On 7 December, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the 24th Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna.
Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined in his remarks that the issue of Ukraine should remain high on the OSCE’s agenda, in view of the organisation’s role in conflict prevention and resolution. It is unacceptable that certain OSCE participating states have a fundamentally different understanding about the underlying principles and values, which is evidenced by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, in disregard for Ukraine’s independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised that Russia should assume full responsibility for its aggressive actions in Ukraine. At the same time, Minister Rinkēvičs expressed support for diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in the framework of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group and achieve full implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Minister recognised that a greater political will and efforts are required on the part of the organisation to reach the settlement of the frozen conflicts in Europe. The OSCE is a platform for resolving such conflicts; however, there must be a stronger political will to achieve a real breakthrough. Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined that security in Europe also means observing human rights, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms; in view of this, work must continue to strengthen the OSCE’s autonomous institutions and their independence. On the sidelines of the event, the Minister also had several bilateral meetings, including with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture, Aurelia Frick, and the OSCE High Commissioner for Minorities, Lamberto Zannier, to discuss the human rights situation of the Crimean Tatars and latest events in Latvia.
The OSCE Ministerial Council is the central decision-making and governing body of the Organization. Ministerial meetings are convened once a year and enable the ministers of the 57 OSCE participating States to review and assess the Organization’s work in the past year as well as providing an opportunity for mapping the national positions of the participating States on security and cooperation matters. The previous OSCE Ministerial Council took place in 2016 in Hamburg under the German Chairmanship. Next year, chairmanship will be taken over by Italy.
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