Thank you, Ambassador Hasani, for your presentation on your recent work and proposed future activities.
When you last addressed this Council in November, we lamented the humanitarian catastrophe stemming from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as the wide-ranging impacts on Ukraine’s economy and environment. Now in the second year of Russia’s full scale invasion, Russia’s actions continue to have a devastating effect both in Ukraine and globally – with direct impacts on food and energy security. We welcome your office’s on-going efforts to mitigate these effects.
That is why we are pleased to support your work in helping the Ukrainian authorities respond to these environmental challenges through the project “Assessment of environmental impacts of the war against Ukraine and options for remediation”. This project is important for helping the international community understand the true extent of damage caused, and for efforts to ensure those responsible are held accountable for their actions in Ukraine. We look forward to receiving this project’s first annual assessment in the coming weeks.
We also welcome your specific focus on energy security in Ukraine. In response to failures on the battlefield, we have seen increased Russian attacks on civilian and energy infrastructure since October – a desperate and futile attempt to break the will of Ukrainian people.
More broadly, your proposed work to help participating States diversify their energy supplies can help bolster energy security and build resilience against those seeking to weaponise energy supplies. In this regard, we welcome the specific focus in Central Asia, and look forward to receiving lessons learned from the scoping mission on energy security and geothermal resources in Kyrgyzstan.
The work you are doing to address the use of cryptocurrencies and virtual assets as tools to launder criminals’ proceeds is vital. We agree that serious and organised crime, as well as corruption, represent the biggest threats for law enforcement authorities in South-Eastern Europe. This is why the UK is pleased to be able to support the extra-budgetary project on strengthening the fight against transnational organised crime in South-Eastern Europe that provides support to the entire asset cycle.
Finally, we welcome your work to integrate a gender perspective in key projects, including building the capacity of Central Asian women and realising their full potential as leaders and agents of change in the energy transition. As we have said many times in this forum, outcomes will always be limited if only half the talent is included in solving problems. And as our Foreign Secretary said at the recent launch of our new Women and Girls Strategy, we can only build a safer and greener world if we put women and girls at the heart of our efforts. The diverse voices, knowledge and leadership of women and girls are essential to local, national and international decision-making.
Before closing, I would like to add that we too share your regret that consensus on the Permanent Council Decision on the theme, agenda and modalities of the 31st EEF of the OSCE was unable to be reached. At the Prep Comm earlier today Russia again stood alone in opposing the draft decision. This, despite the CiO’s hard work to meet the unjustified concerns of the Russian delegation. We are forced to conclude that – as with so much of the organisation’s work – Russia simply wants to attempt to frustrate the OSCE’s ability to operate.
Ambassador Hasani, thank you again for your report, and we look forward to supporting you in the year ahead.