Credit: MAEE

On Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 November 2023, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Xavier Bettel, participated in the 30th meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which was held in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Made up of 57 participating States from North America, Europe and Central Asia, the OSCE represents a space for dialogue that covers a broad range of security issues and provides a framework for common action aimed at improving the conditions of life of populations and communities.
The official working session followed an informal dinner, offering a chance to address the deadlock resulting from Russian aggression against Ukraine. The focus was on preserving the OSCE's functionality and unique mechanisms, aiming for tangible results in Europe.

OSCE is not only facing a war and conflicts in its area of responsibility but also a real financial and institutional crisis. In this context, Minister Bettel reaffirmed Luxembourg's support for the work carried out by this organisation: “The OSCE is going through a deep crisis, the cause of which we all know. With its war of aggression against Ukraine, which constitutes a clear violation of all the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, Russia has shaken the foundations of our continent and our organisation. It is essential that we stand in solidarity with Ukraine and act in unity in the face of the horrific crimes and serious violations of international law perpetrated by Russia. Accountability for these crimes remains a top priority for Luxembourg. We will remain alongside Ukraine as long as necessary, including through our support for the valuable activities of the OSCE and other multilateral forums.

In his speech, Minister Bettel also launched a firm appeal to Russia to immediately stop this war that it itself decided to start. “It is never too late to recognise that we have made a big mistake. Strength here is not about showing that we are stronger, but about putting an end to the suffering of millions of people,” declared Minister Bettel.

Despite a plethora of geopolitical, budgetary and institutional challenges, the OSCE continues to do remarkable work. “With its comprehensive approach to security, its fundamental values and principles, the organisation remains one of the cornerstones of the European security architecture. The valuable work that the OSCE does on the ground – in Ukraine, Moldova, Central Asia or the Western Balkans – proves its relevance. It is in our interest to equip it with adequate resources so that it can continue to work for peace, democracy and stability for more than a billion people. For its part, Luxembourg is fully committed to a European continent where respect for international law, peace, democracy and the rule of law reign,” noted the minister.

Finally, this ministerial meeting in Skopje was an opportunity for Minister Bettel to continue his series of bilateral interviews. Thus, Minister Bettel spoke with several counterparts, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Eli Cohen, to discuss the importance of achieving peace and the efforts that Luxembourg can undertake with this in mind. Minister Bettel was also able to meet family members of hostages held by Hamas, to listen to their testimonies. The head of Luxembourg diplomacy expressed his full solidarity with them and emphasised the absolute necessity for Hamas to release all the hostages.