The OSCE Dilemma: Russia’s Involvement and the Search for a New Chair

As the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) approaches, two pressing questions have emerged: Will Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov attend, and who will assume the OSCE rotating chair for 2024? These questions are intertwined, as Lavrov’s presence could be instrumental in resolving the issue surrounding the next chair. Estonia, which has already applied for the position, faces opposition from Russia who argues against another NATO country holding the role. The absence of a chair at the beginning of 2024 could even spell the downfall of the organization.

Despite concerns, Estonia has received unanimous backing from the other 26 EU member states, ensuring that its candidacy remains intact. Margus Tsahkna, Estonia’s Foreign Minister, emphasized the need to uphold international isolation against Russia in order to counter its aggression. The united stance of the EU has prevented the exploration of alternative candidates, although Austria and Malta have emerged as potential options. If Russia’s demands are not met, there is a possibility that Russia may withdraw from the OSCE, an outcome that many member states wish to avoid due to the potential domino effect it may have on other countries from the former Soviet bloc.

Sources familiar with the issue, who speak on the condition of anonymity, reveal that Russia has also rejected the candidacy of Kazakhstan and the continuation of North Macedonia as chair. The absence of a chair would severely impact the day-to-day functioning of the organization. Therefore, finding a solution and achieving consensus among member states remains crucial as the OSCE ministerial meeting approaches.


1. What is the OSCE?

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a political organization comprising 57 member states. Its aim is to address security issues, promote human rights, and facilitate dialogue and cooperation among member states.

2. Who is the current chair of the OSCE?

The current chair of the OSCE is North Macedonia. However, the search for the chair for 2024 is currently underway.

3. Why is Russia opposed to Estonia as the next chair?

Russia opposes Estonia as the next chair due to its NATO membership and its continuous reference to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia argues against having another NATO country in the role.

4. What are the potential consequences if Russia withdraws from the OSCE?

If Russia withdraws from the OSCE, there is a concern that other countries, particularly from the former Soviet bloc, may follow suit in solidarity. The absence of Russia and other member states may compromise the effectiveness and functioning of the organization.

OSCE Official Website