Ukraine crisis: Federal Councillor Burkhalter calls for steadfast continuation of the Minsk process

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Bern, Press releases, 19.09.2015

Security issues were the focus of a meeting between Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić in Magdeburg. The members of the Troika of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) discussed the situation in Ukraine and ways to rebuild security in Europe. Mr Burkhalter stressed that comprehensive security must also include aspects of migration. In view of the current refugee problem, the Troika called on the OSCE participating States to swiftly provide humanitarian assistance on the ground. In addition, the “Kaiser-Otto-Preis” (Emperor Otto Award) of the City of Magdeburg was bestowed today on the OSCE.


Federal Councillor Burkhalter met today with the foreign ministers of Germany and Serbia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Ivica Dačić. The situation in Ukraine was one of the topics of the meeting, which was held within the framework of the OSCE Troika. Mr Burkhalter stressed that the various elements of the Minsk agreement must be rigorously implemented. These include the observance of a ceasefire in the conflict zone, the OSCE's monitoring of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the conflict line. Mr Burkhalter noted that the implementation of the agreement continues to present difficulties. He underscored, however, that this was an opportune moment to take further steps to move the peace process forward – not least because the Trilateral Contact Group, in which Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE are represented, has made progress on security questions. During today's meeting in Magdeburg, Mr Burkhalter therefore called for the national dialogue in Ukraine to be relaunched.

In addition to the current situation in Ukraine, the meeting of the Troika – which comprises the current Chairperson-in-Office together with the previous and following year’s Chairperson – focused on the future of European security. Mr Burkhalter, Mr Steinmeier and Mr Dačić discussed possibilities for strengthening the OSCE's capacity to act in peace missions. Mr Burkhalter stressed that comprehensive security also includes aspects of migration, for example measures to protect migrants, the fight against human trafficking and rapid humanitarian assistance in the countries of origin and transition. In light of the current refugee problem, the Troika called on the OSCE participating States to swiftly provide humanitarian assistance on the ground.

The three foreign ministers also spoke about preparations for the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, which is set to take place on 3 and 4 December 2015 in Belgrade.

OSCE is awarded the ”Kaiser-Otto-Preis” of the City of Magdeburg

After their meeting, the members of the Troika attended a ceremony to bestow on the OSCE the ”Kaiser-Otto-Preis” of the City of Magdeburg. With this prize, the City of Magdeburg is honouring the OSCE’s work and commitment to promoting security and peace in Europe. In a brief address at the ceremony, Mr Burkhalter stressed that facilitating dialogue is one of the strengths of the OSCE: "Solutions can only be found through dialogue," said Mr Burkhalter, who was the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office last year. He noted, for example, that it was only thanks to extensive dialogue and resolve that in 2014 the OSCE succeeded for the first time in a long time in reaching a consensus decision to launch a major field mission. With the deployment of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, the OSCE participating States also demonstrated that even at times of the highest tension, they can agree to adopt joint measures to resolve conflicts. "The OSCE is an opportunity," said Mr Burkhalter.

The City of Magdeburg has awarded the ”Kaiser-Otto-Preis” since 2005 to individuals and organisations that have distinguished themselves by their contribution to European integration and to promoting the European idea, particularly in relation to the states of eastern and south-eastern Europe. The OSCE is the first organisation to be awarded this biennial prize. Previous recipients were former President of Germany Richard von Weizsäcker (2005), former President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (2007), former Polish Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski (2009), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2011) and former German government minister Egon Bahr (2013).

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