The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania announced on Tuesday that they will not attend the meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in North Macedonia this week, in protest of the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. They were joined by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who also said he will skip the event.
The Baltic states and Ukraine accused Russia of violating the OSCE principles and commitments by its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea. They also expressed their disappointment with the OSCE for granting visas to Russian parliamentarians who are under the EU sanctions list and allowing them to participate in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Vienna in February.
“We note with great regret the fact of granting visas to Russian parliamentarians who are under the EU sanctions list and allowing them to take part in the Winter Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on the very date of the anniversary of Russian aggression against Ukraine open war of aggression,” the Baltic and Polish delegations said in a joint statement issued after their meeting in Vilnius last week.
“Russia’s participation in the OSCE PA meeting in Vienna will without doubt be used for propaganda purposes at home and abroad and will send a very disappointing message to the international community,” they added.
The OSCE is a security and cooperation organization that comprises 57 participating states from Europe, North America and Central Asia. It aims to promote peace, democracy and human rights through dialogue, cooperation and confidence-building measures. The OSCE Ministerial Council is the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE, which meets once a year to review and assess the organization’s activities and adopt decisions and declarations.
The OSCE Ministerial Council meeting is scheduled to take place on December 2-3 in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, which holds the OSCE chairmanship for 2023. According to the OSCE website, the meeting will address “the most pressing security challenges in the OSCE area and provide an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of OSCE commitments, principles and values”.
However, the meeting is likely to be overshadowed by the tensions between Russia and its neighbors, especially Ukraine, which has been facing a military buildup of Russian forces near its borders and in the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea. Ukraine and its allies have been calling for more support and solidarity from the international community to deter Russia from further escalation and aggression.
The boycott of the OSCE meeting by the Baltic states and Ukraine is a sign of their frustration and dissatisfaction with the organization’s inability to effectively address the security challenges posed by Russia and to uphold its own principles and values. It is also a gesture of solidarity and support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which have been violated by Russia since 2014.