Monday, May 20, 2024
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Europe faces its greatest security challenge since 1945 – the OSCE has never been more important

  • At the UN Security Council meeting on the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

LONDON, England – The UK remains a firm supporter of the OSCE and cooperation with this Council. At a time when Europe faces its greatest security challenge since 1945, the OSCE’s work to uphold the founding Helsinki principles and safeguard European security has never been more important.

I would like to highlight three areas in particular.

First, it has been over two years since Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine. We remember the OSCE’s efforts to try and avoid this catastrophe. For years, the OSCE worked tirelessly to support the implementation of the Minsk agreements. A process Russia professed to support, while planning for war. On 21 February 2022, Russian diplomats told the OSCE that “the key to lasting peace … lies in the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Three days later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

In this context, and noting today, Russia’s description of certain towns in Donetsk and Luhansk, the UK reiterates its rejection of Russia’s efforts illegally to annex parts of Ukraine and reiterates its support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. With mounting evidence that Russia has committed grave violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, we strongly welcome action taken under the Moscow Mechanism in 2022, 2023, and February this year to gather evidence and ensure Russia is held to account.

And we have not forgotten the three OSCE colleagues who were part of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, who have been unjustifiably held by the Russian authorities for over 700 days. We call for their immediate release.

Second, we welcome the OSCE’s vital work to address other protracted conflicts in the OSCE region. We firmly support the work of OSCE field missions in Central Asia and the Western Balkans and welcome efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova. We encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to seize the opportunity to reach a lasting peace agreement.

Third, the OSCE continues to play a key role in promoting democracy and human rights in the OSCE region. We recognise the important work of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and we share its concern at Russia’s decision to invite OSCE observers to its presidential election for the first time this year.

President, at a time when the founding principles of the UN and OSCE are under threat, it is vital that we strengthen the OSCE and enhance this Council’s cooperation with it, to deliver long-term peace and security for the more than one billion people living across the OSCE region.

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