That does help us.  You’re right; our 
attention spans cannot take too much more than that.  But that’s – I appreciate 
the conciseness of the priorities that you have spelled out here.  And I agree 
with your title – “Principled and Pragmatic.”  That’s OSCE – a consensus 
organization.  You need to be able to bring about consensus among very 
different countries.  That requires pragmatism, but OSCE is built upon 
principle, and principles are very important.
So let me challenge you on how you are going to proceed under that banner as it 
relates to Ukraine, recognizing that Russia will play a very important role.  
The United States and the international community has been working with Russia 
and Syria (and Iran ?) with some success, although it’s been a challenge to 
maintain our principles, recognizing the need to get broader support.  How do 
you see the future of the Ukraine as an independent country, recognizing the 
role that Russia is currently playing?
BURKHALTER:  (Off mic) – comment on one-page summary – (off mic) – you always 
find a lot of people saying that is not possible for making summary in one 
page, but I think it is always possible to go to the essential, and politics is 
also to find a way to go the essential.  About your second comments and 
questions, we have to be principled and pragmatic, and the question is, are we 
able to find not only balance but a common balance between principled and 
pragmatic?  Because we have to be principled and pragmatic together.  And there 
is another conception of being principled and pragmatic in all the countries of 
the OSCE.
With Russia, we tried to build on the good relations we have developed from my 
country, not as chair of the OSCE but from my country with Russia.  In the last 
years, we have to have a lot of contacts, because, for – (inaudible) – the 
issues of South Caucasus – we have always now the mandate of (protecting ?) for 
Georgia to Russia and for Russia and Georgia, and we had also to assume or 
achieve the mediation for helping Russia to become a member of the WTO.
And this gave the possibility to build a relation and to build a dialogue in a 
lot of issues with Russia, and therefore, we think that we can give help and be 
helpful in this difficult situation for finding a solution in a political – an 
inclusive solution, which will be very difficult in Ukraine with a dialogue 
with Russia and not without that dialogue with Russia, because we are strongly 
convinced that there will be no solid and lasting solution if we don’t find it 
with the main actors, and with Russia in particular.
CARDIN:  Well, I thank you for that.  As you were talking about your youth 
ambassadors and their meetings and recommendations, I hope they’ll take a look 
– to me, they’ll make decisions a lot quicker than we do in Vienna.  So you 
might want to get some suggestions on how consensus can move towards 
decision-making from our young people.  They might help us in that regard.
Let me – you mentioned that you were willing – your country was willing to step 
in and take on the leadership of OSCE – it’s the second time and the first 
country to take on the burden for a second time, recognizing that Serbia was 
one year from becoming the chair in office, and we do have representatives of 
the Serbian embassy here with us today, and we thank them for being here.
It seems to me it does present a unique opportunity with your priority on the 
Western Balkans and the agreements that key people from OSCE will remain in for 
the two-year period.  Can you just expand a little bit more as to how we can 
move forward during your chairmanship and transition to Serbia, which will have 
a unique opportunity to demonstrate statesmanship in dealing with long-time 
problems.
I mean, Bosnia, by now, we thought we’d be at the next plateau, and we’re not.  
We’re still under an interim government structure that everyone understands – 
you know, it’ll have to some constitutional reform for their ability to 
transition fully into Europe.  Kosovo is still not resolved.  How do you see 
your chairmanship working with the Serbian – (inaudible) – next year to be able 
to make significant progress on the Western Balkans?
BURKHALTER:  First of all, I would like to add something I didn’t say before 
during my intervention, that we will have the Swiss ambassadors reappointed, 
but we will also have a Serbian ambassador as special representative 
reappointed; it is for the Transnistrian conflict – Ambassador Bogojevic have 
been appointed by the Swiss presidency at the beginning of this year, and he 
