Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 12 March 2015
We warmly welcome back to the Permanent Council meeting the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Mr. Michael Georg Link and thank him for the comprehensive report.
On behalf of the Government of Ukraine I wish to assure the Director of Ukraine’s support for ODIHR’s mandate and its activities on assisting participating States in the implementation of their human dimension commitments, promoting human rights and democracy across the entire OSCE region.
Protection and promotion of OSCE principles and commitments remain among our primary goals. While facing many security and humanitarian challenges stemming from the Russian aggression, Ukraine is fully committed to strengthening its domestic reforms efforts which would lead to enhancing implementation of relevant OSCE commitments and international standards.
We highly appreciate our close cooperation with the ODIHR in this regard and rely on drawing from its expertise and continued support in the areas of human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and rule of law.
We remain convinced that our Organization should take more decisive steps to help addressing systemic human rights violations in the occupied Crimea and in some parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts under temporarily control of Russia-backed militants. These violations result from the grave breaches of international law and, as has been earlier pointed out, all OSCE principles by the Russian Federation and its aggression against Ukraine. Murders, torture, harassment, arbitrary arrest and illegal forced detention, violations of freedom of expression and media freedom, attacks against journalists are among the most widespread human rights violations in the affected regions.
It is critical that all OSCE Institutions closely monitor human rights situation in the occupied Crimea with a view to providing objective information regarding the situation on the ground. We reiterate that Russia as an occupying authority bears full responsibility in accordance with international law for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied territory of Crimea and Sevastopol. As the situation stands now, over the year since attempted annexation Russia has only strengthened its repressive policies.
As a part of such monitoring process in the occupied Crimea, we invite the ODIHR to assess the implementation by the occupying authorities of recommendations contained in the ODIHR/HCNM Human Rights Assessment Mission Report of May 2014.
We reiterate the need in the ODIHR’s visit to the occupied Crimea to assess, by all means available, the human rights situation on the peninsula. Such visits should be undertaken in line with the UN GA Resolution “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
We highlight the importance of the Joint Opinion by the ODIHR and HCNM of 03 October 2014, which recognizes non-compliance of the automatic en masse ascription of the Russian citizenship to the Crimea’s residents with relevant OSCE commitments and international standards on nationality. We are deeply concerned that despite the official position of the OSCE Institutions and in violation of international law the Russian authorities continue to deny the rights of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.
We attach importance to a trial monitoring of court proceedings in relation to the Ukrainian citizens Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and many others, who had been abducted and illegally detained in the Russian Federation in contravention of international legal norms and principles. We consider the attendance by ODIHR’s representatives of a Moscow City Court hearing related to the case of Nadiya Savchenko on 25 February 2015 as a first step towards launching a genuine trial monitoring.
Ukraine is committed to implementing the Minsk Agreements, which represent a comprehensive framework for the peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbas. Holding local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and relevant OSCE standards, as well as under monitoring by the OSCE/ODIHR, set important agreed benchmarks for holding the elections that would produce legitimate representatives of the people in those areas.
We thank the ODIHR’s Director for his statement regarding the readiness to deploy election observers and clearly setting out necessary conditions for the deployment. The relevant work will also need to be undertaken to ensure compliance with the OSCE standards.
We stress that militants and Russia must cease fire and implement withdrawal of all heavy weapons to create a stable environment allowing to launch dialogue on modalities of local elections in accordance with agreed framework.
In conclusion, we take this opportunity to express our full support for the work performed by ODIHR’s Director Michael Link and his professional team. We look forward to continuing our cooperation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.