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OSCE Chairman: Despite Challenges, OSCE Still Playing a Vital Role

OSCE Chairman Rupel sits down with VOA for a roundtable interview.

Washington, D.C., March 7, 2005 - Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told the Voice of America (VOA) yesterday that the OSCE faces serious internal challenges about the role the organization should play in the future.

He said that Russia is seeking to reduce the OSCE's democratization role, arguing that the organization should instead be more active in the military and security sphere. Rupel told VOA'S Eurasia Division Sunday he is hopeful that a compromise with Russia will be found. He added that some "rebalancing" of OSCE activities should be discussed, and he will address Moscow's concerns in meetings this week with U.S. officials.

"OSCE core values are not and will not be undermined," said Chairman Rupel. Using Ukraine as an example for the organization's effectiveness, Rupel said that the OSCE continues to play a significant role in the democratization of former communist countries. "I think that Ukraine is absolutely one of the candidates for membership [in the EU] in the near future. It belongs to Europe," he added.

The OSCE chairman said that he envisions a European Union that is much larger than its current 25 members. He said the EU will "survive best" if it keeps enlarging, becoming one of the most vibrant economic and political communities in the world.

Speaking about Kosovo, Mr. Rupel expressed optimism that final status talks on the province's future will begin this year. He said one important requirement for commencement of the talks is protection of the rights of the Serbian minority.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.

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