Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the OSCE Informal Ministerial Meeting
On July 11, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the OSCE Informal Ministerial Meeting, which will be held in Mauerbach, Austria. The meeting was initiated by Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz in his role as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
Previous OSCE meetings in this format were held on Corfu (2009) and in Almaty (2010), New York (2014) and Potsdam (2016). No official decisions or documents are adopted at such meetings, which are held for an informal high-level exchange of opinions about the situation in the OSCE zone of responsibility and also to prepare the annual OSCE Ministerial Council. This year, the OSCE Ministerial Council will convene in Vienna on December 7−8.
The ministerial meeting in Mauerbach will be held under the motto, Building Trust Through Dialogue and Cooperation. Following the plenary session, discussions will continue in two interactive roundtable sessions on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism, and on the structured dialogue on current and future challenges and risks to security in the OSCE area.
The meeting discussions will likely focus on the security crisis in Europe. The Russian delegates will raise the issue of the dangerous NATO policy regarding the military and political deterrence of Russia, which has taken the form of increased presence of NATO troops and infrastructure in direct proximity to Russia’s borders and the growing number of military exercises involving NATO partner nations. The majority of these exercises are clearly anti-Russia and provocative.
We hope that the ministers who meet in Mauerbach will discuss ways to overcome the European security crisis and to normalise interstate relations. We believe that all instruments available must be used to ease tension. We firmly believe that the OSCE can be used for this purpose because it has a considerable potential and can serve as the venue for an equal dialogue and for making responsible decisions on security matters.
Russia stands for strengthening the role and prestige of the OSCE and for increasing its involvement in international affairs. The creation of a community based on equal and indivisible security should remain the long-term goal for the OSCE countries as stipulated in the OSCE Commemorative Declaration adopted in 2010. The main task at the current stage should be to rebuild trust between states and to prevent the misinterpretation of each other’s intentions. Russia is ready for this dialogue.
A separate topic up for discussion in Mauerbach will be the structured dialogue on current and future security challenges, which has been initiated by Germany. Russia is taking part in this dialogue and hopes to be able to contribute to the search for ways to defuse military and political tension in Europe and to bring the level of military confrontation down. The success of this initiative fully depends on the partners’ ability to talk honestly and to avoid mutual accusations, including on military matters. We have proposed jointly analysing the map to compare the military threats and doctrines of the OSCE countries and the numbers and the qualitative aspects of the armed forces deployed in Europe.
The security situation in Europe has been complicated by the growth of transnational threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and migration. These issues will be at the top of the agenda in Austria. The OSCE should play a greater role in the UN-led fight against terrorism. We believe that the fight against terrorism can be only effective in the framework of a broad global coalition based on international law and respect for the equality and sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs and unacceptability of using terrorists for political purposes.
Another major subject on the agenda of the ministerial meeting will be the harmonisation of integration processes that are underway in West and East Eurasia. The OSCE is a good venue for promoting the concept of “integration of integrations,” which could provide the economic basis for a future security community. Discussions on this subject are ongoing within the OSCE.
We intend to draw the attention of participants at this informal meeting to drawbacks in the OSCE’s performance as well as thematical and geographical imbalances at the organisation. Russia continues to advocate a reform, which should include the drafting of an OSCE Charter, the streamlining of its missions and institutions, election monitoring by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as well as NGOs’ participation in OSCE events and extra-budgetary projects.
We are ready to work constructively to prepare the annual OSCE Ministerial Council, which will take place in Vienna on December 7−8. We do not want it to become hostage to the opportunistic political considerations of some countries. We hope to be able to discuss the draft agenda of the OSCE Ministerial Council and the documents that will be adopted at it. The priority subjects as we see them should include the fight against terrorism and other threats, the harmonisation of integration processes and the protection of traditional values, including resistance against Christianophobia and Islamophobia.
We are considering the possibility of organising short bilateral meetings between Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts on the sidelines of the OSCE Informal Ministerial Meeting.