MINSK, 1 December (BelTA) – Permanent Representative of Belarus to the OSCE Andrei Dapkiunas, who is taking part in the 29th OSCE Ministerial Council in the Polish city of Lodz, has read out the statement that was supposed to be delivered at the forum by the deceased Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Vladimir Makei was supposed to head the Belarusian delegation at the council, but life had other plans. Nevertheless, the text of his speech was read out at the council. BelTA quotes it in full:
What do you do when a house is on fire?
The first thing any responsible person would do is to try to put out the fire. No one with an able mind would blame this person for the misfortune. When in danger, you deal with a priority task – stop the fire.
Today Europe is on fire. This fire did not start this February. It had been smoldering for decades.
Every disregard for the interests and opinion of a counterpart, every attempt to strengthen one's own security and well-being at the expense of security and well-being of others, every haughty manifestation of one's sense of the right to punish and pardon – all of this eroded the tradition of equitable engagement in Europe. It eroded the very spirit of Helsinki.
This is the reason why the political forum for dialogue and respectful discussion, the OSCE is at the last gasp.
Let us not forget that in 1975 no one promised indefinite extension to the Helsinki accords. The Helsinki accords and the agreements that followed are only as effective as the climate of interstate engagement allows. This climate today is a complete disaster.
How do we stop the fire in Europe?
Many in this organization believe that one just needs to identify the culprit and then demonize, isolate and punish it. This is a brief description of the Western approach towards Russia and Belarus.
It has manifested itself in the barring of the Russian minister from participating in this meeting. We regret this decision as it is killing the OSCE. The foreign ministers of the CSTO member states have made their position on this matter very clear in their joint statement last week.
This approach also manifests itself in the decision of the OSCE chair not to invite the CSTO Secretariat to this meeting as an observer.
Silencing the voice of those with whom one disagrees is seen by some people as a sign of strength of their principles. In fact, the only thing such action shows is fear of an alternative viewpoint and weakness.
The practice of ‘naming and shaming' has turned the Permanent Council into a perfect forum for propaganda.
But the sad truth is that propaganda cannot restore trust or build new bridges of understanding to eliminate discord and animosity in Europe.
Only diplomacy can.
True, one does not need diplomacy if one believes in the power of unilateral efforts to corner, crush and strangle the opponent. Human history knows many examples of using sword and fire to sort out differences and disagreements.
Yet in the nuclear age, only people with suicidal tendencies can harbour these destructive ideas.
Since we know that these ideas still tragically tempt some leaders' minds, Belarus will always keep her gunpowder dry.
Yet, more importantly, Belarus believes that we may get away from the brink of the looming global military disaster.
We can stop the fire of war in Europe.
To do this we have to, first, renounce the ideas and practice of political, social and cultural superiority and, second, accept in earnest the world around us in all its complexity and diversity.
Let us stop propaganda and media-oriented frenzy in the Permanent Council and use respectful instruments of engaging with each other.
Let us focus not on the 15 minutes of eloquent speaking fame but on down-to-earth and discreet bridge-building.
Let us finally put diplomats to work for the peaceful future of our continent.