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Germany's Steinmeier Formally Assumes 2016 OSCE Chairmanship

Published: January 15, 2016; 18:00 · (FriedlNews)

OSCE to serve as a platform for real and honest dialogue on today’s security challenges, says Steinmeier, as Germany formally assumes 2016 OSCE Chairmanship.

Germany's Steinmeier Formally Assumes 2016 OSCE Chairmanship / Picture: © OSCE / Micky Kroell

Germany, as this year’s Chair of the OSCE, aims to steer the Organization as a platform for real and honest dialogue, said Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in his first address as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the Permanent Council in Vienna.

Presenting the programme of Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship to representatives of the Organization’s 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, Steinmeier said his country assumes the Chairmanship at a turbulent time with recent deadly terrorist attacks in the region, the ongoing conflict in and around Ukraine as well as crises in the Mediterranean and Middle East areas.

“In these stormy times we need an OSCE that follows clear objectives and has a good compass,” he said. “This compass – our common compass – is the set of principles and commitments which we all agreed upon. They form the basis for peace and security in Europe.”

Steinmeier said that the work of the OSCE was fundamental for renewing dialogue and rebuilding trust. “What will help us move forward are not just acknowledgements of the value of dialogue, but an actual dialogue, sincere and engaged, that does not hesitate to identify breaches of OSCE principles,” he said, specifically referring to Crimea and the east of Ukraine. He called for an increased readiness to contribute constructively to substantial decisions made by the OSCE and to strengthen discussions on the level of political leaders within the OSCE.

Reflecting on the conflict in and around Ukraine, Steinmeier expressed his clear and ongoing support for the Minsk process, which had proven difficult but had already produced tangible results.  The valuable work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) deserved the full backing of all participating States, said the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, and a decision to prolong the Mission on the basis of its existing mandate should soon be made. “Let us demonstrate the OSCE’s capability to act,” he said.

Focusing on the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area, Steinmeier said that the German Chairmanship would actively support the OSCE’s current negotiating formats and mechanisms related to Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdniestria and the consequences of the 2008 conflict in Georgia. “We will engage actively in finding solutions,” he said.

Steinmeier also emphasized the continued need for strong OSCE field missions and to further strengthen OSCE capacities in all phases of the conflict cycle. Highlighting confidence- and security-building measures and arms control, Steinmeier said “we should courageously tackle the modernization of the Vienna Document.”

In light of recent terrorist atrocities, Steinmeier called on all OSCE participating States to defy such “barbaric and cowardly killings” in a resolute und united manner. The German Chairmanship would set this common threat high on the agenda of its work, utilizing the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security, not least through focusing on joint approaches to counter the radicalization of young people.

“We should also use the potential of this Organization with its vast geographical range and comprehensive approach to security when it comes to migration issues,” Steinmeier continued. He added that promoting tolerance and non-discrimination would play a prominent role.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms remained an indispensable part of OSCE activities to ensure common security, said Steinmeier, and noted that close co-operation between the Chairmanship and the OSCE’s autonomous Institutions would therefore be of high importance as well as strengthening ties with civil society.

Enhancing connectivity in the OSCE area to promote greater economic interaction would also be a strong point on Germany’s agenda for the OSCE, he said, emphasizing that “this too can contribute to renewed trust”, and advocated for increased involvement of the private sector in these efforts.

Steinmeier highlighted the value of close co-operation within the OSCE Troika, in which Germany would work closely with the previous and subsequent holders of the OSCE Chairmanship, Serbia and Austria, respectively. “The OSCE Chairmanship brings great responsibility. I will not spare any efforts to justify the confidence you place in me”, Steinmeier concluded.