Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, on the Situation in Ukraine, 1067th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 10.09.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Last Saturday marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Minsk Protocol, and we note with pleasure that it coincides with a significant decrease in ceasefire violations in both the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Even though hostilities still continue, the present positive trend gives us cause for cautious optimism, particularly in contrast to the severe impact the conflict has had until recently on the population of Donbas and on Ukraine as a whole, as highlighted in the recently issued eleventh report of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. It remains our sincere hope that the ceasefire will finally be consolidated and the way cleared towards lasting peace and stability in eastern Ukraine in the period ahead.

Regrettably, however, the Special Monitoring Mission still continues to observe regular movement of heavy weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines. With an entire year now having gone by since the first of the Minsk Agreements, we remain convinced that full and unconditional adherence to these Agreements by all is the only way to ensure a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis in and around Ukraine. It is therefore high time for sincere steps towards further de-escalation to be taken. To this end we expect hostilities to completely cease, heavy weapons to be fully withdrawn and the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures to be implemented in good faith.

In this context I would also like to emphasize once more that the crisis in and around Ukraine needs to be settled through peaceful diplomatic means while respecting the country’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, as well as its independence, sovereignty and political unity, in line with our shared OSCE commitments and international law.

Mr. Chairperson,

Maximum restraint continues to be required on the ground in order to ensure the safety and security of the SMM’s monitors and staff. The restrictions on the SMM monitors’ freedom of movement must also cease. The SMM requires full, unhindered and secure access throughout Ukraine. Bearing in mind that ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring are closely interlinked and interdependent, this naturally includes the regions along the Ukraine-Russia state border. Furthermore, an end must be put to the unacceptable practice of jamming the Mission’s UAVs, and the SMM should be allowed to retrieve the UAV which was lost last week in eastern Ukraine.

The SMM continues to enjoy our strong and unequivocal support. We also support the valuable activities of the Trilateral Contact Group and its four working groups. We welcome the ongoing progress in the Security Working Group on the withdrawal of tanks and heavy weapons below 100 mm, where tentative agreement was reached last week on a number of pertinent provisions. We hope the continuing discussions on these issues will soon bear fruit. Anticipating further concrete deliverables from the other working groups in the coming period as well, we hope in particular that progress can soon be made in the Political Working Group on an agreement on the modalities of the elections to be held in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, as well as on ODIHR’s observation of said elections. In this connection we wish to reiterate that that possible progress in any one working group should not made dependent on progress to be achieved in any other group. We continue to believe that these talks will contribute to furthering the processes of inclusive political dialogue and comprehensive reform in Ukraine, without which a settlement of the crisis could hardly be sustainable.

Mr. Chairperson,

I would be amiss if I did not take this opportunity to underline yet again our profound concern over the ongoing human rights violations of minority groups in Crimea, particularly the plight of the Crimean Tatars, which are also highlighted in the latest report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission. Stressing once more that we do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea, which we continue to consider as part of Ukraine, we renew our call on those responsible to put an end to their repressive practices violating the Crimean Tatars’ basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. We continue to expect the OSCE and its institutions to remain seized of this matter with all their assets. In this context we look forward to the SMM’s upcoming thematic report focusing on the Crimean Tatars. We also wish to reiterate once again that the access of the High Commissioner on National Minorities to Crimea should be facilitated without further delay.

Thank you.