KYIV, 17 July 2013 - The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, welcomed the appointment of Finnish politician Astrid Thors as OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Thors has been a Member of the Parliament of Finland since 2004. She has also served as a Minister of Migration and European Affairs of Finland and was a Member of the European Parliament. Her appointment as OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities was a consensus decision of all 57 OSCE participating States.
Welcoming Thors’ appointment, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Kozhara reiterated his strong support for the institution of High Commissioner on National Minorities. "It is a unique OSCE instrument for conflict prevention at its earliest possible stages, way to protect and promote diversity and integration,” he said.
The OSCE Chair stressed that independence, impartiality and confidentiality are the core basis of the High Commissioner’s preventive diplomacy activities towards maintaining peace and stability in the region.
Astrid Thors will take up her three-year appointment on 20 August, replacing the current High Commissioner Knut Vollebaek whose mandate expires on 19 August.
“As High Commissioner Vollebaek is leaving an office in a month I would like to thank him for effectively carrying out his mandate in providing early warning and early action on tensions related to minority issues,” Kozhara said. “I look forward to working with incoming High Commissioner Thors, who has a profound experience in minority issues. She can count on my constant support in her mission.”
Commenting on her new role, Astrid Thors said: “It remains important to work towards lowering tensions involving national minority issues. Assisting in the implementation of the HCNM guidelines and recommendations, participation in society and education policies will be some of the central themes in my future work. I look forward to working with all participating States on these issues.”
The High Commissioner's task, agreed upon in 1992, is to identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between OSCE participating States. The mandate describes the role as "an instrument of conflict prevention at the earliest possible stage."