Malta breaks Moscow-West deadlock and will chair OSCE

57 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe agree Malta should chair world's largest regional security body

The OSCE headquarters is situated in Vienna (Photo: OSCE)
The OSCE headquarters is situated in Vienna (Photo: OSCE)

57 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe agreed on Monday that Malta should take over the organization's rotating chairmanship after Russia barred Estonia from the job.

OSCE countries' foreign ministers meet on Thursday and Friday in the North Macedonian capital of Skopje to discuss the chair role and renewing four senior OSCE officials in their posts at the Vienna-based organisation.

Western countries often describe OSCE as a key forum for former Cold War foes the United States and Russia to engage. Other members include Canada, Central Asian states, the entire European Union, Britain, Ukraine and Belarus.

Moscow had for months objected to NATO member Estonia taking over the annually rotating chairmanship as was originally planned, prompting a scramble for an alternative. Malta, which is neutral was seen as the ideal choice by all sides.

This will be the first time Malta chairs the OSCE, and coincides with Malta’s membership of the UN Security Council.

The OSCE chair is responsible for guiding negotiations among the 57 participating states and helping them achieve consensus. The foreign minister of the country at the helm of the OSCE is a trouble shooter who is expected to travel to crisis hotspots in the region, including Ukraine and South Eastern Europe.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on X (formerly Twitter) that the US is “grateful to Malta for stepping forward to assume the responsibilities of the chairpersonship and carry forward the work of the OSCE in 2024.”

“Malta has the full support and confidence of the United States,” he tweeted.

On Facebook, Foreign Minister Ian Borg said the current OSCE chair formerly requested he take on the role for the coming year.

He said the other 56 member states unanimously agreed on Malta’s chairmanship, and he will formerly take on the role on Friday.