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"Spirit of Helsinki" strained by Ukraine crisis

An event commemorating the 1975 Helsinki Summit on Friday heard expressions of serious concern about the state of European security. Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini told the gathering that the most immediate task is to de-escalate and implement the Minsk agreements fully, unconditionally and promptly.

Serbian ulkoministeri Ivica Dacic Etyj:n yleiskokouksessa Helsingissä 10. heinäkuuta 2015. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Friday's informal high-level meeting to discuss European security issues was to include the foreign ministers of Germany, Switzerland and Serbia. However, with the Greek debt crisis at a critical phase, German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier was not in attendance.

Addressing the gathering, Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini stressed that the urgency for building security through co-operation is imminent and maybe even stronger than it was 40 years ago.

On the issue of Ukraine, Soini stated the task for all countries and all involved in the crisis in and around Ukraine is to truly follow their commitment to de-escalate and implement the Minsk agreements fully, unconditionally and promptly. Aiming for spheres of influence, he said, belong to the past.

Serbia: Violations of Helsinki principles

Ivica Dacic, the foreign minister of Serbia, which presently holds the chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told participants that the Helsinki principles have been violated, and mistrust and tensions are growing which could increase the risk of provocations and escalation. 

Dacic said that Europe is now grappling with the worst threat to its security since the end of the Cold War. What is needed, according to the Sebian foreign minister, are ways to rebuild trust and confidence, an immediate end all hostilities and the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Agreements.