Sergey Lavrov: “What interests of pan-European security and cooperation does such an OSCE serve?”

11:40 01.12.2023 •

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks during the 30th meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council, Skopje, November 30, 2023:

Mr Acting Chairman-in-Office,

Madam Secretary General,


In just over a year, the Helsinki Final Act will mark its 50th anniversary. Regrettably, the OSCE is approaching this milestone in a lamentable condition, and its prospects remain uncertain.

After the Cold War and the ideological confrontation ended, there emerged a historic opportunity for the OSCE’s unifying capacity to be utilised to its full potential in order to turn the organisation into a platform for broad-based pan-European cooperation and to make it a central element in shaping inclusive architecture of equal and indivisible security in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic region across all three dimensions.

Acting within the military-political basket, participating states adopted a number of fundamental documents aimed at creating a Europe without dividing lines in the broadest sense of the term, and emphasising the unacceptability of enhancing one’s own security at the expense of the security of others. These documents include the Charter of Paris for a New Europe (1990), the Charter for European Security (1999), and the Astana Declaration (2010).

For its part, Russia did all it could to achieve these noble goals. Our numerous initiatives, including the conclusion of the Treaty on European Security and the creation of a cooperation-based common security space were geared towards achieving these objectives.

Unfortunately, Western political elites appropriated the role of rulers of humanity’s destiny and made a shortsighted choice in favour of NATO rather than the OSCE. They embraced a philosophy of containment, geopolitical zero-sum games, and the leader-follower logic. The bloc’s reckless expansion to the East, which started after the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation, was a key component of this approach. On the face of it, though, the end of bipolar confrontation rendered the continued existence of the North Atlantic Alliance meaningless.

NATO and EU member states have destroyed the military-political dimension of the OSCE. In 1999, NATO committed an act of an unabashed and violent aggression against Yugoslavia, a member of the OSCE and the UN. In 2008, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the principle of the inviolability of borders in Europe enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, Kosovo was separated from Serbia without a referendum.

At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, NATO countries which are also OSCE participants tempted Tbilisi and Kiev with a promise of NATO membership. Their goal was simple and straightforward: to pit them against Russia. Mikheil Saakashvili, who came to power as a result of the West-supported Rose Revolution, worked off the carte blanche issued to him in Bucharest in full, as he ordered Georgian forces to bomb the South Ossetian cities and to attack the positions of the peacekeepers stationed there with the consent of the OSCE. The United States was behind this provocation. Some time earlier, Washington launched a Georgia Train and Equip Programme which Saakashvili obediently carried out.

Creating an anti-Russian foothold in Ukraine required much more – a bloody coup in 2014 and eight years of Western-backed punitive operations against the people of Donbass carried out in violation of the UN Security Council-approved Minsk Package of Measures. I would like to once again remind you of the cynical confessions by former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, ex-President of France François Hollande and ex-President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko, who said that the purpose of the Minsk agreements was not to achieve peace in Ukraine, but to give the Kiev regime time to build up its military capability against Russia.

A list of sabotaged attempts to resolve urgent problems of Europe based on OSCE principles also includes the Dmitry Kozak Memorandum that could have achieved a reliable settlement in Moldova 20 years ago. At that time, NATO and the EU unceremoniously torpedoed the document that had already been initialed by Chisinau and Tiraspol. Now they are killing the 5+2 format that is the last remnant of the joint efforts to reach a settlement in Transnistria.

In effect, Moldova is destined to fall the next victim in the West-unleashed hybrid war against Russia. This should give food for thought to every country where Western emissaries, funds and so-called NGOs are now active.

At US prompting, NATO members blocked the entry in force of the CFE Treaty Adaptation Agreement and ignored Russia’s specific proposals to restore the viability of conventional arms control measures in Europe. The Americans buried the Open Skies Treaty and devalued many other fundamental documents aimed at building up trust in the area of security.

The genuine intentions of the Western politicians again revealed themselves when Washington and Brussels rejected Russia’s December 2021 proposals on legally binding security guarantees in Europe. They did not even want to talk to us. On January 28, 2022, I sent a message to the foreign ministers of the US and other NATO countries. I asked them to interpret the commitments assumed at the highest level within the OSCE not to enhance one’s own security at the expense of the security of others, but nobody bothered to reply to my question. Instead, they sent us empty papers from the EU’s foreign policy service and the NATO Secretary-General to which this message was not even addressed. The gist of the Western position is as follows: We could not care less what our presidents and prime ministers signed within the OSCE; NATO alone can provide legal security guarantees. This is how this group headed by the “exceptional” power treats our organisation for which it has obviously lost all respect.

The plight of the OSCE’s second basket is no less sad. In a bid to crush the Russian economy, the United States and its European satellites have introduced thousands of anti-Russia sanctions, thereby making impossible any significant East-West practical cooperation in what was once our common region. The Kiev regime is Washington’s investment into its egoistic interests of deterring Russia and resolving its own problems at the expense of others. This applies to the removal of economic competitors, primarily the EU. Regardless of anything, the European Union continues obediently playing the unenviable role assigned to it. It bears the brunt of the consequences of the US adventure in Ukraine. The EU is humbly renouncing the forms of economic partnership that ensured its prosperity for many decades. One gets the impression that the EU has given up the initial goals of its founders to enhance the prosperity of the member-states’ citizens and turned into an aggressive geopolitical project – largely due to the efforts of the Brussels bureaucracy.

