Statement by Ambassador Jorge Lobo de Mesquita, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the OSCE
"Thank you Mr. Chair, dear Ambassador,
First of all, let me congratulate Albania for organizing this meeting and for the able steering of the Mediterranean Contact Group in Vienna.
Let me also thank the distinguished speakers for their interesting ideas, paving the way for a certainly fruitful and successful discussion.
Portugal welcomes the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Contact Group and remains committed to it. Because the importance of the Contact Group and the Mediterranean Partnership has not diminished. On the contrary. It has grown in the past quarter of the century: we have more challenges to address, but more opportunities to seize as well.
This conference is thus very timely, allowing us to assess the progress we have done and to devise paths to deepen the cooperation within the Contact Group.
Excellences, Ambassadors, Colleagues,
My intervention will be two-fold, focusing on the topics that are and should be high on our agenda and on what can we do to further develop and strengthen the OSCE Mediterranean Partnership.
Regarding my first point, let me recall the topics of the last Conferences of the Mediterranean Contact Group such as migration, environment, energy cooperation, international crime, combating trafficking in persons, illicit trafficking in cultural goods and cybersecurity. These issues continue to be high on the international agenda and require the deepening of existing cooperation.
I would like however to draw your attention to one of the most important transnational challenges that both shores of the Mediterranean face: the impact of climate change on peace and security. Rising waters, heavy rainfall and prolonged drought, among other phenomena, multiply existing vulnerabilities and increase political, economic, social and, let’s not forget, demographic instability.
The factors I just mentioned and others arising from climate change negatively affect food security, access to safe water and health of populations. But they also cause significant migratory flows, which demand a comprehensive approach to security, a concept that OSCE knows well. And I would like to stress Portugal’s clear viewpoint that migration is, on one hand, a challenge that requires attention and appropriate measures and, on the other, an opportunity – an excellent opportunity – for the development of host societies.
Going back to environmental issues, I also want to stress the health of the oceans and seas as a matter of great concern to Portugal. We encourage the Mediterranean Contact Group to discuss this topic in the future. In this context, let me also underline that Portugal will host in Lisbon, 2-6 June 2020, the Oceans Conference. We would like to count on your presence.
On today’s topics – and not future ones – allow me to congratulate the Albanian Chairmanship of the Contact Group for including on the Conference agenda topics of major importance for both the OSCE and the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
Youth is among these topics. In fact, youth and women can, and should play, a special role in our Mediterranean Partnership. The Milan Ministerial Council acknowledged, once again, our Partnership as of great relevance to peace and security in the OSCE area. But, to fulfil that potential it should have the engagement of the private sector civil society and the means to implement the adopted commitments.
This leads me to my second and final point. In the annotated agenda, it is asked “what proposals could be explored to further develop and strengthen the OSCE Mediterranean Partnership?” Well, it should be put into practice what we agreed in Milan, and I quote: “Mediterranean-related issues to be clearly reflected throughout the relevant work of the OSCE across the three dimensions of comprehensive security”.
How can we do this? We support, like other participating States, the following measures: (i) to better monitor progress, the OSCE Secretariat should present an annual report to the Permanent Council on how that provision is being implemented; (ii) to hold a Permanent Council session, on an annual basis, dedicated to Mediterranean Partnership issues; (iii) a Mediterranean Contact Group's co-chair system, one participating State (the incoming OSCE Chairmanship) together with one Partner country, based on rotation.
We can strengthen our Partnership without duplicating and overlapping other structures or initiatives. And I give you one example, the Partnership Fund, a paramount feature of our Partnership. We do not need a new instrument, but simply a change in its rules, namely the one requiring a Permanent Council Decision to use the Fund out of area.
Excellences, Ambassadors, Colleagues,
Our political forefathers in Helsinki said that “security in Europe is to be considered in the broader context of world security and is closely linked with security in the Mediterranean area as a whole, and that accordingly the process of improving security should not be confined to Europe but should extend to other parts of the world, and in particular to the Mediterranean area”. They showed us the way, but it is up to us to walk that path.
Thank you very much for your attention."