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Bern, Press release, 05.12.2014

The representatives of the 57 participating States of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe adopted various declarations at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, including on counterterrorism and natural disaster prevention. At the close of this year's Ministerial Council meeting, Didier Burkhalter, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, welcomed an improved level of continuity in the work of the organisation. Today’s Ministerial Council decision to transfer the 2016 and 2017 Chairmanships to Germany and Austria ensures the organisation’s leadership for the coming years.


Following a first day focusing on the Ukrainian conflict and security in Europe, on the second day of the Ministerial Council in Basel the representatives of the 57 OSCE participating States discussed joint measures for counterterrorism. The issue of how to deal with returning foreign fighters was discussed in this context. In addition, the talks provided the opportunity for exchanges with OSCE partner States in the Mediterranean and in Asia.

The Ministerial Council adopted various declarations as guiding principles for the future work of the OSCE. These included declarations on the joint approach to counterterrorism, to combating corruption, the continuation of the Helsinki+40 reform process, natural disaster prevention, kidnapping for ransom and domestic violence against women.

The Ministerial Council also took note of the recommendations of the 57 Youth Ambassadors to be included in a youth action plan to increase young people's involvement in the work of the OSCE. The young women and men negotiated the recommendations during a series of meetings as part of the Model OSCE project, in which the young representatives of the 57 OSCE participating States took part in a simulation of the organisation's work. At the end of this project, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter met with the young people to discuss their experience of the Model OSCE.

Assessment of the Swiss Chairmanship

At the close of the Ministerial Council, the Swiss President took the opportunity to assess the 2014 Swiss OSCE Chairmanship. Primarily shaped by intense efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine, Switzerland's activities also focused heavily on ten priorities it had set itself for the year-long chairmanship. As well as enhanced involvement by civil society and young people, priority was given to two regions, the Western Balkans and South Caucasus, which the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office visited, discussing possible solutions to the conflicts there.

Furthermore, Switzerland organised international conferences on measures to combat human trafficking (February 2014, Vienna) as well as on counterterrorism (April 2014, Interlaken), improving the protection of human rights defenders (June 2014, Bern), preventing torture (April 2014, Vienna), and improving natural disaster prevention and response (May 2014, Montreux and the canton of Valais, September 2014 in Prague).

Finally, the Swiss Chairmanship furthered efforts to improve the OSCE's effectiveness and capacity to act by creating a team to provide support and training on the subject of mediation for OSCE staff to enhance the organisation's mediation capacities.

More continuity enhances the OSCE's capacity to act

As a member of the OSCE Troika, which is composed of the previous, current and incoming OSCE Chairmanships, Switzerland will continue to fulfil certain tasks in the leadership of the organisation. Mr Burkhalter emphasised today the importance of continuity in the OSCE's work and said he welcomed the Ministerial Council's decision to transfer the Chairmanship of the OSCE to Germany in 2016 and Austria in 2017. Cooperation between Serbia's 2015 Chairmanship – which is implementing a joint work programme with Switzerland – and the incoming chairs would ensure planning continuity, he said. This in turn would improve the OSCE's capacity to act.

Further information:

OSCE Chairmanship 2014
The 2014 Ministerial Council meeting on the OSCE website
Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE on Twitter

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