Remarks by State Secretary Annika Söder at UN Security Council Open Debate on Conflicts in Europe


United Nations, New York, 21 February.

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Mr President, distinguished colleagues,

I would like to begin by thanking the Ukrainian Presidency for organising this important debate on 'Conflicts in Europe'. Thanks also for the briefings by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier. I align myself with the statement delivered by EEAS Secretary-General Helga Schmid, as well as with the Nordic statement to be delivered.

The European Union, of which Sweden is a proud member, has been the single most important institutional source of peace and stability in Europe since the end of the Second World War. With its vision of a Europe whole and free, based on democratic values and shared economic prosperity, the EU has been a vital mechanism for conflict prevention in a continent where two world wars originated and where millions of people paid with their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. The EU's partnership with its neighbours in support of democracy, prosperity and human rights has never been a zero-sum game to the detriment of relations with other countries; on the contrary, deepened cooperation with external partners is encouraged. In the Western Balkans, this Council has gradually handed over responsibilities for peacebuilding and security to the EU in countries that were once subject to large UN operations. Sweden believes that the more inclusive the EU is, the more stable and prosperous our continent becomes.

The OSCE is a transatlantic organisation and offers a unique platform for dialogue on European peace and security, precisely because it is based on commonly agreed principles and commitments. Only when these OSCE principles, which are the foundation of the European security order, are fully respected can we achieve lasting security and stability. The OSCE is a vital contributor to sustaining peace, in line with efforts by the UN to this end. Confidence-building measures and arms control measures should now be enhanced.

The comprehensive concept of security remains a strength and part of the added value of the OSCE and must be upheld. Respect for democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms remains a precondition for our common security. The OSCE human dimension and the autonomous institutions - the ODIHR, the RFoM and the HCNM - should be allowed to play their full role. They are key assets across the conflict cycle and are more needed than ever today as we try to prevent armed conflicts. The mandates and budgets of the institutions must be preserved, and strong candidates selected to lead them.

Sweden is a militarily non-aligned country. As such, our own security depends on a rules-based international order where the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, both large and small, is respected globally. Our long commitment to multilateral cooperation and our staunch defence of international law are rooted in this realisation. It is therefore with grave concern that we note that Europe is currently facing the most serious challenges to its security since the end of the Cold War. As we speak, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has already cost some ten thousand lives, is causing immense suffering for large groups of innocent civilians. When one state decides to use military force to invade and annex a part of another and threatens its sovereignty, this is a threat to us all.

That is why the European Union has so clearly and unequivocally condemned these breaches of international law and the attempts to undermine the rules-based international order and the European security order enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter and the Budapest Memorandum, in accordance with the rules and principles of the UN Charter.

Let me point to some specific areas requiring immediate action and joint efforts by members of this Council and other relevant regional actors, including the EU and the OSCE and others, and in accordance with chapter VIII of the Charter, to secure Europe's future as a continent of peace and prosperity:

ensure an end to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, as shown by the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol; implementation of the Minsk process through deliberations in the Normandy format through a decrease in violence;act in a manner that is conducive to long-term stability in the Balkans;uphold and strengthen the EU enlargement policycommit to efforts to move the promising Cyprus peace process forward to achieve the goal of reunification;resolve the so-called 'protracted' conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh without delay and in accordance with international law;recognise the importance for peace and security of the EU Eastern Partnership;strengthen European instruments for confidence and security-building measures and conventional arms control;actively engage in disarmament to rid the world of nuclear weapons; andinvolve women as actors in all of this.

Supporting these goals would not just buttress peace and stability in Europe, but also show the UN Security Council's elected members and permanent members are committed to defending the rules and principles of the UN Charter, and its commitment to common gains and common security.

Thank you.