OSCE Permanent Council: President of the Confederation Didier Burkhalter emphasises the role of dialogue in working for peace and security

Bern, 16.01.2014 - In his first official appearance as Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Swiss President Didier Burkhalter discussed the priorities of Switzerland's OSCE Chairmanship with representatives of the 57 OSCE participating States in Vienna.

«Creating a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone»: Under this leitmotif, Switzerland has set three main objectives for its OSCE Chairmanship which began on 1 January 2014 – to promote security and stability, to improve people's living conditions, and to strengthen the OSCE's capacity to act.

The priorities Switzerland has defined to implement these goals were discussed by the OSCE's Chairperson-in-Office, President Burkhalter, with the permanent representatives of the OSCE in Vienna today. The Permanent Council, on which ambassadors of the OSCE's 57 participating States have a seat, meets once a week and is responsible for decision-making and the operational implementation of the organisation's tasks.

The outbreak of the First World War one hundred years ago clearly shows that peace can never be guaranteed, said Mr Burkhalter to the members of the Permanent Council. It is therefore all the more important to create structures that, thanks to regular dialogue, confidence building and mutual understanding, make peace and security possible. The OSCE – whose 57 participating States span three continents and a population of more than one billion people – is such a platform for dialogue: it helps to establish transparency and predictability, to build trust, to develop common standards, to find non-violent solutions, and to assume joint responsibility for the challenges we all share. «The OSCE gives us the opportunity to bring the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions under one roof», said Mr Burkhalter.

The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) also explained that the progress made by the OSCE in its work should be reached gradually. Indeed, in view of indications that East and West are drifting apart, the OSCE is particularly important as a platform for dialogue. That is why Switzerland wants to act as a bridge-builder during its Chairmanship of the OSCE, announced Mr Burkhalter, calling on the Permanent Council to engage in dialogue and seek compromise.

"Youth for Security and Cooperation in Europe" project launched

During his visit to the OSCE headquarters in Vienna, President Burkhalter will also meet with the heads of the 16 OSCE field missions that represent the OSCE in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia and that support their host countries' reform processes through specific projects, for example in the field of conflict prevention, post-conflict confidence building, holding democratic elections, and strengthening the rule of law and freedom of the media.

In the evening, he will officially launch the project «Youth for Security and Cooperation in Europe».  In this project, young men and women from all 57 OSCE participating States will take part in a «Model OSCE» that will adopt a youth action plan in the coming months. In December 2014 they will present this plan to the foreign ministers of the OSCE participating States at the Ministerial Council in Basel. Through simulated meetings of the Ministerial and Permanent Councils of the OSCE, the project aims to help young people get to know the issues and structures of the organisation better, and thereby to involve them more closely in the OSCE's work.  The youth action plan may also provide an impetus for a youth strategy to be devised by the OSCE.

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