The 30th meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council took place in the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje. The main topic is Russia’s war against Ukraine. But representatives of Ukraine and several other European states did not come to the annual OSCE meeting. The reason for the boycott was the permission of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to take part in the meeting. informs FREEDOM.
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this is the first OSCE event to which he was allowed. During Lavrov’s speech, some meeting participants left the hall.
Top US and EU diplomats were also not present at the meeting with the participation of the Russian Foreign Minister.
On the eve of the meeting, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia announced that they would not participate in this event. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the Baltic countries warned: Lavrov’s participation in the meeting could legitimize the aggressor state as a full member of the community of free nations. Poland also joined the boycott.
“We share this position; we believe that the presence of the Russian Foreign Minister cannot be ignored at the table of an organization that is called upon to build peace and security in Europe,” said Polish Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Senk.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is confident that it is necessary to work to save the OSCE from Russia, and not send signals to Moscow about the possibility of returning to the cooperation that existed before February 2022.
“The Russian Federation is consistently destroying the OSCE by abusing the rule of consensus. By resorting to blackmail and open threats, the Russian Federation systematically blocked consensus on key issues. The blocking of Estonia’s candidacy for the OSCE chairmanship in 2024 was also arbitrary. In addition, Russia illegally detained three Ukrainians, representatives of the OSCE, who have been in prison for more than 500 days. The Russian Federation has created an existential crisis in the OSCE and turned the organization into a hostage to its whims and aggression,” said Oleg Nikolenko, speaker of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
At the meeting, British Minister of the Armed Forces James Hippie stressed that Russia must suffer complete defeat both in the war unleashed against Ukraine and in attempts to disrupt the activities of the OSCE.
“Ukraine is fighting not only for its freedom, but also for the right of all nations to make sovereign choices without coercion. Maintaining Ukraine’s success means our constant support. The UK will continue to provide economic, military, humanitarian and diplomatic support to ensure Ukraine’s victory. We want them to provide the lasting peace that their people deserve and that the European continent needs,” concluded Hippy.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Bärbock appealed to the Russian delegation demanding an immediate end to the war against Ukraine. However, at that moment the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation was not in the hall. Burbock also noted that the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry appears in the hall only “when he speaks himself, and not to listen to others.”
“The Russian government’s cunning game is to use its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine to also destroy organizations that rely on peaceful coexistence and cooperation. And we won’t let that happen,” Burbock said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Skopje before Lavrov arrived there. Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien in a speech called Russia’s war against Ukraine a violation of the standards of the civilized world.
“Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine is a complete affront to civilized standards, international law and the principles on which this organization is founded. The ongoing conflicts in Georgia and Moldova require a renewed commitment from us to resolve them and bring these societies into full compliance with the choices of their people. Be part of a broader community of countries committed to the rule of law,” he emphasized.
At a meeting in Skopje, ministers are expected to approve a decision on Malta’s chairmanship of the OSCE in 2024. This is a compromise candidacy that was put forward after Moscow blocked the appointment of Estonia to this post.