will be reappointed next year with Serbia.  That shows, really, that we work 
totally together in order to find the best ways to ensure this continuity, and 
also, the implementation of the joint action plan – we decided to move together.
About the Western Balkans – as I said, we have three main priorities.  First of 
all, regional cooperation – and we will work in the frame of the Regional 
Cooperation Council – the RCC as well for this regional cooperation.  In find – 
in looking for the ways to aim at a good result in regional cooperation, I must 
say that European Union has made a fantastic job in the last time.  The 
dialogue – (inaudible) – in Belgrade is a real progress, and we want to support 
that.
And this model of the European Union is very strong, also, for Serbia.  That is 
the first point.  The second point is minority protection.  We will try to work 
a lot in that sense, and also, linked with reconciliation, the issue of missing 
persons as far as – is of utmost importance, and we would like to progress 
along that way, because we think that if we can use – seize the opportunity of 
this consecutive chairmanship for having real progress in the frame of the 
reconciliation, then we will have done a very good job, I think.
And I told you that before as it was not official, but I know – (chuckles) – I 
say it now once more.  And there is also maybe for Serbian presidency, an 
interest to show, during this year of chairmanship, this capacity to be a motor 
for reconciliation.  It will be difficult, but the interest of having a 
successful presidency is big, and can be a good advantage if we see this – 
those things with a constructive manner.
CARDIN:  Thank you.  We’ve been working on the tolerance agenda for a long 
time, and significant progress has been made.  Best practices have been 
identified on dealing with anti-Semitism, on dealing with anti-Muslim 
activities and dealing with xenophobia.  We have had conferences that have 
looked at best practices.  As Chairman Smith pointed in his opening comments, 
yes, we’re open for new ideas, but it’s now about accountability and following 
through on commitments that have been made where we show leadership.
In recent years, there has been a disturbing trend of increased activities in 
bigotry.  How do you see your chairmanship focusing on how we can advance the 
human rights agenda – the tolerance agenda, which is – to me, is what OSCE is 
best known for internationally?  How do you see your year initiating and 
following through on a better understanding of all people of the OSCE regions?
BURKHALTER:  I think this is, above all, work that we have to move on the 
ground, and therefore, the special representative – (inaudible) – 
representative on tolerance and nondiscrimination are very important to us.  We 
have already met them, and we want to build on their job.  I think you have 
also invited them for coming in front of the Commission and discussing with 
you.  I would suggest that you wait some months before having this discussion, 
because two of them are new, and they can build on their experience this year 
for making a review and a report to you of their activities on the ground. But 
we will work above all with them direct on the ground.
CARDIN:  Thank you.  And I appreciate your response to my letter in that regard 
for the three representatives as we look forward to having them before the 
Commission.
BURKHALTER:  You’re welcome.
CARDIN:  I just want to highlight one area that we have made a high priority on 
our Commission, and that deals with transparency on corruption.  We are strong 
believers in the transparency initiative on extractive industries, and we have 
passed legislation requiring our extractive industry companies to make certain 
disclosures on the exchange.  And Europe has followed suit with certain 
legislation.  I just really would urge your chairmanship to expand upon the 
need for transparency with companies that do business in countries where it is 
questionable whether the governmental revenues are ending up for public purpose 
or for funding corruption.  I think OSCE can play a major role here.  I’m going 
to urge you to make that a priority of your chairmanship.
BURKHALTER:  I share this point of view, and we have to be very concerned and 
very active at the same time about everything which is linked to corruption, 
and we have to fight against everything which is linked to corruption.  And it 
is also not only the opinion of this chairmanship in office but also for my 
country.  

