Türkiye and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as a flexible forum for political dialogue and negotiation, develops principles, norms and standards on three dimensions of security (politico-military, economic and environment, and human dimensions) and monitors implementation of obligations. The OSCE has 57 participating States as well as 6 Mediterranean and 5 Asian Cooperation Partners.


Date of Foundation:

1975 (Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe)

1994 (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe)



Secretary General:

Helga Maria Schmid (Germany – since January 2021)

Participating States: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Vatican  

Mediterranean and Asian Cooperation Partners: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan; Afghanistan, Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia

Türkiye’s membership: Founding member

Objectives and Main Features

The Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe has emerged as a negotiation forum and diplomacy of conferences with the aim of increasing security in Europe through establishing a basis for dialogue and reducing tensions and disagreements between the blocs during the Cold War. This process has transformed into the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1994 Budapest Summit.

The OSCE is the sole and the largest regional security forum comprising the European Union members, Balkan countries with EU and/or NATO membership perspective, USA, Russian Federation, Canada, Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries. In addition to this unique feature, its comprehensive approach to security comprising political-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions as well as its toolbox in the field of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation are among comparative advantages of the Organisation.

Another distinctive feature of OSCE is its field missions. Current field missions in Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia in Southeastern Europe; the field missions in  Moldova and Ukraine in Eastern Europe; field missions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia are performing for facilitation of political processes in conflict prevention and settlement, fight against security threats such as terrorism and organized crime, strengthening the rule of law, encouraging economic and environmental cooperation, improving democracy and protection of human and minority rights.

History of the Organization

The OSCE has emerged as a negotiation forum and conferences diplomacy under the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in order to reduce tensions and conflicts by establishing regular dialogue between the two blocs during the Cold War period, and thus to increase security in Europe.

During the Détente period in the 1970s in the Cold War, the Western Bloc's proposal to start negotiations on "mutual and balanced force reductions" was accepted by the Eastern Bloc and transformed into the CSCE process in 1973. The Helsinki Final Act was signed by 33 European countries, the USA and Canada in 1975.

In the Helsinki Final Act, three interrelated dimensions of the security (politico-military, economy-environmental, human) have been identified. However, the Organization's activities in the period up to the end of the Cold War have focused heavily on the politico-military dimension.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of ideological polarization at the beginning of 1990s, the CSCE, whose raison d’être disappeared to some extent, has entered into a process of adaptation against the risks and threats of the new era. In this process, in addition to its functions such as democratization and human rights monitoring, the CSCE has come forward compared to the other international and regional organizations in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

The 1990 Paris Charter has marked the political beginning of the post-Cold War era. It was decided to institutionalize the CSCE through political consultation mechanisms and a series of permanent bodies. At the 1992 Helsinki Summit, the foundations of the Organization's current structure were laid. The OSCE was finally transformed into an international organization at the 1994 Budapest Summit and was renamed as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Unlike other international organizations, the OSCE is not established on a legally binding document such as a treaty/contract/convention. Its administrative and organizational structure, as well as the principles and norms it adopts, are shaped by the decisions taken by consensus at the political level by Ministers or Heads of State and Government.

While the Organization has been developing a comprehensive human rights acquis, especially after the end of the Cold War, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner for National Minorities and the Representative on Freedom of the Media were established to support participating states in the implementation of their obligations in the Human Dimension.

The multidimensional, global and complex nature of many security threats in the 21st century have required to increase efforts to develop the OSCE's potential and capabilities. In 2003 Maastricht Ministerial Council, “OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-First Century” was adopted. Subsequently, the “Commemorative Declaration towards a Security Community” was adopted at the 2010 Astana Summit. The Declaration set the objective of building a security community in the OSCE geography and a vision for comprehensive and cooperative security based on the principle of the indivisibility of security envisioned. After the Astana Summit, cross-dimensional issues such as women, gender and cyber security have gained more relevance in the Organization agenda.

The year 2015, as the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, was set as the target for the creation of the “building blocks” for the construction of the security community, and an informal dialogue was initiated among the participating States under the Helsinki+40 process. However, due to the crisis in and around Ukraine since 2014, it was not possible to accept a document at the end of the process.

