Conclusion of the OSCE Ministerial Council: highlighting the need for dialogue in difficult times

09.12.2016 - Article

Two days, more than 40 Foreign Ministers, and big questions related to Europe’s security – the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg was held at a time of political conflict and controversial debates. The Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) proved its worth: it provided a forum for dialogue and discussion, across all ideological and political divisions.Tage, mehr als 40 Außenminister Verständigung.

As OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Steinmeier is chairing the Ministerial Council
As OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Steinmeier is chairing the Ministerial Council© Photothek / Gaertner

“Serious threats to peace and security, and even the question of war and peace, have returned to Europe, and to our gathering here in Hamburg,” Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier said. He went on to say that, already ahead of the meeting, it had become clear that current conflicts and tensions relating to developments in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea would not be resolved overnight.

Serious threats to peace and security

For Steinmeier, this is precisely why the OSCE Ministerial Council sent an important signal. “If the OSCE didn’t exist, we would have to invent it,” Steinmeier said. Numerous discussions were held at the meeting and behind the scenes. Steinmeier had an intensive exchange of views with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the most pressing issues related to global security.

In his conclusions, the Chairperson‑in‑Office called upon all sides in the crisis in and around Ukraine to finally implement the agreed provisions of the Minsk agreements. Steinmeier earned strong support for his initiative to develop a new conventional arms control mechanism.

Family photograph of the OSCE Ministerial Council, 9 December 2016
Family photograph of the OSCE Ministerial Council, 9 December 2016© Photothek / Gaertner

The so‑called Troika, which plays a key role in the OSCE and is currently composed of Germany, Austria and Italy, declared it will make disarmament one of its four priorities. The Troika comprises the previous, current and future countries holding the OSCE Chairmanship. Its composition changes every year.

OSCE Ministerial Council creates key impetus

Discussions at the Ministerial Council focused not only on the conflict in and around Ukraine. It addressed issues ranging from migration to cyber security, and on Friday (9 December) the Ministerial Council took more than ten decisions on various different topics.

In his conclusions, Steinmeier commented on these as follows: “We laid foundations for equipping the OSCE better for the fight against terrorism. And we reviewed our approach to small arms, the topic of passenger data and the challenges in the cyber area.” Steinmeier also emphasised:

We made crucial progress on the topic of arms control. And we addressed a regional conflict in our declaration on the Transdniestria talks in the 5+2 format. This shows that progress is also possible on difficult issues if we work together in a pragmatic way.

Expressing thanks to the citizens of the City of Hamburg
Expressing thanks to the citizens of the City of Hamburg© Photothek / Imo

The OSCE Ministerial Council also concludes Germany’s year‑long OSCE Chairmanship. Germany took the helm at a turbulent time. “Everyone on board – from the captain to the engine room crew – had to be truly seaworthy, ready to weather the political storms we faced all year long,” Steinmeier said, also expressing his appreciation for the good cooperation with the OSCE Secretariat. Austria will be assuming next year’s OSCE Chairmanship.

Steinmeier also once again thanked the citizens of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg for their warm hospitality.

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Hier finden Sie die Abschlussrede von Au, Abschlusserklärung des Zukunftserklärung der “Troika” im Original:

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