The Troika consists of the current OSCE Chairmanship, which changes at the beginning of each year, as well as the previous and succeeding Chairmanship. Germany, which held the Chairmanship in 2016, was a member of the Troika from 2015 to 2017, latterly together with Austria and Italy. At the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna on 7 and 8 December 2017, it made its final appearance in this format. This occasion was an opportunity to look back on three exciting years of intensive cooperation on issues that concern the 57 participating States of the OSCE from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
The high point - the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship
The OSCE not only brings together a highly heterogeneous group of states, but also focuses on a very broad range of topics:
• politico-military issues (what is known as the first dimension)
• environmental and economic issues (second dimension)
• human and civil rights (third dimension)
This was also reflected during Germany’s OSCE Chairmanship, with around 300 events and over 1000 participants at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg, including 90 heads of delegations and 42 foreign ministers.
The Chairmanship was a challenge not only with respect to organisational considerations, but also as regards content. Germany successfully pursued new and creative approaches to strengthen dialogue within the OSCE, such as inviting business representatives to the conference on connectivity and scheduling a performance by Daniel Barenboim and his West Eastern Divan Orchestra at the opening of the Conference on Tolerance and Diversity. Another part of this are the newly established OSCE Informal Ministerial Meetings, the first of which was held in Potsdam under the German Chairmanship. At these meetings, foreign ministers have an opportunity to address current problems in the course of in depth discussions.
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
Germany will remain an active player in helping to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia also above and beyond the Troika. Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are continuing to hold discussions on the implementation of the Minsk agreements in what is known as the Normandy format. The Trilateral Contact Group, chaired by the OSCE, meets representatives of Russia and Ukraine in Minsk on a regular basis in order to make progress on tangible implementation measures.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is the eyes and ears of the international community on the ground in Ukraine. Thirty observers from Germany are currently working for the mission, which is primarily responsible for monitoring compliance with the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The Ministerial Council in Vienna offered a very vivid demonstration of the humanitarian situation endured by civilians in the conflict zone, who depend upon support from the OSCE, the International Red Cross and the United Nations.
24th OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna on 7 and 8 December 2017
The Austrian Chairmanship has successfully led the OSCE through a difficult year. Although the Vienna OSCE Ministerial Council was once again dominated by the conflict in Ukraine and the violation of OSCE principles by Russia (in particular the illegal annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine), it was also able to reach important consensuses on cyber policy, small arms control, economic participation, human trafficking and the fight against sexual exploitation of children.
Germany was represented by Special Representative of the Federal Government for the OSCE Chairmanship Gernot Erler, who wrote the following in his guest comment for the “Wiener Zeitung”: “Two issues in particular are currently of paramount importance for the OSCE: the efforts to resolve the conflict in and around Ukraine, and security and arms control initiatives to strengthen trust and cooperation in the OSCE area.”
Read Gernot Erler’s guest comment here (in German)
The Structured Dialogue on current and future security challenges in the OSCE area will continue to provide important impetus for cooperative security, also under Italy’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2018. In this format, the OSCE participating States will continue to discuss important politico-military issues such as perceptions of threats, armed forces and military exercises in border regions, thereby helping to rebuild urgently needed trust through dialogue, in particular with respect to Russia and the West.