Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Vienna on Thursday (2 July) to present the programme for Germany’s chairmanship in 2016 to the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Steinmeier also attended a meeting with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier.
Germany’s Foreign Minister is the Austrian capital this week for several reasons. In addition to the E3+3 negotiations with Iran, the focus on Thursday is on the plans for Germany’s OSCE chairmanship in 2016. On Thursday morning, Foreign Minister Steinmeier presented the key points of Germany’s chairmanship to the OSCE Permanent Council.
“Let us strengthen existing elements of confidence-building, rather than dismantling them further,” Steinmeier said in his speech to the Permanent Council. He spoke of “stormy times” and the need to “face our common threats together”. “The OSCE is and remains a key instrument of conflict prevention and resolution in Europe.” Germany is prepared to take on responsibility, he said.
An important topic: the conflict in Ukraine
Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, Foreign Minister Steinmeier has attached great importance to Germany’s role in the OSCE, and has called for the monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine to be strengthened.
“The Ukraine crisis has brought military armed conflict right back to our continent,” he said. “I don’t even want to think about where this situation might have got to by now if it hadn’t been for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.”
“A security policy crisis is raging in the eastern part of our continent that is undoubtedly the most serious since the end of the Cold War – the conflict in Ukraine. Confidence is rapidly destroyed, and only slowly rebuilt,” Steinmeier said, underlining that it took far longer to rebuild trust. A rule of thumb for him in foreign and security policy was that “you can set off a conflict in 14 days, but truly resolving it takes 14 years.”
OSCE: a forum for dialogue in Europe
In his speech to the Permanent Council, Steinmeier defined dialogue as the first pillar when he described the areas on which Germany wanted to focus and how the Organization could be further strengthened in cooperation with OSCE partners. He said that security and confidence were further pillars.
On the margins of his visit, Germany’s Foreign Minister also met senior representatives of the OSCE for talks. At the start of his visit, he met Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and the representative of Serbia, which currently holds the chairmanship, Ambassador Vuk Žugić.