VIENNA – Finding a solution to the ongoing violent conflict in Ukraine, further cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea and confronting the migrant crisis would be key priorities under Italy’s 2018 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, according to the country’s foreign minister.
Angelino Alfano gave a speech in Vienna to the permanent representatives from the 57 states that comprise the OSCE, in which he set out his goals for the coming year.
“Our principal aim is to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis,” said Italy’s top diplomat, announcing that he would travel to Ukraine and Russia at the end of the month in a bid to boost peace talks there.
Around 10,000 people have been killed since the onset of the pro-Russian rebel insurgency and the ensuing war in eastern areas of Ukraine in 2014, a conflict that has exacerbated tensions between Russia and the West to levels not seen since the Cold War.
The West has accused Moscow of directly supporting the rebels, who have taken over Ukraine’s borderland with Russia, although the Russian president vehemently denies such accusations.
Alfano said mutual provocations had threatened to jeopardize the Minsk ceasefire accord, which was drawn up and signed by Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in a bid to alleviate the conflict.
Turning to Europe’s southern borders, Alfano put emphasis on the need to boost security in the Mediterranean region and called the audience’s attention to the ongoing migrant crisis.
“The migrant crisis is a global phenomenon that will go on for many years,” he said, adding that a multilateral and cooperative approach was essential if it was going to be managed.
Of the roughly 170,000 migrants who arrived on European shores in 2017, that majority, some 120,000, arrived to Italy, according to data collected by the International Organization for Migration.
The Mediterranean migrant route between Libya and Italy also proved one of the most lethal and claimed at least 2,832 lives last year.