Address at the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Belgrade

Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Chairperson–in-Office for hosting the Ministerial Meeting here in Belgrade and I would like to commend you, Minister Dačić, and your team for your dedicated work throughout this challenging year.

At our last Ministerial Meeting in Basel, we all had to admit that the security situation in Europe had seriously deteriorated.

Now, a year later, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ankara and elsewhere in the adjacent vicinity of the OSCE area, we are facing additional challenges to our security. We must join efforts and increase cooperation with other international organisations to counter violent extremism and radicalisation that can lead to terrorism.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act underlying the keystones of European security. The existing OSCE norms, principles and commitments are as valid today as when agreed upon 40 years ago.  Despite grave violations of basic norms of European security, in particular the illegal annexation of Crimea, the OSCE core principles are still relevant.  It is our common obligation and responsibility to adhere to these in both words and deeds.

At this time, our key priority should be helping to find a solution to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Minsk agreements must be fully implemented in their entirety by all Parties. Ukraine´s territorial integrity must be restored, including ending of the illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukraine should be able to restore control over its internationally recognised border. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has an essential role to play in fostering the implementation of the Minsk agreements and verifying the weapons withdrawal from the contact line. In this regard, it is crucial to ensure safety and security of the observers and to safeguard their unhindered access to the whole territory of the conflict zone. Estonia will continue supporting and contributing to the mission. For the success of the Minsk process, it is crucial that the local elections in certain areas of Lugansk and Donetsk regions will be organised in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and in line with OSCE standards.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The conflict in and around Ukraine has seriously deteriorated the humanitarian situation in the regions affected. We remain deeply concerned about the violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms in illegally annexed Crimea. We underscore the need to grant access to all OSCE autonomous institutions to the peninsula. Estonia welcomes the joint report by Office of the Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and High Commissioner of National Minorities on Human Rights situation in Crimea and remain concerned that the Assessment Mission was not given access to the peninsula.

The autonomous institutions of the OSCE, the Office of the Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Representative of Freedom of the Media and the High Commissioner of National Minorities will continue to play an important role in conflict prevention and facilitation, and promoting democratic values and the rule of law. In order to fully implement their mandates it is vital they keep their autonomy and agreed mandate, have sufficient financial means and necessary personnel resources.

At the same time, the OSCE should continue to make efforts towards the peaceful resolution of protracted conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We have to strive towards a lasting solution and do our utmost to avoid further escalations that would undermine the security situation in the region.

There is a clear need for strengthening and modernising of the OSCE arms control instruments. An increasing number of large-scale military exercises, including frequent snap exercises, underline the necessity of enhanced transparency and predictability. In this regard, the Vienna Document needs certain amendments since some of its rules and safeguards do not fully correspond to the current security environment. Therefore, it is in our common interest to modernise the document in order meet the requirements of the present day challenges.

To conclude:

We need to pay more and better attention to what is going on in Europe and beyond. We need to stay alert and focus on the possible threats to the security and stability in the OSCE area. We need to make better use of the toolbox at our disposal for the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

I wish Germany all the best in taking up the responsibility and chairing the OSCE in 2016.
Thank you for your attention.

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