Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 22 January 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine warmly welcomes Sir Andrew Burns, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Ambassador Roksanda Ninčić, State Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and Head of Delegation of the Republic of Serbia to the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, to the Permanent Council and thanks them for their presentations.
In accordance with the Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on the Holocaust Remembrance on 1 November 2005, every year Ukraine honours all victims of the Holocaust on 27 January as official “Holocaust Memorial Day”, established by the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine “On the 70th Anniversary of the Tragedy of Babyn Yar” - the atrocious tragedy related to the Holocaust and regularly commemorated in Ukraine.
This day is a sad reminder of horrific crimes inflicted on innocent people. In Ukraine alone, when Kyiv was occupied by Nazis, more than one hundred thousand people were killed in the ravine of Babyn Yar, including nearly 34,000 Jews in a single massacre.
In commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, Ukraine reiterates its strong commitment to combating such scourges as anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, intolerance and hate crimes.
The Holocaust is a truly hideous chapter in human history, when millions of people were massacred. The date of 27 January should not just be a day of mourning but also a reminder to all of us that we must not allow such tragedies ever happen again.
Ukraine firmly condemns any attempts to deny the Holocaust, war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement of hatred, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.
We appreciate the work being done by the OSCE in this regard, in particular by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, aimed at promoting tolerance education, awareness-raising and the prevention of hate crimes. We also attach great importance to the ODIHR’s updated publication “Holocaust Memorial Days in the OSCE Region: an Overview of Governmental Practices”.
This tragic period in our history must not be forgotten. We must draw lessons from the past as we address the challenges of today. The Holocaust tragedy is a powerful reminder to the whole world about the dangers of war and the value of peace.
Our today’s dialogue takes place against the background of continuous Russian aggression against Ukraine, which challenged the security achievements, that the participating States have been proud of for decades. A part of territory of one participating State has been illegally occupied and annexed by a neighbouring participating State, thus grossly violating international law and the core OSCE principles and commitments. For the first time since the end of the Second World War Ukrainians, defending their native soil, are killed by military forces of another country and its proxies. Thousands of killed and wounded, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, destruction, sufferings in the east of Ukraine and grave human rights violations in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol are the tragic outcomes of the aggression.
Enforced disappearances and killings of Crimean Tatars, attacks on and expulsion of the priests, intimidation and surveillance over Crimean Tatars in mosques, labelling different religions as extremist demonstrate the extent of pressure and repressions in the occupied Crimea. This happens to the indigenous people of Crimea who lost thousands of lives during mass deportations of 1944 perpetrated by a totalitarian state.
It remains imperative to seek that Russia restores its respect to the OSCE principles and commitments which allow for comprehensive advancement of peace, security and cooperation in the OSCE community.
The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is also a day to reassert our commitment to human rights. It is of paramount importance to ensure that all people may enjoy the protection and rights for which we stand for and have commitment to.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.