«Swiss Chairmanship 2014: Creating a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone»

Bern, 06.12.2013 - Kiev, 6.12.2013 - Statement by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter for the Closing Session at the Ministerial Council of the OSCE - Check against delivery

Mr Chairman, dear colleagues,

I briefly talked about the Swiss chairmanship 2014 in my statement yesterday. I now have the pleasure of outlining our programme in some more detail.

Our leitmotif is to “Create a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone”. Under this leitmotif, we have set three overall objectives:

Fostering security and stability: we want the OSCE to deliver concrete and effective contributions to the resolution of conflicts and tensions in Europe and beyond. The OSCE should continue to build trust and reassurance through transparency and exchange of information on conventional armed forces.

Improving people’s lives: the organisation should provide tangible results for the citizens of all participating states.

Strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to act: if we are serious about creating a security community, we should also get serious about enhancing the organisation’s capacity to deliver.

These three objectives represent values that are very important for Switzerland: security, freedom, and responsibility.

For each of these objectives, we have identified three to four priority issues.

As you can see on the tableau, we have grouped these priorities according to the objectives of the Swiss chairmanship rather than the OSCE’s three dimensions. Switzerland will, however, pay due attention to all three dimensions.

We will also do our best to make progress in regions and fields that are not listed on our tableau, such as Central Asia and the Transdniestrian settlement process, for which Switzerland will appoint a Serbian special representative.

So let us start with the security objective on the left. There are two geographic priorities: the Western Balkans and the South Caucasus. Switzerland will appoint a special representative for each of these regions. The special representatives will be reappointed after the first year by my Serbian colleague. They will be able to continue their work until the end of 2015.

In the Western Balkans, the OSCE should play a supporting role in the implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement. We also wish to make reconciliation a topic of discussion. As for the South Caucasus, we will work with existing formats to support the search for a resolution to the protracted conflicts. We will put special emphasis on confidence building and improving people’s daily lives.

A thematic priority in this column is to modernise and update the Vienna Document. We will also continue to position the OSCE as a market place for ideas on conventional arms control. And we will seek to strengthen the OSCE’s role in security sector governance.

As for the second column on “improving people’s lives”, a major priority will be to secure full implementation of existing commitments in the Human Dimension. At the forefront of our efforts are combating torture, the respect for minority rights and human rights in economic crises, promoting democratic elections, and strengthening the rule of law in combating terrorism.

Switzerland will host a chairperson-in-office conference on the role of human rights defenders in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Declaration on Human Rights Defenders – an occasion worth celebrating. The conference will give ODIHR the opportunity to present its recommendations on human rights defenders.

Dear colleagues

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines reminded us how important natural-disaster preparedness and response are for the security of individuals and countries. We will put the theme of "a more reliable management of natural disasters" at the centre of the Prague Cycle 2014.

As for the issue of combating transnational threats, this is one of the fields where we see potential to establish more common ground between all participating States. There will be a chairperson-in-office conference on countering terrorism at the end of April 2014. We will address the issue in a cross-dimensional manner and discuss themes such as kidnapping for ransom, the return of foreign fighters, and human rights in countering terrorism.

Concerning the third column, the strengthening of OSCE capacities, I already came up with some proposals for discussion in the Helsinki + 40 process yesterday, such as the consecutive chairmanship and thematic summits.

A related priority is to build up OSCE capacity to prevent violent conflicts and mediate lasting solutions. Switzerland has already started to provide mediation training to OSCE staff and will continue to do so. We will also encourage close cooperation between the OSCE and the UN mediation support unit.

Finally, the priority of enhancing the involvement of civil society and in particular of young people in the OSCE is of great importance to us.

Switzerland welcomes that civil society representatives have the opportunity to submit their recommendations to us here in Kiev. Next year, we will organise several regional conferences for civil society, as well as a major conference in Basel prior to the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting.

We also want to give young people a voice in the OSCE. We have enlisted 57 young people from the 57 participating States. We will organise simulated Permanent Council and Ministerial Council meetings for them to give them an opportunity to get to know the OSCE better. At the same time, we are eager to learn more about their aspirations and expectations concerning security and cooperation in the OSCE area.

These young people will be given the task of drawing up a Youth Action Plan. This Action Plan will hopefully provide some new ideas on how to revitalise the OSCE. And it should inspire as much as possible the elaboration of an official OSCE Youth Action Plan, which is a joint objective of the Swiss-Serbian consecutive chairmanship. Linking youth more closely with the OSCE beyond the Swiss and Serbian chairmanship should in my view be an objective we should all consider.

Mr Chairman, dear colleagues

Switzerland is ready to assume the chairmanship in 2014. We will be working hard to bring the OSCE closer to a security community for the benefit of everyone. But we can only succeed together, with your support and your active engagement.

An immediate challenge for the Swiss chairmanship is the timely adoption of the unified budget of the OSCE. Just before the start of this meeting, we distributed a Chair’s proposal for the budget. The different positions on funding levels are not far apart, but important differences remain. I therefore call on all delegations to engage in constructive cooperation to help resolve this issue.

I am convinced that we can accomplish concrete and meaningful progress next year if we all commit to working together in a spirit of dialogue and compromise. You can count on us. I am sure we can also count on you!

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