OSCE receives Ewald von Kleist Award at Munich Security Conference
This year, the Munich Security Conference presented the Ewald von Kleist Award to the OSCE for its “contribution to peace, stability and security in Europe, particularly its efforts regarding the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine as well as its diplomatic attempts to end the crisis.” The Award is named after Ewald von Kleist, who founded the Munich Security Conference in 1963 and chaired it until 1998. Ewald von Kleist was active in the German resistance to Nazism and was also part of the 20 July 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler.
The prize was accepted by the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE Troika, Serbia, Switzerland and Germany as well as by the OSCE Secretary General.
According to an OSCE press release of 7 February, Ivica Dačić, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia’s Foreign Minister stated that “this Award is an acknowledgement that the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security and its role as a forum for inclusive dialogue and joint action are more important than ever today, when we need to find ways to address the growing East-West divide.” Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who was the OSCE Chair last year, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will chair the OSCE in 2016 both highlighted the important role of the OSCE in the management of the Ukraine crisis.
The prize publicly honors the OSCE’s important contribution to European security as well as the Organization’s efforts to help diffuse the crisis in and around Ukraine. Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, the OSCE has been active on various levels. It has deployed a large-scale civilian monitoring mission to Ukraine that is instrumental in providing impartial facts in an increasingly polarized conflict environment. In addition, the Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE has held numerous consultations including with rebels from eastern Ukraine that have resulted in the signing of the Minsk Protocol in September 2014. More recently, a temporary truce was agreed to help evacuate civilians from the city of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine. The evacuation procedure was observed by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
The award to the OSCE comes at a critical moment when fighting in eastern Ukraine has intensified again, the number of civilian casualties is rising and a lasting ceasefire is urgently needed. The prize will hopefully help to promote the role of the OSCE, give further impetus to the work of the Trilateral Contact Group and help create additional political support for a long-term OSCE role on the ground in Ukraine. The current mandate of the OSCE monitoring mission expires on 20 March. Serbia as OSCE Chair has to assume leadership to help create consensus for either an extension of the current mandate or for a new mandate to reflect possible new developments on the ground.
The important role of the OSCE as forum for dialogue between East and West was emphasized by many world leaders at this year’s Munich Security Conference. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference as well as of the OSCE Panel of Eminent Persons again acknowledged the OSCE’s important contribution to European security in his closing statement.
The Ewald von Kleist Award was awarded for the first time in 2009. Previous recipients include Henry Kissinger (2009), Javier Solana (2010), and Helmut Schmidt and Valerie Giscard D’Estaing (2014). The OSCE is the first organization to receive the prize.