Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in Response to Mr. Paul Picard, Chief Observer of the OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk, 1041st Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 26.02.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

We join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming Mr. Picard back to the Permanent Council. We thank him for his lucid and comprehensive report, which provides a thorough overview of the Observer Mission’s activities since his last presentation to the Council in October.

In its seven months of operation at the two Russian checkpoints of Gukovo and Donetsk, the Observer Mission has successfully discharged its mandate. We fully agree with Chief Observer Picard that the Mission continues to act as our eyes and ears at the two border checkpoints despite the fact that its mandate is limited. We commend the Mission’s impartial and transparent activities, through which it provides both the participating States and the public with a steady stream of detailed and reliable information about the cross-border movements at Gukovo and Donetsk.

The Observer Mission has indeed established itself as a useful tool for increasing confidence on both sides of the border. It has also succeeded in building up extensive relations not only with the local authorities but also with international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In this context we particularly appreciate the Mission’s close cooperation and regular exchange of information with the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. This valuable teamwork between the two Missions is vital for the smooth and effective coordination of our Organization’s engagement in the region.

Mr. Chairperson,

The Minsk Agreements of last September foresee OSCE monitoring of the Ukraine-Russia border, and this February’s Package of Measures for the implementation of those agreements calls, inter alia, for the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. If our Organization is to discharge its tasks under the Minsk Agreements and the Package of Measures with the maximum possible effectiveness, it follows that the Observer Mission needs to undergo a significant expansion. As we have underlined many times, border monitoring and ceasefire monitoring are closely interlinked and interdependent; therefore an expanded and strengthened Observer Mission to cover a significant portion of the international border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and renewed trust and confidence. We hope these considerations will be taken into account as we discuss the extension of the Mission’s mandate in the days and weeks ahead.

As an important component of the OSCE’s efforts to resolve the crisis in and around Ukraine, the Observer Mission requires our continuing political support. While we welcome the fact that the Mission is not faced with any immediate security threats, several practical issues regarding its operation still require a timely resolution, first and foremost an agreement on the privileges and immunities of the Mission’s members.

In closing, I wish to express our appreciation to Chief Observer Picard and the entire staff of the Observer Mission for their excellent work. We wish them further success in their ongoing endeavors.

Thank you