In 2018, Italy will take over the Chairmanship of the OSCE from Austria. SOCIETY spoke with Ambassador Alessandro Azzoni about Italy’s priorities for the following year.
The priorities during Austria’s chairmanship had been: easing international conflicts, fighting radicalism and building trust. Which priorities is Italy going to set for the coming term?
I would like to emphasize two central points among the Italian priorities. The first is the search for a solution to the Ukrainian crisis and the protracted conflicts in the OSCE area. We will do this in continuity with the efforts of the Chairmanships that have preceded us. The second is the OSCE’s increased focus on the challenges emanating from the Mediterranean, bearing in mind that the Mediterranean dimension of security is complementary – and not alternative – to the OSCE’s Euro-Asian dimension. The Italian Chairmanship will focus on how to better address the security challenges posed by migratory flows coming from the Mediterranean and beyond, but also transnational threats, such as combating illicit trafficking. In tackling these issues, we will support the link between the protection of fundamental rights and the pursuit of security and prosperity. The distinctive feature of our Chairmanship will be dialogue and inclusion.
Some agendas have not been fulfilled during Austria’s term as head of the OSCE, what are the most important issues you are going to tackle?
We are honored to build upon the excellent work conducted by the Austrian, as well as other previous OSCE Chairmanships, and I am confident that we will spare no effort and work every day to revive the most authentic “spirit of Helsinki“.
Austria enforced the involvement of the OSCE in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, what are the most important issues on that subject in the future?
We believe that the unfolding of the Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated to what extent the world needs the OSCE. In that sense, Italy will continue to support the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, a unique example of the collective multilateral effort for the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Italy will continue to support and defend this Mission so that it can carry out its mandate in full and in safety. At the same time, it will be crucial for us to support the endeavours of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis. We call for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, with full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence of Ukraine.
Concerning the frozen conflicts in the post Soviet republics, what is the main goal of the Italian chairmanship?
Italy recognises that protracted conflicts deserve constant attention and to this end we will commit ourselves to strengthening the OSCE activities within the existing formats, such as the Geneva International Discussions on the Georgian conflict, the “5+2” negotiation format for a resolution of the Transdniestran conflict and the Minsk Group for the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. While being fully aware of the sensitive cruxes that underlie frozen conflicts we will undertake all the required efforts to ensure their peaceful resolution as well as the safety of the people affected by the conflicts.
There were a lot of personnel changes during Austria’s chairmanship (new general secretary, ODIHR-leader). Does Italy agree with these changes?
Italy has already expressed its approval when, thanks to the Austrian Chairmanship and the commitment of all the OSCE participating States, consensus on the nominations was achieved in a very constructive manner. We are looking forward to work very closely with all of them.
Alessandro Azzoni was born in Parma, Italy, on 28 March 1965. He earned a degree in political science from the Faculty „Cesare Alfieri“, University of Florence. He entered the diplomatic service on 4 March 1991. He became Chief of Staff of the Directorate General for Multilateral Political Affairs, Italian MFA, in 2001 and was Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organizations in Vienna in 2004. In 2008, he was Deputy Head of Mission in Ankara, Turkey and was promoted to Minister Plenipotentiary in 2012. He was Head of European Foreign and Security Policy Division, Directorate General for Political Affairs and Security, Italian MFA, in 2012. Since 2016, he is Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OSCE in Vienna.
Fotos: OSCE Micky Kroell, OSCE_Jonathan Perfect, OSCE_Lucia Carmona