„More dialogue and cooperation across the Mediterranean and in the Middle East, for the benefit of all“ (EN)

Bern, 20.10.2015 – Ansprache von Bundesrat Didier Burkhalter anlässlich der OSZE-Mittelmeerkonferenz in Jordanien – Es gilt das gesprochene Wort

The notion that security in Europe is closely linked with security in the Mediterranean has been enshrined in OSCE documents since the beginnings of the Helsinki Process. It was reaffirmed at the Basel Ministerial Council last December. But never before has this link between Europe and the Mediterranean manifested itself more strongly than today. And never before has the need to address our common challenges through cooperation been more obvious.The growing scale of instability and human misery in parts of the Middle East and North Africa has caused massive movements of refugees. Transnational terrorism has also spread. OSCE participating States and Mediterranean Partner States have been severely affected by both developments. Defining an effective response to these and other challenges requires a concerted effort across the Mediterranean.  We will all benefit if we succeed in developing a common way forward. To get there, we will need more dialogue and cooperation between Europe and the countries south of the Mediterranean. We must forge a partnership commensurate with the challenges we face.

I welcome the initiative to strengthen the OSCE Contact Group with the Mediterranean Partners by including a ministerial segment. Together with the Republic of Korea, Switzerland made a corresponding effort to bolster the 2015 conference with the OSCE’s Asian Partners in Seoul. We believe that ministerial involvement in OSCE partnership formats should become the new standard.

Our common agenda regarding the situation in Europe’s southern neighbourhood is demanding. It should include cooperative migration governance, cooperative efforts to address the causes of regional instability and migration, and the general promotion of regional dialogue in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The scope of OSCE contributions will vary in each of these three areas. But the OSCE does have its roles to play, and it is our common responsibility to enable it to do so.

Let me begin with cooperative migration governance. We need to share the burden and define common and comprehensive responses with regard to migration challenges in countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Yesterday, I visited a refugee camp here in Jordan. The sheer number of refugees and the scale of what is needed are overwhelming. Switzerland would like to commend Jordan as well as Lebanon and Turkey for their enormous efforts to accommodate these refugees. We must all stand together to support Syria’s neighbours in providing access to basic services and protection for these people.

We urgently need to step up our humanitarian assistance for refugees and displaced persons. The Swiss government is making an additional 72 million US dollars available to help meet needs regarding the Syria and Iraq crisis, the greater Horn of Africa, and transit routes. A Swiss priority is access to education.  We support more than 80 schools in Jordan and Lebanon that accept refugee children from Syria. We need to assist refugee and host communities alike.

I welcome the OSCE’s effort to promote inter-regional dialogue on cooperative migration governance. The OSCE should also assist participating and Partner States to safeguard human rights in responding to the migration challenge. As a country that is committed to the protection of migrants, Switzerland believes that ODIHR should play a leading role in this field.

The OSCE is also well placed to promote cooperation in fighting organised crime responsible for migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. And it has a great deal of expertise on border management to offer. Switzerland supports the idea of a Ministerial Declaration on Migration to be approved at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade later this year.

As for the second area, addressing the causes of forced displacement and migration, this is above all about resolving the violent conflicts that have thrown the region into chaos. Syria needs the resumption of a political process rather than proxy wars and more arms. And it needs a concerted international approach to counter the so-called Islamic State.

Switzerland commends the efforts of UN Special Envoy de Mistura to foster inter-Syrian dialogue. We are ready to place experts, financial resources, and Geneva logistics at the UN’s disposal. We also call on all relevant regional and international powers to agree to a Contact Group to support the search for a political solution. The Syrian people depend on everyone’s willingness to end political blockades, engage in inclusive dialogue and abandon geopolitics and parochial interests for the sake of ending the bloodshed and preserving the prospect of a unified Syria at peace.

UN mediation to resolve the conflicts in Yemen and Libya deserve our full support too. We should continue to urge all sides in Libya to overcome division and violence and swiftly form a Government of National Accord. Switzerland further calls on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do everything in their power to prevent an escalation of violence and to refrain from all measures that would further weaken the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.

Ending conflicts and violence is essential. But addressing the causes of migration also means meeting people’s demands for good governance, jobs, and a life of dignity. Promoting inclusive societies and politics, and providing economic opportunities, will also help prevent violent extremism.

With its human dimension commitments and its instruments to protect minorities and foster tolerance and non-discrimination, the OSCE can make valuable contributions in this field. Heeding the Basel Mediterranean Declaration’s call for strengthened dialogue and cooperation on these issues will benefit everyone.

The third and final area is the need to foster regional dialogue and cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa. The lack of regionalism in the MENA region contrasts with developments in many other regions. This lack of regionalism is in itself a source of instability and a factor that complicates cooperative responses to common challenges.

There have been many calls for a Helsinki-like process in the Middle East. I find it noteworthy that Israel and Jordan in their peace treaty of 1994 committed themselves to the creation of a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East. Regional developments since then have not been conducive to launching any such grand designs. Today, the region is clearly too polarised and fragmented to set up a regional security framework based on the European experience.

However, there is both scope and need for pragmatic cooperative security efforts in the MENA region, via issue-specific cooperation in matters where States share common interests. Potential entry points for cooperation could include issues such as cybersecurity, disaster risk reduction and shared water management.

Promoting cooperation on these issues figures highly on Switzerland’s foreign policy agenda. (Concerning water, for example, we are strongly engaged in promoting cooperation in the Middle East with our Blue Peace projects, and we will launch an international High-Level Panel on Water and Peace in Geneva next month).

All these issues are also addressed by the OSCE. The OSCE’s experience in inclusive and regular dialogue, bridge-building and confidence-building may indeed serve as a source of inspiration for cooperative security in the Middle East.

The most important lesson from the OSCE for other regions is this: venturing into cooperative security should not be made dependent on the existence of trust; rather, cooperative security is a vehicle to create trust.  More dialogue and cooperation is therefore essential – not just across the Mediterranean but also in the Middle East. (Source: EDA)

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Über gmc

1992 gründete der Zürcher Fotojournalist Gerd Müller die Presse- und Bildagentur GMC Photopress und reiste hernach als Agenturfotograf und Fotojournalist in über 80 Länder. Seine Reportagen wurden in zahlreichen Reise- und Spa-Magazinen publiziert. 2021 publizierte er Auszüge aus seinem Buch Highlights of a wild life -Metamorphosen politischer und ökologischer Natur.

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