Ambassador Bush welcomes the OSCE’s co-operation with the Council of Europe, an important institution to the UK’s foreign policy agenda.

Neil Bush

Thank you, Mr Chair. On behalf of the UK, I warmly welcome you, Secretary General Buric, back to the Permanent Council. Thank you for outlining your priorities at the Council of Europe and your collaboration with the OSCE. The Council of Europe is, and will continue to be, important to the UK’s human rights and foreign policy agenda.

The promotion of human rights, rule of law, and democracy across our region and beyond characterises the longstanding and steadfast relationship between the OSCE and the Council of Europe. These common principles continue to define our shared ventures in Vienna and in Strasbourg.

Both the OSCE and the Council of Europe face a series of common challenges this year. To make progress together we should continue to recognise each organisation’s merits and distinctiveness – working in a coordinated way to engage the unique sets of tools.  The Council of Europe and the OSCE continue to share much common ground, including work on electoral reform; media freedom; anti-trafficking; anti-corruption; protection of national minorities; counter terrorism; inclusive education and protecting cultural heritage.

Today we meet at an especially challenging time for European Security. As President Putin’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine goes on, we continue to see reports of violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law by Russia’s forces. Every day we see reminders that the common principles and commitments on which our organisations are founded are being transgressed. The launch of the Council of Europe’s Ukraine Action Plan 2023-26 underscores the international community’s united support for Ukraine.

The Council of Europe’s fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government next month provides a welcome opportunity to re-affirm and promote our shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law and to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine. The UK will engage fully in the proceedings, including by calling for strong support for Ukraine, a united response to Russia’s aggression, and strengthening multilateralism in Europe.

Secretary General Buric – in the face of war in Europe and regression of human rights and fundamental freedoms across the region, the work of the Council of Europe and the OSCE remains of the upmost importance. The UK is, and will remain, a steadfast supporter of this work and looks forward to working with the Council of Europe and the OSCE throughout 2023 and beyond.

Thank you, Mr Chair.

Published 20 April 2023