Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, to the 1214th meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 31 January 2019
Every year, like many other countries, Ukraine commemorates on January 27 an International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The memory of the horrible and inhumane tragedy of Holocaust resonates deeply in the Ukrainian society as 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews fell victims of the Holocaust. Sixty per cent of Ukraine’s Jewish population perished.
On 27 January 2019 the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko emphasized, “Ukraine, along with the entire civilized world, commemorates today the victims of the Holocaust - a terrible crime of the Nazis, which has become one of the gravest catastrophes in the history of mankind. We remember and must never allow the repetition of past mistakes.”
This year again the remembrance events were held across the country in Kyiv, Dnipro, Kropyvnytskyi, Lviv, Lutsk, Odesa, Uzhhorod and many other cities in close co-operation with the Jewish organizations and with involvement of the representatives of international community, civil society and academia. The words «Ніколи знову» («Never again») were vocally pronounced in Ukrainian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Russian, Armenian and other languages during these events. Many national TV channels changed their programming and marked the broadcasting with the commemorative candle during all the day.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Day must always remind all of us about our international obligations and commitments on respect for human rights. It is of paramount importance to ensure that all people may enjoy, equally and without discrimination, the human rights and fundamental freedoms which form an indispensable part of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security.
My country firmly condemns any attempts to deny the Holocaust, war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as manifestations of intolerance, incitement of hatred, harassment or violence against persons or communities, wherever they occur and regardless of which groups they target.
For the OSCE and our common activities it is high time to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism, endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. We encourage the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship to steer the efforts towards adoption of respective OSCE document.
Having agreement on this matter would become, in our view, an important contribution to proper commemoration of 75th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz/Birkenau camps next year.
The Holocaust tragedy is also a powerful global reminder about the danger of war and the value of peace. Blatant breaches of international law and use of force to change borders inflict grave damage to democratic stability, human rights and peace in a country under attack and in the entire Europe. Just as before in the past, the most glaring violation of human dignity, cases of persecution and discrimination take place in the situations of foreign occupation. The use of force and attempted annexation by the Russian Federation of part of Ukrainian territory – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol – is the first such instance in Europe’s history since World War II. This loud alarm bell is on for five years.
It is therefore important to constantly 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.
We must tackle in forceful and clear terms the hypocrisy when one country, unfoundedly claiming leadership in countering neo-Nazism and discrimination, in parallel practically supports and often funds parties and movements in Europe which are rooted in ultra-right and neo-Nazi ideology, flagrantly violates human rights and freedoms in parts of territories of other states, it illegally occupies, perpetrates a severe clamp-down on human rights and freedoms at home, accompanying it with hateful propaganda,. This hypocrisy and duplicity is a real threat to our collective efforts.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.