Speaking about the OSCE’s destiny, it is impossible to leave out the human dimension. Its members filled this basket with a big set of commitments addressed to all – I repeat – all participants.

However, the problem of equality and objectivity is also moving to the fore. Without any rules and procedures, the ODIHR has focused exclusively on the countries “to the east of Vienna.” OSCE observers come to elections with conclusions made in advance. Meanwhile, ODIHR ignores numerous human rights violations in the West.  The Moscow mechanism with its engaged experts is also thoroughly carrying out a political order. A representative on freedom of the media keeps silent when non-Western media are subjected to reprisals.

For many years, we have been unable to come to terms on the agenda of the Human Dimension Conference, partly because some delegations are stubbornly opposing the inclusion of the neo-Nazi problem. It is revealing that this is being done at a time when Nazi ideology and practices and other forms of racial and religious intolerance are on the rise in Europe, especially in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. They are glorifying Hitler’s collaborationists, crushing monuments to liberator-soldiers and giving a legislative seal of approval to these criminal actions.

The ruling neo-Nazi regime in Kiev has surpassed even the Baltic States in its legislative efforts to eradicate everything Russian. They deny even the existence of the Russians and their decisive contribution to Ukraine’s history. People in Ukraine are prohibited from communicating, reading, or receiving instruction in their native language, or accessing Russian-language media and culture. Examples abound, but the OSCE and its relevant institutions remain silent. They were silent when the Kiev regime made exceptions from blatantly discriminatory national language legislation only for languages spoken in the European Union, not Russian. “Enlightened” Brussels said nothing either about the importance of respecting numerous UN, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe conventions guaranteeing equal rights to all ethnic minorities.

The other day, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, didn’t even blink when he stated that there were “no and may be no Russian minorities” in Ukraine. It appears that the Ukrainian parliament speaker has never read the following: “In Ukraine, the free development, use and protection of Russian, and other languages of national minorities of Ukraine, is guaranteed. The State promotes the consolidation and development of the Ukrainian nation, of its historical consciousness, traditions and culture, and also the development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of all indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine. The content and scope of existing rights and freedoms shall not be diminished. There shall be no privileges or restrictions based on race, colour of skin, political, religious and other beliefs. Citizens who belong to national minorities are guaranteed in accordance with the law the right to receive instruction in their native language.”

These are just a few quotes from the current Constitution of Ukraine, which no one has repealed, and to which Vladimir Zelensky, and before him, Petr Poroshenko, took an oath amid applause from the West. However, everyone, including the OSCE, the Venice Commission, the EU, and the United States, is silent again and oblivious of the violation of Ukraine’s fundamental law.

Emboldened by the silence coming from the West, the Kiev regime unleashed an abhorrent campaign against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which included the seizure of churches, persecution of believers, and physical violence against clergy.

Please note that these human rights abuses did not begin in February 2022, but shortly after the bloody coup in February 2014, when neo-Nazis seized power and tore up the settlement agreement which had been signed the day before and guaranteed by Germany, Poland, and France which quickly reconciled themselves to this humiliation.

Considering this background, the Brussels leadership’s mantras to the effect that Zelensky “defends European values” in everything that he is doing are stunning. Now they want to expedite access to the EU for the Kiev regime. Nazis are being moved to the front of the line, so to say. It’s a shame.

Hence, the question: Why do we need flawed human rights institutions that are used as a tool by those who are set on privatising the secretariats of international organisations to suit their own needs? What interests of pan-European security and cooperation does such an OSCE serve?

The current situation is a direct consequence of the persistent attempts by our Western neighbours to ensure their dominance, as they shamelessly use the OSCE to aggressively push through their self-serving interests and consciously undermine the fundamental principle of consensus and the culture of diplomacy. An unbiased person can clearly see that addressing European security issues in a serious and honest manner is impossible with this approach. However, Western capitals demonstrate enviable obsessiveness as they finish off the chances for the OSCE’s revival. They have created a “European political community” without Russia and Belarus. Thus, another dividing line on our continent has been drawn, which destroys the OSCE space. Those behind this venture should seriously consider how their creation correlates with the noble ideals promoted by the founding fathers of the Helsinki process and the authors of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe.

As is customary, we conclude our remarks at our meetings on an optimistic and positive note. However, there are no particular reasons to be optimistic now. Essentially, the OSCE is being reformatted to become an appendage of NATO and the EU. This organisation (let’s face it) is on the brink of the abyss. Hence, a simple question: Does it make any sense to invest in any effort to revive it? Can it ever adapt to objective global realities and once again become a platform for addressing regional security issues based on the Helsinki Final Act principles, primarily the principle of equality of all participating countries? So far, there have been many more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Eurasian integration and equal cooperation based on a fair balance of interests are proceeding on our continent in constructive formats, regardless of the OSCE drowning under the confrontational agenda that was imposed on it.


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