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Ministers, Dear Friends,
I thank warmly the Slovak Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) [of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia], my friend Miroslav Lajcak, and his team for the excellent work done throughout this year and extend my best wishes to the incoming Albanian CiO. I also thank Sweden and Poland for putting forward their candidatures for Chairmanships in 2021 and 2022.
This being my first international conference after taking office [as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission], I wish to assure you of my engagement to work closely with all of you, and to ensure our European continent develops into a pillar for peace, prosperity and justice for the rest of the world.
This Bratislava Ministerial meeting must help advance in this direction, across all our dimensions, providing real added value for the Organisation.
This year's developments have amply confirmed the need to restore respect for OSCE principles and commitments. Safeguarding territorial integrity and mutual respect remain our guiding principles and as relevant as ever. The EU is ready to actively support our efforts, as part of our commitment to a multilateral rules-based order and to the European security architecture.
I think we have to welcome the recent positive developments in Ukraine. The upcoming Normandy Four summit brings hope for a result-oriented increased dialogue. At the same time, the core of the conflict remains: Russia’s violations of international law and OSCE principles through the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and aggression in eastern Ukraine.
The work of the [OSCE] Special Monitoring Mission [to Ukraine], to which European Union Member States contribute more than two thirds in personnel and budget, is invaluable and must enjoy full, safe, unconditional and unhindered access throughout Ukraine in accordance with its mandate. Humanitarian access and protection for the civilian population and critical infrastructure must also be ensured.
Let’s remember the challenging world, the protracted conflicts in our area – whether in Georgia, Moldova or Nagorno-Karabakh – can be resolved only in line with the OSCE principles.
Together with its Member States, the European Union continues to believe that it is vital to modernise our OSCE politico-military toolbox, most notably the Vienna Document, in order to increase military stability, transparency and predictability.
The OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security highlights the vital role of the human dimension, and in particular the importance of respect for fundamental freedoms, for our common security. The backsliding of human rights, the restrictions imposed on fundamental freedoms and the growing intolerance in the OSCE area need to be addressed urgently.
Mr Chairman, dear friends, the OSCE is the world's largest regional security organisation. We are very proud to be part of it and we continue respecting and restoring [its values, principles and commitments], which must be implemented in good faith. You can rest assured that the EU will continue to actively play its part.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-181409