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Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Vasyl Bodnar took part in the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference
25 June 2019 16:38

The conference is taking place in Vienna on 25-27 June

The head of the Ukrainian delegation delivered statements at the Opening session and the Special session on Ukraine, which were held in the first day of the conference.

 

Full texts of the statements are attached:

 

Statement by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Vasyl Bodnar at the Opening session of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference

(Vienna, 25 June 2019)

Mr. Chairperson,

Distinguished participants,

Ukrainian delegation warmly welcomes OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister Miroslav Lajcak and other distinguished keynote speakers and thank them for their very interesting and thought-provoking presentations at this Opening Session.

We would like also to thank the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship for its efforts of organizing this year's OSCE Annual Security Review Conference and inviting many high-ranking distinguished speakers and national representatives to this meeting.

A comprehensive assessment of current pressing security challenges in the OSCE area remains the key objective of our Organization not only for the declared purposes of overcoming distrust and increasing mutual confidence, but for developing effective responses to these challenges as well as properly reacting to violations.

We wish to emphasize that the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine in Donbas and the attempted annexation of Crimea pose a grave challenge to whole European security. As long as the conflict initiated, fuelled and sustained by Russia is not resolved in full accordance with the OSCE principles and commitments, this challenge will remain and take new forms. Peaceful resolution of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and restoration of respect to the Helsinki Final Act principles must remain in the priority focus of the OSCE.

This ASRC is opening at a moment of rapid expansion of challenges – security and moral. Values get sacrificed, bluntly, to financial and political considerations. Council of Europe capitulated to Russia’s blackmail. These loud alarm bells must strengthen the role of OSCE on security, based on respect for agreed principles. Speaking yesterday in Strasbourg the French Presidency claimed that the Council of Europe is not there for global issues, the issues of security of this continent. This statement put a spotlight on a clear role of this organization – the OSCE – which is about a security mandate. Under normal circumstances we would have an option of discussing at length the choices the French Chairmanship made at the CoE if not the urgency the withdrawal of the CoE from its responsibility for the peace and democratic security put on us here at the OSCE.

We welcome that the Special Session of the ASRC: “Ensuring security and stability in the OSCE region in light of developments with respect to Ukraine”, which will be held later today, is dedicated to the issues of resolving the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and OSCE role in this process.

Another Special session will be devoted to the Structured Dialogue, which is considered to be a meaningful platform to discuss the current and future challenges to the European security. In this regard, it is important to ensure that the Dialogue is based on the comprehensive concept of security as well as common understanding of the inviolability of the norms of international law and the basic principles of the OSCE. We firmly believe that first and foremost goal of the Structured Dialogue should be the task to seek appropriate responses to all today`s main challenges to security in the OSCE region and, above all, the challenges of Russian aggression against Ukraine and its other neighbours. They may not stop the aggressor, but may deter further escalation. 

We have to note that the current pressing issues are inseparable from the record of Russia`s past behaviour towards its neighbours, in particular Russia’s war against Georgia and illegal occupation of parts of territory of this country. Had the international response to Russia’s intervention into Georgia been more resolute in 2008, it could have prevented the beginning of the new Russian military intervention in 2014. Working Session 2 will be devoted to the important issues of resolving long-lasting, protracted conflicts in the OSCE region, where we all must aim at real progress.

We welcome the conduct of the special Side Event of the ASRC on issues of Hybrid Warfare, which is a very burning problem for the OSCE.

Ukraine, for its part, plans to take an active part in all these discussions.

We also look forward to substantial discussions in addressing transnational terrorism, migration and threats in the cyber space. The issues of Conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures need to be thoroughly discussed in the coming days.

The past more than five years since the conflict in Ukraine was started by Russia have made it clear that peace and security cannot be taken for granted. We need to continue a dialogue on the ways of strengthening European security, be ready to undertake necessary practical measures to prevent and resolve conflicts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

 

Statement by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Vasyl Bodnar at the special session of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference “Ensuring security and stability in the OSCE region in light of developments with respect to Ukraine”

(Vienna, 25 June 2019)

Mr. Chairperson,

Distinguished participants,

I wish to thank the Slovak Chairmanship for keeping the issue of the ongoing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine high on the agenda of the OSCE, in particular by organizing today’s special session of the ASRC. Visiting Ukraine in January and June this year, the OSCE Chairperson, Minister Lajčák saw with his own eyes the dire security and humanitarian consequences of the Russia-inflicted conflict, which remains the most significant security challenge in the OSCE area. This challenge persists as an aggressor State has not stopped the use of force and has not returned to the tenets of international law. The special session underlines the special attention of the OSCE, and we deem it necessary to keep it in its place, including in the Informal Ministerial meeting in Tatras in two weeks.

What we witness within the OSCE during more than five years of Russian aggression, is Kremlin’s policy of diverting attention from its illegal actions in Ukraine, undermining credibility of the OSCE and disseminating propaganda to blame Ukraine and to disrupt the international solidarity with Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of victims, 1.5 mln IDPs, illegal occupation of a part of Ukraine, massive economic losses – all of this, in Russia’s view, must be left behind and “positive unifying agenda” placed to the forefront of the OSCE.

Putin’s regime wants us to turn a blind eye to the disruption of the Organization’s core principles and commitments, to stop relying on such fundamental rules of international law as sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers of the nation states. We are offered an interest-based, instead of norms-based Organization.

