Suomen ulkopolitiikan asiakirja-arkisto ja kronologia
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Address by Foreign Minister Heikki Haavisto at the Inaugural Session of the CSCE Parliamentary Assembly 7.7.1993

Distinguished Parliamentarians,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Finnish Government it is a great privilege for me to address this Inaugural Session of the CSCE Parliamentary Assembly. I will also use the opportunity to wish you welcome to Helsinki, the capital which has witnessed many events of the CSCE process since its creation.

Almost exactly one year ago the Heads of State and Government of the CSCE participating states were gathered here in Helsinki at a Summit Meeting. On the 10th of July the Summit culminated in a Declaration. This Declaration, called the Challenges of Change, reflects the challenges and possibilities which the new Europe, reborn after the end of the Cold War, faces and which the CSCE process must meet in order to remain the same viable tool which it used to be in the European process. The aim of the Helsinki Declaration was to enhance the capabilities of the CSCE for concerted action and to create intensified cooperation for democracy, prosperity and security.

The challenges facing us today are far from easy. The momentous changes in the continent have given hope to millions of Europeans but have also brought about turbulence and uncertainty. Social disturbance, ethnic tension, internal struggle and open warfare have broken out. They
represent serious threats to international peace and security. There is, unfortunately, no reason to believe that stability and predictability can soon be restored.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The conflicts which have broken out in the CSCE area often have ethnic or nationalistic grounds. The prevention of conflicts and consolidation of peace depend to a large extent on the ability to focus the attention on the root causes of tensions. Their elimination must include respect for national and ethnic minorities.

It seems that in the wake of the collapse of old structures, the commitment to CSCE principles and norms is not yet rooted deeply enough to prevent armed conflict and safeguard human rights and rule of law. Efforts must be intensified to unify the CSCE area into an area of high standards in the respect of commonly accepted principles and values.

To achieve this, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe must be assured that their predicament is a shared one and has to be addressed jointly. There is more than enough to do in this for all European organizations and institutions, notably the CSCE. The unique feature of the CSCE is its comprehensive membership. It brings together all countries responsible for security in Europe. This Assembly,
representing the Parliaments of CSCE nations, amply testifies to this fact.

The most frightening development has taken place in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. In spite of numerous attempts of the whole international community to offer mediation and the efforts to bring about a peaceful solution the war which broke out over a year ago still goes on. Seldom have we felt such frustration and anger as we have done watching the escalation of the Yugoslav conflict and the immense human suffering which it has caused.

Even though the CSCE has not participated directly in the Yugoslav peace negotiations it has contributed to the efforts to stop the conflict and to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

The work of the CSCE missions of long duration has been highly appreciated by the participating States and the international community. They have promoted dialogue between different communities, served as points of contact in order to solve problems and distributed information and advice on legal matters and human rights. There is reason to believe that their presence has been a stabilizing factor in inflammable situations.

Against this background the decision of the authorities of Serbia-Montenegro not to extend the Memoranda of Understanding on the basis of which the long term missions were operating came as a shock last week. We deeply regret this decision. The disregard Serbia-Montenegro shows for the endeavors of the international community adds to its isolation. The decision should immediately be reversed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the past few weeks we have followed with great concern the aggravation of the relations between Estonia and Russia. As a neighbouring country Finland has regretted the tone of the discussion on the situation of the Russian speaking population in Estonia.

The historic reasons for the situation are well-known and as such understandable. On the other hand, the present Estonian legislation has caused concern among the Russian speaking population.

Legislation is, of course, an inalienable right of a sovereign country. But at the same time it is desirable that national laws, together with international commitments, support the efforts to build confidence as well as promote relations and interaction within a society.

We welcome the signs of flexibility shown by both sides and hope that they will open the way for a constructive dialogue. We remain convinced that the implementation of the Helsinki decisions would greatly contribute to the solution of the problems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The establishment of the CSCE Parliamentary Assembly has added a new important dimension to the activities of the CSCE. During your three-day session you will be discussing topical and important issues which are also high on the CSCE agenda. I am convinced that this meeting will be a valuable contribution to the CSCE process in general. I wish you success in your work.

Thank you.

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