Statement in response to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, H.E. Mr. Zbigniew Rau

Delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at the Permanent Council, Vienna, 13 January 2022.

Mr. Chair,

Like previous speakers, we warmly welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, His Excellency Mr. Zbigniew Rau and thank him for his address to the Permanent Council.

Your excellency, it is a critical time for the security in our region. We support the three objectives that will guide the Chairpersonship in 2022: supporting conflict resolution and conflict-affected populations, responding to post-COVID challenges, and embracing the OSCE’s spirit of co-operation towards implementing shared commitments.

Norway particularly welcomes your firm stance regarding our common principles and joint commitments enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. These principles and commitments constitute the foundation of the European security order.

Non-use of force, sovereignty, territorial integrity and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are at the core of these commitments. Together we can uphold these commitments and assist each other in complying with them. It is important to address topics in a way that benefits the whole population, which makes gender equality, as well as the women, peace and security agenda, important in most aspects of our work.

We need to see tangible progress within conflict resolution, and we are deeply concerned about the increased tensions in and around Ukraine, but also about conflicts in South Caucasus and in other parts of our region. We welcome a substantial discussion on security in Europe. The OSCE is well situated for a dialogue that is genuine, inclusive and result oriented. More needs to be done to create an atmosphere conducive in this regard, and all – I stress all – participating states need to participate in this constructively, respectfully and in good faith. We have diverging positions, but we have a common interest in a more stable security environment. We would all profit from revitalizing confidence building measures, leading to risk reduction, transparency and better communication, and conventional arms control. Norway stands ready to engage in such a dialogue as long as it is based on international law and obligations and OSCE commitments, and will support the Polish Chair in identifying the best format for this.

The OSCE indeed has the relevant tools at its disposal to support any conflict reducing efforts, not least by means of the valuable work done by its structures, field operations and institutions. To realize this potential, the participating States need to adopt the Unified Budget on time and refrain from using it as a political bargaining tool and opportunity to micro-manage the Organization. We encourage all participating states to cooperate constructively with the Polish Chairpersonship to achieve this.

We remain committed to the full implementation of the existing commitments in the politico-military dimension, first and foremost the Vienna Document. Our work on updating these instruments to meet present challenges must continue, and we welcome your priorities in this regard. We actively support the Structured Dialogue as a meaningful State-driven process and welcome Finland as the new chair of this dialogue.

In the second dimension, we find your focus on both economic and environmental elements of post-pandemic recovery and modernization of our economies pertinent. As we strive to build back better and greener, an integrated approach should be at the heart of our efforts, addressing the drivers of fragility in our societies.

The human dimension of security must remain a cornerstone of our work. We continue to be concerned about attempts to weaken existing OSCE commitments or limit OSCE activities in this area.

Your excellency, Mr Chair,

I appreciate your confidence in Norway and in me, by appointing me as chair of the Human Dimension Committee also in 2022. I will be inspired by the priorities for the third dimension which you have outlined today. I will also build on the experiences from the past year. We are very worried about developments in our region regarding human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy. Still, I believe there is indeed room to increase understanding between participating States through an open and honest dialogue on important topics related to our commitments.

We greatly appreciate Poland’s readiness to assume the responsibility for leading the OSCE. Norway looks forward to working with you and your excellent team here in Vienna and in Warsaw. You can count on Norway's active engagement in strengthening security and cooperation in our region.

Thank you