rt. On 8 December, at the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council, the then designated Austrian Chancellor and sitting Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz took stock of the Austrian Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He emphasised that a revived “bloc” mentality was obstructing progress. In this context he especially referred to the crisis in Ukraine but also to the tensions in Transnistria. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking wouls thwart any substantial progress in the OSCE.
Kurz commended the establishment of a budget increase for the OSCE by its 57 member states, which was appropriate given the escalating conflicts.
Referring to his proposal to install a UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, Kurz said that his could be another desirable option in order to alleviate the crisis.
The OSCE Secretary General, the Swiss diplomat Thomas Greminger, newly elected in July, also emphasised the importance of the OSCE as it could serve as a platform for governments to re-engage in such difficult times. He also pointed out the opportunities for informal talks on the margins of ministerial meetings, which were currently of great importance.
Both Kurz and Greminger praised the various OSCE teams, whose work contributed significantly to the realisation of the small results.
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rt. Austria passes on its OSCE Chairmanship to Italy in 2018. The “progress” of the OSCE in 2017 seems depressing, given the difficult situation in Eastern Europe. Especially in this for Europe dangerous geopolitical situation, the blockade of the West has a devastating effect. After all, organisations such as the OSCE or the UN could play an important role in “controlling” conflict zones or finding ways for peaceful conflict resolution, or at least keeping channels open for it.
The precondition for this remains the honest will of the OSCE contracting states. The fact that the OSCE has hardly been successful in the Ukraine conflict so far is certainly not due to the organisation or the current Austrian Chairmanship, but to the superordinate strategy of the US – with its European “allies” in tow – to advance to Russia’s borders and to stir up trouble spots there. As long as the OSCE is used as a propaganda platform to isolate Russia, it is unacceptable for Russia. Through repeated abuse, the West has destroyed the instrument of security and confidence-building measures CSBM and the further development of the Vienna Document (mutual inspections of military activities). Russia is now opposing such proposals on the basis of experience. This is why the German Chairmanship, which had just made the further development of the Vienna Document its goal, failed.
In this situation neutral intermediaries such as Switzerland that maintain contact in all directions despite the hardened “bloc” mentality, are becoming important again. •
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