Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took full advantage of the invitation to attend the OSCE conference in Skopje. In a long press conference, he accused the Foreign Ministers of other major powers, such as the US and the UK, of cowardice, after they left Skopje before he could arrive.
Drawing a large crowd during his press conference, flanked by his spokeswoman Marija Zakharova (because of her presence his plane was not allowed to fly over Bulgaria) Lavrov accused the West of ignoring the plight of nations they don’t care about. He evoked the slogan of the OSCE conference – it’s about people – to point out that Russians in countries such as Estonia, which tried to take over the OSCE presidency, have their rights violated. Lavrov also accused Ukraine of violating the rights of the Russian minority for years leading up to the Russian attack in 2022.
The Russian Foreign Minister also seemed eager to continue to undermine the functioning of OSCE, as the organization limps from a summit to a summit without being able to appoint new leadership – the terms of its current main officials were extended and Malta was named as the site of the next summit.
Lavrov also used the opportunity to address the Macedonian people, as he did several times during the pressure campaign to rename the country and rewrite its historic narrative. He pointed to an earlier meeting with Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi, saying that he had an Albanian flag in his office, indicating nationalist claims on Macedonia. Lavrov added that he understands how humiliating the name change was for the Macedonian people. “We know what it’s about”, he said, alluding to the many national concessions the Macedonians were forced to make. He also spoke about his time in Ohrid, the historic city cherished as the center where Christianity began to spread across all of the Slavic countries.