From New York to Bishkek

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier did a fair amount of travelling in 2016 in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. His trips took him to New York and Ukraine, as well as Central Asia and Moldova.


His first trip as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office was to the United States, where he addressed the UN Security Council on 29 February and set out Germany’s priorities for its OSCE Chairmanship through 2016. Steinmeier in the UN Security Council Enlarge image On 29 Feb 2016 Steinmeier, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, briefed the Security Council of the United Nations on the OSCE Chairmanship agenda (© Federal Foreign Office) While giving precedence to the situation regarding the Ukraine conflict, Steinmeier also called for more intensive relations between the OSCE and the United Nations: “Especially in difficult and turbulent times, we need strong multilateral organisations as platforms for dialogue, as instruments for conflict resolution and as institutions which promote our values and principles – the OSCE and the United Nations are such organisations.”

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Central Asia

At the end of March, Steinmeier travelled to Central Asia, stopping off in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Steinmeier met President Karimov and members of his Government in Tashkent on 30 March. Their talks focused not only on current crises and conflicts and the fight against Islamist terrorism but also on strengthening regional integration and building on societal ties between Uzbekistan and Germany. Speaking to the German and Uzbek press that evening, Foreign Minister Steinmeier emphasised how important it was for Germany to get involved in Central Asia both bilaterally and in the context of its OSCE Chairmanship. Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tadschikistan Enlarge image (© Florian Gaertner/ M)

The second leg of his visit to the land-locked Central Asian states took him to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from 31 March to 1 April. The focus of his talks there was on cooperation with Germany and the OSCE and on further support for the country’s democratic path. In his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Steinmeier signed an agreement with Foreign Minister Abdyldaev on Wednesday evening on continuing and enhancing the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, which he described as a lighthouse project for regional cooperation and promoting OSCE principles. Steinmeier at OSCE-Academy in Bishkek Enlarge image Steinmeier at OSCE-Academy in Bishkek (© Florian Gaertner/ M)

The final leg of his Central Asian trip brought him to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on 1 April. With regard to regional cooperation, Steinmeier called on the Tajik Government to further strengthen cross-border cooperation, for example in the field of water supply. In his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Steinmeier also announced that the OSCE counter-terrorism conference scheduled to take place in Berlin in 2016 would focus on measures to counteract the radicalisation of young people and on the OSCE participating States’ strategies for dealing with returning jihadists.

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Speech by CiO Steinmeier at OSCE-Academy in Bishkek [pdf, 207.52k]

Armenia and Southern Caucasus

On 29 June, Foreign Minister Steinmeier departed on a three‑day trip to the Southern Caucasus, very much in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson‑in‑Office. Steinmeier trifft mit dem armenischen Präsidenten Serzh Sargsyan zusammen. Enlarge image (© Florian Gärtner/ His political talks in Armenia and Azerbaijan centred on the efforts to resolve the Nagorno‑Karabakh conflict. On Friday, 1 July, Steinmeier opened the annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. There he also met Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili

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Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in the Republic of Moldova from 25-26 July in his capacity as Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE. His talks in Chişinău and Tiraspol focused on the conflict in Transdniestria. This conflict is one in which there have long been no acute hostilities, but also no long‑term solution. Steinmeier said that one of Germany’s aims for its year as OSCE Chair was to focus on unresolved conflicts in the OSCE area. CiO Steinmeier in Moldova Enlarge image CiO Steinmeier in Moldova (© In this context, Germany is also endeavouring to revive the 5+2 process. Its efforts have proved successful – at the invitation of Cord Meier-Klodt, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson‑in‑Office, the chief negotiators met again for the first time in Berlin in early June. The German delegation reported that the talks had been held in a constructive atmosphere. The aim of Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s visit was to enhance and keep up this positive momentum from Berlin.

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Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to Ukraine on 14 September for a two-day visit together with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault. The Foreign Ministers’ itinerary included a visit to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in eastern Ukraine. Arrival at Dnipro airport in eastern Ukraine Enlarge image Arrival at Dnipro airport in eastern Ukraine (© Florian Gaertner/ ) The trip focused on the situation in the east of the country. Together with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Steinmeier and Ayrault viewed a bridge near Slavyansk which had been destroyed in the fighting. Steinmeier said, “Without the OSCE, the conflict in eastern Ukraine would have escalated a long time ago. This is why, in my capacity as OSCE Chairperson‑in‑Office, I would like to express my great respect and my appreciation for the courageous women and men in the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine who work day after day at the line of contact in eastern Ukraine to prevent things from getting worse.” He also described his visit as a mark of appreciation and support for the OSCE Mission.

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New York, general debate at the United Nations

Prior to setting off for the UN General Assembly in September, Foreign Minister Steinmeier noted that there was currently no shortage of challenges for the international community given the large number of trouble spots around the world. This made the United Nations all the more important as a comprehensive framework for joint action.

On the sidelines of the UN Assembly, Steinmeier invited guests to attend a high-level panel discussion on the OSCE.

17 foreign ministers discussed ways to enhance the OSCE’s capabilities with high-level speakers including UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, former President of the Kyrgyz Republic Roza Otunbayeva, President of International Crisis Group and member of the OSCE Panel of Eminent Persons Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Ertugrul Apakan.

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