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Former OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger arrives for the 25th OSCE ministerial council meeting in 2018 The former secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Thomas Greminger, arrives for the 25th OSCE ministerial council meeting, in Milan, Italy, Dec. 6, 2018 (AP photo/Antonio Calanni).

How Internal Squabbling Paralyzed Europe’s Most Vital Security Organization

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020

VIENNA—Just before breaking for their summer recess, in early June, ambassadors to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had one major item on their agenda. The terms of the organization’s four top leaders were set to expire in mid-July, so the OSCE planned to reappoint each of them for another three-year stint. The extensions were widely seen as mere formalities—nothing out of the ordinary.

But then, on June 11, a letter of protest from Azerbaijan changed everything, turning an otherwise routine decision into a political power struggle that culminated in the toppling of the OSCE’s entire senior leadership team one month later. The head of the OSCE, Secretary General Thomas Greminger, had to vacate his office at its headquarters here in Vienna on July 18, along with the director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir; the representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir; and the high commissioner on national minorities, Lamberto Zannier. ...

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