In January 2019, Switzerland will take over the rotating chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC). The FSC is a little-known, integral decision-making body of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Every week in Vienna, the FSC discusses and negotiates measures to strengthen security in Europe.
In principle, the task is a routine matter, but since the outbreak of the Ukraine Crisis, nothing in the OSCE has been routine. The FSC has also suffered from the harsher political climate between Russia and the West. Nevertheless, especially in times of crisis, the FSC offers the opportunity for contacts between Russia and the West, especially military-to-military contacts. The FSC deals with politico-military issues.
Among its most important tasks are the negotiation and adoption of politically binding decisions in the area of arms control and confidence-and security-building measures (CSBMs), as well as ensuring compliance with the commitments entered into in this area by the OSCE participating States. Promoting the effectiveness of the OSCE has traditionally been one of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy. With its approach of co-operative and comprehensive security and its commitment to inclusive dialogue, the OSCE reflects essential elements of Switzerland’s foreign policy strategy. Since July 2017, Swiss Ambassador Thomas Greminger has headed the organization as OSCE Secretary General. His election can be seen as a sign of appreciation within the OSCE for Switzerland’s constructive role in the world’s largest regional security organization and its 57 participating States, including the US and Russia. Switzerland sees itself as a bridge-builder in the struggle between Russia and the West over the future European order.
Switzerland supports both the OSCE’s crisis management in the Ukraine Crisis and a dialogue on core issues of European security, including an eventual re-launch of conventional arms control in Europe. Switzerland is also committed to better implementation of the OSCE’s existing arms control acquis and a modernization of CSBMs. These were agreed in the Vienna Document and include the exchange of information on armed forces, defense planning and expenditure, prior notification about major military exercises, and onsite verification.