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Multiple ministers to boycott OSCE meeting over Lavrov's participation, Ukraine's MFA states

Multiple ministers to boycott OSCE meeting over Lavrov's participation, Ukraine's MFA states Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba (Photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, mentions that he has confirmation from some of his colleagues that they will not attend the meeting of OSCE ministers, he states this to journalists in Brussels.

The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, states that some of his colleagues will boycott the OSCE ministers' meeting due to the presence of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. He notes that Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have publicly announced their boycott of the meeting in North Macedonia. However, this is not the complete list of ministers who won't attend.

"There are more than four countries that disagree with Lavrov's participation," Kuleba said.

He mentions having confirmation from four colleagues who will avoid attending the joint meeting in Skopje.

"There are four countries that announced they won't be at the OSCE ministerial meeting. But there are also ministers who approached me and said they are here (at the NATO meeting in Brussels) but won't be there (in Skopje), yet they don't want to publicly announce it. There are also ministers who will attend the dinner on Wednesday where Lavrov won't be present, but they won't attend the actual meeting on Thursday," the minister stated.

However, Kuleba notes that he does not intend to criticize North Macedonia for inviting Lavrov to the meeting and issuing visas to him, which led to ministers' refusals.

"I want to defend the Macedonians who have supported Ukraine throughout the year," the minister said.

Russia's destruction of OSCE

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia is consistently destroying the OSCE, reiterating the statement made by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during a press conference with the OSCE Chairperson, Albanian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, during his visit to Kyiv on October 16.

The ministry reports that Russia systematically blocked consensus on key issues through blackmail and open threats, abusing this rule.

"Blocking Estonia's candidacy for chairing the OSCE in 2024 has become arbitrary. Additionally, Russia unlawfully detained three Ukrainians - representatives of the OSCE - who have been in prison for over 500 days. Russia has created an existential crisis in the OSCE and turned the organization into a hostage of its whims and aggression," Nikolenko added.

Under such circumstances, the presence of the Russian delegation at the ministerial meeting, at the ministerial level, for the first time since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, will only exacerbate the crisis that Russia has driven the OSCE into.

"We should work together to save the OSCE from Russia rather than sending signals of a possible return to cooperation forms that existed before February 2022, to a state that unleashed the largest armed aggression in Europe since the end of World War II and grossly violated all principles of the Helsinki Final Act," the statement concludes.

Appointment of a new OSCE Chairperson

Earlier, Russia and Belarus vetoed the approval of Estonia as the next OSCE chair in 2024. The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that this move from the Kremlin aimed to halt the OSCE's work. Subsequently, the position of chairmanship was offered to Malta, possibly based on the country's neutrality in supporting Ukraine in the war. However, Russia also blocked this candidacy.