Dialogue, prevention and confidence building: Switzerland reaffirms the OSCE's key role in ensuring greater security in Europe

Press release, 06.12.2018

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Pascale Baeriswyl attended the meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE, on 6 December 2018. She also held several bilateral meetings on the margins of the event. Switzerland will resume chairmanship of the OSCE's Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) for a period of four months starting on 1 January 2019.

State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl poses for a photo at the OSCE Ministerial Council Conference in Milan.
OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan: Switzerland reaffirms the OSCE's key role in ensuring greater security in Europe. © Keystone

Ms Baeriswyl was invited by Italy in its capacity as current chair of the OSCE to attend the meeting of the Ministerial Council in Milan on 6 December. This year's meeting focused on dialogue over security in Europe and different regional conflicts, particularly the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the tense situation surrounding the Kerch Strait.

For Switzerland, the OSCE is well placed to play a key role in crisis management.  The conflict in eastern Ukraine proves that the organisation has the right tools to help de-escalate situations and manage conflicts actively. For example, the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) – tasked with gathering objective information on the situation in eastern Ukraine, monitoring the ceasefire agreement on the ground and brokering local ceasefires – has made a crucial contribution to preventing re-escalation. Switzerland has been involved in the SMM since it was set up in 2014, in particular by deploying Alexander Hug who has now been working as deputy head of the mission for over four years.

Switzerland remains committed to strengthening the OSCE's capacity to act and to promoting the organisation as a platform for dialogue that all member states should utilise more in order to prevent armed conflict in the OSCE region, as Ms Baeriswyl stated in her message to the Ministerial Council in Milan.

On 1 January 2019 Switzerland is set to resume for a period of four months chairmanship of the FSC, one of the OSCE's permanent platforms working towards greater security and military stability in Europe. It also helps implement key confidence and security-building measures that regulate the exchange of military information and mutual verification between member states, and ensures the democratic control of security forces.

Ms Baeriswyl was also scheduled to hold several bilateral meetings on the margins of the meeting, in particular with the foreign ministers of Moldova and Andorra and with the OSCE's secretary general, Thomas Greminger from Switzerland.

The Ministerial Council sets out the OSCE's main lines of action in December each year. More than 40 foreign ministers took part in the meeting. Ms Baeriswyl attended on behalf of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, who was unable to participate owing to Federal Council elections in Bern. Slovakia will assume the OSCE chairmanship on 1 January 2019. Switzerland chaired the OSCE in 2014.

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