One against all, all against Lavrov
All ministerial speakers strongly condemned Russian military aggression in the first part of yesterday's plenary session, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov used his three minutes to condemn the "collective West".
It is good that the OSCE Ministerial Council is being held in Skopje and most likely all the necessary decisions will be made to ensure the future of the Organization, but it is not known how long the decisions will last, assessed the diplomats interviewed by "Sloboden Pechat" during the 30 .A summit held at SRC "Boris Trajkovski".
Despite the fact that the ministers of foreign affairs of the three Baltic states and Ukraine canceled their arrival, after the presence of the Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov was confirmed, and some of the ministers left yesterday evening, immediately after the informal dinner, including the main star of the summit, the American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as well as British Minister David Cameron and Bulgarian Minister Maria Gabriel, the organizers consider the summit a success in that the meeting was held and discussed.
In the first part of the plenary session, almost all ministerial speakers strongly condemned the Russian military aggression, and Lavrov used his three minutes to condemn the "collective West".
Kovachevski and Osmani good hosts
The host of the summit, Minister Bujar Osmani, in his opening address, expressed hope that the historic meeting will not be missed, that the weight of the moment will be answered and a predictable and constructive future for the OSCE will be provided.
- I will convey the three messages that the OSCE persists and continues to deliver. North Macedonia took over the presidency in a year of active war with unprecedented threats to European security and the rules-based international order. The Russian military aggression against Ukraine violated all the rules of the Organization, the final act of Helsinki and other key documents for European security and human rights. War has undermined trust, dialogue and our capacity to deliver, and above all it has destroyed the lives of ordinary people, their right to live freely in the face of the fear of war and the conditions war has created. Within the framework of the OSCE, dialogue and cooperation were replaced by divisions and polarization. Consensus, often instrumentalized to achieve national political goals instead of serving the collective interest, has become a weapon, making practical goals distant and difficult to achieve - said Osmani in the address.
Osmani added that the survival of the Organization has been achieved, and with the support of the majority, defeatism has been avoided, so critical energy is directed towards other challenges.
– I feel free to say that despite the obstacles we managed to keep the Organization relevant. We all managed to save the OSCE together - Osmani said.
Regardless of the war in Ukraine and developments in the Middle East, he added, multilateralism remains the best weapon for conflict prevention and overcoming disagreements.
Before the start of the summit, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski, answering a journalist's question, said that the consensus reached for Malta to be the future chairman is not a diplomatic victory for Russia, but rather a diplomatic victory for the OSCE, because the functioning of the Organization was called into question.
- If the OSCE helped Macedonia 30 years ago, today North Macedonia helps the OSCE to continue being the largest regional security organization in Europe - Kovacevski pointed out.
Condemnation of Russia
The US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, James O'Brien, issued a strong criticism of anyone who intends to block the functioning of the OSCE, because, he said, it would be a direct threat to its core values and commitments, but and to the lives of millions of people trying to enjoy basic human rights. O'Brien pointed out that the OSCE shows the way to governments working to promote human rights and basic human values.
- Our presence here is not only a privilege, but also our choice, because we are aware that each of us is working to achieve the aspirations for the realization of basic human rights, and for this we need the help of our partners. We support the Organization not only for our sake. We are here to be there for each other, we are here for the most vulnerable population in every society – said O'Brien.
The blockade or non-respect of the principles of the Organization, he added, is a direct threat to its basic values, for which it has been committed since 1975. The American diplomat shares the view with his colleagues that the Russian offensive against Ukraine is a direct threat to the freedom of the civilian population, to international law, as well as to the principles of the OSCE.
- Russia continues to violate the principles of the OSCE. I join the voice of my colleagues, who call on Russia to stop violations of the basic principles of the Organization, but I am not sure that they are willing to hear it. I believe that the OSCE will progress and that Malta as chairman will be able to do an excellent job in 2024 - said O'Brien.
Hungarian Minister Peter Szijjártó said that his country does not want to see people die in the war in their neighborhood.
- Peace is the only way to end war and prevent further destruction. We don't need more weapons in this region, we need peace - said Sijarto.
French delegates say that Ukrainian children are the biggest victims of the war in Ukraine. They emphasized the need for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh and confirmed French support in bringing peace to these areas.
German Foreign Minister Analena Berbock said that Berlin continues to support the countries of the Western Balkans in their efforts to join the EU, as well as Ukraine. And Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, as well as his Finnish counterpart Elina Valtonen, criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Bilstrom warned that countries like Moldova and the Balkan states must stay away from Russian propaganda.
Lavrov: NATO and the EU destroyed the military-political dimension of the OSCE
Russian head of diplomacy Lavrov, on the other hand, emphasized that NATO and EU countries destroyed the military-political dimension of the OSCE.
- The organization is in a bad state and was destroyed as early as 1999, when NATO carried out an undisguised, brutal aggression against Yugoslavia, a member of the OSCE and the UN. And in 2008, in violation of Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council and the principle of inviolability of borders in Europe from the final act of Helsinki, Serbia was deprived of Kosovo without any referendum - pointed out Lavrov.
He accused Europe of having a problem with facts and objectivity and that the conclusions that will be adopted at the OSCE these two days have been prepared in advance.
- In an attempt to destroy the Russian economy, the United States and its European satellites have introduced thousands of sanctions against Russia, ending the broad practical cooperation between the East and the West in our once shared region - said Lavrov.
He added that the future of the OSCE is in jeopardy, mainly because of the actions of Western countries.
- The OSCE has found itself in a severe crisis, and its future is unclear. You are to blame for bringing this division to the organization, the very initiators of this idea are killing the OSCE. It was traditional for us to hold positive speeches, but that no longer happens, because the OSCE has become a tool of the European Union - emphasized Lavrov.