The OSCE Chairmanship is held for one calendar year by the OSCE participating State designated as such by a decision of the Ministerial Council. In this capacity the chairing State plays a major role in steering the work of the OSCE and in representing the organisation externally. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the chairing State exercises the function of Chairperson-in-Office. The fact that in the OSCE decisions are taken by consensus of the 57 participating States makes the Chairmanship a special diplomatic challenge.
At the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Basle in December 2014, the participating States entrusted Austria with the Chairmanship of the OSCE for the year 2017. In this function Austria succeeded Germany, which held this position in 2016. After having been in the OSCE Chair in 2000, Austria held this responsible and important position for the second time. The OSCE Chairmanship is mandated with a wide range of tasks and is thus a central political player. In this role as mediator and facilitator Austria built on its foreign policy experience and priorities in contributing to strengthening security. The challenges and priorities of the Austrian Chairmanship thus include managing conflicts, preventing and fighting transnational threats to internal security and re-establishing trust and confidence in a common space shared by 1.2 billion people.