Functioning, Decision-Making Mechanisms, Principal Bodies/Sub-Organizations

The participating State, which assumes the Chairmanship-in-Office, is responsible for the political functioning, management and coordination of the Organization. Some decisions about the functioning of the Organization are taken in the Troika, which includes the previous and next Chairmanship. The Chairmanship-in-Office is decided by consensus at the Ministerial Council. As of 1 January 2022, Poland took over the Chairmanship from Sweden. North Macedonia will assume the Chairpersonship in 2023.

Summits and Ministerial Council Meetings: The last Summit was held in Astana in 2010. The Council of Foreign Ministers is yearly hosted by the country which assumes the Chairmanship. In 2022, the Ministerial Council meeting will be held in December in Lodz, Poland.

Permanent Council: It is the political advisory and decision-making body of the Organization. It meets once a week at the level of Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives. It can hold extraordinary or special meetings when needed. The Permanent Council is chaired by the Permanent Representative of the Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE.

Forum for Security Co-operation: It is one of the two main decision-making bodies of the OSCE along with the Permanent Council. It was established at the 1992 Helsinki Summit in order to strengthen the politico-military security dimension. The Forum has an autonomous status and is directly responsible to the Council of Ministers. The Forum also focuses on confidence and security building measures (CSBM), aims at reducing risks arising from conflicts and carries out activities to ensure implementation of the measures and OSCE commitments.

In addition to its negotiation function, the Forum for Security Co-operation provides a platform for dialogue between participating States in the field of military security. Weekly plenary meetings offer participating States the opportunity to share and consult their approaches to security concerns and challenges. These discussions lay the groundwork for initiatives and measures that serve to strengthen politico-military security.

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR): It was established under the “Office for Free Elections” at the 1990 Paris Summit in order to assist the proper implementation of the obligations regarding free elections to be held in post-Soviet countries. The scope of work of the Office was later expanded to human rights and democratization issues and it has become the main body of the OSCE's Human Dimension. Its headquarters is in Warsaw. Matteo Mecacci (Italy) was appointed as the Director of ODIHR in December 2020.

High Commissioner on National Minorities: It was established in The Hague by the Helsinki Document as an early warning and conflict prevention tool in order to identify ethnic tensions that may endanger peace, stability and relations between participating States in the OSCE region and to seek for solutions at an early stage. The Commissioner carries out its duties in a relatively discrete manner, away from public attention. Kairat Abdrakhmanov, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, has been carrying out this task since December 2020.

Representative on Freedom of the Media: It was established to monitor the media freedom situation in the OSCE region, to assist and cooperate in the development of free, independent and pluralistic media in the participating States. It has an early warning feature when necessary. Teresa Ribeiro, the former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation at the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was appointed in December 2020.

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA): With the goal to bring political dialogue between OSCE participating States to the parliamentary level, the OSCEPA was established in 1991. There are 323 parliamentarians in the Parliamentary Assembly in which Türkiye is represented by 8 parliamentarians. The parliamentarians also participate in election observation missions in the OSCE region.

Relations with OSCE

Türkiye is among the few countries recognized as active and influential participating State in the OSCE. As a founding member, Türkiye displays an active, constructive and highly visible stance across all dimensions of the Organization. Türkiye contributes to the OSCE's work, particularly in areas such as counter-terrorism, police activities, border security and management, economic and environmental issues, fight against intolerance and discrimination, migration and integration, countering human trafficking. Our views and suggestions are expressed under almost all agenda items at the Permanent Council meetings as well as at all other meetings and events.

Türkiye hosted the OSCE Summit in 1999. The European Security Charter (Istanbul Document) was signed at the Summit held in Istanbul on 18-19 November 1999. The documents outline the principles and methods for securing the security, peace and stability of the OSCE region in the 21st century. The mechanisms such as “Platform for Co-operative Security” and “Rapid Expert Assistance Cooperation Teams (REACT)” have been developed among international and regional organizations operating within the OSCE area in order to make the OSCE's activities more effective in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

In addition to the crisis in and around Ukraine, the security situation and political developments in the three OSCE geographical regions (Central Asia, South Caucasus and the Balkans) where Türkiye has intense political interaction are high on the OSCE's agenda. Türkiye also contributes to the activities of the OSCE in these regions through technical assistance and training.

