Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s participation in the OSCE meeting had already sparked controversy. In his speech he now questioned the future of the organization. Several delegates left the hall.
The meeting of OSCE foreign ministers is dominated by the organization’s crisis. The OSCE was founded during the Cold War to ensure dialogue between East and West. But little was heard of dialogue in the Macedonian capital Skopje.
The first day in the plenary session of the foreign ministers was like an exchange of blows. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that with NATO’s eastward expansion, the “Western political elite” had decided against the OSCE: “The OSCE is becoming an appendage of NATO and the European Union. The organization is, frankly, on the edge of the abyss,” said Lavrov. “The question arises: Does it make sense to invest efforts in reviving them?”
Baerbock appeals to Russia
Several delegates from other countries left the hall during Lavrov’s speech. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, the three Baltic states and Poland did not even come because of Lavrov’s participation.
Other European states take the line that every opportunity should be used to express their opinion to Russia. The German delegation belongs to this group. “Stop this war, which is also a war on this very organization, security and cooperation in Europe,” said Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Skopje to Russia. “Stop the unspeakable suffering you are bringing to millions of people and at the same time hurting our organization every day.”
Hungary sees problem in the weapons shipments
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also spoke out in favor of an end to the war. However, with a completely different tongue than Baerbock before. “The arms deliveries have prolonged the war. And we don’t need a war, we don’t need weapons in the region,” he said of the war in Ukraine. “What we need is peace. And in this context, I would like to emphasize that it is important to keep the channels of communication open.”
Said and done. Szijjarto also met bilaterally with Lavrov on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council. The Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also took part in the meeting – at the request of the OSCE, as a spokeswoman later emphasized. The organization is based in Vienna and Austria has a special responsibility for the OSCE.
Schallenberg: “Nobody feels responsible”
Schallenberg then proclaimed to the foreign ministers that many participating states were to blame for the state of the OSCE. “Most of us act like construction workers, standing around the site with our arms folded looking at the things that need fixing,” he said. “But no one intervenes, no one feels responsible for finally getting the work done. But that’s why we’re gathered here today; not to complain about the status quo, but to get the work done.”
What he meant by that: If the participating states do not reach an agreement in Skopje, the organization’s four top positions will be vacant from Monday. The organization has also not had a regular budget for two years.
Silke Hahne, ARD Vienna, currently Skopje, tagesschau, November 30, 2023 4:06 p.m