Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 5 February 2015
Ukraine warmly welcomes H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, to the Permanent Council. We thank him for presentation of the report of the mission, which was set up upon request of the Government of Ukraine to assist my country in responding to significant security challenges in the face of external aggression.
We highly value the dedicated work of all SMM monitors in line with the agreed mandate which covers the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as well as their commitment to help the people of Ukraine in dealing with unprecedented security challenges. The scope of tasks of the SMM has significantly increased since its establishment, while the operational conditions have sharply deteriorated in the east of Ukraine due to intensive violations of the cease-fire regime by the illegal armed groups supported by Russia. At the same time, effective implementation by the SMM of its tasks can play a crucial role in assisting comprehensive peaceful resolution of the situation in the east of Ukraine, which remains a clear-cut goal for the President of Ukraine.
In this connection I would like to express particular appreciation to the monitors, who perform their functions in Donbas, for their commitment and professionalism in a complex security environment.
Reports of the mission continue to represent a valuable source of objective information about developments on the ground in various regions of Ukraine, in particular in Donbas which now greatly suffers from the surge of deadly attacks by the militants. It is important for us and the OSCE community that the reports are produced on a daily basis with the reported information being verified by the monitors, particularly on ceasefire violations. Performance of the monitoring functions is enhanced by the employment of UAVs’ technical capabilities. It is essential to ensure continuity of the use of UAVs by the SMM as an important tool for increasing effectiveness of the implementation of the SMM mandate.
The recent regular and special Permanent Council meetings, in which the SMM Chief Monitor participated by video-link, have amply demonstrated our utmost concern by the ongoing dramatic deterioration of the situation in Donbas as Russia-supported militants resorted to intensive shellings by heavy artillery of peaceful cities, towns and villages leaving many dead and wounded, destroying housing and infrastructure.
We view as highly professional the prompt responses of the SMM to the tragedies near Volnovakha, in Mariupol, in Donetsk which allowed to establish the objective data of deadly attacks on peaceful civilians by the militants. We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms and will take every step to bring the responsible to justice.
The continuous barrage of deadly attacks by the militants on the towns and villages with the use of Grad rockets, artillery systems and tanks, received from Russia, greatly increases the sufferings of the civilian population. These attacks left civilians without electricity, heating, prevent them from evacuation organized by the Ukrainian authorities. We encourage the SMM to continue to facilitate resolution of issues directly relating to the worsening humanitarian situation in the affected areas of Donbas.
Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians and servicemen remain in captivity of the illegal armed groups and on the territory of Russia and are subjected to violence and torture. The proposal of the Ukrainian authorities to release “all for all” had so far been rejected, despite the Minsk agreements. Until the release happens, we encourage the SMM to seek possibilities of access to them to report on their state and observance of basic human rights.
I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the significance of the role of the SMM and its monitoring tasks, as committed and persistent efforts are made by the President of Ukraine to bring about a comprehensive peaceful resolution of the situation in Donbas based on Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The achievement of peace has been and remains a top priority for the President, Government and the people of Ukraine. In this connection I wish to emphasise the firm view that full implementation of the Minsk agreements in their entirety represents a solid basis for a peaceful resolution in the east of Ukraine. Notably, this position was shared by all 57 OSCE participating States as reflected in the Permanent Council Declaration on Ukraine of 20 January 2015.
The Minsk agreements envisage specific monitoring tasks for the OSCE which remain as relevant today as they were at the time of signing of those documents. We see as critically important the role to be played by the OSCE and the SMM in monitoring the implementation of relevant provisions of the Minsk agreements.
The SMM has demonstrated its ability to react rapidly and effectively to a deteriorating situation.
Implementation by the SMM of its monitoring tasks demands that it be speedily enlarged to its maximum number and be properly equipped with technical means. Reinforcement by experienced monitors and extensive employment of technical means, including UAVs, video cameras and other monitoring devices, enhances operational capacity of the SMM to effectively react to the increased monitoring needs on the ground. We are grateful to all OSCE participating States who second their nationals to the SMM and support it financially.
Safety and security of the monitors remain of paramount importance. The Ukrainian authorities are fully committed to addressing the security concerns of the monitors, when they arise. We welcome the focused efforts of the SMM to continue improvement in the risk assessment management and are grateful for the briefings organised in this respect in Vienna.
As we currently direct our efforts at immediate resumption of bilateral cease-fire regime, securing the Ukrainian-Russian state border remains vital to its sustainability. We remain confident that until the efficient control at the Ukrainian-Russian state border is resumed our collective efforts aimed at de-escalation and sustainable cease-fire will fail. We encourage the SMM to continue its efforts in contributing to an effective permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian state border on segments in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts which are presently out of control of the Ukrainian border guards.
The OSCE monitors must be allowed full access throughout Ukraine’s territory, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Seeking the monitors’ full and unimpeded access to the Crimean peninsula remains a highly relevant task in view of continuous deterioration of the human rights situation there, in particular concerning the rights of national minorities and the indigenous Crimean Tatar people.
I will conclude by emphasising that the OSCE is rooted in agreed principles and commitments. The Government of Ukraine is interested in continuing co-operation with the Chairmanship-in-Office, the SMM and the participating States in seeking peaceful resolution in the east of Ukraine based on President’s Poroshenko Peace Plan, the Minsk arrangements, the OSCE principles and commitments.
I wish to once again thank H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan as the Chief Monitor and his staff for their professional work and dedication as well as wish all of us achieving immediate and meaningful progress in de-escalation and aspired peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.