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German speaking countries to coordinate OSCE engagement under one roof

Stephanie Liechtenstein
Policy 14 October 2015

In view of their upcoming OSCE Chairmanships in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Germany and Austria have teamed up with Switzerland and Liechtenstein to coordinate their OSCE engagement within the so-called DACHLI framework. The acronym DACHLI is composed of the respective four country codes. The German speaking countries frequently cooperate on a wide range of topics.

During their meeting in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, on 16 August 2015, the four countries agreed to work on the following four topics:

  • Supporting the OSCE in finding a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine through the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and the Trilateral Contact Group. Focus will be placed on security and political decentralization as well as on humanitarian and economic issues.
  • Strengthening the OSCE’s early warning and conflict prevention tools, as well as the Organization’s mediation and reconciliation capacities. This will also include addressing the OSCE’s capacity to “lead integrated peace missions with military elements”.
  • Continuing the dialogue on the future of European security while building on the findings of the upcoming final report of the Panel of Eminent Persons.
  • Working to create greater economic connectivity in the OSCE area.

The coordination of OSCE-related activities within the DACHLI framework has several important advantages:

Firstly, coordination of activities between OSCE Chairmanship countries is crucial. In the OSCE, Chairmanship priorities usually vary considerably from one year to the next, which often leads to confused OSCE agendas, short-term planning, and inefficient financial and human resource management. Hence, coordination – especially in relation to the crisis in Ukraine – will help to achieve more reliable results. Also, if Germany and Austria work jointly to strengthen early warning, conflict prevention and mediation capacities, it is more likely that concrete results will be achieved. The same goes for the joint German-Austrian support of OSCE-led integrated peace missions with military elements – a topic of considerable controversy among OSCE participating States. Furthermore, the new and innovative topic of strengthening economic connectivity to create trust may gain greater support among OSCE participating States if promoted by two consecutive Chairmanships.

Secondly, Switzerland will be an important partner for the German and Austrian Chairs and it can provide invaluable advice and experience. Switzerland held the OSCE Chairmanship in 2014, the year the crisis in Ukraine broke out. At the time, with the help of Swiss leadership, the OSCE established itself as the main Organization through the deployment of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and the establishment of the Trilateral Contact Group. Switzerland will leave the OSCE Troika in 2016 but its experience and advice will continue to be available to Germany and Austria through the DACHLI framework, which is crucial.

Thirdly, Liechtenstein, a small but active player in the OSCE, will be given a stronger voice in the OSCE and the ability to offer some of its own experience. Through the DACHLI framework, Liechtenstein will have the opportunity to contribute to shaping some important OSCE activities, including in the area of improving economic connectivity. Liechtenstein is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and at the same forms a Customs and Monetary Union with Switzerland. Thus, Liechtenstein’s experience of how strong economic ties can help create trust and friendly relations will be very valuable.

In conclusion, the coordination of important OSCE-related activities among the four German-speaking countries is promising. The foreign ministers of the respective countries already enjoy excellent working relationships and meet regularly. The OSCE will certainly profit from this arrangement.