CARDIN:  I’d like to make two other observations.  Then I’m going to turn the 
gavel over to Chairman Smith.  We have votes starting at 11:15 on the floor of 
the United States Senate, so I’m going to have to leave during Chairman Smith’s 
questioning, but I want to make two other observations.

First, thank you for your comments in regards to the natural disaster in our 
states.  It was a devastation, particularly New Jersey, but Maryland got hit 
very hard on the eastern shore.  And these are now the new norms, these types 
of extreme weather conditions.  And we can argue about the science as to – I 
don’t think we can argue about the science.  We can argue about the causes.  
We’re all but set to take steps in order to deal with the – with carbon 
emissions.  But one thing we need to have – I don’t think there’s any debate – 
is we have to deal with adaptation.  We’ve got to deal with the realities of 
the current circumstances and how we respond to keep people safe.  

And I think OSCE can play a very important role, and I was pleased to see that 
as part of your priorities for your chairmanship.  And I can tell you, we have 
a group in the United States Senate that meets weekly on this subject, so we’d 
be glad to try to help provide support for your agenda in dealing with these 
natural disasters and how we can be better prepared to deal with it.  We also 
think we need to deal with climate and OSCE is dealing with the climate issues 
as well.

You mentioned your role in Asia, and I just really want to underscore one other 
point, if I might, and that is when President Park was here from the Republic 
of Korea she pointed to an OSCE-type process for Northeast Asia as a way of 
having dialogue between countries that have had a difficult past.  Two of 
America’s closest allies are the Republic of Korea and Japan, yet the 
relationship between Japan and the Republic of Korea is not as good as it needs 
to be.  And of course China represents a unique challenge in that part of the 
world, and North Korea is a real danger to regional and global security.

The OSCE process could very well help them deal with better dialogue among 
themselves, and in talking with the governments of China, Korea and Japan, they 
all agreed.  I mention that you to because I think your role in Asia being so 
strong, during your chairmanship you might be able to expand our partners in 
some way to take advantage of the principles of OSCE for a more stable Asia.  
And I applaud you for your activism globally as well as within the OSCE direct 
regions.

With that, I’m going to turn the gavel over to Chairman Smith.  And once again, 
thank you very much not just for being here but for your willingness to take on 
this responsibility during a critically important time, not only again for 
Europe and Asia but also I think globally the work that you do will have great 
consequences.  And we clearly want to be your partner and do everything we can 
to help.

BURKHALTER:  Thank you very much.

SMITH:  I want to thank the chair again for this important hearing.  And you 
did provide, Mr. President – or, Mr. Chairman, very comprehensive testimony and 
the answer to a number of the questions that I know I and other Commissioners 
had, but I do have a few additional, if I could pose them to you.

You know, back in 2002, at a hearing of our Commission, I recommended – joined 
by Senator Voinovich and of course Chairman Cardin and others, we recommended 
that a high-level OSCE meeting occur on combating anti-Semitism.  Ambassador 
Minikes, like Ambassador Baer, was in the audience.  He called down to the 
White House – because we had already had, in the OSCE PA, a number of what we 
called sidebar events where we focused on combating anti-Semitism, and there 
was no doubt there was a rising ever-escalating problem in our own countries, 
including the United States, with combating anti-Semitism.  Ambassador Minikes 
got a very strong thumbs-up from the Bush administration, and immediately there 
was a mobilization to make it happen.  

And of course we first had the Vienna conference and then the watershed 
conference in Berlin in 2004.  I remember sitting at that.  I was the co-lead 
of the delegation – for the delegation.  At that and others we had very 
high-level people, including Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, Colin 
Powell, and many others at these different conferences bringing the gravitas of 
some of our top people in the diplomatic community and the political community, 
to bring that sharp focus on combating anti-Semitism.  And of course countries 
throughout all of Europe did the exact same thing.  

A very fine group of – a listing of recommendations were made.  We in the OSCE 
PA constantly harkened back to the Berlin recommendations as to how well are we 
doing.  You know, what is ODIHR getting in terms of monitoring?  And of course 
Rabbi Baker does a wonderful job going country to country to hold countries to 
account.  He does it in a very, very disarming way, straightforward but very 
effectively.

My question would be about a commemorative event, which I think is eminently 
doable.  I know you’re looking at it and I certainly hope, you know, under your 
chairmanship perhaps in July, maybe after we all meet in Baku, at the end of 
that when we’re out of session and both House and Senate members are free to 
travel – we can’t travel when we have votes.  It’s just our – our rules and 
regulations, at least on the House side.  

You know, if it happens without us, that’s fine, but we’d love to be there.  
But if you could give every consideration to that kind of commemorative event 
to really bring a great deal of, OK, 10 years ago, watershed event; how well or 
poorly have we done?  What remains to be done to combat this millennium-long 
insidious hatred towards Jewish people and towards Jews?

BURKHALTER:  Maybe just two or three comments.

