EU Closing Statement at the 2023 Prague Forum on the Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE

14-15 September 2023, Prague.

The European Union would like to express its heartfelt thanks to the Chairpersonship of North Macedonia, as well as the Czech Republic for kindly hosting us in the Czernin Palace. We would also like to express our thanks to the speakers, who offered interesting perspectives from the private sector, academia and civil society, to the moderators for stimulating our debates and to all participants for their insightful contributions. Your participation helped to facilitate fruitful discussions on how the OSCE and its participating States can cooperate to address the security implications of key issues in the second dimension including corruption and good governance, climate change, trade and transport facilitation, and disaster risk management.

This meeting granted us a valuable opportunity to learn from different viewpoints about achieving sustainable development and building more resilient and inclusive economies and societies. We discussed the impact of environmental damage on populations but also opportunities that we must now seize to recover from crises and conflicts and rebuild towards a green, sustainable and digital future.

This conference is taking place at a time of profound crisis for the OSCE region. Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine continues to remind us of the grave consequences of armed conflict on economic and environmental security. It is imperative to contain and restore environmental damage caused by Russia’s war of aggression and to enhance our resilience. We will not cease to repeat the undeniable fact that this war blatantly violates international law, including the UN Charter, and the fundamental OSCE principles and commitments. The European Union hails the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and its leadership in their fight to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom of their country and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future within the European family.

We have listened with interest to the panel discussion, which highlighted efforts to intensify cooperation to combat climate change for sustainable and climate resilient development. The EU is convinced that climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of the 21st century. In this context, we welcome today’s discussions on activities to strengthen co-operation to address the security-related challenges caused by climate change, as well as efforts to promote the effective participation of civil society, women and youth in these activities. In this vein, we welcome the discussions following up on the successful High Level Conference on Climate Change that took place in July and we look forward to further actions to contribute putting the Stockholm Ministerial Council Decision into practice.

We also welcome today’s interventions on strengthening good governance and anti-corruption, as well as disaster risk reduction to achieve sustainable development. Early response mechanisms are essential to guarantee our security in the whole OSCE region, stemming from natural and manmade disasters. Following the panel discussion on connectivity and resilience of trade and transport facilitation, we take good note of the panellists’ insightful contributions, as well as the regional and national initiatives in this context. With regard to resilience of supply chains, we strongly condemn Russia’s continued targeted attacks against Ukraine’s grain storage facilities and port infrastructure and we would like to emphasise that the right to food is a human right.

In conclusion, let me reaffirm the EU's readiness to continue engaging constructively in discussions on economic and environmental issues that have an impact on the security situation in the OSCE area. We would also like to express our appreciation to the OCEEA, Mongolia and the Czech Republic for organising interesting side events, which were a valuable addition to our discussions.

As Russia continues its blatant war of aggression against Ukraine, we also appreciated hearing many voices underlining the importance of addressing and alleviating the economic and environmental damage caused, the consequences of which have been felt far beyond Ukraine’s borders. We are looking forward to continuing our dialogue in Second Dimension Committee meetings and the Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation meeting in Vienna and we are more determined than ever to advance the work of the second dimension to achieve comprehensive security.

The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, and BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA*, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA, and the EFTA countries ICELAND and NORWAY, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA align themselves with this statement.

* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process