During her first appearance at the annual Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial council, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent an alarm signal on the state of democracy in Hungary and hindrances to constitutional processes in Romania.
“There are unfortunately signs of democratic backsliding in Hungary and challenges to constitutional processes in Romania and the ugly specter of antisemitism, xenophobia, discrimination against immigrants, Roma, LGBT persons, and other vulnerable populations persists,” according to the official transcript of Mrs Clinton’s speech.
Hillary Clinton’s remarks are made within the wider context of a growing concern for the future of the OSCE given the still persistent challenges to the creation of a free, united and pacified Europe. She pointed out that two decades after the end of the Cold War restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and association and human rights as well as political pressure on journalists and NGOs can still not be considered matters of the past.
During her speech, the US Secretary of State also highlighted human rights abuses and attacks on freedom of speech in Belarus, raised concerns about the democratic process the selective prosecution of opposition leaders in the Ukraine . Meanwhile, Russia came under fire for restrictions on civil society and new legislation pertaining to the status of foreign NGOs and journalists.
Clinton warned against seeing the OSCE transformed into an organization that that would actually block out the voice of NGOs or that would tamper with field workers day to day efforts to defend human rights. She also pointed to a worrying tendency to reduce military transparency.
“The OSCE must avoid institutional changes that would weaken it and undermine our fundamental commitments [...] These are not the way to progress in the 21st century.”
Hillary Clinton’s European agenda this week includes a participation in the NATO foreign affairs and defense ministerial meeting and in the OSCE annual ministerial council meeting in Dublin.
Ioana Jelea, firstname.lastname@example.org
(photo source: OSCE)