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79th Joint Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation and the Permanent Council

Statement by Ambassador Barbara Žvokelj, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the 79th Joint Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation and the Permanent Council, on the Structured Dialogue

Vienna, 28 October 2020

Madam/Mister Chairperson, dear Colleagues, Ambassador Cuesta, 

In addition to the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union I would like to add some elements in national capacity.

Let me at the outset express gratitude to our Spanish colleague (Amb. Cuesta) for his excellent leadership of the Informal Working Group (IWG) on Structured Dialogue this year. We are grateful for the report presented today, that takes stock of the main topics discussed. We agree with the Chair of the IWG that the views of participating States on most issues of substance diverge and that this is why we need Structured Dialogue, which is an important Confidence Building Measure (CBM).

Under the motto of Spanish Chairmanship "Understanding for Security" (U4S) our discussions were skilfully tailored among four ingredients: Listening, Reflecting, Sharing and Learning. The meetings have been adjusted to challenging circumstances related to COVID-19 pandemics. And so have we!

Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) practically responded to the COVID-19, also by deploying field hospital and other medical facilities; by delivering assistance to Western Balkans countries in the framework of regional cooperation and by renewing the National plan for responding to the epidemic, in which the SAF have a greater role. Based on the guidance of the Minister of Defense, the SAF must be prepared to support activities of other state bodies in dealing with the COVID-19.

Slovenia is also among the participating States who have had already resumed verification activities related to Vienna Document and Open Skies Treaty, while strictly observing preventive measures for all participants.

As I speak, this very moment, we are hosting Vienna Document/Open Skies combined inspection teams from the Russian Federation.

Many OSCE participating States were faced with difficulties in procuring medical equipment and supplies and that is security related vulnerability. We could therefore include health and sanitary threats into our comprehensive approach to security.

COVID-19 crisis has raised the level of threats and challenges. We have seen this in Ukraine, where OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) was faced with denying its freedom of movement. More broadly, we are wittiness to the rise of disinformation and propaganda. We must address all security challenges steaming out of current pandemics.

Dear Chairpersons,

Structured Dialogue can contribute to co-operative security by promoting greater openness in military activities. We must make better use of existing mechanisms, but also looking at ways of improvement.

One of the more promising ways to enhance existing transparency and verification measures is the so-called iMARS. The new arms control information management and reporting system, currently developed in the OSCE Secretariat, offers a number of important improvements and Slovenia has also pledged to support it.

As said, we should also make sure that our existing mechanisms are operational, especially Vienna Document. We are among those advocating for its modernisation and do believe that this still represents the best tool that we have, not only for promoting arms control, but also for maintaining a culture of openness and co-operation.

In conclusion, Chair,

Let me again reiterate that Slovenia attaches great significance to the Structured Dialogue and we are looking forward to the Final Report by the Chair, with proposals for the way forward.

Thank you.