Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, to the 1174th meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 1 February 2018
The delegation of Ukraine warmly welcomes Dr. Michele Galizia, representing Swiss Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his thoughtful address.
Only few days ago the world observed the Holocaust Memorial Day, decisively recommitting to the collective pledges of “we remember” and “never again”. A series of commemorative events took place in Ukraine, where 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews, a quarter of all Holocaust victims, perished during the Nazi’s occupation.
We also remember the courage and commitment of the “Righteous among the nations”, who were ready to sacrifice their lives to save Jews from the Nazis. There were over 2.5 thousand Ukrainians among them. Speaking today at this diplomatic forum, we wish to underscore that the bravery of the diplomats who risked their lives to save other people’s lives in World War II should be a constant reminder of our duty as diplomats to defend peace and the victims of aggression and intolerance.
The delegation of Ukraine highly commends the Italian Chairmanship for organizing this week the Conference on the important topic of combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Unfortunately, what is witnessed is the alarming rise and new manifestations of anti-Semitism, along with other forms of intolerance, across the OSCE area. Their materialization in politics, either in the right or left extremes, must be a cause of major concern. We must actively counter disinformation and propaganda, which sow seeds of hatred and violence among people.
The Conference in Rome was a timely opportunity to underline the need for taking concrete practical actions to address these phenomena. An important step within the OSCE must be the adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism, which has not been possible for the last two years due to the objection of one participating State, the Russian Federation, which also demonstrates willful disregard to all OSCE core principles and values. For the first time in Europe since World War II, Russia attempted annexation of a part of the territory of a neighbouring state and perpetrates persecution and oppression in illegally occupied territories, flagrantly violating international humanitarian law.
Remembering the victims of inhumane atrocities of the Holocaust, we should do our utmost to prevent the revival of totalitarian empires, ideologies and practices that are prone to crimes against humanity.
It is important to remind ourselves of our common duty to ensure that the lessons and memory of the past are never forgotten and that our collective efforts in fighting anti-Semitism and any form of violence, intolerance or hatred ultimately succeed. Equally, we must not be silent or complacent on ongoing violations of our common values, commitments and principles.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.