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Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg Attends Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe

AUSTRIA, November 30 - The foreign ministers of the OSCE member states are meeting in Łódź, Poland, today and tomorrow, 1 and 2 December.

The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) was established to resolve conflicts and ensure the peaceful coexistence of the more than 1 billion people in its 57 member states – from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Because OSCE resolutions are made unanimously and Russia has been exercising a veto for years, the organisation is in a state of crisis. For instance, Russia forced the OSCE’s observer mission in Ukraine to be discontinued. Accordingly, the goal of the meeting was to find ways for the OSCE to continue its important work on stability, peace, and democracy despite Russian obstruction.

For Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, that included bilateral talks with the foreign ministers from Ukraine, the UK, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, along with a side event on “Ending Russian Impunity,” in addition to the plenary session.

We must do everything in our power to preserve the OSCE for the ‘day after’ – the day when diplomacy once again has room to act. Whenever that day might be. At that point we will need to have a strong organisation, because the OSCE has never been a club of like-minded nations. I deeply regret that Russia was not represented today. It is a serious own goal in terms of security policy,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Łódź.

During an event on “Ending Russian Impunity and Justice for the Victims of the War of Aggression”, Foreign Minister Schallenberg reiterated Austria’s support for independent observer missions and courts, which play an important role in holding the responsible parties accountable and enforcing international law.

I am proud that Vienna is home to the UN Investigation Commission on Ukraine, that we are training and equipping Ukrainian war-crime investigators, and that we provide financial and concrete support for the efforts of the International Criminal Court,

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasised in his speech.

Over the last few decades, the OSCE has significantly contributed to increasing security, fighting organised crime, and reinforcing human rights and the rule of law in Europe and Central Asia. Among other things, the field mission in Ukraine, after the invasion of Crimea in violation of international law, was a major reason for maintaining a dialogue between the parties to the conflict. Since Russia is now blocking all OSCE activities in Ukraine, creative new approaches are needed. Consequently, during the bilateral meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Alexander Schallenberg expressed his pleasure that OSCE was exploring new possibilities. For instance, it launched a project to clear mines, remedy environmental damage resulting from attacks, and provide psychological support for civilians. Because the project is off-budget, it cannot be vetoed by Russia.

Aside from the Russian war of aggression, other trouble spots might also flare up at any time and must be monitored carefully. This includes the situation in Transnistria, but also issues of arms control, human rights, and climate change. The Foreign Minister discussed these issues with further counterparts. He also expressed approval to his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu regarding the Moldovan government’s clear pro-European stance, and promised that Austria would continue to provide support. His meeting with James Cleverly, the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, also focused on the consequences of the Russian war of aggression and security cooperation.