OSCE – Malta officially chairs 2024 – senior posts extended

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will survive the second year of the war in Ukraine: After months of blockades, 57 OSCE countries agreed this Friday in Skopje to become the new presidential country in Malta and expand the top four countries. Otherwise, Sunday OSCE positions that will remain vacant on the day. This was announced to journalists by the outgoing OSCE Chairman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani.

Osmani described this result as “historic and groundbreaking”. OSCE countries gathered in Skopje to dedicate themselves to the organization and – overwhelmingly – to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. “One of our states clearly violated our principles, but we still need this organization. Our people also need this organization,” he emphasized, referring to the slogan of the Presidency of North Macedonia “It’s about the people”.

He reminded that the OSCE stands with the conflict-prone people of the Western Balkans. Applauding in the conference hall, the North Macedonian minister said, “The OSCE was there when we needed it. Now, when the OSCE needed us, we were there too.” said. He wished the future OSCE chairmanship of Malta, represented by Foreign Minister Ian Borg, to have “a less difficult year than ours”.

In his first statement, Borg said he would focus on ending wars and conflicts. “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine must end,” he stressed. Malta will work to ensure that the OSCE “remains strong” as a platform for dialogue. In response to a question from journalists, he made it clear that he would allow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to attend the next OSCE annual meeting, which will be held in Malta within a year. In this regard, he “fully agrees” with Osmani, who previously stated that Lavrov did not visit North Macedonia bilaterally, but only for the OSCE meeting.

OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid described the outcome of the annual meeting as “successful”. “This will enable the OSCE to continue its work on security, human rights and fundamental freedoms.” she said. He will now remain in office for the first nine months, as will media representative Teresa Ribeiro, minority representative Kairat Abdrakhmanov and human rights office head Matteo Mecacci.

The only thing that remained unresolved was the issue of the OSCE budget, which has not been increased since 2022. Due to being frozen at the previous level, the 13 OSCE missions tasked with containing conflict in the Republic of Moldova, for example, are at risk from inflation. Many activities of the OSCE can only be financed by additional contributions from Germany and France, for example.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Osmani denied that other OSCE states were sacrificing the organization’s principles in negotiations with Russia. The previous OSCE chairman emphasized that these principles were “non-negotiable”. In fact, the OSCE is a platform that will hold Russia accountable for its actions. “Every week, 55 countries tell the Russian ambassador the truth,” he said, referring to weekly meetings of the organization’s Permanent Council in Vienna. said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) congratulated the new Chairman of the OSCE, Borg. Satisfied with the decisions of the annual meeting, Schallenberg said on the X platform (formerly Twitter) “Where there is a political will, there is a way.” “You can count on our full support,” Schallenberg said of the future OSCE president, to whom he offered logistical and personnel assistance. In particular, there will be an office space in Vienna for the Presidency, and three OSCE experts will also work there.

The annual meeting of the OSCE was overshadowed by opposition within European states. While the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states canceled as the OSCE presidency allowed the participation of Russian chief diplomat Lavrov, Lavrov held bilateral talks with many other European counterparts. Among them was Schallenberg, who, according to his spokesman, spoke with Lavrov about the controversial personnel package at the request of OSCE Chairman Osmani.

Lavrov harshly criticized his fellow Western counterparts on Friday, accusing them of “cowardice”. He said both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had left and he was avoiding meeting him directly. “They probably think this underlines their intention to isolate Russia. But I think they’re just cowards, afraid to speak honestly with the facts.” Blinken and Borrell arrived in Skopje on Wednesday at the invitation of their North Macedonian hosts. For example, Blinken later went to Israel, where the situation was extremely tense due to the Gaza war.


Source: Vienna


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