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Deiss praises OSCE

Joseph Deiss.

(Keystone / Alessandro della Valle)

The Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, has been paying tribute to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

Speaking in Zurich on Thursday, Deiss said the OSCE still had a role to play in the post-Cold War world whether supervising elections in Bosnia, preventing conflict in Macedonia or mediating to end the first Chechen war.

Above all, Deiss stressed that the OSCE plays an important role in Swiss foreign politics.

It was, he said, the only political forum that allowed Switzerland to break out of its foreign policy isolation.

But he added that participation in the OSCE could not replace membership of the United Nations and the European Union.

"Swiss participation in the OSCE would be strengthened if we were members of the UN and the EU."

Deiss said that Swiss presidency of the OSCE in 1996 had been a highpoint: "It was important politically and psychologically, proving beyond doubt Switzerland's international commitment and willingness to take on responsibility."

He said 33 Swiss nationals were currently employed on OSCE missions abroad.

The Swiss provided considerable input in drafting the final document at the 1975 Helsinki summit of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe on August 1, 1975, out of which the OSCE was born.

The Swiss Helsinki Association celebrated the anniversary on Tuesday.

swissinfo with agencies

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