Austria under pressure to bar Russia from OSCE meeting

Austria under pressure to bar Russia from OSCE meeting


Parliamentarians of 20 countries have urged Austria to bar Russian delegates from a gathering of the world’s largest security body later this month, in a letter seen by AFP on Thursday.

Published: 3 February 2023 07:05 CET

A general view shows the closing plenary session of the 29th Ministerial Council meeting of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) in Lodz, Poland on December 2, 2022. (Photo by RADOSLAW JOZWIAK / AFP)

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s parliamentary assembly is to be held in Vienna on February 23-24, the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Members of national parliaments in 15 EU nations, alongside Canada, Georgia, Iceland, the UK and Ukraine itself have objected to Russia’s participation at the meeting, urging Austria to prohibit their delegation’s entry.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: How reliant is Austria on Russia for energy?

In a letter sent to Austria’s government, they said Russia would use the meeting to “sow disinformation, fake news and hate speech”.

“The participation of the Russian parliamentarians in the Vienna session…would be read in Russia as its indirect legitimisation and part of a return to ‘business as usual,’” the letter said.

“Russia would find that it could achieve its war aims without risking ostracism, isolation and international sanctions.”

The letter noted that last year the UK and Poland blocked the participation of Russian delegates at OSCE parliamentary meetings in the two countries.

Ukraine’s OSCE Ambassador Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk said in a statement sent to AFP that Russia should be denied “an opportunity to make a big propagandistic show”.

READ ALSO: Austria expels four Russian diplomats

Austria — where the OSCE and numerous other international organisations are based — is “obliged under international law to grant entry to the delegates of all OSCE participating states,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

“This is not an Austrian invitation, but an official meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly… EU sanctions provide for an exception to the entry bans precisely for such cases,” she said.

But she added entry was allowed “solely for the purpose of attending the meeting”. She confirmed Austria had received the letter.

The OSCE was founded in 1957 to foster relations between the Western and Eastern blocs and its current 57 members include NATO countries and allies of Moscow.


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