Skopje Says Blinken To Attend OSCE Summit That May Include Lavrov


(RFE/RL) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to attend the OSCE ministerial summit in Skopje on November 30-December 1, North Macedonia’s foreign minister said, an event that could also include the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Secretary of State Blinken has been confirmed for the informal dinner [on November 29],” Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani told reporters on November 25 in North Macedonia’s capital.

“At the informal dinner, we expect the majority of ministers. This is where you talk openly, without writing speeches. We have set two issues for the informal dinner — aggression in Ukraine and OSCE functionality,” Osmani said.

Osmani’s comments come a day after Skopje said it would temporarily lift a ban on Russian flights to the Western Balkan country to allow the Russian delegation to attend the summit, although overall sanctions will remain in place for other flights.

Days after Moscow launched its war against Ukraine in February 2022, Brussels closed EU airspace to Russian flights. North Macedonia aspires to join the bloc.

“The decision on EU sanctions does not relate to multilateral events such as the OSCE, hence the government’s decision,” Osmani said.

Lavrov has not confirmed his intentions to travel to Skopje, but he has indicated he would like to attend with a delegation of some 80 people. Skopje has invited the Russian diplomat to participate.

Washington has not confirmed Blinken’s attendance at the Skopje summit, but the State Department on November 25 said the secretary would travel to Brussels for the NATO foreign ministers meeting, which will include discussions on Ukraine and “emphasize our support for democracy and regional stability in the Western Balkans.”

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter said in Skopje on November 14 that “what Russia did to Ukraine is absolutely terrible.”

“The War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Commission is troubled by Mr. Lavrov’s participation…. But at the end of the day, the [OSCE] is inclusive and has 57 member states,” Carpenter said.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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