The “Spirit of Helsinki” is frozen

11:58 01.06.2023 •

The world's largest regional security organization threatens to go into a tailspin. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) may find itself in a situation where it does not have an approved chairman, budget or operations next year, writes Finnish newspaper ‘Demokraatti’.

The European Organization for Security and Cooperation, the OSCE, has slipped into a situation where it threatens to collapse within six months. The reason is the dispute between Russia, Belarus and Estonia about whether Estonia can be the chairman of the organization.

This organization was established in 1994 in Budapest. Its activities are still based on the outcome documents of the European Conference on Security and Cooperation in Helsinki in 1975. The convening of the meeting in Helsinki was a major success for Finland and President Urho Kekkonen, who during the Cold War. Then they talked about the “spirit of Helsinki”.

In the early 1990s, the OSCE changed and became an organization with elements of a liberal international organization, headquartered in Vienna.

The OSCE works in several policy areas, from arms control to human rights and environmental issues and counter-terrorism. Now we are in a situation where, according to research doctor Johann Ketol of the University of Turku, the OSCE will lose a key tool that strengthens the European security architecture.

The organization works by consensus, so every year a new chairman must be approved by all 57 countries of the organization. However, Russia and Belarus did not accept Estonia as chairman in 2024, and Estonia is not ready to abandon its candidacy.

-  If there is no chair in 2024 and there is no consensus on this issue, then next year will be the year when the OSCE will be the worst organization, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.

Finland should be the chairman in 2025, but the next year...

If the OSCE does not find a chairman until next year, then the organization will not have a work plan and budget to pay salaries.


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