First of all, we had, last year in Tirana an event – a high-level event about 
tolerance and nondiscrimination, and we would welcome this year another event, 
but it’s not yet in the agenda.  We have to work on it and find a good 
solution, but it will be important that it attracts a high level of 
participation and not an event more without any – any great results.  It is 
important to organize that and to find a solution logistically and financially, 
which is not the case until now – up to now.

SMITH:  Well, I know Ambassador Baer is very supportive of it, just like 
Ambassador Minikes was 11 years ago, or 12 years ago in 2002.  So whatever 
could be done, it would be greatly appreciated and would move that ball 
forward.  It is getting worse, just like the intolerance towards Christians, 
which is now getting onto a lot of people’s radar as an escalating evil.  Well, 
anti-Semitism is certainly.  So I thank you for your willingness to really take 
a good, hard look at that.

Let me ask you – let’s say none of – obviously you have appointed as the 
special rep for – a personal rep on combating racism, xenophobia and 
discrimination, also focusing on tolerance and discrimination against 
Christians and other religions.  A couple of questions along those regard – in 
that regard.

Intolerance and discrimination against Christians is a phenomenon that is 
recognized by the OSCE, and it is on the increase in Europe and even in the 
United States.  The OSCE held an expert roundtable on intolerance and 
discrimination against Christians in Vienna on March 4th, 2009, and the 
Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on combating intolerance and 
discrimination against Christians at the OSCE PA in Belgrade in July of 2011.  

The OSCE PA decided to intensify efforts to monitor, research and publicize the 
need to fight against intolerance and discrimination and intensify consultation 
and cooperation with the personal rep of the chair in office on a national and 
international level.  Let me ask you, if I could, a couple of questions with 
regards to that.  

There is – I know that further action has been taken by the personal rep, for 
example, convening an expert roundtable on intolerance and discrimination 
against Christians in Vienna in 2014, five years after the first meeting.  Can 
you tell us how his efforts might be enhanced by your chairmanship?  

Secondly, can the OSCE produce guidelines in parental rights and education?  
Under the Spanish chairmanship in 2007, the OSCE produced the Toledo Guiding 
Principles on Teaching about Religions and Belief in Public Schools.  However, 
further guidelines are needed to emphasize the rights of parents in the field 
of education.  Parental rights are under attack in an unprecented (ph) way – 
unprecedented way among several OSCE-participating states.  

In a growing trend, parents are being given less and less say in how they can 
educate their children, while at the same time, state education has become 
increasingly more radicalized.

In Germany, for example, 14 Christian parents were imprisoned, some for more 
than 40 days, and most on multiple occasions, simply for opting out that their 
9 and 10-year-olds – children from two days of mandatory sex education classes. 
 One of the hallmarks of American education is that there is an opt-out 
capability.  If that’s what parents want, that’s what parents can do.  In 
Germany, many of these parents have gone to jail.

Also in Germany, a 15-year-old girl was placed in a mental institution for 
wishing to be home-educated.  And we know that issue, you know, home education, 
home schooling is a trending issue here in a positive way.  It is increasingly 
being criminalized in the OSCE space, particularly in places like Germany.

There was also a case where in Sweden, a 7-year-old boy was taken off a plane 
bound for India by police and social services simply because he was 
home-educated.  Now, I’ve been reading these cases and becoming alarmed – not 
just concerned, but alarmed about this trend.  And it certainly is antithetical 
to any concept of freedom and parental rights, and I would hope, you know, you 
would take a good, strong look at this, if you would.

And finally, follow-up initiatives (on ?) being planned for the publication of 
the ODIHR guidelines on the recognition of religious and belief – or belief 
communities.  Where is the status of that?

BURKHALTER:  Thank you very much, Mr. Smith, for this very interesting 
question.  They are also very specific, and I would pass – give the floor to my 
alternate for giving a complete answer to these interesting questions, Mrs. 
Ambassador Grau, chief of the task force, OSCE.

