Swiss diplomat Heidi Grau named OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine

Bern, 05.12.2019 - In a triumph for Swiss diplomacy, the 26th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has opened with the Chairperson-in-Office, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, appointing Ambassador Heidi Grau as Special Representative for Ukraine. A renowned Swiss expert on Eastern Europe, Ambassador Grau thus assumes a key role in working towards an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis welcomes the news of her appointment and considers this a testament to the reputation Swiss diplomacy enjoys within and beyond the OSCE.

In her new role, Ambassador Grau will coordinate talks between representatives of Ukraine, Russia and non-government controlled areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk districts. Under her leadership, the Trilateral Contact Group and its four subgroups will work on behalf of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the four Normandy format countries to implement the Minsk peace accords, formulate positions and propose approaches to resolving the conflict.
Heidi Grau currently serves as head of the Human Security Division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). She is a renowned expert on Eastern Europe and has extensive experience in conflict management. Among her past positions, she led the task force for the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship and has had foreign postings in New York and Moscow.

FDFA Head Ignazio Cassis is delighted with Heidi Grau's appointment as OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine and considers this an indication that Switzerland will remain a central force in the international effort to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. "This appointment also pays tribute to the accomplishments of Swiss diplomacy and shows that our work is recognised and appreciated internationally." He added that it represents "a success for our efforts to ensure Switzerland is effectively represented in international organisations". The OSCE already has a strong Swiss presence, with diplomat Thomas Greminger serving as its Secretary General (see also link below).
Leading the Swiss delegation to the OSCE Ministerial Council in Bratislava on 5–6 December, FDFA State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl also applauded this appointment as "excellent news for Switzerland and the OSCE" and remarked that Ambassador Grau has the ideal profile for this new position at the OSCE.

As the cornerstone of European security, the OSCE plays a crucial role in resolving crises and conflicts. Switzerland regards the OSCE as a platform for dialogue to ensure the security of states and their citizens in Europe. At the Ministerial Council, which is the OSCE's central governing body, State Secretary Baeriswyl cautioned that making progress in conflict resolution was often an uphill struggle. Based on recent successes, however, she noted that the OSCE has the instruments it needs to meet the challenges ahead. "We must have the confidence to make real use of these instruments," said Baeriswyl.

Switzerland is involved in numerous activities in Ukraine. In addition to its peace-policy commitment and the secondment of experts to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Switzerland contributes some CHF 25 million annually towards reform efforts in Ukraine. The focus is on strengthening democratic governance structures and reform processes, particularly in healthcare, sustainable economic development and urbanisation. Switzerland also provides direct humanitarian aid on both sides of the contact line.


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