Germany within the OSCE
Germany’s long-standing commitment to the OSCE
In 1975, the Helsinki Final Act, the founding document of the CSCE/OSCE, laid the foundation for dialogue and cooperation beyond the divide of the Cold War. Great names from Germany’s post-war history are associated with this policy: Helmut Schmidt, Willy Brandt, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Egon Bahr. During the 40 years that have passed since then, there have been major changes. Nevertheless, for Germany the OSCE remains an integral part of the security architecture in Europe.
“For us Germans, the dialogue of Helsinki is inextricably bound up with the round table dialogue in Berlin and the peaceful reunification of the two German states” – with these words in summer 2015 marking the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, the then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed the influence of the CSCE/OSCE, especially on Germany.
Today, too, Germany is pursuing an active and constructive policy aimed at strengthening the OSCE and the values and principles for which it stands. Germany has held the Chairmanship twice – in 1991 and then in 2016. Time and again, Germans have provided impetus at the head of various OSCE structures, for example Wilhelm Höynck as OSCE Secretary General (1993-1996), Freimut Duve as the first OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (1998-2003) or Michael Georg Link, who is the current Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
Germany’s diverse contributions in and to the OSCE
The Federal Republic of Germany is an active contributor of finance and personnel to the OSCE, providing just under 11% of the current OSCE budget, which makes it the second-largest contributor behind the United States. The German Government also provides substantial support in the form of additional voluntary contributions to OSCE projects in the entire OSCE area; in 2016, for example, a total of 5.5 million euros was made available for 86 projects.
German staff are to be found in almost all the OSCE field missions and in OSCE institutions. All in all, Germany is providing 70 experts at present. Furthermore, Germany regularly contributes 10%, sometimes up to 15% – which is actually the limit prescribed by the OSCE – to the election observation missions run by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Secondment of personnel is organised in close cooperation with ZIF, the Center for International Peace Operations.
Germany is an active participant in the meetings of the Permanent Council as well as in the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC), which is responsible for military issues. Both convene once a week in Vienna. In the intervals between OSCE Ministerial Councils – which take place at the end of every year in the country holding the Chairmanship – these bodies are the political and diplomatic heart of the OSCE where negotiations among the 57 participating States take place. As a rule, Germany presents its positions in joint EU declarations, which are coordinated between the delegations of the EU member states in Vienna. Germany also makes its voice heard through the work of the German delegation in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. A total of 13 deputies from all the parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag regularly take part in the Parliamentary Assembly sessions. Traditionally, Germany actively promotes the participation of civil society in OSCE debates and projects. One example of this is Germany’s commitment within the framework of the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions, which is currently headed by Dr Wolfgang Zellner from the Centre for OSCE Research (CORE) in Hamburg.