Thank you, Madame Chair, The UK warmly welcomes you, Minister Rau, to the Permanent Council. Thank you, Minister, for outlining the priorities for Poland’s time as OSCE Chair-in-Office during 2022. Please be assured of the UK’s full support for the agenda you have set out today. We look forward to working with you and your team here in Vienna.

The UK remains a strong proponent of the OSCE. The organisation remains a critical multilateral institution for European and Euro-Atlantic security. We support your focus on the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security, which must remain at the organisation’s heart and form the basis of everything we do.

We note your three guiding objectives and your plans to pay special attention to promoting comprehensive assistance for conflict affected populations; to respond to post-COVID challenges through effective multilateralism; and to co-operate in good faith to fully implement our shared commitments. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented additional challenges to the organisation and to the OSCE region. It required us to think and work differently, and we welcome the leadership shown by Sweden, and previously by Albania, as we harnessed new and innovate ways of working.

We look forward to working with Poland to build back better and more inclusively as we recover from the pandemic. We note that women throughout the OSCE region have been and are disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic. We share your determination to harness effective multilateralism in response.

We welcome your intention to support the OSCE’s conflict resolution formats and processes and your focus on conflict-affected populations. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, including its illegal annexation of Crimea, not only continues to pose the most serious threat to the OSCE area but also continues to blight the lives of ordinary Ukrainians caught up in the conflict. This must command our full attention: we should be giving our full support to the critical OSCE structures which are necessary in contributing towards the peaceful resolution of this devastating conflict, including the OSCE representatives in the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission and other relevant OSCE structures such as the Border Observer Mission.

We also continue to support the vitally important work of the Minsk Group and its Co-Chairs, the Geneva International Discussions and the 5+2 Format, as well as the OSCE Mission to Moldova. All these formats are examples of the importance of OSCE’s contributions to conflict resolution and efforts to improve the lives of civilians. In order to ensure that this work is as effective as possible, it is vital to ensure women’s full, meaningful and effective participation and understand the gender based impact of conflict. .

With that in mind, we recall the support expressed by 52 participating States at the Tirana Ministerial Council for the further implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 at, and through, the OSCE.

We agree that conventional arms control and confidence and security building measures remain crucial for security in the OSCE area. We welcome the focus on fundamental OSCE principles, and full implementation of our existing commitments. We also agree that we should continue the dialogue on enhanced transparency and risk reduction, including around the important and long-overdue modernisation of the Vienna Document.

We welcome the special importance which Poland, as the host country of ODHIR attaches to the third dimension. Poland’s commitment to providing political support to the autonomous institutions will be invaluable to help ensure that all participating States implement, and uphold, our human dimension commitments. With democracy and human rights under attack in the OSCE region, it is important that we continue to focus our attention on the most egregious violations of our OSCE commitments.

We also look forward to hearing more about Poland’s “human centred approach” as your planning develops. Following on from an interesting discussion at this week’s Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Digital Technologies and Human Rights, we fully support your intended focus on Fundamental Freedoms in the Digital Sphere. We also share your commitment to enhancing Freedom of Religion or Belief in the OSCE region, and welcome your intention to include a focus on youth.

Finally, transnational threats, including transnational organised crime and cyber security, will remain challenges in the OSCE area to which we need comprehensive, holistic responses. UK also attaches strong support to the full suite of the OSCE’s tools and instruments – its autonomous institutions, the Secretariat and its excellent field operations.

Your Excellency, and in conclusion, Poland can rest and rely on the strong support of the UK and we wish you all the best for your time as Chair-in-Office.

Thank you.

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    UK responds to Minister Rau as incoming OSCE Chair-in-Office

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