Switzerland and Serbia's OSCE priority is Western Balkans

VIENNA -- A priority of the successive presidencies of Switzerland and Serbia over the European Organization for Cooperation and Security will be the Western Balkans.

This was announced by Switzerland's Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who spoke in in Vienna.

Addressing a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, where he and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić presented a joint plan of cooperation for the next two years, and stated that "the Brussels agreement provided great possibilities because it opened up space for better cooperation between Belgrade and Priština, reconciliation and political normalization in northern Kosovo."

Switzerland would welcome it if the OSCE could expand its precious contribution in Kosovo, one that goes outside elections as well, he pointed out.

The OSCE has to play a significant role in the Western Balkans, Burkhalter remarked, adding that they intended to support the initiatives related to that, including effective horizontal cooperation between six OSCE missions in the region.

Switzerland and Serbia filed in late 2011 a request for successive OSCE presidencies, which was accepted in February 2012 since no country opposed it.

Switzerland will hold the OSCE presidency in 2014 and Serbia in 2015.

Successive presidencies by two countries represent a new model for the OSCE, which will be presided for the first time by a country of the former Yugoslavia.

The OSCE Permanent Council is an executive body with 57 member countries. It meets every week to discuss current events in its field and make appropriate decisions.

Mrkić talks with Zannier

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić met with Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Lamberto Zannier in Vienna on Tuesday, with whom he discussed the forthcoming local elections in Kosovo and Metohija.

The topic was mentioned during today's debate of the OSCE Permanent Council, at which Switzerland and Serbia presented a joint work plan for their successive presidencies of that organization, but the topic was not the central one, the Serbian minister told Tanjug.

Mrkić said that he talked with Zannier about the role that the OSCE would play and concrete actions that the organization would conduct during the local elections in Kosovo and Metohija, primarily in the north.

“Since we know that the OSCE had a really good role in the past, I think that we will organize ourselves in the way that would ensure that the largest possible number of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija go to the polls on that day,” Mrkić said, voicing confidence that an agreement on the elections will be achieved in the coming days.

Mrkić noted that he could say with pride that in the last year Serbia managed to contribute to putting in order the circumstances in the region and fostering good neighborly relations, and one could say that the country had not previously had that quality and content of relations with its neighbors.

“Such an approach of Serbia contributed to a better atmosphere and concrete cooperation that is being developed in the region on a daily basis,” Mrkić said.

Speaking about the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, the Serbian foreign minister said that he together with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter presented the plan covering the next two years, adding that one could already say, judging by initial reactions during the debate, that the proposal was met with approval.

The proposal relating to the successive presidencies was not backed just in principle, but in detail too, he said.

"Serbia is now taking on the responsibility of putting in order the circumstances in the region, but also dealing with the problems in a wider area of Europe and Euro-Asia, since the OSCE is present from Vladivostok to Vancouver," Mrkić underscored.