GRAU:  Mr. Co-Chair, I’m happy to react to some aspects of your question.  I’m 
not going into all the details.  Maybe again on our representatives on 
tolerance and nondiscrimination – as you know, they are – three of them.  We 
already talked about Rabbi Baker.  There’s another representative that is in 
charge of questions regarding (inter alia also ?) discrimination of Christians.

What we would try to do or to achieve this year – and this is something that 
could really have a direct influence on the quality of the work of all the 
three tolerance representatives, including the one that is responsible for 
Christians – is strengthened – what we call the institutional setup.  Our 
feeling is that these three representatives do not yet have the full support 
for the work that they would need coming from ODIHR side.  I think it is 
absolutely essential that we manage to upgrade, improve the support structures 
that they should have for the organization of their traveling, but also on 
substance, keeping records, support them in each and every manner.  And we are 
working on that.  This is hopefully making progress this year still.  It’s very 
much also linked to ODIHR, the support that should come from ODIHR to these 
representatives.

Again, maybe also on the country visits, that is very important.  In that 
regard, what we would like to have this year is make it possible that the 
tolerance representatives will get invitation of the three countries they are 
coming from.  So the U.S. already has issued an invitation, and we are very 
appreciative of that.  What we would like to see is also an invitation coming 
from Turkey, the – kind of the host country of one of the representatives, and 
then a third invitation hopefully coming from Russia.  And we are working on 
that.  This is also in a way a political decision that the countries have to 
make.  But I think that would greatly advance the work and also the attention 
to the work of these representatives.

Thank you.

SMITH:  Thank you.  And if you could get back from – with some additional 
answers to the very specific questions on home schooling and children whose 
parents opt them out and the criminalization of those decisions by parents – 
you know, in terms of children’s rights, I actually wrote and gave, with U.S. 
Department of State clearance after I wrote it, the Bushes’ position on the 
Convention on the Rights of the Child.  I was a special rep to the U.N. at the 
time, gave it at – in New York.  So I take a backseat to no one for a 
recognition of the importance of children’s rights and respect for children, 
but there’s also a balance and countervailing issue of parental rights and the 
importance of who is the chief mentor for a child.  And if governments 
increasingly usurp that and deem home schooling as a criminal offense, that is 
absolutely outrageous, and I think it cuts against a human rights perspective 
(usually ?).  So if you could get back specifically on some of those questions, 
I would – and the Commission would deeply appreciate it.

Let me ask you, with regards to media freedom and press freedom, can the 
representative of the freedom on media revisit the issue of criminal libel and 
insult laws in Europe?  As you know, in 2004 the representative on freedom in 
the media produced a document entitled “Ending the Chilling Effect:  Working to 
Repeal Criminal Libel and Insult Laws.”  We talked about it often in this 
Commission.  We talked about it at the PA.  It was an excellent blueprint for 
action.  The publication followed a round table in Paris in 2003.  Ten years on 
from this publication, very little progress has been made.  Many countries in 
Europe continue to limit speech to an extraordinary degree.  For example, again 
in Germany, committing an insult is a criminal offense with a one-year prison 
sentence.  However, the United Kingdom, to its credit, repealed its insult law 
in 2013, demonstrating that progress can be made in this area.

Also in the area of press freedom, many of us are really, really concerned 
about a deterioration of press freedom throughout the country and throughout 
the world.  Reporters Without Borders, a group that I highly esteem and have 
had testify at many of my hearings on the Foreign Affairs Human Rights – 
Subcommittee on Human Rights that I chair, have come out with their rankings, 
and I was shocked and dismayed and disappointed that the United States now is 
46 on their index.  At 44 is Papua New Guinea; 45 is Romania; 46, United States 
of America; 47, Haiti; 48, Niger, just to give it some kind of context.  So 
there is a concern that journalists are increasingly being subjected to 
censorship, to prior restraint out of fear of some kind of action being taken 
against them.  And again, these libel laws, these – the insult laws that, 
again, Germany still backs have an absolute chilling effect on a robust inquiry 
and the ability to ask the tough questions of politicians and all others.

So if your comments – could there be a follow-up on the 2003 effort, you know, 
a reissue, a more robust effort to ensuring freedom of the press?

