Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 20 November 2014
The Delegation of Ukraine warmly welcomes H.E. Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, to the Permanent Council and thanks her for the thoughtful presentation of her activities within the Trilateral Contact Group, including those related to implementation of the Minsk agreements.
We value the OSCE efforts in facilitating dialogue within the Trilateral Contact Group, which was set up in June of this year in composition of Ukraine, the OSCE and the Russian Federation to assist implementation of the Peace Plan of the President of Ukraine.
The Minsk Protocol and the Minsk Memorandum, signed on 5 and 19 September respectively, are the major outcomes of the efforts of the Group.
The comprehensive steps, agreed through these documents, formed a clear roadmap for peaceful settlement in the east of Ukraine with the OSCE monitoring and verification and based on the country’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Bilateral ceasefire and permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border were crucial elements to this aim, necessitated immediate implementation.
Ukraine has demonstrated its commitments to implementing in full and in good faith the Minsk arrangements since the days they were reached. In particular, the Ukrainian forces observe the cease-fire regime, using weapons only to defend themselves when attacked. The Ukrainian Parliament promptly adopted legislation on a special order of self-governance in certain parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine and on amnesty.
The early parliamentary elections, conducted in a free and democratic manner, represented a significant contribution to national dialogue and fostering democratic processes. Steps were taken by the Government to address economic, social and humanitarian needs in the Donbas.
Alongside consistent steps of Ukraine to implement the Minsk arrangements we have registered continuous violations of the Minsk agreements by other signatories. The Russia-supported militants and Russian military have violated the ceasefire regime - one of the pillars of the Minsk agreements – on a regular basis. In over two months since establishment of bilateral cease-fire the Ukrainian positions and the residential areas have been under permanent shellings and attacks, which led to scores of killed and wounded among the Ukrainian servicemen and peaceful civilians. Militants extended the territory under their control after Minsk agreements were signed.
The position of the Russian Federation in relation to the illegal so-called “elections”, held in terrorist-controlled areas of Donbas, negated the letter and spirit of the Minsk agreements. By choosing to effectively recognize this illegitimate exercise, the Russian Federation severely undermined collective efforts to peaceful resolution in the east of Ukraine. It acted in breach of its own commitments, undertaken when signing the Minsk protocol, and in defiance of the calls by the OSCE, the UN and the Council of Europe to honour its commitments.
Unwillingness by the Russian Federation and the illegal armed groups to allow effective OSCE monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border is another vast gap between the Russian commitments under the Minsk agreements and its real steps in relation to implementation. We, in particular, deplore that the Russian Federation continues to reject the proposal for significantly expanding the current limited mandate of the OSCE observers at two Russian checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian Border, which derives from the arrangements reached in Minsk and is fully supported by all other participating States.
Hundreds of prisoners and hostages, among them women, journalists and ordinary civilians, continue to endure captivity, including on the territory of the Russian Federation. No withdrawal of the Russian troops, military hardware and mercenaries from the Ukrainian territory has been registered, instead we witness continuous inflow from across the border of heavy and sophisticated weaponry and personnel reinforcement.
Despite these gravely dangerous circumstances Ukraine remains convinced that the Minsk Protocol of 5 September and Memorandum of 19 September 2014, and their full and comprehensive, not selective implementation will provide a solid basis for sustainable peaceful resolution, with full respect to territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Ukraine.
We are confident that the Trilateral Contact Group of Ukraine-Russia-OSCE should focus on seeking full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Those commitments were undertaken by the three and they were fully supported by the entire OSCE community. It is an important part of the broader international efforts, including the Geneva format and Normandy format, aimed at seeking sustainable peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine.
At the same time we caution against attempts to substitute the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group with invented and non-legitimate compositions.
Let me conclude by sincerely thanking Ambassador Tagliavini for her dedication, resolve and personal efforts to help peacefully resolve the crisis in the east of Ukraine, without compromising the OSCE principles and commitments which stay at the heart of this Organization. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.