Baltic States Join Ukraine in Boycotting OSCE Meeting Due to Russia's Attendance

Tuesday, 28 November 2023

The foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have said that they will join Ukraine in its boycott of this week’s OSCE ministerial meeting in Skopje due to the attendance of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"Russia’s war of aggression and atrocities against its sovereign and peaceful neighbour Ukraine blatantly violate international law, including the UN Charter, and constitute an attack on the OSCE and its underlying principles," a joint statement by Krišjānis Kariņš, Gabrielius Landsbergis and Margus Tsahkna, Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, reads.

The ministers stressed that Sergei Lavrov's presence at the meeting risks legitimising the aggressor as a rightful member of the community of free nations, trivialising the horrific crimes Russia has been committing, and tolerating Russia's flagrant violation and contempt of the fundamental commitments and principles of the OSCE.

The statement says that the OSCE was originally designed to build European security, prevent conflicts and preserve peace, and Russia, through its unlawful and brutal actions, has proved time and again that it is not a security partner to Europe.

"In fact, today Europe needs security from and against Russia, rather than together with it," the ministers said.

Tsakhkna said Russia would use this opportunity to spread its propaganda and undermine the unity of the West.

He stressed that Estonia cannot sit at the same table with the aggressor and bear responsibility for the consequences that Lavrov's presence could lead to, because this contradicts fundamental European principles.

"The fact is that while the OSCE meeting is being held in Skopje, Russia's war machine is attacking innocent Ukrainians and deporting children without blinking an eye. Lavrov's place is at a special tribunal, not the OSCE table," Tsakhkna emphasised.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will boycott the OSCE ministerial meeting due to the attendance of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Last week, Russia, along with Belarus, vetoed Estonia's approval of the next OSCE chair in 2024. Moscow has repeatedly opposed such an appointment since 2020, citing the fact that Estonia is a member of NATO.

Against the backdrop of Russian opposition, Malta received an offer to take over the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2024. It was seen as a compromise, since Malta declared neutrality, although it has condemned Russian aggression and, as a member of the EU, joined the sanctions regime against Russia.

Last week, the government of North Macedonia gave permission for a Russian plane to fly over its territory so that the Russian delegation can attend the OSCE ministerial meeting. Despite the fact that European countries barred Russian aircraft from flying after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Bulgaria has confirmed that the plane is permitted to fly through its airspace for this purpose.

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