BURKHALTER:  We are fully aware about the importance of freedom of media.  I 
can just also add that in the very actual current issue of Ukraine, we plan – 
the special representative of freedom of media plan a country visit in the next 
weeks, and also at the same time, there should be also a visit of the high 
Commissioner on the minority protections.

About freedom of expression, we will work very closely during our whole year of 
presidency with the special representative of freedom of media.  She made a 
very good job, and she will make in the future also a very good job, we are 
sure of it.  And we have also supplementary human dimension meeting on the 
freedom of expression, which will take place in Vienna during the month of 
July.  Then we have already a series of events or of activities in that case 
and in that field.

SMITH:  Thank you.  If I could, just a couple final questions, Mr. President.  
And thank you for, again, your extensive testimony and answers.

With regards to the Ukraine, what – I know you spoke about it, and I appreciate 
that, but just a – some final insights or comments as to what role do you think 
the OSCE can play, particularly in bringing Russia into an effort to ensure 
that the bloodshed does not re-erupt?  We all know that this isn’t over by far. 
 Even though it looks like the immediate problems in Kiev have abated, there 
are flare-ups that are going to occur in all kinds of areas.  And it could 
happen with provocation, obviously, from Moscow.  

Are you planning any kind of special initiatives, like a visit to the Crimea, 
for example, which I think – you know, just like Abkhazia and South Ossetia – 
you know, when pushed terrible react, but that’s what the Russians did.  Who 
knows what they might do with regards to the Crimea.  And what would be your 
recommendation to us, the United States of America, Congress and the president, 
as to what we should be doing vis-à-vis Ukraine?

BURKHALTER:  Beside everything I already said about the Ukraine, you’re right 
that a special initiative, which shall be good organized, in the direction of 
Crimea is – are very important.  We plan to have a visit of our special envoy, 
Ambassador Tim Guldimann.  And at the same time, it will be very important to 
have what I said before, this visit of the high Commissioner on national 
minorities.

Once more, I would like to underline the fact that clear U.S. support to the 
OSCE actions – the proposal of the international contact group and the decision 
of sending a special envoy and the need assessment mission – during these days 
would be very important for us and for the OSCE to be efficient and to give 
real assistance to this aim we all have, finding a political-inclusive solution.

SMITH:  Just let me ask you, if I could, on trafficking.  Last year we did ask 
– I asked the chair in office if they would make trafficking a serious part of 
their agenda.  They did.  The chair in office who sat where you sat – sit now, 
who has recently been, obviously, sacked, actually had a huge conference in 
June in Kiev.  And it was an excellent conference.  

And one of the focuses was the training of flight attendants, buses, trains – 
you know, the people involved with transportation because every trafficking 
victim, or almost every one of them, are transported at some time in their 
enslavement.  And eyes and ears are on every aircraft, if they’re properly 
trained, situationally aware.  Tell the pilot and the pilot then tells law 
enforcement, who then separate.  

And there were dozens of examples given in testimony at a hearing that I had 
again just a few weeks ago.  Delta Airlines is doing it.  I’m sorry to say some 
of our other airlines are not – like American, which is – you know, we’ve asked 
them repeatedly, we asked them to be at the hearing.  And for no cost – or 
absolutely a de minimis amount of money they can do this kind of training.  

And what happened in Ukraine was that there was a training of the flight 
attendants.  And the enthusiasm with which they embraced this – some many, as 
you know, of the Ukrainian women are trafficked into the Middle East, where 
they think they’re going to be waitresses and they are put into brothels and 
they are horribly exploited.  

Would you consider making such a continuance effort of that training?  We 
passed, as Spence remembers, a parliamentary assembly recommendation.  It is in 
the addendum which came, we think, in part out of our request.  And thank you, 
Ambassador Baer, for fighting so hard for that in December.  

This is a low-cost, highly efficacious way of training those eyes and ears to 
say:  That doesn’t look right.  Let me find out who – when the lady goes to the 
restroom – they have all kinds of ways of doing it in a nonconfrontational way. 
 And they will save lives.  And it’ll also have a potential chilling effect on 
how the bad guys move these women.

