Upcoming OSCE chairmanship: Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter to represent Switzerland at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Kiev

Bern, 04.12.2013 - Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will take part in the Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kiev on 5 and 6 December. The two-day conference of the foreign ministers of the 57 OSCE member states is the culmination of the Ukrainian chairmanship of the OSCE and marks the transition to Switzerland's chairmanship, which will begin on 1 January 2014. With its chairmanship of the OSCE in 2014, Switzerland will strengthen its commitment to stability in Europe, its neighbouring regions and the rest of the world.

As every year, in 2013 the Ministerial Council – the central decision-making management body of the OSCE – is taking place in the country that currently holds the chairmanship.  Accordingly, on 5 and 6 December 2013 the foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the OSCE will meet in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

From Switzerland's perspective, the conference in Kiev is especially significant, as it is the last major official event of the Ukrainian OSCE chairmanship before Switzerland takes over the chairmanship of the organisation on 1 January 2014. Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will therefore participate in Kiev in two capacities: as Switzerland's foreign minister, he will represent Switzerland, and at the same time he will participate in the Ministerial Council as the next chairman-in-office of the OSCE. In this capacity, on Friday 6 December he will deliver the statement of the incoming chair at the final meeting this year of the Ministerial Council, and will also explain the priorities of the Swiss chairmanship.

Under the leitmotif of "a security community for the benefit of everyone", Switzerland will set three priorities for its chairmanship of the OSCE:

  • Promote security and stability: Through dialogue and confidence-building efforts, Switzerland wants to contribute to solving conflicts, particularly in the Western Balkans and the South Caucasus. In addition, Switzerland supports agreements to facilitate transparency and reforms in the security forces.
  • Improve people's living conditions: Switzerland wants to contribute to ensuring that all OSCE states fulfil their obligations to protect and respect human rights (key words: prevention of torture, human rights in counter-terrorism, free and democratic elections, protection of human rights defenders and respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities). It wants to help ensure more efficient natural disaster prevention and management in the region.
  • Strengthen the OSCE's capacity to act: Switzerland supports the current reform process to enable the OSCE to respond more rapidly and efficiently to future crises, among other things through the further development of mediation capacities. Another important objective of Switzerland's chairmanship will be to regularly involve civil society and young people in the OSCE's activities.

2014 Ministerial Council in Basel

As part of the OSCE chairmanship next year, Switzerland will host the Ministerial Council in Basel at the beginning of December, 2014. Switzerland first held the chairmanship in 1996 and is the only country to chair the organisation twice. By assuming the chairmanship, Switzerland is stepping up its commitment to stability in Europe, its neighbouring regions and the world, and is thereby implementing one of the strategic priorities of its foreign policy. A new development is the joint work programme Switzerland has elaborated with Serbia, which will take over the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2015. This consecutive and coordinated chairmanship format will strengthen the continuity of the OSCE’s work. Nevertheless, Switzerland will carry out its chairmanship under its own responsibility in 2014, as will Serbia in 2015.

Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs