STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR RAUF ENGİN SOYSAL, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TURKEY, On the Situation in Ukraine, (1139th Meeting of the Permanent Council)
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
Three incidents over the past week in Znamianka, Orikhove-Donetske and Kozatske against the Special Monitoring Mission’s observers and its UAV are grim illustrations of the dangerous trend of threats and intimidation targeting the SMM. These acts are direct challenges to the collective will of participating States and to the Minsk Agreements, and we condemn them as such. The safety of the monitors is our top priority, and we call on all sides to exercise restraint to prevent any actions that may put the lives of the monitors at risk.
Wealso reiterate our call for lifting the continuing restrictions on themonitors’ freedom of movement. The SMM requires full, unhindered accessthroughout Ukraine, including the regions along the Ukraine-Russia state borderand the designated disengagement areas.
The local population continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing hostilities in eastern Ukraine. The SMM continues to report on the civilian casualties and on damages caused by shelling to the residential areas. People in Donbas face many formidable hardships. They are often left
without electricity and water due to the frequent cutting off of power lines, live under the fear of sniper fire or come across unexploded ordnance even in their very own living spaces.
Moreover, the increase in the use of heavy weapons proscribed by the Minsk Agreements remains a source of great concern. The SMM reports indicate a record of the highest number of explosions in recent weeks as a result of fire from these weapons in the last twelve months.
We are heartened, on the other hand, by the agreement reached yesterday in the TCG on a full ceasefire along the line of contact by 1st of April and practical measures to facilitate the crossing over the contact line for civilians, the withdrawal of all Minsk-regulated weapons by 1st of April, the provision of the full baseline information by 31st March and on activating the work of TCG. We call on sides to swiftly implement their commitments.
We underline yet again that the crisis in and around Ukraine needs to be settled through peaceful diplomatic meansrespectful of the country’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, as well as itsindependence, sovereignty andpolitical unity, in line withour OSCE commitments and with international law.
We remain concerned by the ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Crimea. The plight of the Crimean Tatars clearly illustrates the pressure being brought to bear on minority groups in the peninsula. As we continue to support the Crimean Tatars in their peaceful struggle to lead free and secure lives in the homeland of their ancestors, we also expect the OSCE and its institutions to remain seized of this matter with all their assets.