‘Int’l community is facing a great test today’: Polish official at OSCE session

Today the international community is facing a great test, Elżbieta Witek, speaker of the Polish Sejm, said on Thursday during a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw.

Some 200 delegates from 52 countries attended the two-day event. Representatives of Russia are not present as Poland refused to issue their visas. Delegates of Belarus are also absent.

As Ms Witek stressed, the Polish Sejm has now become a place of strategic debate at a “strategic point in modern history.”

“Poland is acting as a neighbour of Ukraine, which was bestially attacked by Russia on February 24 this year, and Poland sees every day the atrocities of this war that is taking place across our eastern border,” she said.

According to her, “today the international community is facing a great test,” adding that “it is not only a test of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, but it is above all a test of whether the values we created ourselves several decades ago are equally important to us today, whether we want to fight for them and whether we want to abide by them.” Ms Witek stressed that Poland, like the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, had been warning for very many years about what Vladimir Putin might do.

“It is a pity that no one listened to us then, but I hope that the deliberations of the OSCE, which is of great importance and can do a lot, will contribute to the fact that we will think rationally and make a good, realistic assessment of today’s situation,” she said.

’OSCE must respect its founding values’

“The persistence of the OSCE will only be successful if all member states respect the values we have agreed on. I am afraid that currently the set of things we agree on is getting increasingly smaller,” said Polish Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman Zbigniew Rau.

The survival of the organisation cannot be its only goal, he said, at the same time expressing his faith “in our [OSCE] partnership and our cooperation.”

’Why is Russia still a member?’

During the inauguration of the session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked why Russia, a state sponsor of terrorism, still remains a member of the organisation.

The president, who joined the participants of the meeting remotely, pointed out that various international institutions are looking for ways to stop Russian terror, so as to isolate Russia as much as possible, and to find a way out of crises caused by the country.

“But why is the OSCE not among them? Why does the terrorist state even after nine months of its continuous crimes still remain one of the members of your assembly?” he asked. He praised Poland for not issuing visas to the Russian delegation, saying that “ if it had not been for Poland’s decision… representatives of the terrorist state could have been among” the participants of the session.

Mr Zelenskyy also called for the OSCE to be a “co-creator of the victory over Russian terror,” and thanked those supporting his country in the ongoing war.

The main task of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, established in 1992, is to facilitate inter-parliamentary dialogue in order to achieve the Organisation’s objectives. This includes strengthening security and cooperation in three dimensions: political-military, economic-ecological and human. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is made up of parliamentarians from more than 50 countries.