Ukraine's Foreign Minister to Boycott OSCE Ministers' Meeting Due to Russia's Attendance

Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, is to boycott a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers due to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s expected attendance.

"The Ukrainian delegation will not participate in the OSCE ministers’ meeting at foreign minister level," Oleh Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

The meeting in question is a session of the OSCE Ministerial Council which is to be held on 30 November – 1 December in Skopje, North Macedonia.

North Macedonia agreed to open its airspace for Lavrov's plane, despite the fact that the country's airspace was previously closed to Russian planes due to its adherence to EU sanctions.

Nikolenko told European Pravda that this will be a boycott at foreign minister level. The Ukrainian delegation will be present at ambassador level.

He remarked that Ukraine greatly appreciates the efforts of North Macedonia as the OSCE chair and of its Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani personally, who has demonstrated a high level of professionalism and unwavering commitment to protecting the principles and obligations of the OSCE. He also thanked Skopje for prioritising resistance to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine during its presidency.

"The Russian Federation is gradually destroying the OSCE by abusing the rule of consensus. Resorting to blackmail and open threats, Russia has been systematically blocking the consensus on key issues. The blocking of Estonia’s candidacy for chairing the OSCE in 2024 was also unlawful.

Moreover, Russia has illegally detained three Ukrainian OSCE representatives who have been imprisoned for over 500 days. Russia has created an existential crisis within the OSCE and turned the organisation into a hostage of its whims and aggression.

In these circumstances, the presence of the Russian delegation at the ministerial meeting at foreign minister level for the first time since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine will only aggravate the crisis Russia has created within the OSCE," he said.

Nikolenko added that the member states must work together to save the OSCE from Russia without sending it signals about a possible return to "normal" cooperation as it was before 24 February 2022, given that Russia has unleashed the biggest armed aggression in Europe since the Second World War and has grossly violated all the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.

"Taking all this into consideration, Ukraine’s delegation will not participate in the OSCE ministerial meeting at foreign minister level.

That said, Ukraine remains loyal to OSCE principles and is ready to keep working with its partners to restore respect for the Helsinki Final Act, particularly on the basis of the implementation of the Peace Formula of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy," he added.

Last week Russia and Belarus vetoed the appointment of Estonia as the next presiding country of the OSCE in 2024. Moscow has acted against this appointment many times since 2020, claiming that Estonia is a NATO member state.

Amid Russian opposition, Malta received an offer to chair the OSCE in 2024. Malta was considered a compromise option since it declared neutrality, although it has condemned Russia’s aggression and, as a member of the EU, has joined sanctions against Russia.

Last week the government of North Macedonia gave permission for a Russian plane transporting the delegation to fly through its airspace to attend the OSCE meeting. Bulgaria confirmed that it has permitted the plane to fly through its airspace as well.

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, EU countries closed their airspace to Russian aircraft. North Macedonia joined this decision.

Warsaw refused to admit Lavrov to the country at last year's OSCE ministerial meeting hosted by Poland.

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