Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in Response to Secretary General’s Presentation of the 2015 Unified Budget Proposal, 1018th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 09.10.2014
Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to join the previous speakers in thanking the Secretary General for the presentation of the 2015 Unified Budget Proposal and express our appreciation for all those who had a share in producing this comprehensive document. We also welcome the improvements made in the document’s format. It is more streamlined, more transparent and yet shorter. We believe that the proposal before us constitutes a sound base to deliberate upon.

Mr. Chairperson,

We are aware of the considerations and circumstances that lead many participating States to cut down their national budgets with the retention of zero nominal growth (ZNG) as a guiding principle. However, we also know that ZNG actually means asking more with less resources. This is a paradox that needs sorting out. If we want the organization to advance upon the concept of comprehensive security, with its three distinctive dimensions, it needs to be endowed with the financial and human resources to carry out the job—as simple as that.

In 2014, the crisis in and around Ukraine has dominated the OSCE’s work and agenda. When we take a cursory glance at what has already been spent for the SMM and what needs yet to be contributed, ZNG blurs out as a concept. In fact, one of the aspects that we need to ponder upon is to derive lessons from the Ukrainian crisis in that respect. At the same time recognizing that bulk of the finances would be through extra-budgetary means, we would be able to discuss possibilities to incorporate the SMM to the extent possible within the Unified Budget with a view to reflecting the burden sharing and display of political support by all the participating States. We believe it is time that, in budget exercises, we explore new avenues that are more in par with the realities surrounding us, without falling into the trap of certain limitations that may be detrimental to the good functioning of the Organization as had been envisaged during its inception.

The Helsinki +40 process in this respect offers a chance of revision and transformation to enable the OSCE to overcome many challenges in this field it is facing today. While measures to ensure greater efficiency, including those to reduce administrative costs should always be pursued, the OSCE needs to remain an attractive employer. We therefore should not seek to create savings by targeting salaries, upgrades and other benefits of the staff.

Let me reiterate once again our strong opposition to prioritization and compartmentalization between, among and within the three dimensions. This notion runs contrary to the concept of comprehensive security upon which the OSCE has been built. We therefore express our displeasure for the imbalance between the resources allocated to each dimension of the OSCE reflected in the “Unified Budget Proposal”. In more concrete terms, we continue to believe that the potential of the Economic and Environmental Dimension is still not being fully utilized, and that our organization’s current stance towards comprehensive security is lopsided.

As to the particulars of the reference I made to compartmentalization within dimensions, let me state once again that tolerance and non-discrimination on the one hand and basic human rights and fundamental freedoms on the other are two sides of the same coin. Racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise in many participating States as the discussions of HDIM have once again shown us. The OSCE therefore must devote greater time, concern and resources to address this situation. The proposed increase in ODIHR’s budget should therefore be more evenly allocated.

On two more specific issues, I wish to first reiterate our support for the work carried out by the Border Management Staff College and call for its inclusion into the Unified Budget, at least partially, in order to provide sustainability of funding for this important instrument of the OSCE. Second, as one of the participating States at the fore in promoting gender equality, we would like to express support to ideas and suggestions to bolster the Secretariat’s structure in this area.

Mr. Chairperson,

On a final note, let me refer to the tendency to view the budget as a technical issue. While its technical nature can in no way be ignored, the budget is somewhat a very highly political exercise. It is through this process that we all try to reflect our own priorities into those of the organization. For this reason, it may be advisable to discuss this matter first at Ambassadors level to determine an overall political guidance for the budget. This would also ease the work of our colleagues who conduct the technical deliberations at the ACMF.

I wish to conclude by expressing how we look forward to working constructively with the Serbian ACMF Chairmanship with a view to ensuring a timely adoption of the budget.

Thank you.