Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Remarks by Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Cooperation Nikolay Kobrinets at the concluding session of the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, Bratislava, December 6, 2019
First of all, I would like to express our gratitude to the Slovak chairmanship for the comfortable environment created for the ministerial meeting participants. Discussions on the entire OSCE agenda that took place during the preparations, the plenary meeting and on the sidelines of the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council were very productive.
The Russian delegation showed its readiness for constructive interaction based on the positive, unifying agenda. Our experts worked hard on all projects that were suggested by the chairmanship, and also reviewed other documents in detail.
We brought eight Russian proposals to Bratislava. The attitude towards them was not in a collaborative spirit. Most of the proposals were brushed aside under contrived pretexts, though it is obvious that they were blocked mostly for their Russian origin, despite assurances to the contrary. We consider this approach short-sighted: substantive work within the OSCE is being sacrificed for the sake of ideology.
We regret that the intention of some countries to enforce a distorted image of the current political and legal realities, and their attempts to block our proposals did not allow for adopting a joint political declaration and a statement on the OSCE efforts to assist in the resolution of the intra-Ukrainian crisis.
They did not have enough political will to agree with the approval of a declaration by 57 states on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, even though the document used the wording that was agreed upon in previous years. Some states have both short and selective historical memory. This is regrettable and dangerous. Forgetting history and distorting it for the sake of the immediate opportunistic interests can result in repeating the mistakes and tragedies of the past. The details of our position are reflected in the joint statement by the foreign ministers of 11 countries, which was read out by a representative of Belarus.
We welcome the statement that supports the Transnistria settlement in the 5+2 format. We hope that the implementation of the agreed confidence-building measures and outlining new reciprocal steps will facilitate a gradual rapprochement on the two banks of the Dniester River. A joint statement by the delegation heads of the countries, co-chairs of the Minsk OSCE Group, in support of the process of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement was adopted. We note that all parties are set to continue talks and promote measures to prepare the people for peace.
Two declarations of the Ministerial Council have been agreed upon. They are related to the anniversaries of the adoption of the OSCE principles governing non-proliferation, UN Security Council Resolution No 1540, as well as the OSCE Code of Conduct related to military-political aspects of security. While praising their contents in general, we note that it is apparently the current limit of what can be achieved on the military-political track.
The conversation on the ways to restore trust and de-escalate tensions is valuable in itself. We support the continued ‘structured dialogue’ involving military experts without the politicisation of the process. We consider it an important confidence-building step.
Building up cooperation in combatting transnational challenges is still relevant, especially considering the persistent terrorist threat in the world in general and in the OSCE region in particular. It is essential to enhance the efforts of the OSCE in counteracting the expansion of the terrorist ideology, including via the media, as well as to use the Security Committee of the OSCE Permanent Council more efficiently in the area of counterterrorism with the regular participation of experts from the capitals. Russia’s proposal regarding drug trafficking counteraction remains relevant.
I would like to add that the inexplicable obsession of some delegations with gender issues has hampered the work to adopt decisions that have no direct connection to this subject.
The sabotage by some delegations of the instruction issued at a meeting of the council in Basel in 2014 on adopting declarations to protect Christians and Muslims is absolutely counter-productive. At the same time, their rhetoric on the need to strictly adhere to the commitments we all signed up to seems a mere hypocrisy.
The balanced projects related to the language and educational rights of ethnic minorities and the public’s right for free access to information were turned down outright. The same commitments that the Western countries so actively voted for in the past have apparently become unwanted.
We supported the so-called Bratislava Appeal by the Chairperson-in-Office. We agree with its key provisions: to focus on what unites us and not on what separates us, be more flexible and ready to compromise and improve the equal interactive dialogue. We will continue to be guided by these principles in our work at the OSCE.
The year 2020 will mark the 45th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act and the 10th anniversary of the Astana Declaration. This is a good opportunity to reaffirm our adherence to the basic principles of the OSCE that are outlined in these documents, as well as to the objective to strengthen comprehensive and indivisible security. However, it is alarming that this year, some partners did not show the readiness to do so in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Charter for European Security and the Platform for Co-operative Security.
We wish success to Albania, which will hold the upcoming chairmanship.
Thank you for your attention.
Please add these remarks to the minutes of this meeting.