Policy Paper on the OSCE Conference

17/01/2017 16:09

A New Peace Structure for Europe
and the Role of the OSCE

(An outlook on the Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE)


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The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which emerged as a result of the Helsinki Process, is the largest security organisation in the Northern Hemisphere and a true pan-European one. In recent years, the OSCE member countries have been facing multiple crises. However, many of these challenges, such as transnational terrorism, global migration crisis, and other hybrid threats are not confined to OSCE member states only, and go beyond the mandate of the OSCE.

Another problem is the ineffectiveness of existing institutions and security mechanisms in Europe. Only a limited number of countries takes part in the decision-making processes. Especially the Ukrainian crisis has exposed this deficit. In the light of this, the OSCE can offer opportunities for finding consensus, provided that it will be adapted to the new challenges. In order to create an enhanced and sustainable peace structure for Europe, cooperation on key issues must be strengthened and decision-making must involve all countries in the region.

In the light of the Austrian OSCE presidency in 2017, the main goal of the conference in Vienna was to discuss these challenges and questions and to focus on suitable and sustainable concepts for establishing a more peaceful common European (or even common Eurasian) security order in the future.


General recommendations

  • In the aftermath of the refugee crisis, a political management in form of institutionalization is still needed.
  • In the classical spirit of the OSCE, efforts should be made to restore the indivisibility of security in Europe as the central guideline, especially in the relations between Russia and the EP countries.
  • The necessary building of trust between the OSCE member states should be addressed in a structured dialogue, amongst other things by revitalization of the arms control talks.
  • Despite all its shortcomings, there is no other organization in Europe whose status and legitimacy is comparable to the OSCE.
  1. The OSCE and the global migration crisis:
    challenges and responses

  • Global migration and the refugee crisis are one of the most urgent new challenges which Europe faces today.


  • Unlimited and uncontrolled migration accompanied by failed integration are serious security risks for Europe. Successful integration of the refugees who are granted asylum is of great importance.


  • The countries of the Northern Hemisphere should try to reduce push factors for migration in cooperation with the countries of origin.


  • The relationship between migration and development policies needs to be rethought. Development aid should be more and more linked to anti-migration policies.


  • In the light of the influx and the integration of refugees, Europe needs a fact-based strategy in order to undertake the necessary institutional reforms and to build up capacities for ensuring social peace. A mixture of humanitarian realism, rule of law and human rights engagement could help to manage Europe´s migration challenges.


  • The OSCE should play a decisive role in dealing with migration and its consequences. Migration is here to stay and affects all OSCE countries. It is a cross-border and multidimensional topic requiring a broad security approach.


  1. The OSCE and contemporary security challenges


  • Dialogue is needed more than ever to re-build trust, otherwise no meaningful cooperation will be possible.


  • Due to the growing antagonism between the Russian Federation and the transatlantic security community, the culture of military talks was lost. One should reinstate them to avoid a serious confrontation between Russia and the USA.


  • Furthermore, a new commitment to conventional arms control on both sides is urgently needed. Since new technologies have had an impact on conventional arms during the last twenty-five years, we need a new generation of arms control regimes which is focused not only on states but also on criminal networks and new military technologies.  


  • Protracted conflicts only have a chance to be resolved eventually if the OSCE focuses more on crisis prevention respectively conflict management and keeps communication channels between the conflict parties open.    


  • Currently, the most important mission of the OSCE is in Ukraine. It plays an outstanding role in preventing further escalation of the conflict. There is a strong need for reforms within the organisation and the OSCE should be strengthened in the entire conflict cycle.


  1. Development and status quo of the OSCE:

Thinking beyond


  • One outcome in this session was the divide between those experts who thought that institutional changes within the OSCE could happen in 2017 and those who disagreed on that. This disagreement was mainly based on the fact that in several European states national elections were upcoming, and on a general scepticism towards the OSCE-framework. The minimum requirement with the outlook for the year 2017 should be to avoid things getting worse and make sure that there will be more cooperation.


  • Smaller steps are better than big ones. Europe needs a common vision of its security architecture. At the moment, we rather have fragmented regional security visions.


