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New chair: OSCE best safeguard against new East-West divisions

January 02, 2014, 2:25 UTC+3 BERN
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BERN, January 01, /ITAR-TASS/. The new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, said his country would like to make a tangible contribution to fostering security and stability, improving people’s lives and strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to act.

Switzerland assumed the rotating Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for 2014.

Burkhalter said the Swiss Chairmanship’s underlying idea was “Create a Security Community for the Benefit of Everyone.”

He said that the OSCE “is about common security delivered by all and for all - by all countries and for all countries, by all people and for all people” and added that the OSCE is “uniquely placed to connect the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian area”.

The new chair’s geographic priorities will be the Western Balkans and South Caucasus and said he had appointed Special Representatives for each of the regions: Ambassador Gerhard Stoudmann for the Western Balkans and Ambassador Angelo Gnaedinger for the South Caucasus. Ambassador Radojko Bogojevic of Serbia will be the OSCE Chairperson’s Special Representative for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process during 2014, given the close co-ordination with the 2015 Serbian Chairmanship.

Burkhalter noted that Switzerland would aim to strengthen the potential of the Organisation in areas such as preventing conflicts and mediating lasting solutions.

“In the Western Balkans, we wish to make reconciliation and regional co-operation a topic of discussion. In addition, the OSCE should play a supporting role in the implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement. As for the South Caucasus, we will work with existing formats to support the search for a resolution to the protracted conflicts,” the official said.

He believes that “progress can only be made step by step, and for this reason we value bringing continuity to the Organisation. I hope that the tools of the Swiss-Serbian consecutive chairmanship such as a joint work plan will become a model for future chairmanships.”

The Swiss OSCE Chairmanship will work towards securing the full implementation of existing commitments in the Human Dimension; it will concentrate on combating torture, respecting human rights, including minority rights, promoting democratic elections, and strengthening the rule of law in combating terrorism. Work to combat transnational threats generally and natural disaster preparedness and response are also high on the agenda, Burkhalter said.

Emphasising the importance of interesting young people in the OSCE, its new chair said that 57 young people from 57 participating states had been enlisted to take part in a Model OSCE initiative starting in January 2014. “Not only will these young people learn how the OSCE works, but will also be tasked with drawing up a Youth Action plan, to generate new ideas on how to revitalize the OSCE,” he said.

“Good politics is always at the service of the people. Switzerland will work closely with both civil society representatives and youth during its chairmanship,” Burkhalter added.

He will present Switzerland’s priorities to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on January 16, the OSCE said.

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