Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to the Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, 1026th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 20.11.2014
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming Ambassador Tagliavini to the Permanent Council and express our thanks and appreciation for her comprehensive presentation.

Since its inception, the Trilateral Contact Group has played a crucial role in addressing the various challenges resulting from the ongoing crisis in and around Ukraine and in working towards its de-escalation. The TCG has contributed, inter alia, to the release of the two groups of SMM monitors held hostage for weeks this summer, to facilitating access for the international team of investigators to the MH-17 crash site, and above all to the establishment of dialogue between the Ukrainian authorities and the representatives of the illegal armed separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of eastern Ukraine. The TCG’s crowning achievement has without doubt been the signing of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum on September 5th and 19th, the two fundamental agreements upon which the current ceasefire is based.

Regrettably, as Ambassador Tagliavini has also pointed out in her address, ceasefire violations and escalation of the armed conflict continue in parts of eastern Ukraine. Many of the SMM’s recent reports have highlighted continuous shelling which is giving rise to an ever-increasing toll of civilian casualties, as well as the sightings of tank columns and truck convoys towing heavy weaponry. Despite these significant ceasefire violations, we remain convinced that the foundations for a sustainable de-escalation of the crisis in and around Ukraine can be laid through the full and effective implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, which set out a comprehensive framework to that end. All sides should act responsibly and do their utmost to consolidate the ceasefire.

Mr. Chairperson,

The effective control of the Ukrainian-Russian border is, without doubt, an essential prerequisite of a sustainable ceasefire. This is also reflected in the Minsk agreements. From such a perspective, there exists a critical linkage between the ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring. Last week the SMM, which has been tasked with carrying out this crucial task, distributed a concept paper on border monitoring, which we welcomed. We reiterate our hope and expectation that all constraining factors mentioned in the concept paper are addressed as soon as possible, allowing the contemplated border monitoring activities to commence without delay. In this context we also wish to emphasize our support to the extension of the mandate of the Observer Mission at two Russian border checkpoints. Furthermore, we believe that an expansion of the Observer Mission would be a useful supplement to the monitoring activities to be undertaken by the SMM on the Ukrainian side of the international border.

Ambassador Tagliavini also stressed the necessity for an inclusive political dialogue as foreseen in the Minsk Protocol. Having underlined on many occasions the importance of a process of national dialogue reaching out to all segments of Ukrainian society and all of the country’s regions, we fully share her view. Unfortunately, the so-called elections held on November 2nd in some areas of Donetsk and Lugansk, which violated the Minsk Protocol as well as Ukrainian law and which have no validity, have been detrimental in this regard. We reiterate our call on all sides to act in keeping with the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol so as not to lose the gains achieved so far.

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to make use of this opportunity to reemphasize our firm conviction that the crisis in and around Ukraine needs to be settled through peaceful diplomatic means within the framework of respect towards Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and political unity, in line with our shared OSCE commitments and international law. I would further like to underline yet again that the illegitimate and illegal de facto situation in Crimea, which Turkey continues to regard as part of Ukraine, is a key dimension of the ongoing crisis.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Ambassador Tagliavini for her valuable work within the Trilateral Contact Group and her good cooperation with the SMM and Chief Monitor Ambassador Apakan. Acting in tandem, the TCG and the SMM represent the international community’s and the OSCE’s two most significant assets in our ongoing endeavors to achieve a sustainable de-escalation of the crisis. We wish Ambassador Tagliavini and her colleagues in the Trilateral Contact Group every success in their ongoing efforts.

Thank you.