  • Within the Vienna document framework of conventional arms control, one should move from national inspections to impartial OSCE inspections.


  • All NATO member states are also members of the OSCE. Therefore, NATO should support and encourage the OSCE as an organisation much more, given that the OSCE-organizational design is the only inclusive one (Russia and other non-NATO-states) which exists.


  • The three priorities of the Austrian chairmanship:
    • to contribute to the solution of protracted military conflicts in the OSCE’s sphere of influence,
    • to fight against radicalisation and extremism,
    • to restore trust in the organisation.


  • The OSCE and especially its chairmanship need to keep on looking for windows of opportunity for reform. We should concentrate on the potential of the OSCE while keeping in mind its limitations. Furthermore, we should look for opportunities to find more potential of the organisation in its daily work.



A New Peace Structure for Europe and the Role of the OSCE

Monday, November 14th, 2016
National Defence Academy, Vienna


List of speakers

Gudrun Biffl
Danube University Krems, Head of Dpt. for Migration and Globalisation

Erich Csitkovits
Commandant of the Austrian National Defence Academy

Xiaohui Du
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Vienna, Counsellor

Alexander Dubowy
University of Vienna, Coordinator of the Centre for Eurasian Studies; University of Vienna | Austrian National Defence Academy, Researcher at the Scientific Cluster for Polemology and Legal Ethics

Anton Eischer
Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports, Colonel, Military Adviser of the Republic of Austria to the OSCE

Stephanie Fenkart
International Institute for Peace (IIP)

Heinz Gärtner
Director of the Austrian Institute of International Affairs (OIIP); Professor of Political Sciences University Vienna and Danube University Krems

Heidemaria Gürer
Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Head of the Department Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Neighbourhood Policy of the EU, Eastern Partnership

Gustav Gustenau
Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports, Brigadier, Directorate for Security Policy; Liaison-person of the Ministry to the National Security Council

Angela Kane
Senior Fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation; former High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (UNO)

Reinhard Krumm
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Head of the Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe, Vienna

Gerhard Marchl
Karl-Renner-Institut, Department of European Politics


Sergey Markedonov
Russian State University for the Humanities, Associate Professor, Department of Regional Studies and Foreign Policy; Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Expert

Florian Raunig
Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Head of the Task Force for the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship 2017

Herbert Salber
European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia

Jan Sechter
Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Austria

Andris Spruds
Director of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs

Christian Stadler
University of Vienna | Austrian National Defence Academy, Head of the Scientific Cluster for Polemology and Legal Ethics; University of Vienna, Deputy Head of the Centre for Eurasian Studies; Member of the Expert Council for Integration at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Christian Strohal
Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Special Representative for the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship 2017

Hannes Swoboda
President of the International Institute for Peace (IIP) and of the Sir Peter Ustinov Institute for Prejudice Research and Prevention; former MEP

Fred Tanner
Senior Advisor to the OSCE Secretary General

Oleksandr Tytarchuk
East European Security Research Initiative (EESRI) Foundation, Member of the Board; Foreign Policy Research Institute at the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine (FPRI), Associate Research Fellow

Sergey Utkin
Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), Head of strategic assessment section at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO)

Anton Varfolomeev
Associate professor, Higher School of Economics, campus in Nizhny Novgorod

Simon Weiss
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe, Vienna

Wolfgang Zellner
University of Hamburg, Deputy Director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH)

Cornelius Zimmermann
German Federal Foreign Office, Deputy Head of OSCE Task Force, German Chairmanship


Contact and information

Austrian Institute for International Affairs, Heinz Gärtner, heinz.gaertner@univie.ac.at

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Regional Office for Cooperation and Peace in Europe, Vienna,
Simon Weiss, simon.weiss@fes-vienna.org

International Institute for Peace – IIP, Stephanie Fenkart, office@iip.at

Karl-Renner-Institut, Gerhard Marchl, marchl@renner-institut.at

University of Vienna | Austrian National Defence Academy, Scientific Cluster for Polemology and Legal Ethics, Alexander Dubowy, alexander.dubowy@univie.ac.at