US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter said that Foreign Minister Ian Borg’s 2024 agenda for the regional security organisation was exactly what the US was hoping for.
“What we saw from Minister Borg today is exactly what we were hoping to see,” Carpenter told the Maltese press, including Lovin Malta, yesterday following the inauguration of Borg as chairperson of the Permanent Council.
“He kept Ukraine at the top of the agenda, but still included a range of other priorities.”
Enshrined in this year’s priorities, Borg assured Malta’s commitment to the OSCE’s issues with leadership and the budget, addressing protracted conflicts in the region, mainstreaming gender and increasing the engagement of youth, pushing initiatives on media literacy and the safety of journalists, and more.
“We are confident Malta will demonstrate principled leadership throughout the course of this year. Your pledge to safeguard and uphold the fundamental principles and commitments enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter recognizes this organisation draws its strength from its core values,” Carpenter wrote in a statement following Borg’s speech.
“Unfortunately, one participating State, Russia, shows contempt for these values every day through its repressive actions at home, its aggression against Ukraine, and its malign behavior across the entire region.”
“An overwhelming majority of participating states here in this forum agree that support for Ukraine and its people in the face of the Kremlin’s violation of the UN Charter and its flagrant disregard of the OSCE’s founding principles must remain our shared priority.”
Even as the OSCE keeps an “unrelenting spotlight on Russia’s aggression abroad and on the deepening internal repressions in Russia and Belarus”, it will not lose sight of other concerns in its region, Carpenter urged.
“In a number of countries, we see intensifying pressure on civil society and independent media, as well as challenges to democracy and the rule of law. We are witnessing rising intolerance and hate crimes. In several countries, torture persists. The number of persons detained or imprisoned for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms continues to grow.”
“Minister Borg, we look forward to Malta’s chairpersonship and will strongly support your work across the region in all three OSCE dimensions to deal with these aforesaid issues.”
Carpenter further commended Borg’s focus on women, peace, and security, youth perspectives; cybersecurity, corruption, trafficking in persons, safety of journalists, and digitisation.
“Minister Borg, we have no illusions about the challenges we face in 2024. Whether the Chair had two years or two weeks to prepare, the difficulties ahead remain the same. Though you have assumed a tremendous responsibility, you also have a tremendous opportunity, and you have the full backing of the United States,” he concluded.
The disproportionate war between Israel and Hamas is not included in the agenda. Carpenter explained that this is because it is not in the region and while Israel is a partner state to the OSCE, it is not a participating one.
However, he did admit that it is a major global security issue with effects that extend beyond the site of the conflict. So, the issue has been and will be brought up “periodically” in the OSCE despite it not being a part of the agenda.
What do you think of the OSCE’s 2024 priorities set out by Borg?