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To mark Ireland’s Presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe, the first AEJ lunch of 2012 was addressed by Frank Cogan, Head of the OSCE Taskforce.

This is Ireland’s first time to chair the Vienna-based body although the country has been a member since its foundation in 1973. The original aim of the OSCE was to try to establish a ‘temporary warming’ of relations between East and West in strengthening the security of the wider Europe. The cornerstone of the OSCE is the Helsinki Agreement which the OSCE tries to implement among the 56 member states which include all EU countries, NATO and some former Soviet Union states.

The current population of the OSCE countries is approximately one billion and the current budget is €149 million which Frank Cogan pointed out is less than the cost of a top range fighter plane. Approximately 65% of the budget goes on the OSCE’s 16 field offices.

The OSCE’s Permanent Council meets weekly in Vienna and, to mark Ireland’s Presidency, the meeting of January 12 was chaired by the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TDThe OSCE has a number of subsidiary bodies including ODIHR which carries out election monitoring, a human rights section and a freedom of the media section.

Ireland has a number of targets for the year including a focus on money-laundering, good governance and new media. Various events and conferences will be organised on these topics during the year.

The website of the OSCE is