In his capacity as Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed a large number of his counterparts from the OSCE participating States to Potsdam on Thursday (1 September). The focus of the informal meeting was on the common challenges as regards security in the OSCE area and on enhancing cooperation between the OSCE participating States.
High-level attendance underscores the importance of the OSCE
Forty of Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s counterparts from OSCE participating States accepted his invitation to the meeting in Potsdam, issued in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. In the run-up to the meeting, Steinmeier made clear that the aim was to “tackle tough issues and address concrete topics”, including how to deal with new challenges such as international terrorism and the impact of displacement and migration. The fact that so many Foreign Ministers attended the meeting “showed how important the OSCE, as a platform for dialogue, is for peace in Europe and for our common security from Vancouver to Vladivostok”, Steinmeier said. In today’s crisis-ridden world, he added, the OSCE was more important than ever, be it in eastern Ukraine, Transdniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh and other trouble spots in Europe or in preserving peace and security.
Focus on security and enhancing cooperation
The focus of today’s talks was on the common challenges as regards security in the OSCE area and on enhancing cooperation between the OSCE participating States. Topics discussed included the OSCE’s activities in crisis and conflict management, particularly in Ukraine, and in counterterrorism, as well as arms control. With regard to confidence-building measures, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, recommended putting the topic of arms control on the OSCE agenda. He also said that the OSCE was currently the only institution in which exchange between Russia and the West, including on controversial issues, was possible.
German Chairmanship in turbulent times
On 1 January 2016, Germany assumed the Chairmanship of the world’s largest regional security organisation for the second time, following its Chairmanship in 1991. “Renewing dialogue, rebuilding trust, restoring security” is the motto of its Chairmanship in 2016. Steinmeier said it was not a coincidence that Germany had taken on the Chairmanship in such turbulent times. “This was a deliberate step, which we took to help strengthen peace and security in the OSCE area. Crisis management and work on key European security architecture issues are two sides of the same coin – the aim of both is peace and greater security in Europe for us all.” The final highlight of Germany’s Chairmanship will be the Ministerial Council in Hamburg on 8–9 December 2016.