Brussels, 5 December 2006 Press release

State Secretary Hans Winkler at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Brussels


Brussels, 5 December 2006 – “On account of its long experience, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) plays an indispensable role in the prevention of conflicts, the resolution of regional crises and in the field of politico-military and economic cooperation. However, the OSCE’s potential is far from being fully leveraged. Here, too, it is necessary to carry out courageous and far-reaching reforms to strengthen its capacity to act in view of the pace of developments worldwide,” said State Secretary Hans Winkler on the occasion of the 14th OSCE Ministerial Council in Brussels.

As a solid pillar of the OSCE in the Human Dimension, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), together with other OSCE instruments, is at the centre of the debate about strengthening the OSCE. The Office, which is headed by Austrian Ambassador Christian Strohal, organises election observation missions, promotes democracy and the rule of law, carries out institution-building and consulting tasks and monitors compliance with standards in the field of the Human Dimension. Winkler thanked the ODIHR for its report to the Ministerial Council on the current challenges in the Human Dimension: according to this report, democratic elections, freedom of association and expression, compliance with human rights in combating terrorism, measures against various forms of intolerance, the fate of migrants and refugees, freedom of action for human rights defenders, NGOs and civil society in general are of essential importance for human security.

“We all have to safeguard and respect democracy, the rule of law and good governance. It was and still is one of the core tasks of the OSCE to remind its participating states of their obligations and help them in their implementation. Actions taken in existing conflicts and tensions such as those in the Caucasus require special attention and sensitivity. The normalisation of living conditions and peaceful cohabitation must be our constant objective. In this respect both the OSCE and the parties to the conflict are challenged. The OSCE is not a disruptive factor; on the contrary, its task is to support and guide the countries and regions on their difficult road to peace and stability by making them serious offers. The OSCE election observation missions play an important role in this respect,” the State Secretary stressed.

Winkler also spoke out in favour of a geographical balance in the distribution of the Organization’s tasks. “Each participating state which is committed to this Organization’s principles and obligations and fulfils them should be given the opportunity of taking over the chair of the OSCE. Provided the requirements are met, Kazakhstan too may take over an important leadership role in the Organization,” said Winkler. At the OSCE Ministerial Council no consensus was reached on the question of the OSCE chairmanship in 2009. The decision was postponed until next year’s meeting in Madrid.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Office of the State Secretary
Mag. Katharina SWOBODA
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3469
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-3469