Alexander Schallenberg welcomed the decision to allow Moscow’s foreign minister to attend the OSCE meeting in Skopje this week FILE PHOTO. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg © AP / Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has said he welcomes the decision by the North Macedonian Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) Chairmanship to allow Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend the annual meeting in Skopje this week.
The summit of OSCE foreign ministers will take place from November 30 to December 1, with Lavrov already flying to the North Macedonian capital late Wednesday. Lavrov’s plane flew over Turkey and Greece, although it was originally planned that he would fly over Bulgaria.
Last year, Schallenberg recalled, when Poland took over the one-year rotating chair at the OSCE and refused to let Lavrov attend, he was the only Western foreign minister to criticize the organization for not inviting the Russian diplomat.
“The West must not be afraid to sit down with the Russians. I believe the tendency to dive into our own echo chambers in foreign politics is life-threatening,” he said, adding that the diplomacy carried out in the OSCE is “classic multilateralism in the best sense.”
Lavrov set to return to OSCE
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania said they will not attend the OSCE meeting, condemning Moscow’s expected participation in the event, and saying they “deeply regret” the decision to invite Lavrov. Polish Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek also told reporters he would not take part in the summit, nor will he send any representatives.
Schallenberg said he could “emotionally understand” these moves, while stressing that the OSCE will be “irreplaceable” in the period after the Ukraine conflict ends. “We need more OSCE in the future and not less,” he stated. (RT)