In the latest of a series of informal web dialogues between the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly leadership and national delegations, Assembly President George Tsereteli and Secretary General Roberto Montella met leaders from Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein.
Discussions with the so-called ‘microstates’ focused on the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and related recovery efforts. Participants welcomed the meeting as an important opportunity to bring the common challenges facing small states to the forefront.
President Tsereteli said that in order to effectively combat coronavirus, it is important to be vigilant and work closely with other multilateral organisations. The President noted that the OSCE PA is doing well in terms of carrying out its functions and adding value to the international response to the pandemic. One of the lessons learned during this period is to improve preparations in order to better handle future crisis situations, he said.
Secretary General Montella gave an overview of the OSCE PA’s activities in the context of the COVID crisis and described the purpose of the informal leadership meetings as an opportunity for all delegations to engage in dialogue with the President and the Secretariat. He noted that providing a forum for small states is important to hear concerns that are specific to these countries and to demonstrate that all delegations matter equally in the OSCE PA.
Ferran Costa (Andorra) stressed the importance of small states strengthening relationships with international organizations. He welcomed the opportunity provided by the OSCE PA to network and tackle similar challenges with other microstates. He also shared detailed information about how Andorra has responded to the crisis and necessary steps forward.
Nathalie Amoratti-Blanc (Monaco) said that very few cases of coronavirus have been reported in Monaco. She stressed the good co-operation that the parliament has enjoyed with the government and shared some information about economic recovery efforts and employment protection measures that Monaco had implemented. She noted that residents have co-operated well, including by taking precautions such as wearing masks.
Oscar Mina said the coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult situation for San Marino, with much contagion spreading from the affected areas of Italy. Nevertheless, he said that San Marino responded well with all of society co-operating. Responding to the economic difficulties, San Marino released two million euros in aid but he stressed that much more will be needed. He noted the importance of small states having the confidence to ask for whatever help is needed from the international community.
Sandra Gerber-Leuenberger, Secretary of Delegation from Liechtenstein, gave an update noting that the country was not hit very hard by the pandemic and pointing out that it is recovering well.
The delegations discussed the levels of co-operation that parliaments have enjoyed with governments in each of their countries. In the context of a crisis like coronavirus, it was stressed that executives would inevitably assume more power – the important thing is that it is limited in duration, participants said.
Earlier in the day, President Tsereteli and Secretary General Montella met online with Mongolian Foreign Minister and Head of PA Delegation Tsogtbaatar Damdin. Discussions focused on Mongolia’s parliamentary elections on Wednesday, challenges of international observation and the country’s coronavirus response.