This year's Ministerial Council, the OSCE's central decision-making and governing body, concluded today after two days of deliberations. The last day was also marked by the death of Nelson Mandela. Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, who chaired the plenary session of the representatives of the 57 member states in his capacity as the next chairman of the OSCE, paid homage to the South African freedom fighter and Nobel Prize winner as an exemplar of reconciliation, freedom and democracy whose commitment to human dignity continues to inspire. The members of the Ministerial Council remembered the South African freedom fighter and Nobel Prize winner with a minute of silence.
In a consensual process, the Ministerial Council adopted various decisions and declarations, including a decision on freedom of expression and freedom of religion, a decision on combating human trafficking, a declaration on confidence-building measures in the area of cyber security, a decision to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE area, and a decision to promote environmentally friendly energy production. Together with Ukraine and Serbia, Switzerland also presented a roadmap for the "Helsinki+40" OSCE reform process.
During the closing session of the 2013 Ministerial Council, which was organised and chaired by Ukraine in Kiev, Mr Burkhalter explained Switzerland's priorities for its chairmanship in 2014. Under the leitmotif of "a security community for the benefit of everyone", Switzerland has set three priorities for its chairmanship of the OSCE:
• Promote security and stability: through dialogue and confidence-building efforts, Switzerland wants to contribute to solving conflicts, particularly in the Western Balkans and the South Caucasus. In addition, Switzerland supports agreements to facilitate transparency and reforms in the security forces.
• Improve people's living conditions: Switzerland wants to contribute to ensuring that all OSCE states fulfil their obligations to protect and respect human rights (key words: prohibition of torture, counter-terrorism, free and democratic elections, protection of human rights defenders and minorities).
• Strengthen the OSCE's capacity to act: Switzerland supports the current reform process to enable the OSCE to respond more rapidly and efficiently to future crises, among other things through the further development of its own conflict mediation. Another important objective of Switzerland's chairmanship will be to regularly involve civil society and young people in the OSCE's activities.
In Kiev, Mr Burkhalter also took the opportunity to hold discussions with the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, Germany, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Finland. Mr Burkhalter also met with the representatives of Moldova, Malta and Monaco, who will head next year's Forum for Security and Cooperation, where issues relating to political and military security are front and centre.
Address for enquiries:
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47