Written by Piero Messina.
“To respond to a time of turbulence and multiple crises across our region, we need common solutions.” With these words, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde offered her wishes to colleagues who came to Stockholm from all over the world for the 28th Ministerial Council of the OSCE, the Organization for security and co-operation in Europa.
According to Linde, The success of our common efforts is measured by how we improve the lives and well-being of people in the most vulnerable situations,” she reminded the delegates of the Ministerial Council., aggiiungendo che “The Ministerial Council is an opportunity to rebuild trust and common ground amongst us”. Linde urged States to manage differences without resorting to confrontation. As Chair, Sweden has engaged in active and intense diplomacy on crises and conflicts in the OSCE region, including Georgia, Moldova, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict context, and the conflict in and around Ukrain
But right from the start, it was understood that in Stockholm, beyond the smiles and pats on the back, the air is very cold, icy.
The intervention of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was enough to bring everyone back down to earth. The Blinken speech, beyond the traits of respect towards the Russian counterpart Lavrov (Blinken names him confidentially “Sergej”), was a monologue against Russia
Addressing to the Ocse speakers, Blinken said that Russia unfortunately continues to violate the Helsinki Principles and repeatedly obstructs the work of this organization. It is responsible for the dangers faced every day by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. The forcible seizure of Crimea has resulted in relentless abuses against the Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians and others who peacefully oppose this occupation. And as I said yesterday at the NATO foreign ministers meeting, we are deeply concerned by the evidence that Russia has planned a further significant aggression against Ukraine, so we urge Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Ukraine to reduce the escalation, reverse the recent troop build-up, restore forces to normal peaceful positions and implement the Minsk commitments, diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this crisis and we are fully ready to support it “”. On the sidelines of the conference, then, the secretary of state has increased the dose: “If Russia chooses to act recklessly, we will respond”, he said talking with some reporters. Blinken also listed the commitments that Moscow would not fulfill: “ceasefire not implemented by Russia, withdrawal of all heavy weapons not implemented by Russia, allowing OSCE monitoring not implemented by Russia, pass a special status law implemented by Ukraine, pass amnesty law in progress, exchange universal political prisoners not implemented by Russia, ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance based on an international mechanism not implemented by Russia, restoration of socio-economic links not implemented by Russia. I could go on. I think you got the point. It takes two to tango ”.
Lavrov did not agree to dance Tango under the conditions dictated by Blinken. The Russian minister’s reply also dampened the enthusiasm.
According to Lavrov, NATO’s further eastward expansion will obviously affect our fundamental security interests. Furthermore, the Russian Foreign Minister explained that: “Let me stress that we are interested in working together to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. Our American colleagues have said more than once that they would like to help without destroying the Normandy format by restoring a separate dialogue channel that the previous Administration used. We are ready for this. It will be interesting to hear Antony Blinken’s clarifications with regard to several statements he just made at the plenary session. He named the clauses in the Minsk agreements that the Russian Federation has to fulfill. I look forward to his clarifications. Hopefully, he will make the US approaches to the Ukrainian settlement clearer. Everyone is talking about escalating tensions in Europe, in particular on the border between Russia and Ukraine. You are well aware of our attitude to this. As Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasised, we do not want any conflicts. Our NATO partners declare that no one has the right to dictate to any country wishing to join NATO whether it can do so or not. We respond by quoting the provisions of international law stating that each state has the right to choose ways to ensure its legitimate security interests. Let us not forget the indivisible security principle repeatedly proclaimed at the OSCE and at the Russia-NATO Council – no one should strengthen their security at the expense of others’. NATO’s further eastward expansion will obviously affect our fundamental security interests.”.
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However, according to Lavrov, Moscow is interested in the US proposal to contribute to the settlement of the conflict in Donbas and to the resumption of dialogue without dissolving the “Normandy Scheme” (Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia). According to a State Department official, the meeting between the two foreign ministers was a “constructive exchange” of views on the implementation of the Minsk agreements as a possible way out of the crisis, and there will probably be further intense diplomacy in the coming days. RIZOSPASTIS 04/december/2021 page 18
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