Switzerland to be chairman-in-office of the OSCE in 2014

Bern, Press release, 10.02.2012

Switzerland will be chairman-in-office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014. The choice of Switzerland was confirmed today by the OSCE. Switzerland stood for this office together with Serbia, which will chair the organisation in 2015. The two countries have agreed to cooperate closely.

“This decision is good news for Switzerland“, said Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. "The chairmanship fits perfectly with one of our foreign policy priorities: our commitment in favor of the stability of Europe and its neighboring regions. Our partners trust our ability to contribute successfully to the improvement of security and cooperation in Europe. Our close cooperation with Serbia has created new opportunities that will contribute to a positive development in south-east Europe.” The Swiss chairmanship will seek to strengthen the role of the OSCE as an open forum for dialogue on European security issues: “Here Switzerland can contribute its competence and experience to international politics even more effectively", said Mr Burkhalter.

Last December Switzerland agreed on a joint candidacy with Serbia for the chairmanship-in-office of the OSCE. At the annual meeting of the Ministerial Council of the OSCE in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 7 December 2011, the foreign ministers of the 56 participating States decided that the choice of the presiding States for the years 2014 and 2015 would be subject to a silence procedure. This means that if there are no objections by a certain date, the candidates in the procedure are deemed to have been elected. The silence procedure expired today and no objections were made to the candidacies of Switzerland and Serbia.

In order to protect its security, Switzerland relies heavily on the successful maintenance of peace throughout Europe and is therefore dependent on international cooperation. The OSCE is an important platform in this regard, as practically all the States in Europe, North America and Central Asia are members of the organisation. The OSCE defines security not only in military and police terms but also takes into account other dimensions such as human rights, the rule of law and democracy, as well as economic and environmental aspects.

Within the OSCE, Switzerland has consistently worked to bring about progress in the area of arms control and for the effective implementation of the commitments that States have made within the OSCE since 1975. For the two consecutive chairmanship years, Switzerland and Serbia have agreed to cooperate closely and to establish joint priorities. Both countries intend to consult closely on major issues and on politically sensitive questions. 

These priorities include strengthening the role of the OSCE in resolving crises and conflicts, for example by improving capacities in the area of mediation. Other priorities concern the stepping up of efforts to solve protracted conflicts and cooperation with neighbouring regions in Asia, the Near East and North Africa, as well as with civil society. Greater attention will also be paid to new threats to security such as organised crime, international terrorism and threats via the Internet. The two countries also want to reflect on possible institutional reforms to the OSCE.

Federal Councillor Burkhalter will meet his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic at an official working visit in Bern on 1 March. The OSCE chairmanship of the two countries will be an agenda item at this meeting. 


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