Austria May Step In to Chair the OSCE According to the Media

OrganizationsInternational Organizations ♦ Published: April 24, 2023; 20:53 ♦ (Vindobona)

Russia has been opposing Estonia's leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2024 for months. Citing diplomatic circles, it was reported that the Austrian Foreign Ministry (BMEIA) was considering stepping in for the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Vienna.

Currently, North Macedonia heads the Vienna-based OSCE, but the country's successor is now uncertain. / Picture: ©

Time is running out. The 57 states of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should have already agreed at last December's ministerial meeting on which country should take over the chairmanship from January 1, 2024.

While Estonia applied for the OSCE Chairmanship in 2024, a planned agreement failed at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm last December because Russia and Belarus refused to agree to an Estonian OSCE Chairmanship. According to the Austrian newspaper "Presse", Austria could take over the OSCE chairmanship next year at short notice.

Austria, which last held the OSCE chairmanship in 2017, first announced its willingness to step in for the chairmanship in 2024 in December 2022 if no other solution is found, the "Presse" reported.

Other countries, such as Kazakhstan, have also entered the fray. Estonia, however, has not yet withdrawn its candidacy. Other countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine are also holding on to Estonia's candidacy.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry would not officially confirm the considerations when asked. "Austria is not running for the OSCE chairmanship in 2024 and is not competing with other participating states for this chairmanship," the Foreign Ministry said, as reported by ORF.

"However, as the host state, Austria bears a special responsibility for the OSCE. This is especially true in times of crisis when it is important to preserve the OSCE as a key element of the European security architecture. We, therefore, support the organization, the chairmanship as well as the General Secretariat in their work, however necessary," Austria's Foreign Ministry said, as reported by ORF.