We must not let it happen. The historic lessons of appeasing an aggressor are well known. We should put ambitious objectives, which would not compromise the initial aims of peace, security, justice and cooperation laid by the Helsinki Final Act. Each new violation of the OSCE foundations by Russia must meet an adequate and timely reaction by the participating States.

Regretfully, in 12 months since the last meeting of the ASRC, we witnessed a number of such violations by Russia. They show that Russia has not taken the decision to follow a peaceful politico-diplomatic track of resolving the conflict it initiated.

Kremlin sends manpower, weapons and ammunition through the uncontrolled segment of the border, shoots down SMM long range UAVs registering those supplies, intimidates civilian population living in the occupied parts of Donbas, shells Ukrainian military positions and destroys civilian infrastructure. The SMM continues to register the most modern Russian weapons, such as “TORN” electronic warfare system, “Zhitel” automatic jamming system, or “Tirada-2” radio-electronic jamming complex, and others. The Russian Federation uses Donbas as a testing ground. Until full control of Ukraine’s government of the state border between Ukraine and Russia is resumed, Moscow is intent to maintain violence in Donbas and sufferings of people on the ground. This issue of border remains critical for resolution of the conflict in Donbas. It is a simple test to Russia’s readiness to withdraw from Donbas.

Instead of dismantling its occupation authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk and providing necessary security environment for holding local elections in accordance with the Minsk agreements, Russia held last November the fake so called “elections”. The Minsk agreements were severely undermined by Russia’s deliberate action.

The same month, Russia committed an act of aggression against Ukraine by attacking Ukrainian naval vessels, which were crossing the sea in full accordance with freedom of navigation and norms of international law, and seizing them and their crew. They remain in Russia’s captivity until now, despite the order by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea issued one month ago.

I would remind that last year, at the previous ASRC meeting, Ukraine cautioned about serious military threats to the whole Black Sea region stemming from Russia’s continuing build-up of its military stronghold in the illegally occupied Crimea. I raised concerns on Russia’s escalation of the situation in the waters of the Sea of Azov, including provocative military demonstrations. These concerns rapidly grew in the course of the year.

Two months ago Kremlin took the decision on the expedited issuance of the Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens living in Russia-occupied parts of Ukraine – a flagrant breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty, a gross interference into internal affairs of Ukraine and a powerful blow to the Minsk agreements. With this so called “passportization”, it created legal ground for open use of Russia’s Armed Forces against Ukraine under the pretext of protecting Russian citizens whenever President Putin takes such decision.

These were only the most glaring recent examples of Russia’s aggression against my country. This aggression continues unabated and it must be stopped. Without restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, security and stability in the OSCE region will continue to be a “wishful thinking” and illusion. The attempt of annexation with the use of force, which took place in Crimea, remains an unacceptable violation of the international law and rules-based security order. Crimea and parts of Donbas must be de-occupied, in full compliance with international law and OSCE principles and commitments. There is no other way to return trust and confidence in the OSCE.

Security is about people and for the people. The OSCE concept of a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions, is essential. There can be no security where the human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated and abused, people are forced to live in constant fear, and occupation authorities are free to do whatever they deem necessary to stifle the dissenting voices. If you live in Russia-occupied parts of Ukraine, any morning you can wake up with the Russian security forces storming your house for hoisting Ukrainian flag in your own yard, manifesting your religion or simply being a Ukrainian or Crimean Tatar. Your relatives and friends can never find out what happened after you had been abducted. The lawyer who tried to defend you can be persecuted, and your family intimidated. You can face trumped-up charges in espionage and be taken as a hostage to be used later by Kremlin as a pawn in its political games. Your house, your car, all your assets can be seized by a Russian mercenary with Russian weapon in his hands, sent by Russia to the occupied parts of Donbas.

Silence on these cases would only make the Russian occupation authorities feel freer in their misdeeds. Yes, Russia denies direct access of the international humanitarian organizations, monitoring missions and NGOs to the occupied Crimea and leaves little room for their activities in the occupied parts of Donbas. No, it doesn’t mean we could just calm down and say there is nothing we could do. The full potential of the OSCE and its executive structures must be fully tapped exactly in such situations, where there are no simple solutions. We cannot let Russia believe that the glaring violations of human rights and freedoms by its occupation regime will be tolerated. The increased politico-diplomatic pressure on Russia by the OSCE participating States in their national capacities remains urgent as never before. We need your support to end the Russian aggression and to ensure security and stability in the OSCE. There exist very specific steps, which must be made by Russia in this connection. We need resolve of all participating States in demanding that the Russian Federation engages seriously in peaceful resolution of the conflict of its own making.

These steps include:

- cessation of fire in Donbas, withdrawal of the Russian manpower and weapons from its occupied parts and demining;

- dismantling the structures of the Russian occupation authorities;

- return of Ukrainian enterprises to their legal owners, restoration of Ukraine’s legislative framework;

- return of control over the border to the government of Ukraine;

- de-occupation of Crimea;

- lifting impediments to the freedom of navigation and de-militarization of the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea and the Kerch Strait by Russia;

- release of all Ukrainian citizens, illegally detained by Russia. We deem this issue to be of top humanitarian priority and call on the participating States to raise it during the OSCE Informal Ministerial meeting in Tatras on 9 July in the talks of your Foreign Ministers with the Russian counterpart.

Only together, we can ensure peace in Ukraine, and security and stability in the OSCE, by ending the Russian aggression against my country.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

 

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