Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Brussels, 31 January 2023

Check against delivery!

Good evening to everybody and in particular to you, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Bujar] Osmani.

I am very happy to welcome you here in Brussels. It is always a pleasure to meet with you. And today, I am happy to welcome you for two reasons, two important reasons.

First, because North Macedonia is chairing the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This is the most important body to deal with the questions of European security. And you know how high [they are] in the agenda, the questions of security in Europe today.

The second reason is our important bilateral agenda, with North Macedonia as a candidate country in the European Union accession process. And I want to use this opportunity to praise you, from the outset, on your European approach – especially in the area of foreign and security policy, where North Macedonia consistently aligns 100% with all our relevant positions and decisions.

First, [on] the OSCE, where the organisation is facing an unprecedented crisis caused by Russia’s unprovoked and illegal aggression against Ukraine.

Russia – although it is a Participating State of the OSCE – has shown total disrespect to the core principles of the Organisation defined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter. With this, Russia disregards also its own international obligations.

Every week, Russia deliberately obstructs discussions and continues to block necessary decisions of the Organisation that was established – with Moscow’s signature – to deal with the security in Europe.

So, when you will be chairing the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, you will have a lot of work to do. As Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Minister Osmani has a demanding and difficult task: to guide the Organisation in these troubled times.

So, can I call you “Mr Chairman”? You and your team will have the full support of the European Union. We welcome that your first visit, as the Chair of the OSCE, to Ukraine, and we support your commitment to ensure continued presence of the OSCE on the ground.

We will step [up] our cooperation with North Macedonia to ensure its successful delivery [as] the OSCE Chair.

On the European Union’s accession of North Macedonia, I am happy to see that the process is moving forward. That is why, I am always concerned when unnecessary difficulties appear.

Recently, we have seen an escalation of tensions between North Macedonia and Bulgaria with deplorable incidents and provocations.

We condemned the attack in Ohrid, the same way the authorities in Skopje did. You did, we did – almost together, at the same time. I am reassured by the statements from your authorities that those responsible will be brought to justice.

At the same time, we hear unacceptable statements made by some nationalist politicians, inciting hatred and implying violence.

This can only further escalate tensions and is not conducive to an atmosphere facilitating good neighbourhood and good relations.

I strongly condemn any incitement to violence. Working together to promote an atmosphere of dialogue and mutual respect is crucial because this is the European way. This is the basis on which the European Union is being built.

Again, especially in these times, when the foundations of Europe are threatened by an aggressor aiming to destabilise the continent and to re-define its security architecture, we have to stress the importance of peace and good neighbourhood.

So, Minister, dear Chairman, to end on a positive note, I am looking forward to this meeting. I am looking forward to continuing building strong relations with North Macedonia in the coming weeks on your way to the European Union membership.

Thank you.

Link to the video:

Source – EEAS


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