Wien, 16. Juni 2015 Rede/Interview

Munich Security Conference - Core Group Meeting, Vienna, 16./17. June

Opening Statement by Minister Sebastian Kurz

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It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you here in Vienna.
Ambassador Ischinger, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to have the Core Group Meeting of the Munich Security Conference here today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you in Austria, but technically speaking we are in Liechtenstein at the moment.
You are therefore all part of a unique central European physical experience – the experience of being in two places at the same time!
I’m sure, Stephen Hawking would be proud of us!
Dear Prince Hans Adam, thank you for your hospitality and that you for making this experience possible!

But to be honest, this unique physical experience is not limited to central Europe, but it is very frequent in this region.
It shows how closely interconnected we all are in Europe, how we have learned through history to live side by side and together at the same time.

Nevertheless this is not the case for the whole continent.
Just around the corner we are facing the most serious challenge to peace and security for Europe in the last decades: the crisis in Ukraine.

I say ‘around the corner’ because what most people don’t realize:
here in Vienna you are closer to the Ukrainian border than to the borders of Liechtenstein or Switzerland!

This crisis is not taking place somewhere far in the East, but in our immediate neighbourhood!

As a consequence European security has suffered a serious blow.
And I believe that hardly anybody has foreseen this development.

Only some years ago it seemed unbelievable that the thinking in terms of confrontational blocs could return to Europe again.

But here we are: with our relations with Russia at a low point and a crisis which is a game changer for our neighbourhood policy.

And most seriously: The trust that has been built up carefully since the end of the Cold War has been seriously undermined.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot accept that international law is broken and that recognized borders are challenged in Europe once again.

At the same time, we need to find political solutions reaching beyond a ceasefire.

We need a solution offering a perspective for a free, stable and united Ukraine,
a Ukraine, which enjoys strong economic ties with both the European Union and the Russian Federation.

Let us not return to Cold-war-thinking where two blocs face each other.
Our political guideline must be to move from a policy of “either Europe or Russia” to a logic of “both, Europe and Russia”.

Sustainable security in Europe can only be reached with Russia, not against it.
But this also goes the other way: Russia, too, needs Europe for its security.

This is why the OSCE is so essential in this conflict.

  • It is the one European forum where all sides involved in the conflict come together.
  • It has put a Special Monitoring Mission on the ground.
  • It has send an Observer Mission to reduce tensions
  • And it proves that some form of cooperation and dialogue can continue in spite of most fundamental disagreements.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It cannot be repeated often enough:
a conflict in the middle of Europe cannot be solved by military means.
Violence has no place in Europe of the 21st century.

In a situation like the one we are facing at the moment in my opinion the key word is trust!
It will now be crucial to rebuild trust and at the same time we have to continue to safeguard the European security structure.

For this work the OSCE remains the best option – as a neutral, regionally inclusive forum in which all parties have an ownership.

In this respect the contribution of the Panel of Eminent Persons under the leadership of Ambassador Ischinger will be crucial.
In this process all the different instruments and all three dimensions of the OSCE should be included. 

As you know Austria will take over the Chairmanship of the Organisation in 2017.
And I can assure you that trust-building will be at the core of our work.

We will listen carefully to all sides with the aim of finding common ground and we look forward to cooperating closely with the German Chairmanship in this effort.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European security structure is shaken but still standing.
Years of cooperation and dialogue have created the right instruments and fora
to deal even with such a serious challenge.

What we need is the necessary political will.

I hope that the Vienna meeting of the Munich Security Conference
will generate new and creative ideas
for safeguarding the European Security Architecture –
an architecture that can guarantee security in Europe for my generation and generations to come!

Thank you for your attention.