OSCE | Talking About Terror

Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister takes his turn chairing the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna. But Ankara’s role in the Middle-East and questionable human rights at home may not make his job easier.

Vienna is the unobtrusive hub of a major force for world peace: The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) covers a broad spectrum of arms control, human rights, mass migration and freedom of the press. In practice this means minimizing and defusing conflict, as currently in Eastern Ukraine. Despite its name, the 57 OSCE member states stretch from Europe across the Asian territories of the former Soviet Union. Altogether, it’s unwieldy, its tasks often Sisyphean. But somehow it works.

The OSCE’s Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) is a hardnosed pragmatic gremium where hostile parties can meet and hammer out workable solutions, often directly at the point of conflict. On January 15, the member states assembled at the Hofburg to hear the incoming Chairman, Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, set out his agenda for 2020. Turkey itself is closely involved in several OSCE trouble regions: occupying Syria’s northern Kurdish enclave, sending troops into Libya’s explosive civil war and imprisoning critical journalists – something hardly compatible with the international community’s understanding of human rights.

“Distrust, lack of transparency, hybrid threats, conflicts and crises”

That morning, it was the usual quiet bustle before an international conference: purposeful looking young men and women in slim cut suits discreetly ushering first-time diplomats to their places, the delegates behind their national name cards, their faces a studied mix of expectation and incipient boredom. A common denominator is elusive – sleekly gray European diplomats, hard faced women from the former Soviet Nomenklatura, and eager young managers from all countries, prototypes for Hollywood’s next business thriller. 

The star of the day, Önal himself, was perfectly cast as a political heavyweight. With a look reminiscent of Austria’s new Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, he is a man you would move aside for; his address (in good English) was delivered in a firm, level voice, with no attempt at theatrics:

“The current security environment is unfortunately characterized by distrust, lack of transparency, hybrid threats, conflicts and crises. Violations of fundamental principles of international law and established diplomatic practice are no more exceptions to the rule. New military technologies are on the rise.” This is a good no-nonsense analysis of the current situation, begs the question as to what can be done about it. The cliché-filled follow-up was disappointingly familiar: “It is time to engage in meaningful discussions in a frank and constructive manner and draw lessons from our experiences.”

Whether the ensuing discussion was lively or a routine exchange of prepared statements has not yet leaked out of the Hofburg. But the next day brought the announcement that Turkey’s Constitutional Court had ruled against the government’s blocking access to Wikipedia as a violation of freedom of expression, triggering an immediate lifting of the ban. Physician heal thyself.

(Foto credit: OSCE/Ghada Hazim)

Simon Ballam
English, studied in NY and worked in London, Düsseldorf, NY, Fankfurt, Prague and Vienna. This covered stints in market research and the film industry, international advertising coordination and strategic planning. Currently business school lecturer and journalist.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

The End of the City Bikes?

The all-purpose workhorses of the inner city are the last remaining rental bikes in public spaces. But they could disappear soon, says sponsor Gewista. The reason is a dispute over financing.

The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | No Masks in Schools, Active Infection...

Austria has successfully flattened the curve, for now. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including available resources, trusted sources and tips – regularly updated.

Ending the Pandemic with Mass Testing

Austria under lockdown has done well controlling the spread of COVID -19. But the only way to return to normal is to track the cases and be able to control further spread.

Solar Roofs for All New Buildings in Vienna & a Turbocharged Climate Budget...

A new city planning law stipulates that all new residential buildings in Vienna have to be built with solar collectors on the roof. Meanwhile, the federal government almost doubled funds for climate initiatives.

Pleased to Meet You | Carefully

Why we (still) need to practice social distancing, now that we can finally get together with friends and family again.

US Quietly Funds the IAEA in Fight Against COVID-19

As Donald Trump Slams the World Health Organization, the State Department is giving millions to another uN agency to battle the pandemic.
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.