VIENNA – The conflict in east Ukraine and the fight against terror were some of the topics on the agenda at a Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that began Thursday in the Austrian capital Vienna, with more than 40 foreign ministers in attendance.
Speaking at the opening of the council, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz said there was a lack of confidence among the organization’s members and that more co-operation would guarantee a safer Europe.
“In an organization with 57 members, not everyone can always be satisfied. But let me remind you that our co-operation is based on rules that we all adopted by consensus,” said Kurz during his speech.
“We can only solve challenges by consensus. And to find that consensus requires trust, dialogue and a willingness to compromise,” he added.
The OSCE – composed of 57 countries from Europe, Central Asia and North America – is the only multilateral organization besides the United Nations that sees Russia and western democracies coming together under the same roof.
The meeting at the Hofburg Palace would serve as a platform to discuss topics including the prevention of radicalization and terrorism, migration, and conflicts affecting the OSCE region.
Kurz pointed out earlier Thursday that the council was a space for dialogue, in reference to persistent tension between Russia and the West.
The United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov were among the ministers participating.
Tillerson and Lavrov were expected to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the council to discuss the situations in Ukraine, Syria and North Korea, according to US diplomatic sources.
It was possible that the status of Jerusalem would be discussed during the meeting after US President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognized it as the capital of Israel – breaking with decades-long international consensus on the matter.
Lavrov was expected to attend the second day of the council on Friday, while Tillerson would fly onto Paris later Thursday.
The ministers would attend a working dinner in order to discuss security issues facing their countries more openly.