Thank you Mr. President.
I join my other colleagues in welcoming His Excellency Ivica Dacic, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, to brief the Council for the second time this month.
2. Congratulations on the assumption to the position of the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the year 2015 and we are grateful for the in-depth briefing, especially in outlining the priorities of the OSCE under Serbia’s Chairmanship.
3. As the largest regional security organization consisting of 57 countries from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE plays a crucial role in contributing towards peace, security and stability in Europe, as envisaged by Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. Malaysia welcomes the reaffirmation by the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE to continue the close cooperation with the UN in upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
4. As mentioned by His Excellency Dacic, this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, which laid down the principles to guide relations between participating States. Those principles, which included sovereign equality, refraining from the threat or use of force, inviolability of frontiers, peaceful settlement of disputes, non intervention in internal matters, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, remain as relevant today as they were forty years ago.
5. In upholding the above principles that provided the basic tenets for the OSCE, we welcome the efforts by the Serbian Chairmanship to focus on dialogue and compromise, peaceful resolution of disputes, confidence-building, solidarity, responsibility and cooperation. We also believe that the motto by the Serbian Chairmanship - “Rebuilding trust and confidence in order to create a positive agenda for the future” – is very timely in view of the division and the numerous challenges facing the region today.
6. Three weeks ago, the Munich Security Conference honoured the OSCE by awarding the organization for its outstanding “contribution to peace, stability and security in Europe, particularly its efforts regarding the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine as well as its diplomatic attempts to end the crisis.” We congratulate the OSCE for the well-deserved award, especially in view of the dangerous situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
7. Malaysia would also like to take this opportunity to express its sincere gratitude to the OSCE for facilitating the recovery and investigation efforts on the downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. With the assistance of the OSCE, the Dutch-led recovery and investigation teams managed to enter into the crash site last year, despite ongoing fighting, to recover the remains, wreckage and belongings of the victims.
8. We reiterate our commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, based on the principles of the UN Charter, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We fully support the role of the OSCE in Ukraine, which is now even more pronounced with the signing of the ‘Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements’ on 12 February 2015, which tasked the OSCE to monitor and verify compliance with the Minsk Agreements.
9. We view with deep concern that the OSCE has been denied entry into some conflict areas in eastern Ukraine. We strongly urge all relevant parties to abide by the obligations laid down by the Minsk agreements, which was endorsed by this Council, and to cooperate fully with the OSCE to enable it to carry out its mandate.
10. We take note that Western Balkans is one of the key priorities set by the Serbian Chairmanship of the OSCE. We fully support the continuing presence of the OSCE in Western Balkans, including its missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo to support post-conflict transition processes. In building institutions and promoting reconciliation, the OSCE has been vital in enabling the countries in the Western Balkans to make progress on their political, judiciary, electoral, economic and social reforms.
11. On the various protracted conflicts including in Central Asia, the Southern Caucases and Moldova, we hope the focus on dialogue and mediation by the Serbian Chairmanship will provide new impetus towards resolving the conflicts consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, various UN resolutions, as well as the Helsinki Final Act.
12. We fully agree on the urgent need to combat terrorism, extremism and radicalisation as one of the key priorities of the OSCE. We also welcome the statement by His Excellency Dacic at the Special Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 15 January 2015. He stated that our societies should remain united against the attempts to create divisions on the basis of religion. He also called on governments to take the necessary measures, not only in countering terrorism and providing security to our citizens, but also in fostering tolerance and non-discrimination in our societies. Malaysia hopes the Serbian Chairmanship of the OSCE will further intensify efforts to combat all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination, including Islamophobia.
13. Malaysia has long called for the voices of moderation to unite and prevail against the voices of those who espouse hate, violence and extremism. We reaffirm our strong and unequivocal condemnation of all violent acts, methods and practices by individuals and groups against innocent civilians, intending to create fear and terror for religious, political or ideological reasons.
14. We strongly believe that terrorism needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner and not necessarily through the use of force alone. Countering terrorism effectively requires a multifaceted approach in addressing the underlying factors that breed terrorism and extremism. In this regard, we stand ready to support the work of the OSCE in combating terrorism and extremism.
15. In concluding, we wish Serbia success in your Chairmanship for 2015. As an outsider – since Malaysia is not a member of the OSCE – we observe that the organisation has been playing a rather quiet, behind-the-scene role in resolving conflicts and in contributing towards peace, stability and security in Europe. However, time and again, this approach has proved to be effective, as it builds trust and confidence, whether in engaging with the stakeholders, mediating with conflicting parties, or building institutions in post-conflict societies.
16. We greatly appreciate the OSCE’s valuable contribution to the maintenance of peace and security, and its close and complementary relations with the United Nations. We wish to assure our continued commitment to support the efforts of the OSCE under the Serbian Chairmanship for 2015.
I thank you, Mr. President.