Statement at the Annual Security Review Conference 2024

As delivered by Minister Counsellor Knut-Are Sprauten Okstad, Vienna, 27 June 2024

Thank you, Madame Chair,

Let me start by saying that our thoughts are with the three SMM staff currently detained by Russia. We call on the Russian delegation to take concrete measures to ensure their immediate release.

The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is a grave violation of the UN Charter. We deplore Russia’s reported use of sexual violence, arbitrary detention of civilians, as well as deportations of children to instill fear and terror among the Ukrainian population. Such acts are contrary to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, included also in the OSCE Code of Conduct on politico-military aspects of security.

We call on the Russian Federation to honor its international commitments by completely and immediately withdraw all its forces from the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

Madame Chair,
Despite the worst crisis in Europe since World War II, the OSCE remains vital for European security, stability, and peace, for over a billion people.

For countries in Central Asia, the Western Balkans, and the South Caucasus, the OSCE and its frameworks are more critical than ever. These regions benefit from the OSCE’s expertise in SALW and SCA projects, police training, judicial reforms, conflict management, and European integration. Norway values the OSCE's work in women's meaningful participation, child protection in conflict, and security sector reform.

In particular, we have supported the OSCE Border Management Staff College with extrabudgetary funds, which enhances participating States’ national security through capacity-building and strategy development.

This organization was never set up to stop strategic and wanted war actions. However, over the past 50 years, what is now the OSCE has played a key role in preventing many unwanted conflicts from escalating and spreading within the region.

We urge those participating States with protracted conflicts to make use of those confidence building measures and conflict resolution tools available in the OSCE.

These tools, however, can only be effective if the actors involved allow them to be.

Madame chair,

The OSCE is a pillar in the European security architecture, a structure under increasing strain. The degradation of arms control regimes has jeopardized the transparency, verification, and assurances of mutual security in our region. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and continued violations of the Vienna Document increase this uncertainty, and by extension, the safety of our populations.

It is therefore particularly deplorable that the Russian Federation has decided to block five out of the six last meetings in the FSC. We urge the Russian Federation to stop undermining this crucial arena for dialogue and integral decision-making body of the OSCE. The Russian Federation’s dismantling of the organization by instrumentalizing the consensus principle cannot continue. It is imperative for the recovery of a stable European security architecture.

Finally, Madame Chair,

We firmly believe that the OSCE is the appropriate forum to address European security and stability due to its inclusive mandate and wide participation. This applies not only to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine but also to other conflicts in the region, and emerging and transnational threats that affect us all. We need a functional organization with a solid budget and legitimate leadership.

Norway is convinced that multilateral diplomacy is the path to overcome this period of distrust and return to a stable Europe assured by international cooperation.

I thank you.