Procedure for selecting new OSCE Secretary General and heads of OSCE institutions gets under way

Bern, 13.07.2020 - At a meeting on Friday 10 July, representatives of participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) decided not to reappoint four officials currently holding senior positions within the OSCE, including Swiss Secretary General Thomas Greminger. Switzerland regrets this decision and calls for a speedy resolution of the issue.

The 57 OSCE participating states could not reach consensus on the reappointment of four senior officials last Friday. In addition to Secretary General Thomas Greminger, the officials concerned are Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier and the Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir.

Switzerland calls for a speedy resolution
The decision can be attributed to the interplay of various factors relating to the posts and specific concerns raised by some participating states. At a meeting on Monday 13 July the participating states also failed to agree on the temporary reappointment of incumbents until December 2020. Their current terms are therefore due to expire on 18 July.
Switzerland regrets this decision and, in particular, the circumstances that produced this outcome. The OSCE is facing an institutional crisis and it is essential that it shows a strong united front by rapidly clarifying these leadership roles. Switzerland will therefore continue to work towards a rapid resolution of these important personnel matters.

Switzerland supports Thomas Greminger
Before the selection procedure commenced, Switzerland advocated at various political levels the reappointment of the four officials. A number of bilateral meetings have been held and several demarches issued both within and outside Switzerland, for example by President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, State Secretary Krystyna Marty Lang and State Secretary Roberto Balzaretti. Despite the difficult circumstances, Switzerland has therefore acted constructively in support of all four officials.

Swiss Secretary General Thomas Greminger has done an excellent job over the last three years and has enjoyed the active support of Switzerland throughout his term of office. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has been liaising closely with him and other OSCE participating states to determine how to proceed.

The four posts will now be advertised by Albania’s OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. The OSCE is now at the start of a long process to appoint new officials or, if possible, reappoint the officials already in post. Participating states can nominate candidates for the four posts by mid-September. The relevant decisions will be made at the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in December.


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