Bulgaria is a CSCE /OSCE participating state since 1975. In the beginning of July 1999 the Bulgarian government made a decision to put forward Republic of Bulgaria’s candidature for OSCE chairmanship. It was unanimously approved by the participants in the Tenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council in Porto (Portugal) in 2003.
Taking over the OSCE chairmanship in 2004 after successfully closing Bulgaria’s membership in UN Security Council for the period 2002-2003 was an irrefutable recognition of our country’s growing international prestige. It additionally enabled Bulgaria to influence international life by setting Europe’s agenda on the issues of security and the fight against terrorism and to play a real role in preventing conflicts in crisis areas of the globe.
In formulating its priorities the Bulgarian chairmanship counted on the principles of continuity in the OSCE Troika for fulfilling the commitments assumed by the participating states. In that sense the priorities of the Dutch chairmanship in 2003 (fight against terrorism, against trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings, continuing the efforts to solve the so called “frozen conflicts”, etc.) remained among the priorities also in 2004.
In the context of NATO and EU enlargement the Bulgarian chairmanship worked for raising the role of OSCE as an organisation which serves as a forum for dialogue and decision making, especially on common threats to security.
The OSCE reform became a main subject in 2004, focusing the attention on the significance of OSCE and the possible ways to transform the organisation.
Important place took also the activities outside the OSCE scope. The organization undertook its first operation beyond the OSCE area, sending a team in assistance of the presidential elections in Afghanistan on 9 October. The relations with the Mediterranean and Asian partners intensified, and Mongolia was admitted as a newest member.
The Bulgarian chairmanship did its best to achieve a better balance between the political and military, the economical, human and environmental dimension of the organisation’s activities.
The results of OSCE activities and of the Bulgarian chairmanship in 2004 were corroborated at the 12th annual meeting of the Ministerial Council held in Sofia on 6-7 December 2004. That meeting was a culmination of the one-year efforts of the Bulgarian chairmanship. The participants in the Sofia Ministerial Council meeting agreed on a Statement on Preventing and Combating Terrorism, Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, and Declaration on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the End of World War II. Eighteen decisions were approbated on a wide range of issues, including the reforming of OSCE, fight against terrorism, restricting the traffic of illicit small arms and light weapons, the trafficking in humans, strengthening tolerance and non-discrimination, the fight against corruption, etc.
With 56 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) forms the largest regional security organization in the world.
The OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area. It has 19 missions or field operations in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The Organization deals with three dimensions of security - the politico-military, the economic and environmental, and the human dimension. It therefore addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. All 56 participating States enjoy equal status, and decisions are taken by consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis.
The OSCE traces its origins to the détente phase of the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was created to serve as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West. Meeting over two years in Helsinki and Geneva, the CSCE reached agreement on the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed on 1 August 1975. This document contained a number of key commitments on polito-military, economic and environmental and human rights issues that became central to the so-called 'Helsinki process'. It also established ten fundamental principles (the 'Decalogue') governing the behaviour of States towards their citizens, as well as towards each other.
Until 1990, the CSCE functioned mainly as a series of meetings and conferences that built on and extended the participating States' commitments, while periodically reviewing their implementation. However, with the end of the Cold War, the Paris Summit of November 1990 set the CSCE on a new course. In the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the CSCE was called upon to play its part in managing the historic change taking place in Europe and responding to the new challenges of the post-Cold War period, which led to its acquiring permanent institutions and operational capabilities.
As part of this institutionalization process, the name was changed from the CSCE to the OSCE by a decision of the Budapest Summit of Heads of State or Government in December 1994.
With 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE forms the largest regional security organization in the world. The OSCE maintains formal relations with a number of partner states in Asia and the Mediterranean.
Being the largest regional security organization in the world OSCE conducts a wide range of activities related to all three dimensions of security — the human, the politico-military and the economic-environmental.