Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thanks once again to the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, His Excellency Bujar Osmani, for his presentation.
Switzerland fully supports you in this difficult task for the organization this year:
Russia's military aggression against Ukraine represents the greatest challenge to our cooperative security in Europe and Central Asia.
I reiterate here the call to the Russian Federation to stop this aggression and to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
This war has already caused too much suffering, it has already done too much damage.
My thoughts are with the millions of victims – the dead, the wounded and the separated families, forced to flee their homes.
I am also thinking of the victims elsewhere in the world that are indirectly affected by the social, economic and environmental effects of this conflict. These people, already vulnerable before the war, are now in a dramatic situation. This is unacceptable.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The motto chosen by the current OSCE Chairpersonship, "It's About People", is more relevant than ever: Our primary responsibility is to protect the civilian population. This responsibility is the essence of the link between the OSCE and the United Nations.
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the partnership between the UN and the OSCE, we must reaffirm our commitment to strengthen this co-operation.
Let me recall a number of facts:
1) At the political and military level, the OSCE is the largest regional security organization in the world. Its field presence in 13 countries has a stabilizing effect in regions such as the Western Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Through its missions, the OSCE builds and maintains strong partnerships with local and national authorities and institutions; with civil society; and with other international organizations.
Its activities in promoting minority rights, election observation and institutional reforms are thus based directly on the needs of these countries.
2) In its human dimension, the OSCE has mechanisms that document the most serious human rights violations. For example through the Moscow Mechanism – as is currently the case in Ukraine. Peace cannot be won without justice for the victims and their families.
3) Finally, in the economic and environmental dimension, the OSCE is actively addressing challenges that have an impact on all of us: the OSCE is carrying out essential work in the fight against the adverse effects of climate change, including sustainable water resource management and conflict prevention.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our debate today – as well as the open debate held under the Swiss presidency of the Security Council yesterday – is also relevant to regions beyond Europe. The OSCE, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter, shares the objectives of many other regional organizations. By focusing on prevention and on creating sustainable peace, these organizations can make an important joint contribution to the implementation of the New Agenda for Peace proposed by Secretary-General António Guterres.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yes, the war in Ukraine is a serious setback for the OSCE, which was founded to ensure security in Europe.
But given its inclusive nature, the OSCE remains essential because of the trust - which we talked about yesterday - that must bind its member States; and because of the fundamental synergies it creates with the UN.
As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the Helsinki Accords, they must remain our benchmark for the common peace and security architecture in Europe. It is also up to all of us to preserve the OSCE's capacity for action. Switzerland is ready to do its part.
We must not allow the future of Europe to be decided by the law of force. Switzerland is committed to holding the force of law against this.
We encourage all parties present here to do the same – because, I repeat: it is certainly about security, but above all ... "It's About People"!
Thank you for your attention.