Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, Bratislava, December 5, 2019
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, allow me to thank Slovakia’s Chairmanship for its hospitality. Here in Bratislava, where Western and Eastern Europe meet, we are reminded that the purpose of our organisation is to facilitate the emergence of shared security through cooperation, as well as the removal of dividing lines and the growth of mutual trust. The goal adopted at the 2010 Astana summit of building a community of equal, comprehensive and indivisible security should remain our utmost priority. Today, CSTO foreign ministers adopted a statement to this effect, reaffirming their commitment to this objective.
Unfortunately, not all have been following this example. Instead of advancing towards equal security, we are seeing movement in the opposite direction. The strategic stability architecture is breaking down, and the security space is becoming increasingly fragmented. There are attempts to replace international law with a “rules-based order” as a set of foreign policy concepts shared by a narrow group of Western countries. The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in several waves and attempts to present the alliance as a “source of legitimacy,” the fact that its military infrastructure is getting closer and closer to the Russian borders, and efforts to rapidly expand military capabilities in Eastern Europe, as well as unprecedented increases in defence spending coupled with setting up the “image of an enemy,” all this causes tensions reminiscent of the Cold War.
It is essential that we reverse this dangerous trend and stop the situation from further sliding towards confrontation. There is demand for a positive common European agenda on all pressing matters, from countering multiple challenges and threats to coordinating Eurasian integration processes. Considering the OSCE’s broad geography and inclusive approach to security, the consensus principle and culture of dialogue, it can and should play an important role in delivering on this vision. By the way, this is what the Bratislava Appeal issued by the Chairperson-in-Office is all about. It has our full support.
Guided by the same philosophy, we have prepared a number of initiatives for today’s meeting. Adopting a declaration to mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War would be a matter of principle. The same applies to a commemorative declaration on the 20th anniversary of the Charter for European Security. It was proposed by Russia in order to reaffirm the principles established 20 year ago. Let me remind you that our Western colleagues were at the forefront of promoting these principles. Today, however, they are not as enthusiastic about them as they used to be.
Russia supports efforts to continue a “structured dialogue” with input from military experts and without politicising the process. We believe dialogue to be an important confidence building measure, especially at a time when military-to-military contacts between Russia and NATO have been broken off. There has been no response so far to Russia’s proposals on ways to ease tensions along the line of contact between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The appeal issued by the CSTO foreign ministers to their NATO colleagues has been left unanswered as well. In a situation, where Russia faces an aggressive policy of containment, any discussion on updating the 2011 Vienna Document seems pointless.
The OSCE should play a more prominent role in combating terrorism and treats related to drug trafficking. We have drafted resolutions to this effect, and hope that they will be discussed in a constructive manner.
The chairmanship and member states have thoroughly reviewed projects on energy cooperation and digital innovation. More attention should be paid to the second basket.
The OSCE is especially relevant for resolving urgent humanitarian problems. Let me remind you that the ignominious phenomenon of statelessness still exists in Latvia and Estonia. In Ukraine, there is flagrant discrimination against the Russian language, while most of the population speaks it. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church is still persecuted.
A number of countries brazenly violate their commitments to ensure media freedoms and equal access to information, demonstrating their intolerance towards alternative points of view.
Delivering on our own resolutions passed five years ago to adopt a declaration on protecting Christians and Muslims remains on the agenda.
The OSCE’s anti-crisis efforts are relevant. We support the operations of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and expect it to release honest reports on the casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Donbass. It is our hope that the upcoming Normandy Format summit in Paris will provide an impetus to implementing the Minsk Package of Measures. Establishing direct dialogue between Kiev, on the one side, and Donetsk and Lugansk, on the other, remains a key factor for achieving a settlement.
We need to pay more attention to the challenging situation in the Balkans. The OSCE’s field operations should not be used to promote Euro-Atlantic integration in the region. Any actions by our organisation in breach of UNSC Resolution 1244 are unacceptable.
It is important that we remember that the OSCE’s executive structures, including its institutions, should benefit all member states. Following the principles of mutual respect and balance of interests is the only way to fully unlock the OSCE’s vast creative potential.
In conclusion, I would like to wish Albania every success as it prepares to assume the OSCE Chairmanship.