Thank you, Mr Chair. On behalf of the UK, I warmly welcome you, Minister Osmani to the Permanent Council. Thank you for outlining the priorities for North Macedonia’s time as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office during 2023. We welcome your focus on people, on dialogue and on rebuilding trust.
The UK remains a strong supporter of the OSCE, of its institutions and of the principles and commitments which underpin its work. The OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security must remain at the organisation’s heart and form the basis of everything we do. In 2022 we met on an almost weekly basis to discuss the situation in Ukraine brought about by Russia’s illegal, premediated and unjustified invasion. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine not only continues to pose the most serious threat to the OSCE area but also continues to blight the lives of Ukrainians caught up in the war.. This must command our full attention and we will continue to support the OSCE structures which contribute towards a peaceful resolution and to bringing accountability for the abuses the people of Ukraine have endured. The UK will offer unwavering support to Ukraine until it prevails – as it inevitably will.
We need and will need the OSCE more than ever. We note that vulnerable regions and progress towards peace will be topping your agenda and share your view that the OSCE’s versatile toolbox supports its unique role in early warning, conflict prevention and resolution. We continue to support efforts to ensure peaceful resolutions to the protracted conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, including through the valuable work of the Mission to Moldova. Field missions strengthen stability and governance in the OSCE region, including the Western Balkans and Central Asia and are a living representation of our shared OSCE principles and commitments.
Conventional arms control and confidence and security building measures remain crucial for security in the OSCE area. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that the measures were not the issue, but that political will was. The UK remains committed to all confidence and security building measures, provided that all participating States fully abide by their commitments under international law, including the Helsinki Final Act and UN Charter.
Mr Chair – transnational threats, including transnational organised crime and cyber security, will remain security challenges in the OSCE area to which we need comprehensive, holistic responses. We also remain committed to strengthening economic resilience, through improved governance and cracking down on corruption which undermines our societies. Russia’s invasion has shown the interconnectedness of energy, food, infrastructure and climate to our collective security, and how the deliberate actions by one country can cause devastating ripples across the world. The UK supports the OSCE’s efforts to improve the region’s energy security and tackle climate change.
With democracy and human rights under attack in the OSCE region, we must continue to focus on the most egregious violations of our OSCE commitments using all available OSCE tools and mechanisms. The Moscow Mechanism has served us well in exposing abuses and violations. Recent events have shown that when a country fails to meet its domestic commitments, it sets the scene for external aggression. Your commitment to providing political support to the autonomous institutions will be invaluable to ensure that all participating States implement, and uphold, our human dimension commitments.
We share your determination to fight any kind of discrimination and intolerance. We look forward to continuing this work with you, including at the conference on anti-Semitism next month.
Your Excellency, in conclusion, the OSCE remains a critical multilateral institution for European and Euro-Atlantic security. As you said in Lodz, the OSCE needs to do its work as mandated and, as such, it is our duty to keep it fully functional and adequately funded. Agreement of the unified budget is essential to the smooth operation of the OSCE. Minister – At this vital time for our shared security, you can rely on the strong support of the UK as we collectively develop flexible solutions. We wish you and your very capable team here in Vienna all the best for your time as Chair-in-Office.