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Kristi Raik: OSCE meeting pushes Estonia to margins of European security policy

Kristi Raik.
Kristi Raik. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Foreign policy analyst Kristi Raik told "Välisilm" that this week's OSCE foreign ministers conference revealed that the West's solidarity toward Russia is weaker than expected, pushing Estonia and the Baltic states to the margins of European security policy.

Malta was elected chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in lieu of Estonia, which was vetoed by Russia at a meeting of foreign ministers.

Given that the OSCE cannot ensure the security of Estonia, the loss of the presidency, according to Kristi Raik, deputy director and leader of the foreign policy program at the International Center for Defense Studies, has no significant consequences.

"So you can't help but wonder whether it was a good idea to run for the OSCE chair, whether it was that important for Estonia," she said.

At the same time, according to Raik, this situation showed that the Western countries did not stand up for Estonia and were not as united as one might have thought.

"However, if Estonia has already decided to run and is then denied election due to Russia's opposition, this is a negative indication. And what happened last week showed that the West's solidarity against Russia is not as strong as we would like it to be, pushing Estonia and the Baltic states to the margins of European security policy. We saw that the other Western countries were not particularly keen about backing Estonia in this situation; they simply accepted that Russia stopped Estonia from getting elected and found a different solution," she said.

Estonia withdrew from attending the OSCE meeting due to the presence of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who represents Russia's regime. Lavrov delivered a statement during the meeting as well. Raik said that Estonia would not have gained much by participation.

"It is a pity that Lavrov was given this opportunity. Some of our Western allies were there, not all of them, of course, but it seems that it is the big Western countries that still want to keep the OSCE as a framework, even though it is such an empty shell at the moment," she said.

"However, it is the organization that continues to provide a space for engagement with Russia. It is unclear why it is being used so actively at the moment, and we see that there is no desire to entirely disband the OSCE, but rather to have it in place in case a circumstance arises in the future where it is again needed in some way," Raik said.

International organizations are hard to break down. Once established, they serve a purpose. Unfortunately, last week's events did not help the West.

Raik said that there is currently no sign that the West is considering expanding relations with Russia.

"I don't believe anything has changed in that regard, because Western countries continue to denounce Russia's aggression, as Lavrov was told directly in the OSCE forum. And there is little sign of a significant extension of involvement at the present, as long as Russia continues its war against Ukraine, as long as Vladimir Putin is in power in Russia. I don't think Western policies will change fundamentally," Raik said.

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Editor: Merili Nael

Source: Interviewer Astrid Kannel

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