Hamburg will take centre stage from December 8-9, 2016 as the venue for the 23rd Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Germany’s OSCE-chairmanship this year prompted Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s choice of Hamburg to host the conference. He noted: “No other city in Germany stands for cosmopolitanism, tolerance and international networking like Hamburg. The Port of Hamburg is a ‘gate to the world’”. And from July 7-8, 2017, Hamburg will again be the centre of world media attention when it hosts the G20 summit of the heads of state and governments of 20 major industrial nations and emerging economies.
Hamburg to boost its cosmopolitan image
The meetings enhance Hamburg’s profile and give the city an opportunity to present itself as a host of world events. Sebastian Schaffer, Deputy Speaker of the Senate of Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, said: “The OSCE is committed to freedom, peace and security in the world. It stands for a joint approach to solving common challenges in the world. We in Hamburg, as a cosmopolitan city, share this conviction, and it applies now more than ever. Thus we are delighted to have the OSCE’s Ministerial Council as guests.” Germany will chair the G20 next year prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s choice of Hamburg as host of summit, which will focus mainly on women, flight, migration and health.
OSCE to focus on Ukraine, terrorism and arms control
This year’s OSCE meeting will focus on the Ukraine conflict, terrorism and disarmament. Steinmeier has already launched an initiative towards arms control in Europe. Transparency, reliability and predictability should lead to greater security and prevent conflicts from escalating, he said. In an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he wrote: “We cannot constantly organise security in Europe against each other. Security is not a zero-sum game. We cannot cease looking for ways and fields of co-operative security policy.” And this quest is likely to take priority at the upcoming meeting.
Unanimous resolutions – similar to U.N.
Apart from the main issues, anti-discrimination, tolerance and the plight of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE area will also be highlighted. The two-day meet will also strive to reach unanimous resolutions – similar to the United Nations. Another key issue is likely to be the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president, his foreign policy strategy and the repercussions for the OSCE, of which the United States is a member.
Well-armed police in Hamburg
Around 1,300 diplomats, 1,700 technicians and huge security details are expected in Hamburg for the meeting during which air traffic will be tightly regulated. A strict, no-fly zone will be imposed banning drones, hot air balloon flights and model airplanes. Around 10,000 police officers including 3,500 from Hamburg and 6,500 from other German states will secure the venues. Hamburg’s police force recently presented equipment such as helmets, assault rifles and an armoured vehicle worth EUR 4.5 million to the public.