Rau: Russia's attack on Ukraine calls into question European security system built after Cold War
In an address to OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the organisation's Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau, who also serves as Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said "the Russian aggression against Ukraine, supported by Belarus, calls into question our European security system that was built after the end of the Cold War". He added that the international community had thought Russia's "immoral and barbaric instruments for waging war belonged to the past". "Sadly, we were wrong," Rau said.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 29th Annual Session is taking place in Birmingham on 2-6 July 2022. Hosted by the UK Parliament, it is the first in-person Annual Session since 2019, due to the COVID-related cancellation of the 2020 Annual Session and the holding of a Remote Session in 2021.
OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, gave a speech in front of the Parliamentary Assembly on Monday (July 4).
"My first address to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly as the Organization’s Chair took place on February 24th. Back then we have already understood the gravity of that dark hour in our history. However, we probably could not fully grasp the longer term consequences of the war that started on that day. As events unfolded, the world was shocked by the scale of the brutality of the invading forces. Attacks against civilian infrastructure, use of illegal weapons, stealing and plundering, rape, execution-style murders committed in cold blood… We had thought these immoral and barbaric instruments for waging war belonged to the past. Sadly, we were wrong," Zbigniew Rau said.
"Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, Kremenchuk and other places will go down as marks of shame for the aggressor who shows no respect for human life nor dignity. We remember the victims as we will remember their sacrifice and what they stood and died for. The crimes committed against the Ukrainian state and its people deserve our strong and unequivocal condemnation. Those responsible for the war crimes will be brought to justice," he added.
"We are now at a turning point in history"
Rau also said that "ever since the war started we have all been wondering what it means for us, for our societies, for the Organization that we are representing". "An Organization that was meant to prevent a major military confrontation on the European continent. I believe that we are now at a turning point in history. We should know that we will be considered by future generations not by what we identified as the problem. We will be judged by how we responded to the challenges and whether, or not, we managed to avoid the worst-case scenarios. In fact, the world is at one of those decisive moments in its history," he said.
"More than ever, politicians and parliamentarians alike face uncertainty about the future. And the future will be defined either by our ability to be guided by universal rules founded in our humanity, or by the whims of darker, more powerful and mighty forces. I hope that the whole OSCE community will draw the necessary conclusions to return to, and then strengthen a rules-based order in Europe," Poland's Foreign Minister said.
"The international laws enshrined in the UN Charter and reflected in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, are our signposts. Now, with the war in Ukraine, we can see the tragic consequences of disregarding this legal foundation and framework of civilized behavior. Time and again, we have unequivocally rejected any return to the concept of spheres of influence, where "the might makes right". And we are right in demanding respect for the basic principles of international law which are the foundation of peaceful coexistence amongst nations," he underscored.
Rau: our commitment to human rights is unwavering
According to OSCE Chief-in-Office, "the Russian aggression against Ukraine, supported by Belarus, calls into question our European security system that was built after the end of the Cold War. By launching a full scale war against Ukraine, Russia has demonstrated that it is neither capable nor interested in continuing as a part of the rules-based European security system. Instead, Russia sees that system as a construct to be targeted".
"Given the non-compliance with the OSCE principles and commitments by one of its stakeholders, the future of the Organization depends on how effectively we are able to revive cooperation between participating States. The question remains - can we, and if so – how, reach consensus about our main priorities and create a proper modus operandi to carry out the OSCE mandate? I believe that the OSCE remains the right forum to discuss all aspects of European security," he argued.
"We should be able to leverage the Organization’s unique and inclusive character to increase security and stability in the OSCE area. However, it is up to Russia to make the strategic choice - either to embark on a path of peaceful cooperation or to continue with its neo-imperial aggressive posture which ultimately is doomed to failure," Zbigniew Rau said.
"In the meantime we will protect and continue the OSCE’s work beyond Ukraine – in places like Moldova, the South Caucasus, the Western Balkans, and Central Asia where the OSCE continues to facilitate dialogue conducive to peaceful resolution of conflicts. We will support and promote the political and economic reforms which are the cornerstone of stability and create a framework for sustainable development. Looking ahead, the Chair will actively support initiatives to advance the OSCE goals. We should continue to earn the trust that the OSCE has built over years among people living in conflict zones. Our commitment to human rights is unwavering," he stressed.
"We cannot remain silent in the face of evil or violence"
Rau said he was guided by the following words by legendary Czech statesman Vaclav Havel’s from 1991: "Human rights are universal and indivisible. Human freedom is also indivisible: if it is denied to anyone in the world, it is therefore denied, indirectly, to all people. This is why we cannot remain silent in the face of evil or violence. Silence merely encourages them".
"Please, let us remember these words when we think of the Ukrainian nation terrorized and victimized by this war. We remain committed to ensuring the OSCE continued presence and support to Ukraine. Given the dire humanitarian situation on the ground, together with Secretary General we have taken steps to identify safe ways to keep the OSCE structures actively supporting the humanitarian effort," Rau added.
He also said OSCE was greatly disappointed with Russia which prevented extension of the mandates of both the Special Monitoring Mission and the Project Coordinator in Ukraine.
"For the last eight years the Special Monitoring Mission was "eyes and ears" of the international community on the ground. The team of the Project Coordinator in Ukraine continued its important work despite the ongoing aggression. I am grateful for their dedication and commitment in these extraordinary circumstances. We all should do our best to ensure the OSCE presence and its crucial work in Ukraine continues," he stressed.
"Resolve and clarity of purpose are key to defending our values and principles. To this end, we should reaffirm our unity and work tirelessly to build resilience in the face of the current threat. I believe in the value of our partnerships within the OSCE and with the Organization’s Parliamentary Assembly. They enable us to join forces in the defense of our common values. I commend President Cederfelt’s strong leadership in this regard," minister Rau said.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, OSCE