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Ministr Lipavský zahájil Pražské fórum o ekonomické a environmentální dimenzi OBSE 2023
Photo: © MZV ČR / MFA CZ
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Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Jan Lipavský at the OSCE EEF Conference


Prague, September 14, 2023

Dear Mr. Chair, dear Minister Osmani, dear Secretary General Schmid, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to Prague, welcome to the Czernin Palace, the seat of the Czech Foreign Ministry. For more than 30 years every September, we have been hosting in this hall OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum. Unfortunately, this year the traditional meeting cannot take place. Despite tireless efforts of the Chairpersonship-in-Office of North Macedonia, for the first time in history, we could not in OSCE reach a consensus on holding the Forum. We all know the reason - Russia´s systematic destructive position. I very much regret that. Nevertheless, I am very grateful to my counterpart Minister Bujar Osmani [Bujar Osmani], the Chairpersonship-in-Office of North Macedonia, OSCE Secretary General Ms. Helga Schmid and participating States that we can host today´s meeting as a Chairpersonship conference. I am especially delighted to welcome both of you - Ms. Schmid and Minister Osmani – among us.  I want to assure you, Madam Secretary General, of the continuation of our full support to your office and the autonomous institutions of the OSCE, namely the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Representative for Freedom of the Media and the High Commissioner on National Minorities. We support their independence, impartiality, and efficiency. In these very difficult circumstances that the OSCE and the system of collective security in Europe are facing, I also highly value the role of the Chairperson-in-Office.  Especially, we thank you also for your efforts devoted to the preparation of the upcoming Warsaw Human Dimension Conference. Czechia supports this event financially.

Let me state clearly, we must not allow Russia to dismantle what we have so far achieved within the OSCE. Russia wants to ruin the future of the Organisation; the OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum is only one further example and victim of the destructive role that Russia has assumed. We cannot allow Russia to succeed. For the second time, we are meeting here in Prague while a full-fledged war is raging just a few hundred kilometres away. In this situation, business as usual is not possible. The work of the OSCE must be focused primarily on Ukraine, on the consequences of the war and on the support the OSCE can provide to Ukraine. Ukraine is a victim of a war of aggression waged by Russia, with the complicity of Belarus. This war of aggression is a serious violation of international law, it goes against all principles and values the OSCE stands for. It is a culmination of Russia’s years long efforts to undermine the security architecture in Europe. That is why Ukraine belongs at the top of the OSCE agenda. In this vein, I am very grateful to you, Minister Osmani, that under your Chairpersonship the situation of Ukraine is receiving the attention it deserves. I would also like to express my gratitude to you, Secretary General Schmid, for your commitment to the OSCE values.

Unfortunately, on daily basis we are witnessing gross violations of international law, war crimes and atrocities, and human rights violations throughout Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We therefore fully support the OSCE in contributing to efforts to ensure full accountability for these violations and crimes. There are tens of thousands of human tragedies caused by the Russian occupation forces. The deportation of Ukrainian children is particularly reprehensible. That is why we have repeatedly supported the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism and intend to continue doing so. This meeting here in Prague clearly demonstrates the importance of the economic and environmental aspects of our security, and therefore of the OSCE second dimension. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has severe consequences for the economy and the environment in Europe and globally. Russia is deliberately using food deliveries as a weapon of choice and thus causing suffering in Africa and elsewhere. For the first time in history, an armed conflict is taking place in immediate proximity of nuclear power plants. This increases the environmental risks fundamentally. The Russian military authorities have absolutely no regard for the environmental impact of their operations. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam and the constant violation of the safety protocols of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are just two examples. The mining of large areas of lands, including national parks, and water resources is widespread. As soon as the Russian aggression ends, a massive clean-up operation must be conducted. Ukraine will need huge international support to assess, mitigate and remedy the damage across the country. From an international economic perspective, the Russian aggression has already had several consequences: higher commodity prices like food and energy are pushing inflation further up; neighbouring economies in particular are facing the disruption of trade and supply chains, and a historic surge in refugee flows.

We can already witness that beyond immediate suffering of the Ukrainian people, the economic impact of the Russian aggression is most visible among the most vulnerable countries. Food costs, especially wheat, have jumped significantly. The impacts of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine will last for decades. Among others, it is hampering international efforts to tackle climate change, multiplying the already existing climate vulnerabilities.  I deeply appreciate the OSCE’s pioneering work in the field of climate security, which is instrumental in addressing this dimension of the war’s global impact.  In our region, we are facing clear and growing manifestations of climate change and environmental degradation. I commend the Chairpersonship-in-Office for including the topic of disaster risk management in preventing and mitigating potential damage from natural or human-made disasters on the Agenda of today´s Forum. Preparedness and early response to the effects of disasters, and the prevention of associated security risks, loss and damage, belong to the key priorities of the Czech environmental policy. The OSCE Environmental Forum is playing an important role in this comprehensive topic. It can contribute with valuable lessons from OSCE-led joint initiatives such as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Security-related initiatives in the OSCE area.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, let me again stress the importance of us continuing to promote and to protect core OSCE principles and values. The OSCE with its comprehensive security concept is in a unique position to address the consequences of the Russia´s barbarous behaviour for our region. This gives additional relevance to this year’s Forum. It is important that we continue to meet every year in Prague to discuss the nexus between security, economy and the environment.