The West must not be afraid to ‘sit down with the Russians’

Alexander Schallenberg welcomed the decision to allow Moscow’s Foreign Minister to attend the OSCE meeting in Skopje this week

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he welcomed the decision of the Presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation of North Macedonia (OSCE) to allow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to attend the annual meeting in Skopje this week.

The OSCE foreign ministers’ summit is scheduled to be held from November 30 to December 1, with Lavrov already heading to the North Macedonia capital late on Wednesday. Lavrov’s plane flew over Turkey and Greece, although it was originally scheduled to fly over Bulgaria. According to the TASS news agency, Bulgaria refused to open its airspace to Lavrov’s plane if Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was also on board.

Last year, Schallenberg noted that when Poland held the one-year rotating presidency of the OSCE and refused to allow Lavrov to attend, he was the only Western foreign minister to criticize the organization for not inviting the Russian diplomat.

The West should not be afraid to sit down with the Russians. I think the tendency to dive into our own foreign policy echo chambers is life-threatening. He said, adding that the diplomacy that takes place in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe “Classical pluralism in its best sense.”

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania said they would not attend the OSCE meeting, condemned Moscow’s expected participation in the event, and said they would “We are deeply sorry” The decision to invite Lavrov. Polish Foreign Minister Simon Szynkowski Wiel Sek told reporters that he would not participate in the summit and would not send any representatives.

Schallenberg said he could “understand emotionally” These moves, while he stressed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will also be “Irreplaceable” In the period following the end of the conflict in Ukraine. “We need more OSCE in the future, not less.” He said.

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