Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel addressing parliamentarians during the opening plenary session of the OSCE PA
Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) addressed the opening plenary session of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe parliamentary assembly (OSCE PA) on Thursday.
“When I speak about diversity, I know what I’m talking about,” Bettel told participants, who gave him longer-than-usual applause. Luxembourg was “proof that 170 nationalities can live peacefully with each other,” the prime minister added.
The OSCE is gathering some 300 parliamentarians from across Europe, Central Asia and North America in Luxembourg from 4-8 July. This includes some 20 representatives and senators from the US, the largest representation of its congress in Luxembourg to date, and includes Steny Hoyer, US house majority leader, who also spoke at the opening session.
Bettel reminded participants of the horrors of Auschwitz, which is set to hold a ceremony in January next year to mark the 75th anniversary of its liberation. He also expressed his concerns about the current Ukraine situation--which is expected to be one of the main focal points of the OSCE discussions --as well as the fact that the extreme right still has a grasp over some electors today.
“Peace is not commonplace,” Bettel added. “[It’s something] that we will lose if we don’t take care of it. Let us never forget our history and learn from our many mistakes.”
The need for strengthening multilateral discussions was echoed in the speech by Hoyer, who described some of the challenges impacting the US, including bipartisanism and the fact that citizens “are losing faith in democratic institutions.”
But he added, “The success of this assembly--and, indeed, the success of democracy--will depend not on what we did in 1991 but on what you will do today and in the years ahead. It will depend on whether elected representatives deliver for the people and prove that representative institutions work.”
On 8 July, the efforts will result in the adoption of a Luxembourg Declaration.
But Fernand Etgen, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies in Luxembourg, reminded participants that there is plenty of work ahead. “Political and diplomatic work carried out by OSCE--without a play on words--can often be compared to a minefield on which we proceed carefully and slowly, without any guarantee of short-term results. This is a truly difficult path for us to forge.”