25th OSCE Ministerial Council
7 December 2018
Ministerial Council Plenary – Australian National Statement
Statement by HE Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer, Ambassador of Australia to the OSCE
First, let me commend Italy’s efforts as Chair in Office of the OSCE for 2018, and acknowledge Austria’s work as Chair of the Asian Partners Contact Group this year.
We were pleased to work with Austria and the OSCE to make the OSCE Asian Partners Conference in Canberra in November a success.
The Conference underlined the value of exchanging perspectives across the OSCE area and Indo-Pacific region. And it highlighted the shared benefits of open and free trade.
The Conference also pointed to the importance of protecting and strengthening the rules-based international system in a period of great change.
This is particularly the case as cross-dimensional threats develop in ways that undermine our collective security.
Broader aspects of security, from counter-terrorism and cyber to irregular mass people movements and counter-proliferation have become core national and global challenges.
In this context of global security, Australia values its partnership with the OSCE, which was founded on the idea that collective security is enhanced through dialogue and diplomacy.
Refusal by some states to act in ways that are consistent with international law and established norms undermines the rules-based international system and, with it, our collective security.
We again call upon Russia to:
- abide by its commitments under the Minsk II agreements
- respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity
- and fully support the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission’s effective assessment of implementation of the ceasefire.
Australia has also been concerned by the recent escalation of tensions at the Kerch Strait.
Australia condemns Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We call upon Russia to release Ukraine’s vessels and sailors, respect legitimate navigation rights and restore unhindered access to Ukraine’s ports.
Australia has had cause to raise in the last year our concerns about Russia’s actions elsewhere; including its roles in the downing of MH17, the Salisbury nerve agent attack, and in patterns of malicious cyber activity by Russian military intelligence.
North Korea remains a challenge with global dimensions, and we welcomed the opportunity to share perspectives in an OSCE Asian Partners Contact Group meeting last month.
While we welcome reduced tensions in 2018 brought about by increased dialogue and diplomacy, North Korea has not yet taken any concrete steps to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The Australian Government – alongside the rest of the international community – and under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions – will continue to maintain strong economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea until it takes such concrete steps.
Australia is determined to promote and protect the international rules and norms that support stability, prosperity and enable international cooperation to meet the global challenges of our time.
We look forward to doing so in partnership with the OSCE in the coming year, including through using the Asian Partners process to bring Indo-Pacific perspectives to the OSCE table.
We look forward to Slovakia’s chairmanship of the OSCE in 2019, and to continuing our engagement with Italy, which will chair the Asian Partners Contact Group through 2019.