13 maja 2022

Mister President, 
Madam President,
Distinguished Panelists, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 
Dear friends!

I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to open this panel of the Fifteenth Lennart Meri Conference. I understand its main topic is the role of multilateral organizations, the OSCE in particular, in ensuring peace and security. Certain interpretation of the title could suggest that the organization, after 50 years of activity, should leave the international stage. Should simply roll over and make space for others to rock – if we are to stick to the metaphor used in the title.

However, experience teaches that certain rock ‘n’ roll bands, particularly those from Europe, can display amazing vitality and popularity even after half a century in show–business. As the old proverb says: a rolling stone gathers no moss. And history teaches that there are simply no alternatives to international organizations older than the OSCE, like the UN, NATO or the European ones. In spite of what the proponents of the Warsaw Pact or the Eurasian Union believed.

Poland, the current OSCE’s chair, believes that there’s just no time to die, neither for OSCE, nor for the UN, NATO or the EU. But we recognize that maintaining or increasing their vitality and popularity requires – just as in a rock band – commitment from all the members. Commitment to their purposes, principles and aims. And the resulting responsible, constructive efforts to accomplish their goals, in accordance with their founding documents, be it the Charter of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty, the OSCE key documents or the EU treaties.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The said organizations should help ensure peace and security, including in Eastern Europe. Poland will continue to strive towards this end. We will continue to call on others to do the same. We will also encourage relevant adaptation to raise the effectiveness of our joint actions.

We should act within the UN. I am pleased that Poland enjoyed excellent cooperation with Estonia at the Security Council, whose reform we support. At the UN we need to cooperate with all partners, including the incoming members of its various bodies. For instance,  Poland looks forward to working closely with the Czech Republic at the Human Rights Council where it has recently replaced the Russian Federation. We look forward to cooperating with a partner who respects its own human rights obligations. Instead of a state displaying total contempt for human rights both domestically and abroad – which is one of the key features of the “russkij mir” Russia tries to spread or impose on others. 

We should continue to work towards upholding international law. Including the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Non–interference in the internal affairs of other states. Peaceful settlement of international disputes.

We need to step up efforts aimed at ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law. Support for investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the most serious crimes. Acountability for the crime of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. That is why Poland supports Ukraine and the International Criminal Court in investigating Russian crimes in Ukraine.

Ladies and gentlemen,  

We should act at NATO. Poland will continue to work closely with partners, including from the Alliance’s „Bucharest Nine”, to strengthen the transatlantic cooperation and NATO’s security, defense and deterrence. In particular in its eastern flank, due to the fundamental change of the security and military situation in Ukraine, but also in Belarus.

We need to continue our efforts to that end in the run–up to NATO’s Madrid summit in June. But also beyond. Including by reinforcing the capabilities and readiness of our troops. Their additional deployments, training and exercises. And keeping NATO’s door open to all those who are willing and able to join.  

Ladies and gentlemen, 

All participating States should act at the OSCE. With the understanding that the very foundations of security and stability in Europe, and beyond, have been shaken by the Russian aggression on Ukraine, which Belarus has supported. Russia has volated all the fundamental rules of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Final Act of 1975, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe of 1990, the Istanbul Document of 1999, and the Astana Commemorative Declaration Towards a Security Community of 2010. This marks the end of the European security system built after the Cold War as we knew it.

We must adapt and adjust to the new situation. It holds true also for the OSCE. It is the only institutional platform for discussion on European security with the participation of Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. 

That is why Poland’s presidency will continue to do its best to keep the armed aggression on Ukraine on top of the organization’s agenda. In spite of Russia’s effort to achieve the opposite, as its actions regarding the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine have clearly demonstrated. We need to exert political and diplomatic pressure on Russia, counteract its propaganda and help document its crimes.

Unfortunately, its repeated rejection of the West’s offer to build a common security architecture was misinterpreted by many for a long time. For years they believed in the possibility of some kind of the partnership. They hoped that by developing joint projects with Russia (such as Nord Stream 1 and 2), co–operation and change in its behavior could be achieved. Today we know that these were naive illusions at best. Illusions that have had the most serious consequences, including for Ukraine.

Russian activity, also at the OSCE, proved for years that Russia was never interested in cooperation with the West, but in undermining it. Its constant obstruction, be it with regard to the modernization of the Vienna Document, or the discussion on conventional armed forces in Europe, are just two pieces of evidence.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All Member States need to act in the EU. Recognizing that we might be looking ahead to many months of struggle and sacrifice. That is why Poland continues to call for a policy of pressure on Russia and solidarity with Ukraine. No matter how long and hard the road may be. With the EU at the forefront of this effort. Shoulder to shoulder with partners from across the Atlantic and from other parts of the world. It should include providing adequate resources both to Ukraine and to Ukrainian refugees who found safe home in other countries. 

That is why Poland and Sweden have recently organized in Warsaw an International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine. That is why we continue to call for the much–needed current support and for thinking about ways to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed by Russia. Why we also call for maintaining European perspective for Ukraine, but also Moldova, Georgia and other states outside the EU willing and able to join it.

That is why we repeat that after Russia stops the attacks there should be no return to business as usual with Moscow. No matter how much it may cost some of us. Russians must be immediately and entirely cut off from profiting from the aggressive war they waged on Ukraine. And those complicit need to face all consequences of their acts, including compensation for the damage they caused.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends

I have been informed that the Lennart Meri Conference was conceived in 2007 to provide a forum for finding solutions to Europe’s foreign and security policy challenges. I am sure that the insights shared by the distinguished speakers of its current edition will contribute to their identification. Also with regard to multilateral organizations, including the OSCE. 

The panel’s title inspired me to include rock music references in my introduction. Let me also finish with one. The king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley, famously called for “a little less conversation, a little more action”. But I think we need both, so I wish and hope for interesting conversations here in Tallinn that will inform actions also elsewhere. I thank again the organizers for the invitation. And all participants – for your kind attention.

Thank you very much, and have a good time, and efficient time in Tallinn.