Plenary statement by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the 30th OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje

Press releases, 30.11.2023

Upholding OSCE principles in challenging times - Check against delivery

Thank you Mister Chair
Dear Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen


After the last few interventions, I once again have the evidence that leading the OSCE in this period is a herculean task!
Core principles of the OSCE are under pressure. The ongoing Russian military aggression against Ukraine, which Switzerland has strongly condemned, has deepened the rift between the participating states and fuelled mistrust.
But let me first of all express my gratitude to the Chairperson and Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani,
as well as to the Secretary General Helga Schmid, for their tireless efforts in upholding the OSCE's values.

Security through cooperation is beneficial to all of us.

Europe's security is in danger

With Russia's military aggression against Ukraine continuing, the major challenge for our cooperative security remains unsolved.

I will never tire of repeating it:
Russia must withdraw its troops from the sovereign territory of Ukraine.
Switzerland stands unequivocally behind Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in these terrible times.

We also observe with concern that other crises in the region are flaring up again.
Reconciliation and peace processes are stagnating or even interrupted.

In the Middle East, October 7th marks a turning point.
Switzerland has condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas in the strongest terms and requests the immediate release of all hostages.

My country called on all parties to protect civilians, to avoid a regional escalation and to respect international humanitarian law.

Preserving the Helsinki Final Act and the OSCE

In such a period of uncertainty, the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act have lost none of their importance – on the contrary:
Refraining from the use of force, respect for the territorial integrity of states, for the fundamental freedoms and the related responsabilities must remain our essential values.

Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me reiterate here my call for an "organisation of non-like-minded states" in Europe to facilitate exchange, and to manage and prevent crises and conflicts.
But for the OSCE to endure, the political and operational foundations must be in place. Important steps in the right direction were taken this week in Vienna.
I welcome very much Malta's readiness to assume the chairpersonship for 2024 and reaffirm our full support for the unanimous decision taken this Monday in the Special Permanent Council. Thank you Ian Borg.

But further steps must now follow:
Firstly, the Secretary General and the heads of the autonomous institutions should ensure the continuity of the organisation's business next year.
My country would like to see their terms extended.

Secondly, the OSCE needs its annual budget approved.

It requires sufficient financial means to deliver on its mandate.

Rewarding the OSCE's work

-    Despite all negative trends, the last 21 months have also shown how resilient the OSCE is.

-    The presence of the many field missions has a stabilising effect in sensitive and critical regions.

-    Switzerland supports the OSCE's presence in Ukraine and we fully stood behind the activations of the Moscow Mechanisms.

-    There can be no peace without justice for the victims and their families.


Excellencies, dear colleagues

The Helsinki Final Act must remain our compass.

I'm deeply convinced that – with the necessary political will – we can make use of the OSCE toolbox to support its participating states.

The road to Helsinki 2025 must be an opportunity for us to give the OSCE – and with it peace and security in Europe – the new impetus it urgently needs.

Thank you.

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
Twitter /X: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs