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Austria’s priorities for 2017 OSCE Chairmanship

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, highlighted three key challenges facing the Organization and its participating States as Austria took over as the 2017 OSCE Chairmanship: deplorable and complex crises and conflicts in the OSCE area, a fundamental lack of mutual trust and confidence, and an alarming phenomenon of growing radicalization and violent extremism, especially among young people.

Pointing to the OSCE's experience as a facilitator, mediator and connector for a common space of 1.2 billion people, the Chairperson-in-Office emphasized that the organization can provide all necessary tools for promoting de-escalation and enabling sustainable political solutions to the conflicts in the OSCE area, not least the conflict in and around Ukraine. Kurz stressed that, to respond effectively to current challenges and threats to our common security, the OSCE’s capabilities must be upgraded and its approaches in all three dimensions of security must be updated.

The Austrian Chairmanship will support all efforts within the OSCE to overcome divisions within and between participating States. At the same time, Austria will continue the 2016 German Chairmanship’s efforts to enhance informal and alternative channels of communication to improve mutual understanding and trust. Austria plans to organize a series of Chairmanship events aimed at fighting terrorism and preventing radicalization, especially among youth. These would include regional workshops as well as an informal meeting of foreign ministers in July 2017.

With regard to conventional arms control, Foreign Minister Kurz emphasized that, “the current situation is untenable. We need a meaningful dialogue on arms control and confidence- and security-building measures to address divergent security perceptions and find common ground. This is essential for ensuring military stability, predictability and transparency.”

The Austrian Chairmanship will also seek to address the increasing economic fragmentation in the OSCE space and to increase economic connectivity. “Connectivity can help improve overall relations within the OSCE,” said the Chairperson-in-Office. “Economic and environmental co-operation not only can help prevent conflict, but also can create vital confidence- and security-building mechanisms and promote economic development. Fostering dialogue on connectivity and avenues of integration will benefit everyone.”

Kurz emphasized that the human dimension of security – including human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law – was of prime importance within the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security.

More information can be found on the OSCE website.