Russia cannot be allowed to blackmail the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) on Monday. Estonia's campaign for chair of the organization in 2024 is being blocked by Russia.
Estonia is the only candidate for the OSCE chair of 2024 but the bid is being blocked by Russia and Belarus. The internal rules require a consensus to approve the new leadership.
"The question is not only whether Estonia will be the chair, but what values we will defend. And secondly, we must not succumb to Russia's blackmail tactics. Today, Russia is using these opportunities everywhere to break out of isolation and gain influence. So Estonia's positions are clear, and today all the Member States of the European Union have decided to support it," he told ERR.
"I am happy to say that the whole European Union, all Member States, unanimously reaffirmed Estonia's candidacy for the OSCE Chairmanship next year," Tsahkna said.
The minister said he proposed that a solution be found in the next two weeks, as the OSCE summit will be held at the end of the month when the chair should be elected.
Asked what would happen if Russia and Belarus continue to block Estonia, Tsahkna said technically current chairman North Macedonia will continue.
"But we are not there yet, as this is certainly not the best solution. Let's see what the coming weeks bring. But the pressure is certainly very great because the European Union alone does not run the OSCE, it is a much wider global organization," Tsahkna told ERR.
The minister said in September that Russia is "violating the basic principles and obligations of the OSCE".
"Today, we are in a situation where the organization does not have a chairman for next year, the budget has not been approved for the second year, and the mandates of the secretary general and heads of independent institutions of the OSCE will soon expire," he told Postimees.
Tsahkna said that Russia wants to obstruct all activities that question its aggression in Ukraine.
"The paradox is that this organization is supposed to have been guaranteeing security and peace in Europe since 1975, when this great treaty was signed in Helsinki. But at the same time, one Member State, Russia, has attacked another Member State, Ukraine, and is carrying out aggression, genocide, and war crimes. And at the same time, they are trying to dictate the behavior of a peacekeeping organization. That is the paradox of the whole story," he told ERR on Monday.
The OSCE is a regional security-oriented intergovernmental organization comprising member states in Europe, North America, and Asia. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, the promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and free and fair elections.
Ukraine needs help
On Monday, the minister attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
Tsahkna welcomed the European Commission's decision to recommend launching accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and hoped they would begin by the end of the year.
He also called for more and faster aid to Ukraine.
"Winter is here soon. Last year, we witnessed how Russian missiles were indiscriminately targeting the critical infrastructure of civilians. Ukraine needs help from us all to continue its selfless fight for its security and the security of us all," the politician said.
The ministers spoke about the situation in Armenia and in Azerbaijan and ways in which the EU could contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Hamas must immediately release all the hostages
Discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Tsahkna said he was following developments in Israel and Gaza with a heavy heart.
"Civilians in Gaza must be ensured continued, quick, safe, and stable humanitarian aid," he said, adding that he welcomed the EU's statement from yesterday regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
At the same time, Tsahkna emphasized that Israel was fully entitled to defend itself within international law against attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization.
"I would also like to repeat that Hamas must immediately release all the hostages that have been held by them for more than a month," he said
This article was updated to add comments additional comments from n in Europe (OSCE), said Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna.
Editor: Helen Wright