Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 7 May 2015
Over the next two days, along with other nations across the globe, Ukraine will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War – the most tragic chapter in the history of Europe and of the entire world.
We will mourn and pay tribute to the millions who gave up their lives 70 years ago fighting for liberty and peace. We must remember the tremendous sacrifices, unestimated human pain and all the people who lost their lives, as victims of the war, the Holocaust, occupations and acts of repression.
As our Ministers stated in the Basel Commemorative Declaration: “Time will not diminish the meaning of their sacrifice and we will never forget their heroic deeds.”
Paying tribute to the heroes, we must be clear in our firm and unequivocal condemnation of the Nazi totalitarian regime with its record of genocide, violations of human rights and freedoms, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perpetuating aggressive rhetoric and claims to have to “protect compatriots” and expand its “living space”, the Nazi regime unleashed the most bloody war in human history.
The people of Ukraine sacrificed themselves and made an enormous contribution to the victory over Nazism in 1939–1945, demonstrating true heroism in the struggle for the liberation of their native soil and of Europe as a whole. An extremely high human price was paid, with eight million Ukrainians losing their lives in the years of the Second World War. A total of 720 Ukrainian towns and 28,000 villages were ruined and hundreds of thousands of industrial and agricultural facilities, schools and hospitals totally destroyed as the scourge of war moved across Ukrainian territory, first from west to east and then from east to west.
On 8 May the Ukrainian nation will observe the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, and on 9 May Victory Day, commemorating the victory over Nazism in the Second World War.
We also pay our earnest tribute to the historic roles played by other nations of the former Soviet Union and by the Allied forces, and to all the selfless sacrifices which brought about the defeat of Nazism in the Second World War.
The lessons of the Second World War have an accentuated relevance today when we are once again witnessing military aggression by one State against another, placing also under attack the foundation of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian area. Russian aggression against Ukraine deserves unequivocal condemnation because it has challenged security achievements of which the OSCE participating States have been proud for many decades.
Nobody in my country could have imagined that Ukraine, a peaceful nation, would become a victim of external aggression in the 21st century in the middle of Europe.
For the first time since the end of the Second World War, a part of the territory of one State has been illegally occupied and annexed by a neighbouring State, thus grossly violating the norms of international law and the fundamental OSCE principles and commitments which had been developed and agreed upon to prevent war from happening again. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, Ukrainians have stood up to defend their native soil and have been killed by military forces of another country. Thousands of killed and wounded, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, destruction, sufferings and grave human rights violations in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol and in Donbas are the tragic outcomes of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Based on lessons of the tragic past and on our responsibility for a safe future, we must not allow the rule of law to be substituted by the rule of force. We must safeguard the core OSCE principles of the sovereignty, independence, political unity and territorial integrity of participating States. To prevent the recurrence of tragedies we must stay united and redouble our efforts to counter the aggression of one participating State against another.
This anniversary must remind us of our responsibilities for peace and our common commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of any State. Ukraine, being a co-founder of the United Nations, remains fully committed to the core norms and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. We firmly believe that in the 21st century there must be no place for the use of force and coercion to change internationally recognized borders in Europe or elsewhere. Unity and firmness in confronting the violation of our shared principles and in bringing the aggressor to account is the means to avert the erosion of the foundations of peace and security in the OSCE space.
Mr. Chairperson, I kindly request that this statement be attached to the journal of the day.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.