Zbigniew Rau made the statement as he outlined Poland's priorities for its turn at the helm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year.
Speaking at Thursday's session of the OSCE’s Permanent Council in Vienna, Rau said:
“We have gathered today in Vienna to enter into another year of work, which has one overarching aim: to bring peace to the people living in the area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”
"We need to reinvigorate the debate about European security," he added.
“Let us start a process that will help us to uphold the Helsinki principles in full conformity with international law,” Rau told the gathering.
“I am fully committed to advancing this goal,” he said.
He added that Poland, given its “traumatic history,” knows “very well which proposals serve peace and which threaten it.”
“We will share this experience during our OSCE chairmanship,” he vowed.
“As of today, the participating states face a particularly grave mix of challenges to peace and security,” Rau also said.
He warned that “protracted conflicts, military confrontations, radicalisation, terrorism, together with ongoing erosion of arms-control regimes, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and profound violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals, are leading to rising uncertainty, unpredictability, fragmentation and growing fears in our societies.”
Rau told those at the session: “It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.”
He offered assurances that, in its OSCE role, Poland would "not be indifferent to the security concerns raised by any participating state."
Referring to the Russian-Ukrainian standoff, Rau stated: “For several weeks we have been faced with the prospect of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe.”
He was speaking about Russia’s build-up of troops near the Ukrainian border and Moscow's demands that NATO not admit Ukraine and expand further eastward, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
"We should focus on a peaceful resolution of the conflict in and around Ukraine," Rau said, appealing for "full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders."
The Polish foreign minister emphasised that the OSCE is “the right platform” to discuss the challenges facing the participating states, the PAP news agency reported.
Earlier this week, talks between Russia and the United States in Geneva and between Russia and NATO in Brussels did not produce progress, the Reuters news agency reported.
At a news conference following the OSCE session, Poland’s top diplomat said that the talks in Vienna failed to deliver a breakthrough, either, and called for “real dialogue” on the Ukraine crisis, Reuters reported.
Source: PAP, Reuters, osce.org
Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.