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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at OSCE Meeting in Kiev: Freedoms of Expression and Association Must Be Ensured


Today, at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) member states in Kiev, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the OSCE’s goal is to ensure peace, security, and democratic development and that this is very important in light of current events in Ukraine. “Dialogue regarding the country’s future must be restored as quickly as possible, and citizens’ freedoms of expression and association must be ensured,” he added.

The Estonian foreign minister asserted that, even in a changing world, human rights and freedoms remain essential and continue to require protection in new information and communications environments as well. “The OSCE must be ready for rapid developments in the information technology field and the take into consideration the cyber security risks of the 21st century in order to continue protecting human rights,” noted Paet.

According to Paet, Estonia supports the adoption of the joint “Draft Declaration on Fundamental Freedoms in the Digital Age” by the OSCE ministers. “As an e-state, Estonia is a consistent supporter of freedom of expression and press freedom, online as well as offline. For us, virtual freedom of expression is on par with other human rights,” he said. “Unfortunately, a large number of journalists are persecuted just because they speak about people’s fundamental rights. Additionally, a large proportion of the world’s population cannot express themselves freely,” added Paet.

The greatest dangers to the European security space, according to the foreign minister, are long-term, unsolved conflicts. “The OSCE’s activities are directed primarily toward ensuring peace and stability in its own region. To achieve this, it is extremely necessary to peacefully resolve long-term conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said Paet. “Frozen conflicts cannot become forgotten conflicts. The OSCE has the means to achieve peace and stability; clear and visible results are needed,” he added.

Paet said that, for Estonia, gender equality is one of the most important human rights and foreign policy priorities. “We cannot be silent when witnessing gender inequality. Combating violence against women and ensuring gender equality cannot be handled separately from the overall advancement of human rights,” emphasised Paet.

The current chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is Ukraine and the 20th OSCE Ministerial Council is taking place in Kiev on 5-6 December. In 2014-2015, the OSCE’s chairmen will be Switzerland and Serbia.

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