Thank you Chair
The UK welcomes Ambassador Del Monaco to the Permanent Council, and we look forward to meeting you in person in Vienna when circumstances permit.
Thank you for your comprehensive report, which highlights a number of notable achievements during the last 12 months. We appreciate that you and your team have achieved this during the challenging period of a global pandemic.
At yesterday’s informal meeting, we heard first hand from one of your key interlocutors – Deputy Speaker of the Albanian Parliament, Ms Vasilika Hysi, on the value she attaches to your work. This practice really helps Vienna delegations understand the impact the OSCE field presences are having on the ground. We look forward to further such briefings in the next reporting period.
I would like to focus on three key areas from your Report: electoral reform, anti-corruption and the fight against organised crime and trafficking.
Firstly – on electoral reform, we welcome your continued efforts to assist in advancing this process, including through facilitating meetings of the Political Council during the Pandemic. With elections scheduled for 25th April 2021, work to ensure progress is in line with ODIHR recommendations is essential and we commend you and your team for your work, in close coordination with ODIHR and other key international actors, to support this process. This includes supporting ODIHR on a conference on the ‘Participation of Women, National Minorities and Person with Disabilities in Elections and Electoral Follow-up’, which involved engagement from civil society, Government ministries, the media, academia and international experts, all with the aim of increasing participation at all stages of the electoral reform process.
Secondly – we commend your enhanced engagement with Albania’s key anti-corruption institutions to push forward progress. Your assistance with conducting evaluations of the Inter-Sectorial Strategy against Corruption, and on evaluating core pieces of legislation on whistle-blower protection and on preventing conflict of interests, are particularly noteworthy. The results of these evaluations will lead to valuable recommendations for strengthening future Strategies, and for amending or drafting new laws. We also welcome your assistance to professionalise the public sector procurement function and to map corruption risks in its procedures – another good example of the Presence adding value on the ground. And one I was fortunate enough to be briefed on myself last year in Tirana.
Thirdly – on fighting organised crime and trafficking, we welcome your capacity building activities with key stakeholders, including your training for Albania’s State Police Officers on dismantling organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking, and in identifying trends, relationships or connections between crimes. On the fight against trafficking in human beings, we were pleased to see your collaboration with the OSCE’s Special Representative and Coordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings to adapt a simulation-based training for Albania. And, that you will use a ‘training of trainers’ methodology for delivering the simulation.
Integral to all of your activities is the inclusion of a gender perspective and efforts toward achieving gender equality. You have taken a number of initiatives in this respect. We particularly commend your advocacy on Women, Peace and Security in this the 20th anniversary year of UNSCR 1325, and your support to Albania’s implementation of their UNSCR 1325 action plan, in close cooperation with UN Women and key international partners, as well as through engagement with civil society organisations.
Finally, we underline the important contribution that young people can make in decision-making and in achieving effective policies. We commend your engagement with the Youth Advisory Group, and in mainstreaming a youth perspective into the mission’s programmatic activities. We also welcome your engagement on safety and security, with training sessions for young people across a spectrum of issues that included youth engagement in decision-making processes, as well as preventing violence, violent extremism, and domestic violence.
Thank you, again Ambassador Del Monaco, for your Report today. Please extend our appreciation to your team.