Speech by Minister of State Michael Georg Link at the 19th OSCE Ministerial Council in Dublin, 6 December 2012

06.12.2012 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr Chairperson-in-Office,
Secretary General,
Fellow Ministers,

Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere thanks to our Irish hosts for inviting us here to Dublin.

It seems apt, since we are meeting on an island, to compare the OSCE as it is today to a ship sailing the wide oceans of security policy and the unpredictable seas of international politics.

The good ship OSCE, however, is looking a bit like a tanker in its fourth decade on the water. It looks a little cumbersome, and some people consider it a rather outmoded form of transport.

Some people, you see, think the OSCE is less and less relevant to security policy. However, we have been seeing old differences and obstacles resurfacing that we thought we had overcome long ago.

No, my dear colleagues, there is no doubt that we have the OSCE to thank for bearing us safely through dangerous waters. It helps us to navigate the cliffs and sandbanks of any polarization or antagonism between its participating states, to weather the storms of international crisis and to avoid the treacherous shallows of distrust and conflict.

As a geographical link and a security policy constant, the OSCE joins the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and beyond, now all the way to Mongolia.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Mongolia’s representative on his country’s new membership of the OSCE. The Organization now spans a considerable proportion of the globe and unites a billion people. Its acquis, in the three dimensions, is designed with those people in mind; it aims to enhance their security in every aspect of their lives.

The comprehensive security concept enshrined in the OSCE’s acquis is a model for the world and thus of lasting significance.

Promoting and developing it is a duty we all share: the participating states, the Parliamentary Assembly and all OSCE bodies.

If we didn’t have the OSCE, or it was not as robust as it is, our world would be less stable and more unpredictable. It is a format envied by other regions. We will be marking the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015.

That Act has brought us a lot to be thankful for. It was the basis for overcoming the division of the world, of Europe and – last but not least – of my native country into East and West, something that was nearly unimaginable at the time.

We are now using the Helsinki +40 process to point the OSCE towards the future. Germany made a strategic contribution to that debate in the form of the IDEAS initiative, which Foreign Minister Westerwelle launched alongside his counterparts from France, Poland and Russia.

Secretary General Lamberto Zannier commended that initiative in his statement this morning, for which I sincerely thank him.

We want to see the IDEAS initiative continued as part of Helsinki +40 and extended to encompass more think tanks in order to progress further towards a real security community. The report by the four academic institutions is very much worth reading. Not only does it provide outstanding analysis of the OSCE’s situation. It also contains recommendations which can and indeed ought to be taken as more than food for thought.

The security community outlined in that report should be one that brings together its 57 participating states in a spirit of mutual trust and increasing alignment with one another on fundamental values and positions within security policy.

That vision can only succeed if we overcome the polarization currently taking hold across the world as outdated confrontational attitudes resurface and people regress into thinking about the world in terms of spheres of influence.

We need to engender more trust again, by making our behaviour as states as transparent as possible when it comes to security policy. That is the basic mission that the Astana Summit assigned the governments, and the parliaments, in the OSCE area. In the 21st century, we need to finally put the age of zero-sum games in international politics behind us.

Germany is therefore sorry to see that no substantial progress has been made this year towards comprehensive modernization of the Vienna Document in the interests of confidence and security building. The Vienna Document needs to be adapted to the realities of the 21st century if it is to remain significant as an instrument for transparency and confidence building.

In Germany’s view, therefore, conventional arms control is and will remain crucial for the stability and security of our continent. It needs new life breathed into it, and it needs modernization.

In the field of non-military security, we are facing new challenges. Such transnational threats as terrorism, the drugs trade, human trafficking and cyber risk have the potential to destabilize states, and they call for resolute police action.

For that reason, this Ministerial Council ought to endorse the draft decisions on transnational threats in order to enable the OSCE to take action.

No progress has been made in the Human Dimension since the last Ministerial Council in Vilnius. This is a particularly serious symptom of the divisions that have once again arisen in the OSCE area.

We very much support the work of the ODIHR, especially in the field of election monitoring.

For Germany, human rights are the indispensable core of foreign policy – and that explicitly includes the protection of human rights in this age of new information and communications technology. We are therefore working committedly to see this Ministerial Council agree on steps to once again continue to develop the acquis in the Human Dimension.

For the sake of its credibility, the OSCE needs to engage even more actively with the conflicts within its region, so that the vision of a security community can become a reality. Actively pursuing reconciliation can be an important part of that endeavour.

Germany supports the Minsk Group’s mediation efforts in the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. At the same time, we are concerned at the continuing incidents and the lack of progress towards finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. The parties to the conflict ought at long last to declare readiness to engage in confidence-building measures and persuade their population of the need for compromise.

I would like to highlight the Irish Chairmanship’s concentrated efforts to advance the 5+2 negotiations to resolve the Transdniestria conflict. We hope that our neighbours in Ukraine will pick that up and achieve further progress when they take over the Chairmanship in 2013. The German Government, too, is working for that progress.

I would mention, for example, the Meseberg initiative and the OSCE conference held in Bavaria in June, the second of its kind under Germany’s patronage.

May I take this opportunity to thank the Irish Chairmanship for its important work and to wish Ukraine all the best for its term in 2013.

Let us pull together to enhance the OSCE’s credentials as a security community. We are all aboard the good ship OSCE together, and we need to jointly set a course for the future. Germany is an active member of the crew, and we are ready, as ever, to do our bit to develop and strengthen the OSCE and its acquis.

Thank you.

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