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30 Nov, 2023 07:19

Refusing to talk to Russia ‘dangerous’ – EU state

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg warned his counterparts against “life-threatening echo chambers in international relations”
Refusing to talk to Russia ‘dangerous’ – EU state

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has warned Western countries of the dangers of refusing to talk to Russia, and the risks posed by ‘echo chambers’ in international politics.

Schallenberg made the comments while welcoming the decision by North Macedonia’s Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) Chairmanship to allow Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend its annual meeting in Skopje this week.

“The West must not be afraid to sit down with the Russians. I believe the tendency to dive into our own echo chambers in foreign politics is life-threatening,” he said, adding that the diplomacy carried out in the OSCE is “classic multilateralism in the best sense.”

Last year, the top Austrian diplomat recalled – when Poland took over the one-year rotating chair at the OSCE and refused to allow Lavrov attend – he was the only Western foreign minister to criticize the refusal to invite the Russian foreign minister.

The summit of OSCE foreign ministers will take place from November 30 to December 1. Lavrov already flew to the North Macedonian capital late Wednesday. His plane flew over Turkey and Greece, although it was originally planned that he would travel over Bulgaria. According to TASS, Bulgaria refused to open its airspace to Lavrov’s plane if Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was also on board.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania said they will not attend the OSCE meeting, condemning Moscow’s expected participation in the event, and saying they “deeply regret” the decision to invite Lavrov. Polish Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek also told reporters he would not take part in the summit, nor will he send any representatives.

Schallenberg said he could “emotionally understand” these moves, while stressing that the OSCE will be “irreplaceable” in the period after the Ukraine conflict ends. “We need more OSCE in the future and not less,” he stated.