The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), founded in Helsinki, Finland, in 1975, after the Cold War was transformed into the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The new name has been officially used since 1 January 1995. At the moment, OSCE is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization with 57 participating states from Europe, North America, South Caucasus and Asia, and with 11 partner-states.
OSCE main focus goes to promoting mutual trust among states and nations, democratic reforms, foundation of modern institutions and civil society, election observation.
The fundamental objectives of the organization are undivided security, conflict prevention and post-conflict regulation.
OSCE activities cover three dimensions:
- political and military (arms control, border security and management, fight against terrorism, conflict prevention),
- economic and environmental (promotion of economic cooperation, transport, energetics, environment protection, communication, investment, business cooperation, education and promotion of science),
- human (human rights, tolerance, elections).
International community exceptionally values OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the work it is doing in election observation, which is often consulted for the final decision on the democracy of elections.
For more information: OSCE.
Lithuania and OSCE
On 10 September 1991 Lithuania, together with Estonia and Latvia, became CSCE state party. It was the first international organization that Lithuania joined after the restoration of independence. CSCE played a very important role during the foreign troop withdrawal from the Baltic States. Particularly important were decisions of 1992 Helsinki summit and decisions of the Council of Ministers that took place in Stockholm and Rome. These decisions provided obligations to withdraw foreign troops from the territories of the Baltic States.
Lithuanian Chairmanship at the OSCE
Lithuania chaired OCSE from 1 January until 31 December 2011. The Chairperson was Mr. Audronius Ažubalis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania at that time.
During its chairmanship, Lithuania continued meaningful steps implementing the vision of free, democratic, united and undivided Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian community of security. Lithuania significantly contributed to the OSCE goals in resolution of prolonged conflicts (for the first time after five years the official 5+2 negotiations regarding the conflict in Moldova were renewed), strengthening of the OSCE in the fight against transnational threats, among them the ones coming from territory of Afghanistan. Lithuania consistently followed and propagated organization’s values – assurance of human rights and freedoms, the necessity of democratic societies, protection of freedom of media and safety of journalists. During this time Lithuania acquired invaluable experience in managing regional crises, leading diplomatic negotiations, undertaking mediation roles, implementing international challenges that required difficult, consistent and lasting diplomatic effort.
Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship priorities:
- implementation of Astana OSCE Summit,
- the continuation of European security dialogue,
- promotion of regional cooperation.
Political and military dimension
- new threats,
- preparation of cyber security concept,
- reinforcement of European transparency measures for military by renewing 1999 Vienna document.
Economic and environmental dimension
- dialogue on energy security and transport issues.
- freedom of media and security of journalists,
- strengthening of independent human rights institutes,
- fight against hatred crimes through the tolerance education.
18th OSCE Ministerial Council session took place in Vilnius on 6-7 December 2011. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of 41 countries, 1040 delegates from 56 OSCE state parties and from 11 partner states were attending. 15 decisions and declarations were adopted, including decisions on OSCE role in conflict cycle, strengthening the collaboration of OSCE with Afghanistan and partner states, strengthening the coordination of OSCE actions in fighting against international threats etc. At the meeting of Ministerial Council, the Co-chair of the Minsk group and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia approved a statement on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
For the first time after five years, the official 5+2 negotiations regarding the conflict in Moldova took place in Vilnius on 30 November – 1 December 2011.
On 4-5 December, in the margins of the Ministerial Council, two conferences took place – the Civil Society Parallel Conference and a conference for the OSCE cooperation with the Mediterranean partners, organized by the OSCE chairperson and ODIHR. The recommendations from both events were communicated to the OSCE chairperson and distributed to OSCE state parties as official documents.
In Vilnius, during the OSCE Ministerial Council session, the OSCE Lithuanian Chairmanship and the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media prepared and presented the OSCE Safety of Journalists Guidebook.
Currently, Lithuania focuses on Russia’s ongoing aggression against eastern Ukraine and illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, ongoing conflicts in Georgia, Moldova, and Nagorno-Karabakh, the political crisis in Belarus, the freedom of expression and freedom of the media, women’s rights, and cyber security. Lithuania also actively seeks the OSCE's joint action to counter propaganda, which is included on the OSCE political agenda, with the joint efforts of Lithuania and other Nordic and Baltic states.
Lithuania, in accordance with international obligations, invites OSCE to monitor elections in Lithuania. For the first time, on 10 November 1996, the OSCE sent an election observation mission to observe Lithuanian Parliamentary elections. After having visited Lithuania on the eve of the Presidential elections on 17 March 2009, a needs assessment mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) concluded that there was no need for monitoring and evaluation activities in those elections. In accordance with the invitation of the Lithuanian Republic to monitor the Lithuania Parliamentary elections on 14 October 2012 and in accordance with the recommendations of the needs assessment mission on elections of 26-28 June, ODIHR placed an election observation mission on 1-19 October and later presented its findings and recommendations.