Let me start by warmly welcoming chairperson-in-office Mr. Rau to the Security Council, and thank him for his briefing on behalf of the OSCE. I thank him also for his personal initiatives to reinvigorate the OSCE as a platform for dialogue on issues of European security. I thank also to USG DiCarlo for her briefing.
With an inclusive mandate and participation, the OSCE has a rich toolbox for increasing transparency, building trust, and reducing tensions. Using the organization’s full potential to solve the crises of today is essential- but the necessary political will will also be required.
We commend the OSCE for now turning the focus of its work in Ukraine towards mitigating the growing humanitarian crisis.
Good use should be made of the OSCEs Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (or SMMs) national staff on the ground, the OSCE premises, its fleet of vehicles, and the SMMs long experience as an intermediary facilitating localised ceasefires. The OSCE can also provide valuable competence on border management and human trafficking.
And we again reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine. That makes this expertise again necessary in Europe.
The Russian aggression is a serious violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reiterate our call on the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory, and cease all threats and military actions.
Russia’s warfare in urban and populated areas, and the use of heavy explosive weapons, is causing terrible, long-term harm to civilians. Russia must fulfil its obligations to protect civilians, including children, and civilian infrastructure.
We are appalled by the lack of respect for international humanitarian law, and the worsening humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, for which Russia alone bears the sole responsibility.
Humanitarian actors in Ukraine must be allowed to stay and deliver.
In addition, we are concerned about the steadily increasing strain on neighbouring countries as people flee the fighting.
Nevertheless, let me use this opportunity to commend Poland, the Polish people, and other OSCE neighbours on their response to the humanitarian crisis. The warm welcome and the protection you offer all refugees is a strong symbol of international solidarity.
While the crisis in Ukraine requires most of our attention currently, Minister Rau has stated that a broad priority for their chairmanship is contributing to finding peaceful solutions also to regional and protracted conflicts.
The OSCE continues to support reconciliation and conflict prevention efforts in other parts of the region, such as the South Caucasus, Moldova, the Western Balkans, and Central Asia.
The field missions, the autonomous institutions, and the secretariat are important assets unique to the OSCE that we must continue to recognise and support.
Both the UN and the OSCE share a vision. Our common duty is to work to strengthen security at the regional level, to end violent conflict, and ensure that human rights, democracy, rule of law, and gender equality can be enjoyed by all.
In closing, especially in this current unstable European climate let me underline Norway’s strong support to the important role of the OSCE in promoting stability, peace, and democracy for more than a billion people.