Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, On the Situation in Ukraine, 1068th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 17.09.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

We note with satisfaction that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine continues to be broadly observed, as has been the case since the beginning of September. Though some hostilities are still being recorded by the Special Monitoring Mission, we retain our cautious optimism that this positive trend will continue. We sincerely hope that the long-overdue consolidation of the ceasefire will finally be possible in the period ahead.

We regret, however, that regular movement of heavy weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines is still being observed by the SMM. Genuine and sincere steps towards further de-escalation are needed now. The only way to ensure a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis in and around Ukraine is full and unconditional adherence by all to the Minsk Agreements. We therefore reiterate our call for the complete cessation of hostilities, the full withdrawal of heavy weapons and the implementation in good faith of the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures.

Taking this opportunity, I would also like to underline yet again 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,

In order to ensure the safety and security of the SMM’s monitors and staff, maximum restraint continues to be required on the ground. In addition, restrictions on the SMM monitors’ freedom of movement must come to an end, the unacceptable practice of jamming the Mission’s UAVs must cease forthwith, and the SMM should be allowed to retrieve its lost UAV. The SMM requires full, unhindered and secure access throughout Ukraine. In light of the close interdependence and interlinkage between ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring, this includes the regions along the Ukraine-Russia state border. In this connection, while welcoming the adoption of the decision on the mandate extension of the Observer Mission at the two Russian checkpoints of Gukovo and Donetsk, let me reemphasize that a significant expansion and strengthening of the Observer Mission would contribute to a more effective discharge of the OSCE’s responsibilities under the Minsk Agreements. We hope these considerations will be taken into account when we next discuss the extension of the Observer Mission’s mandate.

We continue to strongly support the SMM's activities, including its expansion plans. We heard what was presented to us at another forum by our Secretary General. I agree with him that we should all do what we can in offering suitable candidates in order to beef up the Mission’s human resources.

On the other hand, we support the ongoing efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group and its four Working Groups. In this context we regret that no progress could be made during this Tuesday’s meeting of the Security Working Group on the withdrawal of tanks and heavy weapons below 100 mm. We continue to hope for a timely agreement on this crucial issue. We also anticipate further concrete deliverables from the other working groups in the coming period as well. In this connection we note with concern the decisions to hold local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts on 18 October and 1 November, and hope that an agreement can soon be reached in the Political Working Group with respect to the modalities of these elections, including monitoring by ODIHR. We once again express our view that these ongoing 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,

The latest Report of the Human Rights Assessment Mission on Crimea published jointly today by ODIHR and the High Commissioner on National Minorities highlights the ongoing restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the increasing pressure on minority groups in the peninsula, particularly the Crimean Tatars. These human rights violations give us ground for profound concern. I wish to stress yet again that we do not and will not recognize the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we continue to consider as part of Ukraine. I also wish to reiterate our call on those responsible to put an end to their repressive practices violating the Crimean Tatars’ basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Continuing to expect the OSCE and its institutions to remain seized of this matter with all their assets, we reemphasize that the access of the High Commissioner on National Minorities to Crimea should be facilitated without further delay.

Thank you.