Ministers from the member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will convene on Thursday and Friday in Skopje to discuss the future of the organization as well as the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine, as well as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have all said they would boycott the annual ministerial conference after the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said he plans to attend.
Josep Borrell said he understood the unease of some states but welcomed the decision of North Macedonia to allow Lavrov to participate, saying it aligned with the “common objective of keeping multilateralism alive”.
“It will be a good occasion for him (Lavrov) to listen directly from the participants at this meeting why Russia is being condemned and isolated,” he told reporters after meeting with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.
Borrell added that Lavrov would then be able to return to the Kremlin and report “that the European Union and the OSCE remains united in deploring Russia’s aggressive, unlawful behaviour.”
Created in 1975 as a forum for dialogue between the Eastern and Western blocs, the organisation -- of which both Russia and Ukraine are part -- has been operating with extra budgetary means, but tensions are running high.
After months of negotiations, Malta agreed on Monday to take over the organisation’s rotating presidency next year, instead of NATO member Estonia -- which Russia openly rejected.
The decision is expected to be ratified during the two-day ministerial meeting and avoids a collapse of the pan-European security body.