One of the great takeaways from the recent World Cup – not World Cup – Super 
Bowl, was that because there was so much preventive aspects done, particularly 
in the training of hospital employees and the trains – Amtrak, for example, and 
the top cop for Amtrak testified at my hearing just a few weeks ago – they 
said:  We’re serious about this.  If they’re not a plane, they could be on a 
train, the buses are still laggards so they need to be involved in this.

But we can shut these people down and make it harder and harder and harder for 
this – these nefarious enterprises to do the horrible things they do.  So if 
you would seriously consider – you know, obviously it’s an addendum item that 
was passed, but make it a priority, please.  I know you care about it, but I 
know you have so many balls in the air.  You’ll save lives by doing it.  

I mean, Swiss Air could do it.  Obviously we have Delta, but our others have 
not done it and that’s shocking.  Homeland Security has put together an 
excellent packet called blue lightning, lays out best practices.  Nancy Rivard, 
who was kind like the – one of the originated of this originally, a flight 
attendant with airline and passengers international – she’ll travel anywhere, 
anytime.  We’ve invited her to other parts of the world.  She’s gone.  She was 
in Kiev.

And she says:  Look, we saw little kids coming out of Haiti – it was a 
pedophile ring.  And 80 kids, according to her estimations, were sold into the 
cruelest exploitation imaginable.  They broke that up.  Law enforcement got 
involved.  And they shut that thing down like it was a tourniquet.  And of 
course, they held the bad guys to account.  She told another example of a 
Moscow to Chicago flight that was – you know, there were all these young, 
Russian girls, time and time again, five, six of them per flight, with some 
guy.  And they said there’s something wrong.  

In the past they would have went, oh, not my business, not going to – look 
away, look askance.  And finally they got involved because they were trained.  
And they broke up that ring because when they got onto a bus after being 
offloaded in Chicago, that was the last anybody heard of those girls who 
thought they were going to be waitresses or even models somewhere, or au pairs. 
 So it’s a low-cost, highly efficacious way of saving women’s lives, if you 
could consider that.

BURKHALTER:  Thank you, Mr. Co-Chairman, for your enthusiasm and for your 
engagement, commitment in fighting human trafficking.  As I said before, it is 
a – to recognize what you have personally done in this field.  We have decided, 
generally speaking, to let and to do so that the issue of human trafficking 
remains very clearly at the top of the agenda.  We have already during these 
first months of presidency and in collaboration with the Council of Europe 
demonstrated it was possible to mobilize not only one organization but a series 
of them, and with two organizators (ph) with the conference of Vienna, last 
week or two weeks ago.

And I’m sure that we can make some progress during the whole year in this 
important field.  For the details and modalities, I would like to give the 
floor to Mrs. Grau.

GRAU:  Yeah, thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.  And I would like to join my president in 
praising your engagement for this really important issue.  What I think is also 
important to keep in mind that this is an issue that all the participating 
states of the OSCE are in full agreement that this has to be countered and we 
have to fight against it.  So I think it’s quite unique that all the countries 
agree on the importance of a specific issue and show commitment on that.

What is important is also the work of the field missions in that regard.  We 
try to support them wherever possible in very practical examples of fighting 
against trafficking.  The example that you just mentioned I think is a very 
valid one, a very important one.  There is another example of joint work, of 
cooperation between Switzerland and the U.S. in the OSCE framework, where we 
fight together against domestic servitude in diplomatic households.

This is, I think, for your country with a big diplomatic community here in 
Washington but also as well in New York, as well as for our country with 
Geneva, the international Geneva, of course, a very important topic.  And that 
is an initiative that we would like to continue this year.  I think there will 
be – this month, still, there should be a workshop, a training, in Brussels.  
But there are many other ways how we can join forces and support this important 
cause.  And once again, I would like to thank you for your engagement.

SMITH:  Thank you so very much.  And thank you both.  Was there anything else 
you would like to add before we conclude?  Thank you for your time as well, 
because I know you’re a very busy man.  

The hearing’s adjourned and we’ll look forward to working with you going 
forward.

[Whereupon, at 11:43 a.m., the hearing ended.]