Türkiye supports the OSCE's efforts for solutions to the current and potential conflicts in the regions adjacent to Türkiye within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries in question. Türkiye supports the OSCE’s crucial role in Ukraine, especially with its Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine. The SMM in Ukraine was first ever chaired by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 2014-2019, and then Turkish Ambassador Halit Çevik was appointed in 2019. Türkiye provides staff and financial support to SMM which enjoys full support and trust of all parties. Türkiye also encourages the OSCE to play a constructive role regarding the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova and in the peace settlement processes between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Türkiye is a member of the Minsk Group for the resolution of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The prevention of conflicts has been one of the areas that the OSCE has given importance since its establishment. Mediation, as one of the leading tools of conflict prevention, draws more and more attention in the Organization. Similar to the one in the UN, “OSCE Group of Friends of Mediation” was established under the Co-Chairmanship of Türkiye, Finland and Switzerland aiming at peaceful resolution of conflicts and increasing the visibility of mediation issues in the OSCE. We actively encourage sharing experience and capacity building efforts. The Group organizes regular thematic meetings on different topics such as the participation of women and youth in mediation and peace processes, the role of international organizations in mediation, humanitarian mediation. It also contributes to increasing the synergy among the international organizations.

Türkiye also actively support the endeavors within the politico-military dimension. We assumed the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation in the period of January-April 2020.

In accordance with the OSCE's comprehensive security, Türkiye actively contributes to the Organization's work in the economic-environmental and human dimensions. We emphasize that each dimension should be treated in their merits without making distinction or prioritization among them. The proposals that aims at balancing the Organisation’s activities in all three dimensions are supported in principle.

In the economic and environmental dimension, we attach importance to combating corruption, money laundering and financing of terrorism, facilitating energy cooperation, trade and transportation, and promoting connectivity. Türkiye believes that the environmental activities should be carried out in strict accordance with the OSCE’s mandate and by taking into account the Organisation’s limited resources as well as by avoiding duplication with other international organizations.

In the human dimension, Türkiye raises the need for cooperation against increasing discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia, Islamophobia and hate-motivated attacks in OSCE region. We reiterate our calls to strengthen the OSCE’s response to such challenges. Ambassador Mehmet Paçacı has been the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims since 2020.

Türkiye, as the largest refugee hosting country in the world, actively participates in migration-related activities at the OSCE. We emphasize the need for international cooperation, solidarity and burden sharing. Türkiye believes that migrant flows should be managed by taking into consideration the human rights of immigrants and their potential benefits to the host countries.

The Members of Turkish Group in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, currently chaired by Mr. Selami Altınok, regularly attend OSCE PA meetings and conferences, and also take part in election observation missions in the OSCE area.

There are currently 18 Turkish staff working in the OSCE Secretariat, field missions and institutions.

Organization’s Agenda

The crisis in and around Ukraine has been the top item of the organization’s agenda since 2014. Established in March 2014 and headed by Ambassador Yaşar Halit Çevik since 2019, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has been the flagship Mission of the OSCE. The Mission has been able to adapt to the evolving circumstances in the field and its work has been appreciated by all parties.  

Preventing conflicts is the priority of the OSCE since its very establishment. Protracted conflicts in Transdniestria and in Georgia, and peace settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia within the context of post-conflict rehabilitation are important items in this regard.

The Modernization of Vienna Document (VD), the fundamental confidence and security building measure document in the Politico-Military Dimension, is also one of the priorities of the Organization.

Counterterrorism, repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters, cyber security, border security, migration, preventing human trafficking and arms smuggling are significant topics that fall under transnational threats in the First Dimension.

Digitalisation, good-governance, connectivity, energy cooperation, anti-corruption, green growth, climate change and environmental protection draw particular attention in the Economic and Environmental Dimension.

In the human dimension, protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, countering human trafficking (especially women and children), fighting against intolerance and discrimination, gender equality and safety of journalists are kept high on the agenda in the recent years.