Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, on the Situation in Ukraine, 1047th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 16.04.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

Despite the Easter holiday season, developments in eastern Ukraine have recently taken a turn for the worse. While the ceasefire seems to be holding generally, the last few days were marked with intensive fighting in the areas around Donetsk city and airport as well as Shyrokyne. The Special Monitoring Mission even observed “full-scale battles” in the vicinity of Donetsk airport. In this context we fully support the call made on all parties by Ambassador Apakan on April 12th to exercise maximum restraint and honor the Minsk agreement commitments. We also appreciate the efforts being undertaken in southeast Ukraine by Deputy Chief Monitor Hug to encourage disengagement and normalization.

Turkey firmly backs all diplomatic efforts to bring about a solution to the crisis in and around Ukraine that is respectful towards the country’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and political unity, in keeping with our shared OSCE commitments and international law. We strongly support the Minsk Agreements and the Package of Measures for their implementation. It is of utmost importance for all sides to completely cease hostilities, to withdraw heavy weapons and to implement the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures in good faith. Within this framework we also appreciate the Normandy Format efforts to deescalate the crisis. We support the Normandy Foreign Ministers’ joint statement following this Monday’s meeting in Berlin which calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and mortars below 100 millimeters as well as all types of tanks.

Mr. Chairperson,

We regret that the freedom of movement of the SMM’s monitors continues to be restricted by the parties on the ground. This limits the Mission’s ability to carry out its various taskings. We reiterate our call on all sides to grant the SMM full, unhindered and safe access throughout Ukraine, and to provide the Mission with all the information it needs for effective verification.

We reemphasize our unwavering support for the valuable activities of the SMM as well as of Ambassador Tagliavini and the Trilateral Contact Group. We agree with last week’s statement by Chairperson-in-Office Minister Dacic that the “political process is a necessity for reestablishing normal life in eastern Ukraine”. We concur that priority should now be given to setting up working groups on the security, political, economic and humanitarian aspects of the Minsk agreements. We hope that the ongoing meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group will soon bear fruit and pave the way for further progress in this regard.

Mr. Chairperson,

Turkey remains profoundly concerned by the ongoing human rights violations of minority groups in Crimea, particularly the plight of the Crimean Tatars. It is no secret that these violations stem directly from the illegitimate and illegal de facto situation in the peninsula. Let me take this opportunity to reemphasize that Turkey continues to regard Crimea as part of Ukraine. Most recently, due to the rejection of license renewal applications for the Crimean Tatars’ ATR television channel and other Crimean Tatar media organs, practically all Crimean Tatar media outlets including ATR were forced to stop broadcasting as of April 1st. The Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced this unacceptable development in a statement made the next day.

We reiterate our call on those responsible for these acts of suppression to respect the democratic and human rights as well as the fundamental freedoms of the Crimean Tatars, an indigenous people of the peninsula who have always expressed their views through peaceful and democratic means. We will continue to closely follow developments on the peninsula with a particular emphasis on the security and well-being of the Crimean Tatars. In this context we expect the OSCE and its institutions to remain seized of this matter with all the assets at their disposal. We would specifically welcome a visit to Crimea without further delay by the High Commissioner on National Minorities as well as an assessment by ODIHR of the human rights situation in the peninsula.

Thank you.