WAM/VIENNA/OSCE/COPENHAGEN, 17th February, 2016 (WAM) – The crisis of migrants and refugees in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) area and efforts to strengthen the collective response will be the focus of debate and presentations at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Winter Meeting, held in Vienna on 25-26 February.

Nearly 300 parliamentarians from across the OSCE’s 57 participating States and Partners for Co-operation, including several speakers of parliament, are expected to participate in the Meeting, the first major convocation of the Assembly this year.

The fight against terrorism in the OSCE area and the crisis in and around Ukraine are among the other topics expected to be considered in Vienna.

The Meeting’s opening session will include addresses by OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland), Austrian National Council President Doris Bures and the Special Representative of the Germany for the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship, Gernot Erler.

The closing session will feature a special debate on the theme “The migrant and refugee crisis in the OSCE area: strengthening the collective response.” EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will offer opening remarks.

Meetings of the OSCE PA’s three main Committees – Political Affairs and Security; Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment; and Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions – will also be held in Vienna.

Debate in the committees will focus on combatting terrorism, the economic effects of the migration crisis, and the human rights of migrants and refugees.

The leadership of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions will also present a special report during the Meeting on the crisis of migrants and refugees, containing concrete proposals for greater OSCE engagement.

Senior OSCE officials to address the Assembly include OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier; Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Michael Link; OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic; OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Astrid Thors; Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Halil Yurdakul Yigitguden; and others.

The Winter Meeting provides an opportunity for OSCE parliamentarians to engage in dialogue with high-level OSCE officials on the latest developments in the OSCE area, debate and consider a range of topics and reinforce interparliamentary contacts. The Meeting also serves as an important step in the preparation of reports for the Assembly’s 2016 Annual Session, to be held in Tbilisi on 1-5 July.