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HomeBilateral RelationsNorth Macedonia Seeks to Get Russia’s Lavrov to Skopje for Osce Meeting

North Macedonia Seeks to Get Russia’s Lavrov to Skopje for Osce Meeting

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North Macedonia, which currently holds the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, would like to see Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the annual OSCE Ministerial Conference in Skopje at the end of the month, but his arrival is still uncertain due to EU sanctions on Russian flights.

North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani told 360 Degrees in a televised interview on Monday night that his office is taking action to try to facilitate Lavrov’s arrival.

“[EU] sanctions state that for international organisations such as the OSCE, flyovers are allowed. However, the decision is up to the member countries. That’s why our neighbours will have to decide, and we will have to as well, about our airspace,” Osmani said.

Under normal conditions, a straight flight from Moscow to landlocked North Macedonia would take Lavrov’s plane over Ukraine, Romania and then over either Bulgaria or Serbia.

But due to Russia’s war against in Ukraine and the EU ban on Russian flights, any possible route for a Russian state plane from Moscow to Skopje would be much more complicated, and dependent on the will of individual EU and NATO countries, plus North Macedonia, to allow the flight.

The only possible alternative might be a commercial route to North Macedonia’s neighbouring country Serbia which still allows Russian flights, with the rest of the trip to be completed by road.

Lavrov has already expressed his wish to attend, according to Osmani. The North Macedonian foreign minister was asked whether, if Lavrov does attend, that would mean that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would cancel. Osmani said he hopes that would not be the case.

“That’s why, two or three weeks ago, I visited Kyiv, to ensure Kuleba’s presence. We are still in talks,” Osmani said.

From November 29 to December 1, Skopje expects 76 delegations from OSCE member and partner countries, including top diplomats from the United States, Canada, Britain and other NATO and EU countries, plus representatives of Central Asian countries.

Osmani said the minister’s conference in Skopje could prove to be of key importance for the future of the OSCE, which over the past two years has seen serious challenges due to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The key challenge for the organisation, which makes decisions by consensus, will be electing a new presidency for 2024, as well as adopting a new budget. So far Russia has been vetoing the Estonia’s bid for the 2024 presidency, blocking the adoption of the budget and halting OSCE’s missions to Ukraine.

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