Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 26 March 2015
I would like to start with expressing our gratitude to Ambassador Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and Ambassador Tagliavini, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Special Representative, for the updates on their efforts aimed at facilitating implementation of the Minsk agreements which constitute the political framework for comprehensive, sustainable and peaceful resolution of the current crisis in Ukraine’s Donbas.
The recent extension of the mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, upon the request of the Government of Ukraine, for the period of twelve months underlines our common view on the high relevance of tasks assigned to the SMM.
We see as critically important the role to be played by the OSCE and the SMM in the process of seeking a peaceful resolution in the east of Ukraine, based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Ukraine continues to strongly support the SMM in monitoring the implementation of all relevant provisions of the Minsk agreements which include the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements of 12 February 2015. These Minsk documents establish the agreed commitments undertaken by the same signatories, including members of the Trilateral Contact Group that represent Ukraine, the OSCE and the Russian Federation. We reiterate that they must be treated equally, implemented fully and in good faith by all parties.
In view of the current developments in the eastern oblasts of Ukraine, we underline
the importance of strengthening the capacities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, including with technical means, in order to ensure effective monitoring and verification of implementation of the Minsk arrangements, in particular those related to the ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and border monitoring.
Although the Minsk package contains agreement on the comprehensive cease-fire from 15 February and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, this has not yet happened. Numerous violations of the ceasefire by Russia and Russia-backed militants continue in a number of areas of concern. The SMM continues to observe the use of heavy weapons in the temporarily occupied areas, which should have been withdrawn. The SMM reports that it is not able to fully verify the withdrawal process in militant-controlled areas.
The SMM experiences continuous restrictions to its access to the Ukrainian-Russian border and in the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. There is continuous reporting of jamming of the UAV’s. These impediments must be removed for the SMM to effectively perform its functions.
We are gravely concerned over the reports of aggressive militants’ behavior towards the SMM, in particular the recent warning shots.
We reiterate that the OSCE monitors must have freedom of movement and unfettered and safe access throughout Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea.
We urge Russia to exert its influence on the militants to fully abide by the commitments made in Minsk.
Ukraine has consistently demonstrated its strong commitment to fully implement the Minsk agreements to achieve sustainable peaceful solution and de-escalation in Donbas. On March 17, 2015 in line with Ukraine’s commitments under the Minsk agreements, the Parliament of Ukraine endorsed legislative acts that foster the political track of the Minsk process.
The respective legislative acts include, in particular:
1) a Resolution specifying the areas in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to be granted with special regime under the Law of Ukraine “On Interim Self-Government Order in Certain Areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts”.
2) Amendments to the abovementioned Law on Interim Self-Governance Order that create necessary conditions for holding the local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in accordance with the respective OSCE standards as it was agreed in Minsk.
3) A resolution calling for deployment of EU and UN peacekeepers to the country's east. The deployment of an international peacekeeping mission on the territory of Ukraine will contribute to a political resolution and an early normalization of the situation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as safeguard, in cooperation with the SMM, effective implementation of the Minsk agreements.
While Ukraine acts in compliance with the letter and spirit of the Minsk agreements we witness a continuous implementation gap on the part of Russia and Russia-backed militants. We register regrouping and reinforcement of their forces, resupply of ammunition from the Russian Federation, including by trains to the stations of Illovaysk, Krasnodon, Debaltseve. No progress has been made in withdrawal under the OSCE monitoring, as agreed, of Russian troops, mercenaries and weaponry from the Ukrainian territory. Shelling persists around Donetsk airport, near Mariupol around the town of Shyrokine and other areas in clear violation of the ceasefire.
It remains imperative that the Russian Federation and its proxies should put an end to the ceasefire violations and implement their commitments on de-escalation, undertaken in Minsk, fully and in good faith.
We hope that the Normandy Format meeting at the Deputy Foreign Ministers/Political directors level that took place in Paris yesterday will contribute to strengthening implementation of the Minsk agreements, in particular in relation to the issues of strict compliance with ceasefire, humanitarian aid and release of all hostages and illegally detained persons.
Ambassador Apakan referred in his statement to the dialogue facilitation function of the SMM. Over the past year a number of delegations brought up in this hall the issue of national dialogue in Ukraine. I am pleased to note that two days ago a presentation was made in the OSCE of the PCU project “National dialogue for reforms, justice and development”. The representatives of the President’s Administration and Constitutional Court of Ukraine, the Ombudsperson of Ukraine who participated in the presentation highlighted Ukraine-owned and Ukraine-led nature of this dialogue which will enhance the inclusiveness of the reform process and further strengthen the cohesion of the Ukrainian society in responding to existing challenges. We hope for financial support of the OSCE participating States to implement this project.
Before concluding, we once again express our strong support to the work of Ambassador Tagliavini and the Trilateral Contact Group of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. We commend Ambassador Tagliavini for her tireless efforts in facilitating the negotiations in Minsk. The Trilateral Contact Group must play an essential role in securing progress in the implementation of the Minsk package.
I thank Ambassador Apakan and Ambassador Tagliavini for their professional work and dedication with a view to achieving de-escalation and peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.