Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Statement by Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting, Vienna, January 11, 2018
Re: Statement by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and
Foreign Minister of Italy Angelino Alfano
Mr Chairperson, Mr Minister,
We are grateful for the detailed account of the priorities of Italy's OSCE chairmanship in 2018, many of which we share.
Your chairmanship falls on a complex period in history. There is neither accord nor trust between the OSCE countries. Hopes for building a single and indivisible security system in the Euro-Atlantic area have failed. Contrary to the assurances that we heard following the Cold War, we have observed and continue to observe the eastward expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure. The foundations of strategic stability, including treaty-based ones, have been systematically eroded over years. We have witnessed the aggressive policy of the “colour revolutions,” interference in internal affairs of states, and changes of unwanted governments. The policy of sanctions and restrictions has gained currency, the true purpose of which is to create trade and economic advantages for some while holding back competitors. Instead of equitable cooperation, we see double standards and hear statements about the “exceptionalism” of individual nations and countries. All of that does not help us resolve today’s problems, but instead gives rise to more problems and conflicts, and makes us all weaker in the face of common threats, such as terrorism, illegal migration, drug and human trafficking, and organised crime.
We agree that reviving the Helsinki spirit and restoring confidence among the OSCE countries is Europe’s top priority. We hope that taking advantage of its inherent grace, insight and finesse, Italian diplomacy will be able to effectively use the OSCE's dialogue capabilities to overcome disagreements, converge positions and develop consensus answers to common challenges.
We fully share your commitment to maintain the OSCE’s efforts to resolve regional conflicts. Above all, this applies to the crisis in eastern Ukraine. We look forward to the constructive role of the chairmanship in promoting a peaceful settlement. The Contact Group, as a key format for direct talks between the conflicting parties – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk – is in need of all-round support. Full compliance with the Minsk Package of Measures approved by the UN Security Council is the key to restoring peace in Donbass. It is necessary to achieve a ceasefire, withdraw weapons and implement the entire political package which includes providing Donbass with special status, carrying out constitutional reform, and holding amnesty and local elections. In addition, the chairmanship will need to ensure the truly objective and impartial work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
We cannot relax our focus with regard to other conflict tracks, either. We are interested in a political solution to the Kosovo issue based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244. We will support the chairmanship’s efforts in the processes of the Transnistrian and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlements. We highly value the OSCE’s role in maintaining a dialogue between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of the international Geneva discussions on security in Transcaucasia.
We are pleased that the Mediterranean matters and the migration crisis rank prominently on the Italian chairmanship’s agenda. We share your assessment of this crisis as one of the biggest challenges to European security. In fighting it, it is important to address the root causes underlying the mass population outflow from the countries of origin, to create additional channels for legal migration, to promote the social integration of migrants, and to counter intolerance and xenophobia in host countries. We support the chairmanship’s commitment to working with the OSCE partner countries.
The OSCE countries are facing the vital task of protecting citizens from transnational threats that are becoming more sophisticated and diverse with every year. We expect the chairmanship to consolidate efforts in the struggle against terrorism, especially, the propaganda of terrorism ideology.
The creation of a global anti-terrorist front remains our common goal. We hope that the OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference you scheduled for May will help implement this goal. We also support the intention of the chairmanship to actively contribute to countering illegal drug, human and other kinds of trafficking. We will continue implementing OSCE projects in Russia to train drug enforcement police officers from Afghanistan and Serbia.
We consider it important not to let up on efforts to reduce the risks of conflicts arising from the use of information and communications technology, all the more so since OSCE has created a good package of measures in this area. It is necessary to work to implement these to enhance trust between countries and prevent unfounded politicised accusations against each other. Our approach is based on preventing the militarisation of the information space, non-interference in the domestic affairs of states and unconditional recognition of their digital sovereignty.
We have supported the main priorities of Italy’s chairmanship in the OSCE economic and environmental dimensions and your intention to focus on promoting innovation, developing human capital and improving government and corporate management. We believe the OSCE could provide a venue for the exchange of experience in the digital economy and help states to rationally use the results of scientific and technical progress.
At the same time, we hope Italy will maintain the continuity of the previous German and Austrian chairmanships and will continue the dialogue on the issues of economic interconnectedness.
We are convinced that the OSCE is capable of becoming a venue for establishing contacts between various integration associations in Eurasia and Europe. This is important for implementing the future concept of a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
We should not forget either about such vital areas of the OSCE’s economic work as the development of multimodal transport and transport corridors, a reduction of the risk of natural and manmade disasters, and efforts to combat corruption and money laundering.
The OSCE human dimension requires serious improvement. The persisting thematic imbalances, organisational issues and arbitrary behavior of institutions are seriously limiting cooperation and dialogue in this area. We hope Italy will manage to parry these challenges, in particular, put things in order at the Review Conference in Warsaw. Sharing the view on the substantial role of civil society and youth in the modern world, we should not forget that the OSCE is still an intergovernmental organisation.
We consider it necessary to pay priority attention to a respectful attitude towards traditional human values, social and economic human rights, the rights of national minorities, including linguistic and educational rights, the struggle against human trafficking, the unacceptable harassment of journalists and media for political reasons, the preservation of cultural and historical heritage, a reduction of statelessness, non-interference in private and family affairs, and the struggle against discrimination in sport. It is absolutely imperative to counter extremist and neo-Nazi ideology and attempts to whitewash Nazis and their accomplices, to prevent the destruction and desecration of monuments to the soldiers of the anti-Hitler coalition, the distortion of the history of World War II and revision of the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal. We believe it is time for the OSCE to adopt a comprehensive ministerial decision on the protection of children’s rights, all the more so since last year’s seminar in Warsaw was devoted to this issue.
We hope the instruction of the OSCE Ministerial Council given in Basel in 2014 on adopting declarations on fighting Christianophobia and Islamophobia will eventually be fulfilled during this year of Italy’s chairmanship. We remind you of the Russian initiative to draft working definitions for intolerance and discrimination against Christians and Muslims.
The OSCE’s agenda will retain the tasks of its institutional reform, the elaboration of the charter, the removal of themed and geographical imbalances and the creation of uniform rules for the performance of executive agencies and principles for monitoring elections.
In conclusion, let me wish Italy success on the uphill road of chairmanship. It will require hard work and skill to bring states with differing positions to consensus. We are convinced that the Italian chairmanship team has the resourcefulness of Leonardo da Vinci, the elegance of Raphael, Marco Polo’s talent to link the West with the East, and Garibaldi’s resolve. We welcome your intention to operate as openly and transparently as possible, fully taking into account the interests and positions of all states, as the chairmanship’s mandate requires. For our part, we are ready for honest cooperation and partnership support for all undertakings aimed at restoring confidence and enhancing security and cooperation in the entire OSCE space.
Thank you for your attention.