Cyprus is one of the 35 signatory states of the Final Act concluded in Helsinki in 1975, and an active participant in the procedures of the then Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which on 1 January 1995 became an international organization under the name Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Since the conception of the CSCE in the early 1970s, Cyprus has contributed to rendering the CSCE a process of common European progress, where the division between East and West would gradually diminish and eventually disappear. Cyprus was a founding member of the group of the Neutral and Non-Aligned (N+N) countries, which assumed the role of bridge-building between the opposing interests of East and West.
The CSCE Conference in Vienna, which took place from November 1986 to January 1989, and its Concluding Document marked the new era in European relations following the rapprochement between East and West. Cyprus has made its contribution to the success of the Vienna Conference on important issues such as the military security in Europe and the Mediterranean, the environment and the principles guiding relations between states.
Cyprus has promoted the adoption of new and concrete obligations concerning the territorial integrity of states and human rights, in particular the adoption of provisions for the non-recognition of situations which violate the territorial integrity of a state and the recognition of the right of all refugees to return to their homes in safety.
Today, OSCE comprises 57 member states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. The aim of the Organization is to achieve a comprehensive framework for security based on the co-operation between countries in a region which extends from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The Organization deals with a wide spectrum of issues concerning security, including arms control, confidence and safety building measures, human rights, ethnic minorities, democratization, policing strategies, combating terrorism, as well as economic and environmental activities.
During the last Ministerial Conference of OSCE, which took place in Kiev in December 2013, decisions as well as statements and communiqués were issued concerning long-lasting conflicts, the enhanced involvement of the Organization in the field of energy and the environment, the efforts to overcome threats between nations, the freedom of thought and conscience, the freedom of religion, and the improvement of the status of the Romani and Sinti people. Furthermore, the procedure of Helsinki 40+ was reaffirmed.
Cyprus attaches great importance to the Treaty of Open Skies, an Agreement of unmanned observation flights over the territory of the states participating in OSCE. The above Treaty is closely associated with the Organization as a confidence and safety building measure, which provides added transparency to military activities. This Treaty entered into force on 1 January 2002. The accession of Cyprus to this Treaty continues to be hindered by Turkey, a member state of the OSCE.
As an EU member state, Cyprus continues to participate actively in the deliberations of OSCE supporting the obligation of member states to fulfill their commitments in the framework of the Organization. Cyprus further recognizes the importance of OSCE in addressing traditional as well as new challenges and threats to security. Due to its geographical location and its long experience, Cyprus is able to contribute to enforcing the Mediterranean dialogue and creating an atmosphere of greater tolerance, without discriminations.