OSCE Chairman Ian Borg Reaffirms Peace Efforts at Ukraine Summit in Switzerland

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: June 17, 2024; 23:41 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Ukraine peace summit on the Bürgenstock in Switzerland emphasized the OSCE efforts under the leadership of Ian Borg, while Russia was conspicuous by its absence and strict negotiating conditions.

OSCE Chair-in-Office Minister Ian Borg at the "Summit on Peace in Ukraine" in Switzerland. / Picture: © OSCE / ID 570840, (CC BY-ND 4.0)

Speaking at the Summit for Peace in Ukraine, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Maltese Foreign Minister Ian Borg highlighted the organization's ongoing efforts to end the conflict. Borg emphasized the importance of dialogue and international co-operation in resolving the war in Ukraine and recalled the need to end Russia's aggression and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

In his speech to representatives from 57 OSCE member states, including Ukraine and other international actors, Borg emphasized that sustainable solutions cannot be achieved on the battlefield, but through dialogue and adherence to the principles of the organization. He underlined the crucial role of the OSCE in crisis management and referred to its unique conflict management tools and extensive experience.

"Since the beginning of the war, the OSCE has been focused on addressing the situation in Ukraine," Borg said, highlighting the organization's ongoing projects to strengthen the country's resilience. He recalled his first visit as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to Kyiv in February, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Borg's visit to Kyiv was already marked by talks on the urgent need to end the war and find practical solutions to support the Ukrainian people. The OSCE Chairman stressed the importance of supporting the Ukrainian government, civil society, and people through programs such as the OSCE Extrabudgetary Support Programme for Ukraine (SPU). This program, launched in November 2022, aims to address the immediate challenges of the war and promote the long-term democratic and social resilience of Ukrainian institutions and civil society.

During his visit to Ukraine, Borg also expressed concern about the health and safety of the three detained OSCE Special Monitoring Mission staff and called for their immediate release by Russia.

Ukraine summit in Switzerland with numerous world players

The Ukraine summit on the Bürgenstock, attended by high-ranking politicians such as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, served as a platform for finding ways to end the war. Russia was not invited and China decided not to attend, which hampered the prospects of major diplomatic progress.

Nevertheless, President Viola Amherd expressed her satisfaction with the summit's results and emphasized that a clear framework for future peace processes had been established. She emphasized that the declaration was supported by 83 countries and organizations and included important topics such as food safety, nuclear safety, and the exchange of prisoners.

Ukrainian President Selensky emphasized the importance of the summit and expressed the goal of organizing a second conference to involve Russia in the peace process in the long term. Despite the challenges and the different points of view of the participants, the summit proved to be an important step towards peace and security in the region.

Russia remains aggressive

The Ukraine Peace Summit on the Bürgenstock was a high-level meeting dedicated to ending the war in Ukraine. Russia naturally played its aggressive, albeit complex, role in this context.

Russia was not invited to the summit, which caused considerable tension in the run-up to the event. Russia's absence was seen by many as an obstacle to greater diplomatic progress. The decision to exclude Russia was in line with efforts to strengthen international support for Ukraine and increase pressure on Russia. Immediately before the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the conditions for peace negotiations. Among other things, Putin demanded that Ukraine completely renounce several of its regions, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Crimea. These demands were largely rejected by the international community and described as unacceptable.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris sharply rejected Putin's demands and emphasized that this was not a call for negotiations, but for capitulation. The USA continued to assure Ukraine of its full support in standing up to Russian aggression. China, a close economic partner of Russia, also decided against participating in the summit, further limiting the meeting's chances of success. China and other countries of the Global South had previously shown interest in a diplomatic process, but withdrew, which was interpreted as a sign of support for Russia.

The summit's final declaration emphasized the need to involve all parties in a peace process and called on Russia to take concrete steps towards de-escalation. Although Russia's involvement in future negotiations remained unclear, the summit demonstrated a common will to work towards a peaceful solution. Several countries announced that they were still interested in a dialog with Russia and would advocate a second conference at which Russia could also be represented.

Switzerland, as the host country, hopes that the summit will pave the way for future negotiations involving Russia. Switzerland's neutral position was seen as an advantage in acting as a mediator between the parties to the conflict. Russia's role at the Ukraine peace summit was characterized by its absence and the tough negotiating conditions. Nevertheless, the international community remains determined to involve Russia in future peace processes to achieve a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict. The Bürgenstock summit was an important step in demonstrating solidarity and support for Ukraine while keeping the door open for future negotiations with Russia.


Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs