From: Alice Taylor
Albania Assumes OSCE Chairmanship, Promises To Prioritise Anti-Corruption, Women’s Rights, And Fighting Hate Speech

As of yesterday, Albania has assumed its Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Prime Minister Edi Rama commented;

“Taking over the OSCE Chair is a truly historic moment for Albania: from a country under a cruel communist regime that opposed the Helsinki spirit, we have become one honoured to lead this organization. Chairing the OSCE marks the highlight of our significant transformation.”

He added that Albania’s Chairmanship will be guided by three main objectives; the implementation of a set of political commitments, making a difference on the ground through preventing the escalation of conflict, monitoring elections, and improving security, and strengthening the dialogue inspired by the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Paris.

Issues Albania will focus on the crisis in and around Ukraine, combatting violence against women, and fighting corruption. Rama also announced that his Chairmanship will pay attention to dealing with human trafficking, intolerance and hate speech.

“If we want security and peace in Europe”, he said, “we all have to take responsibility for fully implementing our commitments. This is essential for the credibility of the OSCE as the largest regional security organization, and for all its participating States, and the only way to rebuild trust between us,” he said.

Albania has assumed the role at a time of controversy following the implementation of the “anti-defamation” package in December. The bills which are feared to have a “chilling effect on media freedom” were reviewed a number of times by Harlem Desir, the Representative on Media Freedom to the OSCE.

Rama claimed that the bills passed in parliament had the support of Desir, yet Desir confirmed to Exit that this was not the case. In an exclusive interview with Exit, he said that they still have concerns and that there is still work to be done to bring them in line with international standards.Concerns had been raised by a number of stakeholders that the implementation of these media laws could compromise Albania’s OSCE Chairmanship. Notably, Swedish MEP David Lega said that it would also complicate EU negotiations.