Skopje's Diplomatic Tangle: Blinken and Gabriel Depart as Lavrov Arrives

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | November 30, 2023, Thursday // 12:56
Bulgaria: Skopje's Diplomatic Tangle: Blinken and Gabriel Depart as Lavrov Arrives

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken left the Macedonian capital late last night, an hour before the arrival of Russia's No. 1 diplomat, Sergey Lavrov. Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel also left Skopje on Wednesday evening to avoid attending today's OSCE meeting, which is also attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Blinken is currently in Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli leaders about a truce with Hamas and the provision of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. This is Blinken's third visit to the Middle East since the start of the conflict between Israel and the radical group.

Blinken arrived in Skopje yesterday afternoon and attended the informal dinner of the ministers of foreign affairs participating in the OSCE meeting, hosted by the first diplomat of the Republic of Macedonia Bujar Osmani.

"The United States will continue to support North Macedonia and its future steps, which should ensure EU membership," Blinken said during the conversation with Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski, expressing respect for the government's brave statesmanship decisions to achieve this goal, reported the special envoy of BGNES from the Macedonian capital, Dimitar Ruskov.

Blinken and Osmani then condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine and reaffirmed support for the Ukrainian people. "As strategic partners and allies in NATO, we are united in our support for Ukraine and the defense of modern democratic values and principles. We strongly condemn the Russian military aggression, which is an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," said the Macedonian foreign minister and OSCE chairman.

Sergey Lavrov arrived in Skopje shortly after midnight Bulgarian time. He will participate in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OSCE. The length of the ministerial plane's route was about 4,000 km, the journey lasted more than five hours. Lavrov's plane flew over Turkey and also Greece on its way to North Macedonia, although a route through Bulgaria was previously expected.

According to TASS, Bulgaria has refused to Lavrov's plane fly over its airspace if the spokeswoman of the Russian diplomatic service Maria Zakharova is on board. In the note from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, which the agency has, it was written: "Permission to participate in the above-mentioned meeting in Skopje is given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and his accompanying delegation in accordance with the note... The permission does not apply to the director of the information department and the press of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maria Zakharova, who is on the list of sanctions, in accordance with the current legislation of the EU".

From November 30 to December 1, the 30th summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), or the so-called Council of Ministers, will be held in Skopje. The forum is taking place in the conditions of a difficult international situation, which we have witnessed in recent years.

The OSCE is an intergovernmental structure based in Vienna that originated from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in 1975. It is currently composed of 57 countries from Europe, North America and Asia with a population of over 1 billion people, including Bulgaria. The OSCE's functions and goals are clearly outlined on paper - conflict prevention or peace mediation, arms control, protection of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections.

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Tags: Blinken, Gabriel, Lavrov, Bulgaria

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