The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 14 December 2023.
Ambassador Neil Holland thanks Canada for chairing the Forum for Security Cooperation professionally, despite Russia’s unacceptable behaviour.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you for your professional and dignified stewardship of this Forum over the past trimester. Thank you to you and your team for ensuring that this Forum has remained relevant and able to fulfil its mandate – which is particularly important during these difficult times.
You have been right to keep this Forum focused on Russia’s unprovoked, full-scale and illegal invasion of Ukraine. An invasion which challenges the foundations of European security. Which violates the UN Charter. And which flagrantly disregards the Helsinki Final Act’s core principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-use of force. Under your leadership, we have shown that these principles and this Forum continue to matter. And that we will keep on defending both.
Madam Chair, the Security Dialogues this trimester focused different thematic lenses on Ukraine. On issues including Mine Action; International Humanitarian Law; and Women, Peace, and Security. It is essential that we continue to champion women’s full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation in political and peace processes. You also tabled, for the first time, timely FSC discussions on Mental Health and Information Integrity. Our discussions demonstrated why these are particularly pressing in light of Russia’s war.
Since 24 February last year, we have seen the extraordinary determination of the Ukrainian people as they have defended their homeland. And we have seen a frustrated Russian military unleash unconscionable amounts of violence on civilians and critical national infrastructure. Despite the disinformation perpetrated by our Russian colleagues, it is clear to all that Putin made a grave miscalculation when he chose to invade a sovereign neighbour. Russia thinks it can wait this war out, and that the West will eventually turn its attention elsewhere. This could not be further from the truth.
Sadly, Russia’s destructive behaviour in Ukraine has been mirrored in the OSCE. We condemn Russia’s ongoing disregard for the Euro-Atlantic security architecture and the principles of arms control. Including through its formal withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The Russian delegation blocked consensus on holding formal FSC Security Dialogues on International Humanitarian Law and Information Integrity. And most absurdly, it also blocked a discussion only on General Statements – another unwelcome first for the OSCE. The behaviour of the Russian delegation in this Forum – which I note has once again left the room today – has too-often breached diplomatic norms. And the Russian delegation can throw up as much chaff as they like about the work of the FSC and other countries interactions with this forum. But there is one simple fact that lies behind any dysfunction in the FSC. And that is that one participating State, Russia, has invaded another and in doing so trampled over the principles of this organisation. Everything is subordinate to and derivative from that act of brutality. Thank you again, Madam Chair, for standing up to unacceptable behaviour.
I wish to conclude by thanking Bulgaria as it leaves the FSC Troika, and to welcome Croatia. As the incoming Chair, Cyprus can count on the UK’s full, continued support next trimester. As can Ukraine – which will remain at the forefront of our minds over the winter and into next year. The UK and our partners will continue to support Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes for them to achieve victory. Thank you.