Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter calls for greater cooperation on security and confidence-building in Europe

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Bern, Press release, 07.02.2015

Restoring security in Europe will necessitate a shared and sustained commitment by all states. At today's Munich Security Conference, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, emphasised this necessity and the key role to be played by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in this process.

The situation in Ukraine and its consequences for European security are the focus of discussions at this year's Security Conference in Munich. Through his participation in various events on the margins of the conference, Mr Burkhalter underscored that the restoration of security and confidence in Europe must be a joint undertaking of all states which will require a sustained commitment. This is a high priority for Switzerland, which is also working to this end within the 'Troika' responsible for steering the OSCE, in which it takes part as last year's Chair of the organisation, together with Serbia and Germany.

Mr Burkhalter also thinks that the OSCE plays a central role in rebuilding security and confidence in Europe: The OSCE already proven its bridge-building function during the difficult context of the Ukraine crisis, and was successful in maintaining the dialogue between the different actors. It is also a platform for in-depth discussion on the future of European security. In this regard, Mr Burkhalter also recalled that at the OSCE Ministerial Conference in Basel in December 2014, Switzerland set up a Panel of Eminent Persons from across the OSCE region which was tasked with drawing up recommendations on how to re-establish trust and safeguard security in Europe as a common undertaking. The panel will meet for the first time on Sunday at the Munich Security Conference.

In order for the OSCE to be able to fulfil its important role, stressed Mr Burkhalter, it must be able to act. For this reason, he also called on the OSCE to undertake reforms. Only then will the OSCE be able to build on its strengths as a platform for dialogue and a forum for discussions on lasting security that include, for example, the fight against terrorism and economic and social aspects. In this context, Mr Burkhalter specifically mentioned the need to involve young people in deliberations on long-term goals.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr Burkhalter will meet with the Serbian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ivica Dacic, and the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, within the framework of the OSCE Troika. Their talks will also focus on the situation in Ukraine and the role of the OSCE in searching for a political solution to the conflict and the future of European security.

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