Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, 2015 Annual Security Review Conference, Special Session: Ensuring Security and Stability in the OSCE Region in Light of Recent Developments with Respect to Ukraine

Tacan İldem 23.06.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

The crisis in and around Ukraine has without doubt been the single most important issue on our Organization’s agenda since late 2013. It has dealt a severe blow to security and stability in Europe. It called into question the basic principles that European security is built upon. It is perhaps the most serious challenge that the OSCE has faced since the end of the Cold War. And, at the most urgent, day-to-day basis, it continues to be a human tragedy for the people of Ukraine.

Since the very beginning, Turkey has endorsed the principled view that the crisis needs to be solved through peaceful diplomatic means while respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and political unity, in line with our shared OSCE commitments and international law. We also do not and will not accept the illegal annexation of Crimea, which we continue to consider as part of Ukraine.

Despite the many months that have gone by since the signing of the Minsk Protocol, the Minsk Memorandum and the Minsk Package of Measures, the ceasefire continues to be regularly violated through the use of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine. Yet there can be no question that the only way to ensure a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis is full and unconditional adherence to the Minsk Agreements by all. This means completely ending hostilities, fully withdrawing heavy weapons and implementing the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures in good faith. But it also entails making concrete and holistic progress on all provisions of the Minsk Agreements. Slow and gradual though they may be, the efforts being made in this regard within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group and its four working groups give us grounds for cautious optimism.

Mr. Chairperson,

While posing severe challenges, the Ukraine crisis has also emphasized the relevance of our Organization in the increasingly unpredictable contemporary international environment. The OSCE’s successful engagement in Ukraine has underlined the value of its unique concept of comprehensive security and the value of its flexibility and adaptability.

The Special Monitoring Mission is without doubt the centerpiece of our Organization’s engagement in Ukraine. The SMM’s swift establishment in the midst of the Ukraine crisis as the first new OSCE mission in over a decade showed that the OSCE is very much capable of action when it truly matters. Under the able leadership of Ambassador Apakan and his team, the Mission has consistently met and exceeded our expectations with its valuable work as our eyes and ears in the field. It has been able to secure the respect, trust and confidence of all the relevant actors despite the extremely volatile and sometimes outright hostile situation on the ground. It still has, however, much work to do. I would like take this opportunity to reiterate my country’s full support for the SMM, its leadership and its entire team, as well as our call on all to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of the Mission’s monitors throughout the entire territory of Ukraine.

Mr. Chairperson,

Despite the numerous challenges posed by the crisis in and around Ukraine, it also offers us valuable opportunities for analysis and stocktaking. The crisis clearly demonstrates the pressing need for a common political will towards building a truly secure OSCE geography. By summoning that will and reaffirming our commitment to the principles drawn up in Helsinki four decades ago, we can overcome the prevalent atmosphere of distrust and reestablish mutual confidence and stability in Europe. The path leading to this goal goes through a much-needed, functioning political engagement rather than digging trenches with mere repetition of respective national positions well known to all of us. It is such an engagement that we must cultivate if we wish to sow the seeds of lasting of lasting peace and prosperity in the OSCE region. We hope that the upcoming high-level meeting in Helsinki could be the venue for such an engagement that would lay the necessary groundwork conducive to the convening of result-oriented follow-up meetings in the not-too-distant future, preferably at higher levels. We need to believe in and utilize the value added of this inclusive format that the OSCE provides us with in furthering dialogue together with the strength of the ownership of 57 participating States, with the aim of resolving the existing differences and eliminating the sense of mistrust on the basis of agreed principles and commitments.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.