President Emmanuel Macron of France laid out a bold vision for Europe during the Munich Security Conference (MSC) last month. “We need a European strategy that allows us to present ourselves as a strategic power. The Europe I have in mind is a Europe that is sovereign, united, and democratic,” he said. Macron has increasingly invoked this vision as an answer to the prevailing perception in Europe that the United States is beginning to withdraw from the international stage, leaving a void that is slowly being filled by China and Russia.
In November last year, 23 member states of the European Union (EU) made a historic decision to move defense cooperation from a mere political commitment to concrete action, through awakening what has been called “the sleeping beauty” of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.
The 22nd OSCE Ministerial Council (MC) will meet on 3 and 4 December in Belgrade, Serbia. The MC meeting, which takes place once a year in the country holding the OSCE Chairmanship, is attended by foreign ministers or their representatives from the 57 OSCE participating States as well as from the 11 Partners for Co-operation.
The Belgrade MC meeting was originally supposed to be a significant meeting at which OSCE participating States had hoped to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act with the successful conclusion of the so-called Helsinki+40 process and the adoption of a landmark OSCE document. OSCE states had planned to adopt a document that would provide strategic guidance for the Organization’s future role and for the setting up of a “common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community”, a vision that OSCE Heads of State had agreed to by consensus at the 2010 OSCE Astana Summit.
On 15 January, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić outlined the priorities of the 2015 Serbian OSCE Chairmanship at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. Foreign Minister Dačić stressed that the main priority of the Serbian Chair would be to continue supporting a peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine. In this context, he expressed support for the work of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and their respective roles in helping to implement the Minsk protocols as well as the peace plan for the east of Ukraine.
National minorities are a political and social fact in Europe and many other parts of the world. In Europe, the issue of national minorities became particularly acute after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 as well as more recently after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s. The newly created independent states became hosts to national minorities: for example, the Baltic States and Ukraine to a Russian minority, Romania to a Hungarian minority, Croatia to a Serb minority and vice versa, just to name a few.