Address by the Chair of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration
Mr. Filippo Lombardi, MP
Special PC on Migration and Refugee Flows
Vienna, 20 July 2016
Excellencies, it is an honor for me to supplement Amb. Wild’s report by briefing you on the activities of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration which was established here in Vienna during our Winter Meeting on 25 February 2016 and consists of 17 highly-qualified parliamentarians representing 16 countries.
The purpose of the PA with this Ad Hoc Working Group is to stress the role and the duties of the OSCE and its participating States in the central issue of migration and refugees, which has become one of the main questions in the political debate and in public opinion of most of our countries.
The need to involve parliaments and the OSCE PA
Parliaments have the direct role to represent the opinions of the citizens who elect them, as well as to elect and assess the governments. But they also have the responsibility to work as an essential link between peoples and States. They must therefore be fully informed and always closely associated with the work of governments and international organizations, also in the burning question of migration and refugees.
I know, diplomats are sometimes worried, because politicians are supposedly unpredictable… But life is unpredictable, and political life even more. So, Excellencies, if we want to reduce the risks of unpredictable political exploitation of today’s migration tragedies, we absolutely need to involve parliaments and political forces of all participating States in our common search for coordinated response and realistic solutions to this challenge.
In the last meeting of your “Informal Working Group focusing on the issues of migration and refugee flows” (IWG) you appropriately highlighted the role of the media in the public discussion on migration issues, a discussion which can rapidly turn out to a evolve in a “toxic debate”, as just pointed out by the distinguished Ambassador of Turkey. But please, don’t forget that some political forces can also become quite quickly part of such a toxic debate: that’s already a very important argument for involving in all stages the parliaments and the OSCE PA in your work.
Therefore I want to congratulate the German chairmanship for putting this issue on the top of the OSCE agenda and for creating your IWG. And I want to thank Ambassador Wild and his staff for their excellent report, particularly for their 50 final recommendations, which are indeed a very good basis for translating the theoretical analysis and abstract discussions into an appropriated and urgent action. This is effective “engineering”, as Ambassador Wild said.
Let me also express my deep satisfaction for the IWG proposal to adopt a ministerial decision on this topic in December in Hamburg, as well as for the readiness of OSCE to contribute with concrete proposals to the success of the UN-High level meeting of next 19th of September.
Plan of Action of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the OSCE PA
Let me now spend a few words on the Plan of action of our Ad Hoc Committee, operating on the basis of the comprehensive report of the OSCE PA’s Third General Committee, which has been circulated for today’s meeting and includes detailed recommendations on the topic of the Migration Crisis in the OSCE Area.
At the moment, we have planned a number of activities in three particular areas:
- Field visits designed to monitor the situation on the ground and develop policy recommendations to the OSCE participating States and OSCE Institutions (one already took place in France, the next will follow in Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkan area);
- Strengthening co-operation with the OSCE as well as other international actors. In this area, a delegation of the PA under the leadership of our vice president Makis Voridis, attended the 7th meeting of your IWG on media and migration crisis. On the other hand, Ambassador Wild reported to our Committee during the annual meeting of the PA in Tbilisi last 3rd of July. Meetings to co-ordinate responses and discuss targeted action are also envisaged with key international actors on the issue of migration (UNHCR, IOM, ICRC, EU/Frontex, etc).
- Promoting awareness and open discussion on the migration crisis within the OSCE PA itself, thus encouraging Parliaments of the participating States to deal in a responsible way with the issue, searching international cooperation and not blocking it. You find the first elements of this action in the Tbilisi Declaration adopted by the PA on 5th of July. The topic of migration management crisis wil be central also in the next PA, in Skopje end of September .
A comprehensive report on the Committee’s activities as well as a series of recommendations to the OSCE and OSCE participating States will be presented at the OSCE PA Annual Session in Minsk in July 2017.
By the way, our Committee already agreed to follow in its work the same structure of the five dimensions identified by your IWG, namely:
- Combating crime
- Border management
- Successful integration
- Solidarity and Partnerships
Let me conclude – as a politician and not a diplomat! – with the hope that OSCE will be able to develop a really comprehensive approach to the migration and refugees crisis, which includes a rational analysis of the political and military destabilization of many countries as a major threat for security and balance in international relations.
I’d also like to express the wish that the international community, and OSCE in particular, will finally understand that it is not enough to try to manage – somehow – the migration and refugee flows. The primary duty of the international community must be to combat the causes of these flows, so that millions of people can continue to live in their own, countries and develop their own economy and society, rather than being forced to leave in dramatic conditions. It can’t be the purpose of a civilized world to empty some countries of their population, thereby overcrowding others with millions of people who were forced to migrate. This is our main political responsibility.
Let’s work together – ministers, diplomats, members of parliaments – in order to give the appropriated answer to the greatest challenge of today’s world.
Thank you for your attention.