Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on relations between the Council of Europe and the OSCE
GR-OSCE(2005)CB4 5 July 20051
Meeting of 30 June 2005
The Rapporteur Group, chaired by Ambassador Stephen Howarth, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, considered the following matters on the basis of the Notes on the Agenda in document GR-OSCE(2005)8, further to convocation GR-OSCE(2005)OJ4.
1. Follow-up to the joint declaration on enhanced co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE
a. Developments since the joint meeting between the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE (Strasbourg, 18 April 2005)
The Chair reminded the meeting that, as part of the process launched in summer 2004 for the purpose of strengthening co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE (see information document GR-OSCE(2005)7), the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE had held a joint meeting in Strasbourg on 18 April 2005. The report of that meeting was contained in document CM(2005)65.
There had been at least one major new development since that meeting, and the parallel adoption by the Committee of Ministers and the Permanent Council of the declaration on co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE which it had approved. This was the solemn signing of that declaration by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Rotfeld, and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Mr Rupel, in Warsaw on 17 May, alongside the Third Council of Europe Summit.
The Permanent Representative of Norway said that there had very recently been another important development - the submission, on 27 June 2005, of the final report of the Group of eminent persons responsible for recommending ways of making the OSCE more effective. Some of the recommendations in the report, which had been prepared in the previous six months under the chairmanship of the former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Knut Vollebaek, were of direct interest to the Council of Europe.
After this introduction, the Group considered progress made in the four priority areas of co-operation identified in the declaration, i.e. the fight against terrorism, protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, combating trafficking in human beings, and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination. The Chair of the GR-J and the Permanent Representative of Armenia, as outgoing Rapporteur on equality between women and men, reported on their fields, which had been the subject of important decisions at the Summit (including opening for signature of three new Council of Europe conventions).
In the ensuing discussion, it was suggested that conventions of this kind should reach beyond the Council of Europe and serve as reference texts for the OSCE, which might contribute significantly to their ratification and implementation. The question of continuing the work entrusted to the Permanent Representative of Armenia was also raised. The Group welcomed his readiness to continue to exercise his mandate until a new Rapporteur on equality between women and men had been appointed.
The other two priority areas of co-operation (protection of the rights of persons belong to national minorities, and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination), were discussed more briefly, in the absence of the Chair of the GR-H. Several delegations referred to the OSCE's failure to co-operate with the ECRI in preparing the Conference on anti-Semitism and on other forms of intolerance, held in Cordoba on 8-9 June 2005. In this connection, the Group was pleased to note that the various agencies active in this field would be holding a co-ordination meeting in Strasbourg on 1 September 2005, with a view to finding positive responses to this situation. It stressed the importance of resolute action by governments, which were best placed to ensure that the member states' political determination to establish effective international co-operation was fully implemented.
In conclusion, the Chair thanked the Group for this useful exchange of views, which offered a good basis for preparation of the Council of Europe/OSCE Co-ordination Group's September meeting in Strasbourg.
b. Preparation of the next meeting of the Co-ordination Group (Strasbourg, 12 September 2005)
The Chair recalled that the first meeting of the Co-ordination Group between the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Permanent Council of the OSCE, set up in December 2004, had been held in Vienna on 7 March 2005 at the invitation of the Slovenian Chair of the OSCE (see document GR-OSCE(2005)4 and addenda). After that meeting, it had been agreed that the Group would hold its second meeting in Strasbourg on 12 September 2005, at the invitation of the Portuguese Chair of the Committee of Ministers.
The Permanent Representative of Slovenia said that this date posed problems for the OSCE, since the report of the Group of eminent persons was due for discussion in Vienna on 12-13 September. She accordingly suggested that the Co-ordination Group's meeting be postponed until 30 September.
The Representative of the Chair of the Committee of Ministers had no objection to this, provided that the people most involved in Strasbourg (members of the Bureau, contact persons) would be available at that time.
The Chair welcomed this suggestion, which would leave a little more time for preparation of the Co-ordination Group's meeting. He also mentioned the prospect of a possible further joint meeting between the Committee of Ministers and the Permanent Council which might be held in Vienna in spring 2006.
2. “3+3” meeting at senior civil servant level (Strasbourg, 8 July 2005): state of preparation
The Chair reminded the meeting that the Council of Europe and the OSCE took turns to organise the “3+3” meetings at senior civil servant level, usually around the middle of the year. These were a useful complement to the high-level “3+3” meetings, since they put the emphasis on practical, action-oriented co-operation combined with concrete follow-up. The Committee of Ministers was represented at these meetings by the Chair and by the chairs of the GR-OSCE and the GR-EDS.
The Secretariat (Director of External Relations) reported on the state of preparation of the next meeting, which would be held in Strasbourg on 8 July at the Council of Europe's invitation, and would be chaired by the Director General of Political Affairs on the Secretary General's behalf.
3. Other business
Under this item, the Chair told the Group that he intended to resign shortly as Chair of the GR-OSCE, since he had recently been appointed Chair of the GR-EDS. In principle, he would aim to leave after the Council of Europe/OSCE Co-ordination Group's meeting at the end of September.
4. Date of the next meeting
This would be determined later, with reference to the Co-ordination Group's meeting.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.