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


The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the largest regional security organization in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space with its 57 participating and 11 partner states covering an area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

The OSCE traces its origins to the détente of the early 1970’s when the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was established to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West. The Helsinki Final Act was signed on 1 August 1975 following the meetings over two years in Helsinki and Geneva. This CSCE document contained a number of key commitments on politico-military, economic and environmental and human rights issues that became central to the “Helsinki process”. It also established ten fundamental principles, “the Decalogue” governing the behavior of States towards their citizens as well as towards each other.

Until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that built and extended the participating States’ commitments. However, with the end of Cold War, the CSCE entered a new course which led to acquisition of permanent institutions and operational capabilities. As part of this institutionalization process, the name was changed from the CSCE to the OSCE in 1994.


The OSCE has maintained its relevance and unique place in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security architecture due to its comprehensive approach to security as well as its inclusive membership. The concept of comprehensive security encompasses commitments and mechanisms related to the politico-military, economic and environment and human dimensions, and strike a fair balance among them. Cross-dimensional topics such as issues related to women, peace and security have deserved the organization’s constant attention following the Astana Summit of 2010.

The multilateral instruments and mechanisms i.e. the Vienna Document, the CFE regime and the Open Skies Treaty constitute the backbone of the European conventional security architecture. This body of both legally and politically binding commitments contains provisions essential for maintaining the stability and security of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space.

While the role and efficiency of the OSCE is being questioned due to newly emerging geo-strategic environment in Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security as a result of the NATO and EU enlargement processes, the high level dialogue launched within the OSCE in 2009 and the Astana Summit of 2010 has reinvigorated the Organization. The “Helsinki+40” process, which aims to adopt a landmark document in 2015, launched at the Dublin Ministerial Council in 2012, is a useful exercise through which the OSCE, by taking stock of its achievements, can protect a vision for the future as to its relevance and value added in the changing security environment.


The mandate and the activities of the OSCE cover all three dimensions: the politico-military; the economic and environment; and the human.


i)Conflict cycle (early warning, early action, prevention, management, resolution, post conflict rehabilitation)
ii) Arms control
iii) Border management
iv) Combating terrorism
v) Policing
vi) Combating drug trafficking
v) Cyber security
vi) Non-proliferation
vii) Military reform and cooperation
Economic and Environment
i) Assisting economic growth and strengthening of small and medium size enterprises
ii) Monitoring the economic impact of trafficking
iii) Combating corruption and money laundering
iv) Promotion of sustainable use and sound management of natural resources, combating soil degradation and encouraging alternative and renewable energy resources
v) Safe disposal of toxic and radioactive waste
vi) Tackling problems of inland transport
vii) Improving the enviromental footprint of energy related activities.
vii) Protection of energy networks from natural and man-made disasters.


i) Human rights and fundamental freedoms
ii) Elections
iii) Media freedom
iv) Minority rights
v) Rule of law
vi) Tolerance and non-discrimination
vii) Good governance
viii) Education
ix) Combating human trafficking
x) Gender equality


The political leadership of the OSCE is assumed by the Chairmanship. The Chairmanship is held for one calendar year by the OSCE participating State designated as such by a decision of the Ministerial Council. The function of the Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) is exercised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that State. The executive structures assist the Chairmanship in running the Organization and fulfilling the tasks. The OSCE decisions are taken by the decision-making bodies of the Organization by consensus.

Decision-Making Bodies
Summits and Ministerial Councils
Permanent Council
Forum for Security and Cooperation

Executive Structures
Secretary General
- Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
- High Commissioner on National Minorities
- Representative on Freedom of Media
- Field Operations

Other Structures and Institutions
Parliamentary Assembly
Court of Conciliation and Arbitration
Minsk Group

OSCE-Related Bodies
Joint Consultative Group
Open Skies Consultative Commission


Turkey is a member of the OSCE since its very inception in 1975, when it was formed as a standing conference (CSCE), and has actively supported its development and strengthening.

As a proof of particular importance attached to this Organization, Turkey hosted the OSCE Summit Meeting in Istanbul in 1999. The Istanbul Summit at which the Charter for European Security, the Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the revised Vienna Document (VD 99) were signed and adopted, has become a milestone and point of reference for the OSCE activities since that date.

Today, Turkey’s contribution to the work of the OSCE covers all three dimensions. Turkish Government has provided technical and financial assistance as well as expertise to the OSCE projects especially in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans in areas such as democratic policing, border management, counter-terrorism, customs control, anti-drug trafficking, institution building, post-conflict rehabilitation, good governance, specialized training, minority protection and public order. There are currently around twenty Turkish citizens employed at the OSCE secretariat, field missions and institutions. Turkey also actively contributes to the efforts aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the OSCE and tries to avoid a further polarization within the Organization between West and East. Turkey attaches importance to maintain the balance among the three pillars of the OSCE and the consensus rule in the decision making process.

The OSCE has all the attributes to act as the primary organization to consolidate the security and stability of the geographies excluded from NATO and the EU enlargement processes. Moreover, the OSCE is an important international framework that links many of its participating States with the Euro-Atlantic area as equal members around common norms, principles and commitments. The OSCE serves as a valuable tool in consolidating their Euro-Atlantic orientation. The OSCE is entrusted with resolution of the protracted conflicts namely, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdnistria, South Ossetia, Georgia and Abkhasia. In the context of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Minsk Group continues to function within the OSCE framework. Turkey tries to channel the activities and resources of the OSCE towards bolstering the settlement processes of the protracted conflicts in order to achieve concrete results, particularly with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Turkey remains committed to contribute to the peaceful resolution of all protracted conflicts in the OSCE region on the basis of unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Concerning the human dimension, we support the efforts that resonate intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia, racism and hatred acts that Turkish citizens living in the OSCE area, especially in Europe, are subject to. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims are carried out by Associate Prof. Dr. Bülent Şenay. (Detailed information about the human dimension could be found at Human Rights in TurkeyOSCE subheading).

The conventional security arrangements that operate under the OSCE umbrella play a pivotal role in strengthening military security and stability of the Black Sea and the Caucasus regions. Therefore, Turkey was among those States who were influential in shaping these arrangements. Turkey now actively contributes to their effective implementation as well as their processes of modernization.