The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (until 1994 - the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) traces its origins to the signing of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, which contained politically binding principles and commitments for the security of the European continent.
Today, the OSCE is the largest regional organisation dealing with a wide range of security issues in three dimensions: political-military dimension; economic and environmental dimension; human dimension. The key features of the OSCE are its comprehensive approach to security issues, including transnational threats and the fight against trafficking in human beings, as well as its wide geographical coverage with 57 countries participating on an equal footing.
The OSCE is a platform for regular political dialogue on a wide range of security issues. The Organization's key role is in the dialogue on the formation and development of the European security architecture, enabling interaction between EU member states, the US, Russia, Turkey.
The main decision-making bodies are: Summits between the Heads of State and Government of the participating States; Council of Foreign Ministers; Permanent Council at the level of Permanent Representatives to the OSCE; Security Cooperation Forum. Decisions (political decisions and declarations) are adopted by consensus.
For a period of one calendar year, the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office shall be held by one participating State. It plays a decisive role in formulating the political agenda of the Organisation and generating guidelines for its leadership. The current presidency, together with the past and future presidencies, forms the so-called "Troika" of Presidencies ensures continuity, sets the main political orientations and identifies the strategic priorities for the Organization, including the executive structures.
The main executive structure of the OSCE is the Secretariat, based in Vienna, which is headed by a Secretary-General with administrative and representative functions.
The OSCE has field missions in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, which provide the opportunity for a long-term presence on the ground. They are an important tool for preventing conflict and crisis situations by assisting with reforms, building stability, security and promoting democratic processes and values. One of these is the Special Monitoring Mission in the context of the 2014 crisis in and around Ukraine, which monitors compliance with the Minsk agreements.
The role of all three independent OSCE institutions is key: The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
The Republic of Bulgaria is one of the signatories of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. Our country has pursued a consistent policy of defending the OSCE achievements in strict compliance with the founding principles, documents and commitments in the three dimensions of security and in close coordination with the EU and NATO Member States.
In 2004, Bulgaria held the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office for a period of one year. This helped Bulgaria to continue to successfully promote its image as a responsible actor in the Euro-Atlantic security system.
Among the main current priorities for the Bulgarian side within the OSCE are:
- Assistance in finding a political solution to the crisis in and around Ukraine;
- Restoring trust and meaningful dialogue between the OSCE participating States, especially necessary in the context of a serious crisis of the European security architecture;
- Supporting the activities of field missions, including in the Western Balkans region.