On the anniversary of the illegal attack on Ukraine, a Russian delegation wants to take part in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. Austria now assured that it would issue a visa to all MPs and referred to its obligation under international law.
Russia is also counting on it. "We are now dealing with obtaining the visa and preparing for the trip. I think everything will be normal," said the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council, the Russian upper house of parliament, Vladimir Djabarov, on Friday of the daily newspaper "Parlamentarskaya Gazeta ".
It was announced on Tuesday that a delegation of Russian MPs wanted to travel to the Austrian capital for the meeting. A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said that as the country where the OSCE is based, there is no discretion when it comes to issuing visas. The Baltic States, among others, expressed criticism.
In addition, 81 delegates from the organization called on Austria to refuse visas to Russia. In a fire letter to the Austrian government and the President of the OSCE Assembly, Margareta Cederfeldt, the signatories referred to the EU sanctions, according to which Russian politicians are banned from entering the country.
Britain and Poland had refused visas to the Russian delegation last year. That is why Russia last attended an OSCE session in 2021. At the time, Russians walked out of the gathering in protest at a resolution condemning the Russian occupation of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
"We expect that decisions will be made that prevent their participation," the letter says. The Russian visit on the anniversary of the Ukraine war could be seen as a "provocation". Delegates also fear that Russia could use the gathering as a forum for disinformation and hate speech.
There is no indication that Russia is interested in a peaceful solution to the conflict. The OSCE should deal with how Russia can be prosecuted for its war crimes. With its war of aggression, the country violated the obligations of the OSCE and opposed the international community. It was sufficient that the dialogue with Russia was conducted through the OSCE Permanent Council. The signers of the letter criticize that if this is expanded, it would be tantamount to supporting Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
The acting Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Reinhold Lopatka from the ÖVP, described the letter as a "minority opinion". Representatives from 20 countries protested against the visas being issued. The OSCE has 57 member states.
Meanwhile, the Russian delegation is preparing for serious attacks during the debate, said Deputy Chief Dschabarov. "We understand that all 30 NATO countries that are also members of the OSCE will speak out against our country." But the Russian parliamentarians are ready to state their position.
The OSCE, based in Vienna, emerged from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) established in 1975, which promoted detente between East and West. It includes 57 countries from Europe, North America and Asia. It sees itself as the largest regional security organization and was considered an important platform between East and West until the Ukraine war.
Sources: "Die Presse", with material from DPA