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No Swiss candidate in the running for top OSCE posts

No Swiss name has been put forward for the four vacancies at the top of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The deadline for member states to nominate candidates was Friday midnight. Four key positions are to be filled, including Secretary General, a job held by Swiss diplomat Thomas Greminger from July 2017 to July 2020.

Greminger had been backed for another term by the foreign ministry, who said it was “widely acknowledged” that the 58-year-old’s time in office had been successful. Last month, foreign affairs minister Ignazio Cassis told the Le Temps newspaper he would be urging Greminger to apply for the position again.

Disputes among the 57 OSCE member countries – who choose these high-ranking posts through a process of consensus – led to the blocking of Greminger’s reappointment in July.

As the Keystone-SDA agency tells it, Azerbaijan opposed the reappointment of Frenchman Harlem Désir as OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, before France and other countries scuppered the reappointment of Greminger in response.

After subsequent meetings, many states said they wanted to see a complete renewal at the top; and so, the positions of High Commissioner on National Minorities and Officer for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights are also up for grabs.

The four new names will be chosen according to competence, geographic origin, and with an eye on gender equality.

For its part, the Swiss foreign ministry said the OSCE’s well-being was its utmost concern, and that it decided not to put forward a candidate in order to ease the way towards a consensus.