Foreign ministers of four German-speaking countries adopt joint declaration on security and peace in Europe

Bern, 16.08.2015 - On 16 August at the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel the foreign ministers of four German-speaking countries adopted a joint declaration calling for close and coordinated cooperation in the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). They also decided to cooperate in the areas of dual vocational training and to increase efforts to promote the German language.

Swiss Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick, Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, and the German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier adopted a joint ministerial declaration on the occasion of their annual meeting calling for greater cooperation between German-speaking states in the framework of the OSCE. The joint declaration also contains the following four specific points: a common commitment to solving the Ukrainian crisis, strengthening the OSCE’s capacity for action, discussion of the future of European security, and strengthening economic connectivity within the OSCE area. They also reasserted their political support for the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

The promotion of security and peace in Europe and throughout the world are among the priorities of Switzerland’s foreign policy. The OSCE Chairmanship passes to Germany in 2016 and to Austria in 2017. Switzerland had the chair in 2014.

The four ministers also decided to strengthen cooperation among German-speaking countries in the area of dual vocational education and training. For this purpose the four have taken the initiative to found a joint “Donor Committee for dual Vocational Education and Training” with its headquarters in Switzerland. The aim is through the joint efforts of the four countries to give a more prominent position to dual vocational education and training in development cooperation and also to promote exchanges of experience and knowledge and enhance cooperation between the four countries. The official founding at ministerial level is due to take place in Switzerland at the beginning of 2016.

As promoting the German language worldwide is also a common concern, the four ministers decided to provide financial support for the organisation of a competition on the subject of German as a foreign language and an international conference for German teachers, which is to be held in Fribourg (CH) in 2017.

Another key focus of the discussions was the relations between Switzerland and the EU. In this respect it is important to involve the neighbouring countries of Switzerland more closely in the current debate about better management of migration and the development of the bilateral approach, as those countries’ interests often concur with those of Switzerland in terms of economic and migration policy. The ministers in attendance confirmed their desire to be included in the discussions affecting their interests.

The foreign ministers also exchanged views on the situations in Ukraine and the Middle East and called for a peaceful solution to the conflicts.

Meetings between the foreign ministers of German-speaking states have taken place since 2006, with the participation of Germany since 2012. The aim is to strengthen cooperation in areas of common interest. These regular meetings also help to consolidate relations between the four countries and facilitate the exchange of information. The previous meeting of German-speaking foreign ministers took place on 27 November 2014 in Berlin. The venue of the meeting scheduled for 2016 will be the Principality of Liechtenstein.

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